The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section
backed Aretha Franklin on many of her early hits. They also recorded with The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett and many other Soul music luminaries, so when Rod Stewart traveled to Alabama to record this song, he was surprised at what he saw. Muscle Shoals bass player David Hood, who owned the studio with three other members of the rhythm section, told us: "Rod, I think, was a little intimidated by our track record at the time. When he first came in and saw us, he asked Tom Dowd, well, where's the band? And Tom said, 'That's the band.' He thought that they were trying to pull something on him, because he'd seen these white guys sitting out there at the instruments. He thought the band that he was coming to record with was Aretha Franklin's band and was gonna be a bunch of black guys. So he was suspicious of us from the start. But he was also, I think, intimidated; once he found out who we were and what we had done, he was intimidated by that. He didn't really want to sing in front of us at first.
'Sailing' was a huge international hit. I don't think it was that big a hit in the States, but internationally it was a huge record. They played it before all the soccer matches, the World Cup and everything. It was a big, big hit for Rod. And that record, Atlantic Crossing, was a big point in his career, because it opened him up to more of a solo thing. Before, he'd been a solo artist, but it all sounded like the Faces and that kind of stuff. "