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Muscle Shoals Review Archives

Back To The Woods

Review of: Chuck Leavell

(Evergreen Arts) Chuck Leavell, no doubt, stands as one of the finest piano players on the planet. His musical resume includes working with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Chuck read more...

Boys & Girls

Review of: Alabama Shakes

(ATO) Boys & Girls counts as the Alabama Shakes debut album. Formed during 2009 in Athens, Alabama, the band includes Brittany Howard (vocals/guitar), Zac Cockrell (bass), Steve Johnson (drums), Heath Fogg (guitar) and Ben Tanner (keyboards). This group read more...

Moving On

Review of: Lauderdale

(This Is American Music) Lauderdale hails from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The group formed in 2005. Moving On counts as Lauderdale's debut album. Band members include Niles Lee (vocals/guitar), Patrick read more...

Country Again

Review of: Ronnie Milsap

Ronnie Milsap became famous as a country singer.  He's won six Grammys and had 40 number one country songs, third all time to only George Strait and Conway Twitty.  Considering all of these accolades, it might be a bit of mystery to many as to why he would name his latest read more...

Barton Hollow

Review of: The Civil Wars

Last night as I sat with friends on my porch overlooking Elk River, I put The Civil Wars' new album Barton Hollow read more...

Take The High Road

Review of: Blind Boys of Alabama

(Saguaro Road Records) Take The High Road represents the Blind Boys of Alabama's first country-gospel album in their 70-year career. The five time Grammy winners recruited read more...

Be Altitude: Respect Yourself

Review of: The Staple Singers

(Concord Music Group) Originally released in 1972, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself finds this Staple Singers album operating between gospel and secular music. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself captures the Staple Singers at their zenith. Rob Bowman, Grammy read more...

Here We Rest

Review of: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

(Lightning Rod Records) Alexander Beaufort Meek wrote Alabama’s first motto ‘Here We Rest’ in his 1842 essay outlining the history of the state. Jason Isbell and the 400 read more...


Review of: Joel Gilbert

(Highway 61 Entertainment) Bob Dylan turns 70 in May. Joel Gilbert’s Bob Dylan Revealed offers a fine overview of Dylan’s five-decade career. read more...

Go-Go Boots

Review of: Drive By Truckers

(ATO Records) Go-Go Boots counts as the Drive By Truckers' 10th studio release. It’s the Truckers’ most R & B-country based collection of songs to date. read more...

Keys To the Kingdom

Review of: North Mississippi Allstars

(Songs of the South Records) “Take reassurance in the glory of the moment and the forever promise of tomorrow. Surely there is light beyond the darkness. As there is dawn after the night.”

RIYEL----Eclectic and Kreyol Jazz

Review of: RIYEL (Ken Watters, Andre Atkins, Yves Abel)

 Summit Records, April 2010 Released internationally on April 13, 2010, Riyel’s first album is an overview of read more...

Live On The Sunset Strip

Review of: Otis Redding

(Concord Music Group) This 2-CD collection documents Otis Redding’s historic 1966 performance at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles.

The Deep End

Review of: Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez

(Horizon) If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Christine is the lead vocalist with the Saturday Night Live band. The “Beehive Queen” is a hard rocking Memphis soul fueled dynamo, and The Deep End may be her finest album yet. read more...

The Big To-Do

Review of: Drive By Truckers

(ATO Records) The Drive By Truckers represent one of America’s finest bands in the last 20 years. The Big read more...

A Review of Undeniable Truths

Review of: A. M. Garner

Rank Stranger Press, November 2009 Reviewed by Penne J. Laubenthal This month Anita M. Garner published her first collection of short stories: Undeniable read more...

Onward And Upward

Review of: Luther Dickinson/Sons of Mudboy

(Zebra Ranch) Three days after Memphis luminary Jim Dickinson died, his oldest son

The Fine Print

Review of: Drive By Truckers

The Fine Print ( A Collection Of Oddities And Rarities 2003-2008) The Drive By Truckers New West Records By James Calemine These 12 unreleased and rare Drive read more...

