Champagne Jam is an album by the southern rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section, released in 1978. (See 1978 in music). The single “Imaginary Lover” was the band’s second Top 10 hit, peaking at #7 in the U.S. and #9 in Canada.
The Atlanta Rhythm Section’s initial appeal came form its break with the often predictable Southern-rock genre: the band combined the usual guitar-solo orientation with an attractive pop sensibility. “Evileen,” a moody ballad on which Bailey’s guitar sprays the verses with silkily reverberating rhythms, is a fine example of that fusion, but the title song is the kind of ordinary jam any one of of a hundred groups could have done. Its jazzy lope is distinctively ARS, but like the hard-rocking “Large Time,” it fails to generate anything beyond bemused familiarity.
Albums like this unlock a critical cobra: one must admit that the musicianship is first-rate while acknowledging that the more undefinable aims of art (growth, spontaneity, et al.) aren’t being realized. So my doubting Thomas side asks the Atlanta Rhythm Section what they’ve shown lately, while the consumer’s guide in me advises fans that Champagne Jam offers a toast very much like last year’s. (John Milward, Rolling Stone, 7/13/78)
You can tell these guys are from Atlanta — it says so right in the name. So why do they sound like lazy Eagles? Why have they concocted a title that is the rock and roll equivalent of “cocktail jazz”? And when are they going to change their name officially to ARS, as in AWB? (Robert Christgau, Christgau’s Record Guide, 1981).
The million-selling Champagne Jam has the “So Into You” rewrite “Imaginary Lover” as well as the near-reckless “I’m Not Gonna Let it Bother Me Tonight.” (Allan Orski, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996)
Barry Bailey (guitar)
J.R. Cobb (guitar, vocals)
Dean Daughtry (keyboards)
Paul Goddard (bass)
Ronnie Hammond vocals)
Robert Nix (drums, background vocals)
Jo Jo Billingsley – vocals
Buddy Buie (vocals)
Paul Davis (vocals)
Artimus Pyle (percussion)
01. Large Time (Bailey/Buie/Nix) 2.55
02. I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight (Buie/Daughtry/Nix) 4.06
03. Normal Love (Buie/Cobb/Daughtry/Nix) 3.22
04. Champagne Jam (Buie/Cobb/Nix) 4.31
05. Imaginary Lover (Buie/Daughtry/Nix) 5.05
06. The Ballad Of Lois Malone (Bailey/Buie/Daughtry/Nix) 4.30
07. The Great Escape (Bailey/Buie/Nix) 4.47
08. Evileen (Buie/Daughtry/Nix) 3.32
09. NITP (Daughtry/Buie) 7.21