Melodic southern rock specialists Atlanta Rhythm Section didn’t necessarily get described as a supergroup, but when they came together in the early 1970s, they nevertheless boasted vast experience. Two of them (J.R. Cobb and Dean Daughtry, plus the band’s manager-producer Buddy Buie), came from 1968 ‘Spooky’ hitmakers Classics IV; two more, Dean Daughtry and Robert Nix, were members of Roy Orbison’s band, the Candymen.
ARS debuted in 1972 with a self-titled album that bubbled under the top 200 Billboard chart. Their second album, Back Up Against The Wall, missed the survey, before a change of labels, from Decca to Polydor, brought better luck. Their official debut on that countdown came on 14 September 1974, when Third Annual Pipe Dream, produced as usual by Buie, entered at No. 166.
Listen to Third Annual Pipe Dream right now.
In a 12-week stay on the chart, the album reached No. 74, and there was another breakthrough when its opening track ‘Doraville’ entered the Hot 100, on its way to a No. 35 peak. The track was named after the town just outside Atlanta where most of the band lived.
Written by Buie, Nix and guitarist Buddy Bailey, the song typified the band’s subtly southern and intelligently commercial guitar-rock sound, as did the follow-up single from the LP, the pretty ‘Angel (What In The World’s Come Over Us’), which reached No. 79 in early 1975.
Third Annual Pipe Dream was launched by live dates that included a week-long engagement close to home for ARS, at the New Electric Ballroom in Atlanta in July, followed by further dates in the south. Billboard’s review of one night in the Atlanta run remarked that the album, “an excellent bright-boogie work with just the right soft touches, was selling furiously in Atlanta and getting heavy AM airplay the week of the Ballroom engagement.
The band’s friend Joe South was in attendance for some of the shows, watching a set that included songs from all three ARS albums as well as some surprising covers, including Steely Dan’s then-new ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,’ Procol Harum’s ‘A Salty Dog’ and even Wings’ ‘Live and Let Die.’
Third Annual Pipe Dream can be bought here.
Follow the official Atlanta Rhythm Section Best Of playlist.