In Praise Of ARS…

In Praise Of ARS…
Authored By John Nicholson
One of Southern rock’s great bands, but one of the least celebrated is the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Starting as a studio band they released their debut album  in 1972 on Decca. The first two albums failed to sell and they were dropped. They had a very slick studio style. Smooth might be a good description. Rock music designed for hot nights.
They were signed by Polydor and got a hit single. Doraville made #35 but the album, the Third Annual Pipe Dream stalled at #74. They released two more albums neither of which sold very many. Then it all changed. A Rock n Roll Alternative sold half a million and went to #11 driven on by So Into You which was a #7 hit single. This was in 1977 (the album came out the previous year) and smokey, bluesy soft rock was fashionable. They followed it up with Champagne Jam which went platinum and hit singles kept coming. Imaginary Lover’s hit #7. They next released Underdog which made #26. and contained Spooky, a great cover version with a beautifully crafted guitar solo, you can tell they really know what they’re doing by the dynamics of how they slide into the second solo. With drums adding delicious detail, it absolutely soars, in fact they released 14 singles between 1974 and 1981 and always charted in America.ars
The Atlanta Rhythm Section rarely came to the UK, they played Reading Festival but never charted, though did have a following, I was 15 when Alternative came out and though my mates decried it as soft rock, I loved it. They just seemed so professional and in control. It’s a great feeling when you sense you’re in the hands of experts. Their music veers from guitar workouts to soupy ballads. It’s quite eclectic.
While the likes of the Allmans and Skynyrd had big success, ARS always flew under the radar outside of USA. While the AOR audience was there for them, they were well established to do well. They broke up in the early 80s and have come together ever since in various lineups, but haven’t charted. If any of their records passed you by at the time, dig out Rock n Roll Alternative, it’s the sort of classy rock music that was once commonplace.
Everyone who hears them thinks they’re cool. But maybe they’re lacking some superstar quality which would have made them bigger and have more appeal. They certainly paid some dues to have their few years in the sun. And they are a great band to show off to your Southern rock mates who they might have overlooked them. Not exactly the worlds’ best kept secret, but certainly a band that is overdue some credit for some great music.

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