Atlanta Rhythm Section – Champagne Jam (1978)

FrontCover1Champagne 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 AD1familiarity.
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)

ARSPersonnel
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)

 

BackCover1Tracklist:
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

LabelB1*
**

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Atlanta Rhythm Section – Red Tape (1976)

FrontCover1  Another early classic that is among their best work, Red Tape is quite different from the previous album or anything that had come before. As the band had played more live shows, they had developed an ensemble sound, and there was an effort to capture that sound on record. The result was like an ARS gig from the mid-70’s-with a strong emphasis on their appreciation for the blues. The band had previously been combining pop and rock stylings. For this album they went with predominantly shorter, pop length songs-with one notable exception. The performances feature a harder rock approach than they had recorded before, with a sharp edged guitar sound prominantly featured.

Released in 1976, the album features eight original songs. The album starts off with the rocking swing of Jukin’ and only lets up once. Mixed Emotions and Shanghied use blues riffs to build a driving momentum through the first part of the album. The tempo varies but the intensity never lessens through the next few songs. The momentum continues to build through Oh What a Feeling and Free Spirit and reaches a crescendo with the one longer tune on the album-a standout remake of their own Another Man’s Woman. This time it’s electric and features extended soloing. Almost every Southern band had a signature anthem, but the case can be made that this one features the most musically diverse arrangement and the tightest playing-and may be the best of them all.When they released Red Tape in 1976, the Atlanta Rhythm Section were at the brink of success(from their website)

Live1976Berry Bailey and Ronnie Hammond, live 1976

They achieved it the following year, when A Rock and Roll Alternative nearly broke into the Top Ten, but they truly found their winning sound here. True, the songs aren’t quite as distinctive as they would be just a mere year later, but the blend of soul, blues, country and rock is melodic and appealing — maybe not as complex as the Allman Brothers, but rivaling the Marshall Tucker Band in terms of songwriting and sound.

An impressive effort from a band beginning to find its feet. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Atlanta Ryhthm Section live at Winterland in San Francisco, Ca. on 11-16-75:

Live1975Personnel:
Barry Bailey (guitar)
Buddy Buie (vocals)
J.R. Cobb (guitar, background vocals)
Dean Daughtry (keyboards)
Paul Goddard (bass)
Ronnie Hammond (vocals, background vocals)
Robert Nix (drums, percussion, background vocals)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Jukin’/San Antonio Rose (Buie/Nix/Wills) 3.43
02. Mixed Emotions (Buie/Cobb/Nix) 3.20
03. Shanghaied (Buie/Cobb/Nix) 2.14
04. Police! Police! (Buie/Cobb/Nix) 3.11
05. Beautiful Dreamers (Buie/Cobb/Nix) 3.26
06. Oh What A Feeling (Bailey/Buie/Nix) 2.39
07. Free Spirit (Buie/Hammond/Nix) 3.35
08. Another Man’s Woman (Bailey/Buie/Daughtry/Nix) 9.47

LabelA1*
**

GoddardPaul Goddard, Bass Player With Atlanta Rhythm Section, dies at 68
(April 30, 2014)