Murdering Oscar (and other love songs)

Review of: Patterson Hood

(Ruth St. Records) A sharp guitar riff opens the CD in the title track, and Patterson Hood sings in his merciless, gravel-tone voice, “I killed Oscar/Shot him in the head/Put the gun in his read more...

Potato Hole

Review of: Booker T. Jones

Potato Hole Booker T. Jones Anti Records By James Calemine Memphis luminary Booker T. Jones released his first solo CD in two decades on April 21, 2009. This instrumental CD, recorded in Athens, Georgia, and San Francisco, California, proves a read more...

Don’t Wake Albert

Review of: Highly Kind

(Rockin’ Camel) Johnny Sandlin told me months ago that he was producing an album for a band called Highly Kind, and that it was going to be a good one. Well, he was right. The name of the band had me thinking “jam band.” I kind of read more...

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Review of: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

(Lightning Rod Records) This CD follows up Jason Isbell's first solo venture, Sirens of the Ditch, and contains a diverse collection of songs that verifies Isbell's undeniable read more...

Piece Of My Heart: The Best of 1969 - 1978

Review of: Bonnie Bramlett

(Raven/Australia) I maintain my opinion that Bonnie Bramlett is still the "Queen of Southern Rock and Soul." If you don’t believe me, just check out this new compilation disc from Raven Records in Australia. It’s enough to make a brother shout.

Volkswagen Catfish

Review of: Fiddleworms

Of all the newer bands I have run across here at GRITZ over the past five years, none have burned their music into my brain any stronger than The Fiddleworms. This Muscle Shoals, Alabama rock band read more...

One Foot In The Groove

Review of: Donnie Fritts

Donnie is simply one of the best songwriters around.  "One Foot in the Groove" is humorous, clever and heartbreaking. Everyone should own it.

Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters

Review of: Billy Bob Thornton

Merrimack Hall, Huntsville, Alabama Friday, August 1, 2008 Merrimack Hall in Huntsville, Alabama is a beautiful, intimate, 300-seat theatre and concert hall that has been going strong for a little over a year. In fact, I believe the first show they read more...


Review of: Emory Joseph

(Iris Records) Emory Joseph is a born entertainer. Not only that, but he is also a fine songwriter, as evident in his 2003 epic Labor and Spirits. On this outing, however, Joseph puts down the pen long enough to pay tribute to a pair or true musical legends, read more...

Deep Cuts

Review of: Tony Joe White

Tony Joe White Deep Cuts Swamp Records Tony Joe White, quite simply, is one of the most underappreciated musical forces of the last 50 years.  This doesn't mean that people haven't read more...

Street Survivors - Deluxe Edition

Review of: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Street Survivors - Deluxe Edition 30th Anniversary (Geffen/UMe) Mere days after the release of Street Survivors in 1977, the Freebird fell to the ground, silencing one of Southern Rock’s finest voices in Ronnie Van Zant. read more...

Brothers of the Southland

Review of: Brothers of the Southland

Brothers of The Southland is one of the best of the plethora of “all star” bands playing today, and their debut CD is a sheer joy from beginning to end. This is the kind of music that gets me downright excited. Maybe that’s why I named it as the best Southern Rock read more...


Review of: Bonnie Bramlett

(Rockin' Camel) With the music business in a state of flux, it is indeed refreshing to come across an artist who isn’t struggling to reinvent herself daily to fit a fleeting slot that may not exist in a week’s time. The new offering from Bonnie Bramlett, read more...


Review of: Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel

(www.bobbywhitlock.com) Joined by a stellar group of musicians, music icon, Bobby Whitlock and wife, CoCo Carmel, have released a new CD, appropriately titled “Lovers” for Valentine’s Day. The ten tracks, recorded and produced mostly in Austin, TX chronicle read more...

Brighter Than Creation's Dark

Review of: Drive By Truckers

(New West) Athens, Georgia's Drive-By Truckers are the undisputed torch bearers of Southern Rock in the 21st century. They are as Dixie Fried as  Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker or the Allman Brothers. They blend all of their influences from Southern rock, country, folk, punk read more...

