Album Reviews

The Swampers

Muscle Shoals Has Got The Swampers

Artist:     The Swampers

Album:     Muscle Shoals Has Got The Swampers

Label:     Malaco Music Group

Release Date:     01.19.2018

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Taking its title from a line in the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit “Sweet Home Alabama,” Muscle Shoals Has Got The Swampers, is a collection of 14 instrumental tracks that show why they were the most sought-after rhythm section in the USA during the 1960s and ’70s.

If you’ve ever heard Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll,” or Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” you’ve heard the Swampers. The group was the nickname of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which included Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), David Hood (bass), and Jimmy Johnson (guitar).

The compilation resurrects lost gems from the vaults of Malaco Records and features photos and comprehensive liner notes by Dick Cooper, Muscle Shoals historian and former curator of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

Patterson Hood, a founding member of the Drive-By-Truckers and son of David Hood, calls this collection is “a true buried treasure.” Stylistically the tracks range from classic R&B to what could be the soundtrack of a 1970s’ cop show. The cuts are fun, funky, and highly rhythmic.

The Swampers have also backed The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, James Brown, Steve Winwood, Paul Simon, Dire Straits, Willie Nelson, Levon Helm, Carlos Santana, Gregg Allman, Jimmy Buffett, John Hiatt, Melissa Etheridge, Etta James, John Prine, Johnnie Taylor, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and many more. Their contribution to American music is huge. They were the band that made hits come alive.

While The Swampers are probably most fun to hear playing with the groups with whom they worked, this collection provides insight into their mastery of taste, feel, and propulsion. Recommended.

—Mike Cobb

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