No one looks less
like a rock band than The Swampers. Yet, these elderly(ish) white gentlemen

The wonderful Swampers. They’re a bit older now.

one of the most magical sounds in the history of rock, pop, funk and soul
music. Like Neil Young, they even had a verse dedicated to them in the lyrics
of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1974 hit, Sweet Home Alabama.

“Now Muscle Shoals has
got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feeling blue
Now how about you?”
A young Rick Hall (left) with Clarence Carter.
The Swampers, along
with FAME studio boss, Rick Hall, are the stars of “Muscle Shoals”, an
absorbing new rock biopic released in the States late last year and, hopefully,
coming soon to a country near you. If you haven’t caught it yet, this film is a
must see for anyone interested in pop, rock, country and soul music, not to
mention spectacular cinematography.
An all-star line-up of
A-list interviewees includes:  
Allman; Bono; Clarence Carter; 
Jimmy Cliff; Aretha Franklin; Rick Hall;
Swampers drummer, Roger Hawkins; Swampers bassist, David Hood; Mick Jagger; Etta
James, Otis Redding drummer, Jaimoe; one-time Grateful Dead singer, Donna Jean-Godchaux; Swampers
guitarist, Jimmy Johnson; Alicia Keys; Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist, Ed King; FAME songwriter and ‘When A Man Loves A Woman organist, Spooner Oldham;
Keith Richards: just one of many talking heads in the film.

Civil Wars singer, John
Paul White; FAME songwriter/producer, Dan Penn; Keith Richards; Percy Sledge, whose hit song virtually started it all; Candi Staton and Steve Winwood.
The film follows the
rags to riches story of Rick Hall who founded FAME (which stands for Florence
Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios in Florence-Muscle Shoals in the

Rick Hall’s FAME Studio.

1950s. The
area is officially known as the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area,
taking its name from a shallow section of the Tennessee River where muscles
were gathered. Even more significant than the recording studios is the
settlement of Florence itself, where the great W.C. Handy, the man who did more
than anyone to put blues on the map, was born in 1873.

Mick Jagger displays his astute knowledge of the blues in the film by explaining how W.C. Handy was the man who made blues respectable. The
only other place I’ve seen that observation mentioned before is in my eBook,
“How Blues Evolved”,

Sir Mick. Also features in the film.

available on Amazon. 
(You must read it some time.) Not that
I’m saying Sir Mick has read “How Blues Evolved”. I wish …

Now, Rick Hall, coming
up for 82 (on 31 January 2014) looks the part of the old cool dude record
producer, except he’s not a dude in the true sense of the word. From my
watching of old cowboy films, I remember a dude is an inappropriately-dressed
city slicker paying a visit to the wild west, or something like that. Hall fell
under the wing of Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, fell out with Jerry Wexler
and Atlantic, then saw Jerry Wexler lure away his prized session musicians, The
Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, otherwise known as the Swampers.
As someone says in the
film, rather than looking like the funksters they are, the Swampers look like
old guys who work in the supermarket. Not that they are quite as old as Rick.
The Swampers, named by Leon Russell, are all in their mid-60s or nudging 70. But,
boy, can they still play, as Muscle Shoals, the movie, certainly proves.
The breakaway studio 

Now, here’s a link to the Muscle Shoals movie trailer:

And if you picked up on
my hint of giving How Blues Evolved a bit of a read some time, here are two
handy Amazon links to help you on your way.

U.K. How Blues Evolved link