Brighter Than Creation's Dark

Review of: Drive By Truckers

Brighter Than Creation’s Dark Drive By Truckers New West Records By James Calemine                  “Trying to hold steady on the righteous read more...

Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter

Review of: Arthur Alexander

(Hacktone) In 1993 Arthur Alexander cut one of the most important records of his career, Lonely Just Like Me.  Thirty years earlier he had written songs that inspired The Beatles ("Anna"), Rolling Stones ("You Better Move On") and read more...

Review of: John Hammond

(Raven) Blues man John Hammond has recorded some fine albums during his long and varied career, including the Muscle Shoals inspired Southern Fried, but the two included on this CD are two of his very best. Source Point, produced by read more...

Song of America

Review of: Various Artists

Song of America Various Artists 31 Tigers Records By James Calemine This 50-song, 3 CD collection tells the story of America through songs from the year 1492 through modern times. Song of America contains a diverse line-up of artists read more...

The Scene of the Crime

Review of: Bettye LaVette

  Bettye LaVette The Scene of the Crime Anti

Howl at the Blues

Review of: Stephen Foster & Howler

(White Horse) Stephen Foster is a major Southern talent. A super pianist and vocalist, Foster is also gifted with an extra pleasing singing voice and his arranging and producing are both top drawer. I had the pleasure of working with him on my own Southern read more...

Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built

Review of: Ahmet Ertegun

(Atlantic DVD) Let me tell you a story. According to The Rolling Stones and Led Zappelin, that is the way Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun began his conversations, almost every time. When Ahmet was 14, he read more...

Sirens Of The Ditch

Review of: Jason Isbell

(New West Records) Recorded several years ago at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Sirens of the Ditch represents ex- Drive By Truckers Jason Isbell’s first solo CD. Mixed read more...

Stax Records 50th Anniversary Celebration

Review of: Stax Records

Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration Concord Music Group By James Calemine This 50 song, 2 CD boxset stands as the most comprehensive Stax collection ever. Concord Music Group has released various classic Stax CDs and prepares to release other recordings. Stax read more...

Dear Y'all - The Songwriter Sessions Vol. 1

Review of: Eddie Hinton

Dear Y'all: The Songwriting Sessions Vol 1 Eddie Hinton Zane Records By James Calemine Eddie Hinton died in 1995 at the age of 51. When Hinton served as the session guitarist at Muscle Shoals read more...

The Bar-B-Q Smoke House

Review of:

The Bar-B-Q Smoke House 3231 Point Mallard Parkway Decatur, Alabama (256) 350-0131 I have had some mighty fine BBQ in my day, from North Carolina to Georgia, South Carolina to Kentucky, but the BBQ plate at The Bar-B-Q Smoke House read more...

Skydog: The Duane Allman Story

Review of: The Allman Brothers Band

Skydog The Duane Allman Story by Randy Poe (Backbeat Books) I have been waiting on this book for years, and to coin a cliche, it was well worth the wait. Randy Poe has gone deep, digging through source material with read more...

John D. Wyker & Eddie Hinton - Johnny Wyker Video

Review of: John D. Wyker & Eddie Hinton

(MFOV) Once in a very blue moon, something crosses my desk that is absolutely, without a doubt, totally unique. Well sir, they don’t come any more unique than my buddy John D. Wyker. But more than just being cool and unique “John Wyker Volume 1” is read more...

Tom Dowd & The Language of Music

Review of: Tom Dowd

(Palm Pictures) thelanguageofmusic.com The documentary Rolling Stone calls “brilliant” and rock critic Dave Marsh cites as “ a truly beautiful picture,” pays read more...

Live At The Atlanta International Pop Festival

Review of: The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band Live At The Atlanta International Pop Festival (Columbia/Legacy) At the risk of sounding cliche, or even worse, like a fan-boy who lives and breathes in peach hues and mushroom induced hallucinations of grandeur, I just gotta say read more...

