Atlanta Rhythm Section: (courtesy of Allmusic.com)
Often described as a more radio-friendly version of Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers, the Atlanta Rhythm Section was one of many Southern rock bands to hit the upper reaches of the charts during the late '70s. Hailing from the small town of Doraville, Georgia, the beginning of the Atlanta Rhythm Section can be traced back to 1970. It was then that a local recording studio was opened, Studio One, and the remnants of two groups (the Candymen and the Classics Four), became the studio's house band. One of the facility's head figures, Buddy Buie, soon began assembling the session band — singer Rodney Justo, guitarist Barry Bailey, bassist Paul Goddard, keyboardist Dean Daughtry, and drummer Robert Nix. After playing on several artists' recordings, it was decided to take the band a step further and make the group of players a real band, leading to the formation of the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
Atlanta Rhythm SectionBuie soon became an invisible fifth member of the fledgling band; he served as their manager and producer, in addition to providing a major hand in the songwriting department. Finding time between sessions to record their own original material (which was initially, entirely instrumental), an early demo wound up landing the band a record deal. The group's first few albums failed to generate much chart action (1972's Atlanta Rhythm Section, 1973's Back Up Against the Wall, 1974's Third Annual Pipe Dream, 1975's Dog Days, and 1976's Red Tape), but it was during this time that Justo was replaced with newcomer Ronnie Hammond, which would eventually pay dividends for the group. Although they had gained quite a bit of radio airplay down south, their record company began to put pressure on the quintet to deliver a single that would break them nationally. The demand worked — the Atlanta Rhythm Section scored a Top Ten single, “So Into You,” on their next release, 1976's A Rock and Roll Alternative, which was the group's first album to reach gold certification.
Champagne Jam But this wouldn't be the group's commercial peak, as they scored the highest charting album of their career in 1978, the Top Ten Champagne Jam, which spawned two hit singles — “I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight” and “Imaginary Lover.” To keep up their high profile, the Atlanta Rhythm Section soon became one of the hardest touring bands of the entire Southern rock genre (including a performance at the White House for then-president Jimmy Carter). But the group's commercial success would be fleeting — it appeared as soon as mainstream rock fans embraced the Atlanta Rhythm Section, they just as quickly forgot about them. Each subsequent album — 1979's Underdog and live set Are You Ready, 1980s The Boys from Doraville, and 1981's Quinella — sold less than the previous one, resulting in the band's split shortly thereafter.
In the wake of their split, the Atlanta Rhythm Section has reunited sporadically for tours (although only a few original members would be present), and issued their first all-new studio album in more than a decade in 1999, Eufaula. Additionally, some of country-rock's biggest names have gone on to record Atlanta Rhythm Section covers — Travis Tritt, Wynonna Judd, and Charlie Daniels, among others.
Firefall: (courtesy of Allmusic.com) The mellow, easy country-rock sounds of Firefall, coupled with the group's penchant for pop melodies and high-pitched harmonies, produced a series of successful LPs in the late '70s and a series of chart singles, including the Top Ten hit “You Are the Woman.” The group was formed by former Flying Burrito Brother Rick Roberts, who handled vocals, guitar, and most of the songwriting duties; he was joined by fellow ex-Burrito and Byrd Michael Clarke on drums, ex-Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne bassist Mark Andes, guitarist/vocalist Jock Bartley, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Larry Burnett, and keyboardist/woodwind player David Muse, who joined in 1977. The group recorded its self-titled debut in 1976; it and its follow-up, Luna Sea, both went gold, and their third album, Elan, went platinum. However, the group's commercial fortunes began to decline, and even though Muse experimented with adding different instruments to the overall sound, Firefall's relaxed, toned-down approach simply wore out its welcome as pop trends moved elsewhere. Jock Bartley re-formed the group in 1994 for the album Messenger. Under the moniker Firefall Acoustic, Bartley and vocalist/guitarist Steven Weinmeister released Colorado to Liverpool: A Tribute to the Beatles in 2007. Bartley continued to tour under the Firefall name into the second decade of the 21st century with a lineup that included Steven Weinmeister (vocals, guitar), Sandy Ficca (drums), Bil Hopkins (vocals, bass) and Chris Ball (sax, flute and keyboards).
From their earliest days as a favorite at colleges and clubs in the Northeast US … to studio and live collaborations with industry greats Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Little Feat and others … to Top 10 success with bona-fide classics such as “Still the One”, “Dance With Me” and “Love Takes Time” … now celebrating their 40th year of creating musical history together, Orleans has continually demonstrated depth.
Stewart came to stardom as part of the legendary British folk revival in the sixties and seventies, and developed his own unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of the great characters and events from history. Al Stewart had released nineteen studio albums between “Bedsitter Images” in 1967 and “Sparks of Ancient Light” in 2008 and continues to tour extensively around the US, and Europe. He is perhaps best known for his hit “Year of the Cat” from the platinum album of the same name and the platinum follow up album “Tim Passages”. But his career spans four decades as a key figure in British music. He played at the first ever Glastonbury Festival in 1970, worked with Yoko Ono pre-Lennon and shared a London apartment with a young Paul Simon.