Back in March, Steven Tyler announced his solo summer tour with a May 12 start date. But just before he headed out, he took a break from preparations and touched down at the momentous Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) Studios to record a track.
That track was a rendition of Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar,” originally recorded in the same FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The original recording was done at the height of Muscle Shoals golden age in 1969 and graced the Rolling Stones 11th studio album Sticky Fingers.
On this spin, Mick Jagger’s jumping-jack, taut yelps made way for Tyler’s eccentric torpid, dirtier tone with support provided by Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, a gospel trio, and the culturally significant blast of piano and brass by FAME studio regulars.
In Tyler’s own words, “We knew we wanted to respect and pay homage to the original version, but we also dared ourselves to make it our own.”Tyler’s cover is one of several other heartwarming embellishments of some of FAME’s biggest classicexports done by an exciting cavalcade of Grammy winning, multiplatinum mega stars. All of which were made for the once-in-a-lifetime, blockbuster compilation album named Muscle Shoals…Small Town, Big Sound. Interestingly, most of the powerhouse performers on the LP made the pilgrimage (as Tyler did) to Muscle Shoals to record in person.
The album pays tribute to the town, its recognizable special sound, the FAME studio on its 60th birthday, and Rick Hall—The Father of the Muscle Shoals Sound—co-founder of the studio who passed away in January.
Fittingly, Hall’s son, Rodney Hall, produced and curated the album in conjunction with famed Grammy, CMA, and ACM Award-winning producer and Dreamlined Entertainment Founder Keith Stegall.
Tyler’s Brown Sugar cover is available for instant download when you pre-order the album. Release date for the album on digital retailers is pegged at September 28. Part of the LP’s proceeds will go to the Grammy Foundation as well as The Muscle Shoals Music Foundation and the Muscle Shoals Music Association (both 501 (c)3s dedicated to promoting the town’s musical history).
Here’s a rundown of the Muscle Shoals…Small Tow, Big Sound track list: