Atlanta Rhythm Section

UNLIKE MOST of the Southern boogie bands of the early ’70s who were proud of their live, “rough” sound, the Atlanta Rhythm Section were as much at home in the studio as on the road.

The band was formed in 1970 around Daughtry, a one-time member of Roy Orbison’s backing group the Candymen, Cobb and manager Buddy Buie, all of whom had been members of the Classics IV. Earlier the Classics IV had had a quartet of Top Twenty hits on Imperial (‘Spooky’ and ‘Stormy’, both 1968; ‘Traces’ and ‘Everyday with You Girl’, 1969), all smooth ballads sung with style by lead singer Dennis Yost. Atlanta Rhythm Section (MCA, 1972) marked a defiant break with the pop of the Classic IV, but by the time of Dog Days (Polydor, 1975) their sound had mellowed to include ballads and songs of social comment as well as straight-ahead Southern boogie.

Constant touring and a stream of well-crafted singles sung by Hammond, including the charming ‘Doraville’ (1974), a paean to the band’s home town, ‘So in to You’ (1977), ‘Imaginary Lover’ (1978), and a remake of ‘Spooky’ (1979), resulted in several big-selling albums, the most successful of which was Champagne Jam (1978) on which Yeager replaced Nix as the group’s drummer. They switched to Columbia in 1981 and had a final chart album, Quinella, and single, ‘Alien’, before disbanding.

© Phil Hardy, Dave LaingThe Faber Companion to 20th-Century Popular Music, 2001

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