Fans of Southern rock music are sure to have some favorite songs by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
In 2022, they’ll be celebrating 50 years together as a band. These days, it’s hard to find a band that has lasted that long without at least taking a break.
ARS, as their fans refer to them, has stood the test of time despite numerous lineup changes.
Let’s take a look!
About the Atlanta Rhythm Section
Formed in the Fall of 1971, the Atlanta Rhythm Section consisted of members from two session bands from Doraville, Georgia. The bands were regulars at the Studio One recording studio, located just outside Atlanta.
The original lineup included vocalist Rodney Justo, guitarist Barry Bailey, bassist Paul Goddard, keyboardist Dean Daughtry, and drummer Robert Nix.
It didn’t take long for them to release their first self-titled studio album in January 1972. ARS had a bumpy start as their first two albums weren’t overly successful. It wasn’t until their third release, Third Annual Pipe Dream, in 1974 that they began to get some recognition.
ARS experienced many highs and lows when it came to their studio albums. But it was their live performances that helped show audiences their true talents.
In 1975, they opened for both The Rolling Stones and The Who. This exposure gave them the boost they needed to move the band forward. They released A Rock and Roll Alternative the following year, which became their first major successful studio album.
The last half of the 1970s proved incredibly prosperous for this Southern rock band. They joined bands like Genesis, Van Halen, Heart, and Jefferson Starship at large music festivals. In 1978, they headlined their own festival, Champagne Jam, in Georgia. Other bands included Santana, the Doobie Brothers, and Eddie Money.
While the band experienced its share of ups and downs, lineup changes, and deaths, they remain active. Only one original member, vocalist Rodney Justo, remains in the current lineup.
ARS has released 17 studio and live albums throughout its 50-year history.
Now, let’s jump into seven of Atlanta Rhythm Section’s greatest songs.
About the Song: Alien’s lyrics speak of a man feeling out of place and alone, looking for help. The harmonizing vocals are elegantly done and add to the overall beauty of this tune.
The song was released as a single and did well on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary and Rock music charts. It would be the band’s final Top 40 hit.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday are all the same He's lost and all alone A heart without a home Standin' like a statue in the rain
First Appearance: This track was on the band’s tenth album, Quinella, released in 1981.
#6 Do It or Die
About the Song: Do It or Die is a simple and beautiful song filled with uplifting and inspiring lyrics. Listening to it might help someone feel like all isn’t lost when going through a difficult time.
Don't let your troubles make you cry Don't waste a moment wondering why When everything goes wrong You have to go on And do it or die
First Appearance: Do It or Die is the opening track on their eighth album, Underdog, released in 1979.
#5 Champagne Jam
About the Song: Musically, this song is reminiscent of Steely Dan, but the lyrics ooze with stories of debauchery.
Beautiful guitar solos, inviting vocals, and impressive bass lines help create this masterpiece of a song.
Let's raise a ruckus, let's tie one on Bring out a bottle of Dom Perignon If they throw us in jail, we don't give a damn
First Appearance: Champagne Jam is a track on the band’s 1978 album of the same name.
#4 I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight
About the Song: The lyrics in this Atlanta Rhythm Section song may not be the most uplifting, but the musicianship shines throughout.
I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight did well on the US and Canadian music charts, reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I picked up the paper this morning And read all the daily blues The world is one big tragedy I wonder what I can do About all the pain and injustice
First Appearance: This is the second track on their seventh studio album Champagne Jam, released in 1978.
#3 Imaginary Lover
About the Song: Our imagination can create perfect situations. In this song, we allow ourselves to envision that lover who won’t let us down and is ideal in every way.
Imaginary Lover was the first release from their seventh album Champagne Jam. It reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is considered by ARS fans to be one of their greatest hits.
When ordinary lovers Don't feel what you feel And real-life situations lose their thrill Imagination's unreal Imaginary lover, imaginary lover You're mine anytime
First Appearance: Their 1978 album Champagne Jam contains several ARS hits. This hit is another track from that release.
About the Song: This tune was originally an instrumental written and performed by saxophonist Mike Shapiro in 1967. Later that year, the soft rock band Classic IV added lyrics. Incidentally, members of Classic IV would later join ARS.
Spooky is certainly one of those great oldies that many people recognize. However, they may not know who recorded it. While the Atlanta Rhythm Section turned it into one of their greatest songs, many other artists covered it.
I get confused, 'cause I don't know where I stand And then you smile, and hold my hand Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you
First Appearance: This song appears on the 1979 ARS album Underdog, though it first showed on music charts as an instrumental in 1967.
#1 So Into You
About the Song: The lyrics talk about an attraction to an enchanting stranger that walked into the room. We’ve all been there! Trying to catch the eye of that person we can’t take our eyes off of.
There’s a reason this tune is in the #1 spot on this list. It’s by far their biggest hit, and the one most people know. When they released it as a single in 1977, it reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remained in that spot for three weeks.
When you walked into the room There was voodoo in the vibes I was captured by your style But I could not catch your eyes Now I stand here helplessly Hoping you'll get into me
First Appearance: So Into You is a track on their sixth album, A Rock and Roll Alternative, released in 1976.
Which Atlanta Rhythm Section Song is Your Favorite?
If you weren’t too familiar with Atlanta Rhythm Section songs, this list could help you learn more about them. Some of these tunes still get regular airplay on classic rock radio stations. Check them out and see which of these oldies appeal to you. Did we miss any ARS songs that should have been on the list? Let us know!