"How do we make sense of the fact that 'Mustang Sally' and 'When a Man Loves a Woman' and Aretha Franklin’s breakthrough hit 'I Never Loved a Man' and any number of other funk, soul and R&B classics were recorded with a band of backwoods Alabama white boys? Well, it’s complicated–let’s start there. Of course white privilege was involved, because even though Rick Hall grew up dirt-poor, he still belonged to the class of people who were able to buy property and start businesses in 1950s Alabama, and he hired white musicians–at least at first; his post-Swampers bands were integrated–because it was the natural thing to do. All that said, Hall’s also a guy with a tremendous ear and immense soulfulness who knew what he wanted–and what he wanted was a sound that fused Delta blues, hillbilly and urban African-American music. And something geographical or historical or spiritual about that obscure river-bend in northern Alabama made that possible."
Andrew O' Hehir in Salon reviews Muscle Shoals.