0406: “He Called Me Baby” by Candi Staton

If you never delved too deep into the catalog of music that was produced out of Muscle Shoals in the ’60s and ’70s, Candi Staton might never have appeared on your radar. To be sure, what did come out of Muscle Shoals instantly became canon and would be tough for anyone to break through and reach the same atmosphere: “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge, “Slip Away” by Clarence Carter, “Wild Horses” by the Stones, “I Never Loved A Man the Way That I Love You” by Aretha (Fame Studios is where Aretha became Aretha), The Allman Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Staton was the Diana Ross of the Muscle Shoals roster—silky, sultry, powerful and loaded with presence. “He Called Me Baby” is one of Staton’s masterworks, a deep cut that deserves the reverence that a song like Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” has. The music is powered by a guitar, bass, and horns that rivals the best of what came out of Stax and Chess Records studios. The music is night-driving music. In a bar alone examining your life but it feels cinematic music. Introverted and alone on the couch at night when you’re sad but you also want some groove too music. Something that makes you think of slow dancing but you don’t have a partner music. This is one of the best R&B songs of the ’70s, a decade that is overloaded with great singles. If you want to delve further into the Muscle Shoals sound, this song is an excellent first step.

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