What's Wrong With Right

Review of: Hacienda Brothers

Hacienda Brothers What’s Wrong With Right (Proper) The Hacienda Brothers, led by singer/songwriter Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez, ripped up the charts with their debut album last year, a fantastic “Western Soul” read more...

That's How They Do It In Dixie

Review of: Hank Williams, Jr.

Hank Williams, Jr. That’s How They Do It In Dixie (Curb) Bocephus is back with the ultimate “Greatest Hits” collection, along with a pair of hot new tunes.”Stirrin’ It Up” is typical Hank, Jr., and the read more...

It's Never Too Late

Review of: Donna Hall

Donna Hall It’s Never Too Late (donnahall.net) For those of us who have followed Donna Hall as backup singer for Wet Willie since the early 70’s, this one has been a long time coming. Like the title says, “It’s read more...

King Karma

Review of: King Karma

King Karma (Centurion) King Karma rocks, ladys and gentlemen.They embody everything we loved about Zeppelin, Sammy Hagar, Montrose and early Aerosmith, all wrapped up neatly in a Southern package. The record was produced by none other read more...

Playing Around - The Songwriter Sessions Vol. 2

Review of: Eddie Hinton

(Zane) When the word went around that there was another volume of unreleased Hinton material about to hit that was amazing enough - but not enough to prepare for just how good it was going to be. 18 studio tracks and two ‘bonus’ live recordings read more...

Hard Luck Guy

Review of: Eddie Hinton

Eddie Hinton, the Muscle Shoals singer/songwriter, did not live to complete the 1999 Capricorn release Hard Luck Guy. In July 1995, Hinton died of a heart attack during the sessions. Hard Luck Guy should be a contender for soul album of the year.

Lady's Choice

Review of: Bonnie Bramlett

Lady's Choice Bonnie Bramlett (Capricorn Records CP-0169) 1976 Produced by Johnny Sandlin Recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio Engineered by Sam Whiteside and Carolyn Harris Talk about a read more...

Killers and Stars

Review of: Patterson Hood

"When they thaw out Uncle Disney, gonna be some changes made/Pointing fingers, asking questions/forty years of decisions made" appear as the opening lines of Patterson Hood's debut solo album. Best known for his leading role in the hard-driving Drive-By read more...

A Blessing And A Curse

Review of: Drive By Truckers

(New West Records) Recorded at David Barbe’s Chase Park Studios in Athens, Georgia, A Blessing And A Curse marks

The Dirty South

Review of: Drive By Truckers

The Dirty South The Drive By Truckers New West Records By James Calemine The Dirty South stands as

Decoration Day

Review of: Drive By Truckers

Decoration Day The Drive By Truckers New West Records By James Calemine             “Just cause I don’t run my mouth don’t mean I got nothing to say…”

Donnie Fritts and Friends

Review of: Various Artists

Donnie Fritts and Friends Norton Auditorium University of North Alabama Florence, AL January 22, 2000 Donnie Fritts began his lifetime in music read more...

Muscle Shoals Sounds: The Rhythm Of The River

Review of: Various Artists

Back on November 13, the University of North Alabama hosted a symposium dedicated to the musical history of the Muscle Shoals area. The event mainly covered the area's musical past, but also included segments on the business of songwriting, modern studio production, read more...

Pizza Deliverance

Review of: Drive By Truckers

(New West Records) Pizza Deliverance counts as The Drive by read more...

Chock Full Of Country Goodness

Review of: Amazing Rhythm Aces

Amazing Rhythm Aces "Chock Full Of Country Goodness" Breaker Productions Born out of soul music's ashes, this six man ensemble played country music - meaning the music defined by Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Bob Wills, and sometimes Al read more...

Say It One Time For The Brokenhearted

Review of: Barney Hoskyns

In the wake of Ray Charles's new country music box set as well as Lambchop's recent soul dabbling both on their own and with Vic Chestnutt, this reprint of Barney Hoskyns's "country soul" study couldn't have come at a better time. "Say It One Time For the read more...


Review of: Drive By Truckers

Gangstabilly The Drive By Truckers New West Records By James Calemine Gangstabilly counts as the first

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