JAM, Released in 1978, was the breakthrough album that marked
the zenith of music-making, critical support and popular acclaim
for ARS. Eight great songs-all originals-are showcased with the
top notch, smooth pop production the group had been refining for
years. The songwriting and musicianship maintain the superior
standards the band had established through its previous albums.
The songs continue the pattern of blending beautiful melodies
with shifting tempos, with each of the songs clocking in at a
moderate three to five minutes.
album proved to be very popular, hitting the top 10 and going
gold and then platinum. The song Champagne Jam was released as
a single, and the single of I'm Not Gonna Let it Bother Me made
it to the top 20. But it was Imaginary Lover that proved to be
the band's biggest hit-reaching number seven on the charts. The
story has been told of a New York DJ who accidentally played the
45 of Imaginary Lover at 78 rpm and was inundated with calls asking
about the new Fleetwood Mac song. Whatever, it worked. The album
hit the top 10 and went platinum. But the musical climate was
changing as new wave took over and what was labeled Southern Rock
became less popular. The group continued to hit the road, now
performing to much bigger audiences who knew their hits.
White House Performance
August of 1978 ARS hosted another big festival at Grant Field
in Atlanta-the Champagne Jam-a celebration of the local boys who
had made it big. It was also around this time that ARS played
one of their more prestigious venues-the White House. They had
become acquainted with Jimmy Carter in his days as Governor of
Georgia, and as President he invited them to come play for his
son's birthday on the South Lawn in Washington. "My friends,"
Carter described ARS as he introduced them, "Not only are we both
from the same part of the country, but I remember when they first
started that all the critics and commentators said they didn't
have a chance-and they said the same thing about me." This performance
was noted in Time magazine among other places. The studio session
men from Doraville had come a long way.
distance traveled also had a down side, as the non-stop pressure
of the road and the studio started to get to everyone in different
ways. It was around this time that original drummer and songwriter
Robert Nix left the band and was replaced by Roy Yeager, who joined
them in the studio for work on their next album.
Success Continues with Underdog
in 1979, UNDERDOG , was another excellent album that continued
ARS' popular success and documents the band continuing to make
quality music-even though the critical and popular tide that had
swelled through the late 1970s had reached its peak. The album
features eight original songs, one of them incorporating a well
known Ashford & Simpson song. The tone of this collection is softer,
as only a couple of songs truly rock out, but the songwriting
and musicianship continues at the superior levels the group had
established previously. While two songs would break out as singles,
overall it's another superior set of tunes.
It or Die and Spooky were both released as singles and hit the
top 20. The album went gold. With the group's popularity still
high, the decision was made to put out a double live album that
showcased the bands' musical prowess in concert.
a Live Album
a tribute to ARS's popular success and a testimony to their musical
abilities, the live album Are You Ready! was released in 1979.
The cover images show how far the group had come-from the house
band at a small studio outside Atlanta to playing to stadiums
full of people. The album also documents the power that ARS could
bring to a live performance. While their musical talents had been
well documented with their studio recordings, their ability to
give songs a different but equally enjoyable arrangement in concert
comes through clearly. Overall, this is another classic work-a
compilation of many great songs from their albums up through Champagne
Jam played with great energy and skill.
live album was the last for the Polydor label. Following up to
the successful festival show of the previous year, ARS hosted
the Champagne Jam II in August 1979 in Atlanta. The band moved
to the CBS label as they went back into the studio to record again.