Thursday, May 28, 2009

The crossroads of country, rock and soul

This was your Billboard Top 5 on this day in 1966:

1. When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge
2. A Groovy Kind of Love, The Mindbenders
3. Monday, Monday, The Mamas and the Papas
4. Paint It Black, The Rolling Stones
5. Rainy Day Women #12 & #35, Bob Dylan

Sledge's only Top 10 hit was recorded at the legendary Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., at "the crossroads of country, rock and soul.'' There is nothing quite like the sound generated in those studios by its technicians and house musicians.

Muscle Shoals was a hit launching pad for soul singers like Etta James, Clarence Carter, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin -- who recorded her first hit, "I Never Loved a Man Like I Loved You'', there. And the rest, representing every music genre, followed. Everybody from Bob Seger and Paul Simon to the Osmonds and Bob Dylan bottled lightning at Muscle Shoals.

As the story goes, a session player by the name of Duane Allman taught Wilson Pickett some guitar phrasings to "Hey Jude'' during a lunch break at the studios. Not surprisingly, Allman's lead guitar wound up being used on Pickett's recording. When executives at Atlantic Records asked Pickett who was playing guitar, he reportedly replied: "Some hippie cat who's been living in our parking lot.''

The Allman Brothers Band (nee: Allman Joys, Hourglass) soon followed.

"When a Man Loves a Woman'' is a phenomenal recording that captures the incomparable Muscle Shoals sound. If you're looking for another example, go back and listen to "I'll Take You There'' by The Staples Singers -- another No. 1 for Muscle Shoals in 1972.

1 comment:

  1. Percy Sledge is the man.

    "It's not the fall, that hurts at all - it's the sudden stop.