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Atlanta Rhythm Section - 1981 Quinella

ARTIST: Atlanta Rhythm Section
ALBUM: Quinella
SERIAL: PC 37550
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2000, Sony Special Products, 34176


LINEUP: Ronnie Hammond - vocals * Barry Bailey - guitars * J.R. Cobb - guitars * Paul Goddard - bass * Roy Yeager - drums * Dean Daughtry - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Homesick * 02 Quinella * 03 Alien * 04 Higher * 05 You're So Strong * 06 Outlaw Music * 07 Pretty Girl * 08 Southern Exposure * 09 Going To Shangri-La


By 1981 the ARS's commercial heyday had passed, the Georgia bred southern rockers having peaked with 1978's 'Champagne Jam', a fact which didn't mean subsequent albums were inferior, in the case of 'Quinella' especially, an album which showed the band merely improving. It was to be the band's last album until 1989, a shame as the promise of 'Quinella' makes the thought of a mid 80's ARS album tantalising to say the least. Let's face it, they would have gone AOR sooner than 1989's comeback did. Regardless 'Quinella' was a traditional ARS effort, full of driving southern rockers mixed with slower tracks, but all featuring the bands signature melodies and harmonies, which were mainly characterised by their hits 'So Into You', 'Imaginary Lover' and 'Champagne Jam' itself. The fantastic 'Alien' actually reached no 30 in the singles chart, proving the band still had some pull, the song admittedly more AOR than Southern rock.

The Songs
According to the bands website, Lynyrd Skynyrd once said that ARS was the best band to come from the South, and 'Homesick' is indeed close in sound to Skynyrd, not overwhelmingly heavy, but with the right dose of country styled riffs and vocals from Hammond. This is able to stand alongside the best of Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet from the early 80's genre wise. Even more brazenly Southern is the title track, which adds honky tonk piano into the mix, the chorus big on massive harmonies recalling Skynyrd's 'Swamp Music.' The band eases into radio friendly AOR with 'Alien', the keyboard sound almost conjuring up Christopher Cross, almost a forerunner to what the band would perhaps have evolved into in later years if fate hadn't taken course. 'Higher' is heavier AOR, the melody lines too precise to be deciphered as Southern, the band stunningly adept at both. 'You're So Strong' is comparable to similar period Pure Prairie League who also were manufacturing an AOR/Southern crossover with their 'Firin' Up' and 'Something In The Night' albums of 1980 and 81, a direction many others soon followed, Firefall included. Things quieten down for the albums remainder, the softer strains of 'Outlaw Music', 'Pretty Girl' and 'Southern Exposure' all superb and with an identity so blatantly 1981, it's like being caught in a timewarp. The band bows out with 'Going To Shangri-La', maintaining their identifiable sound to the very end.

In Summary
The band commenced work on a follow up which sadly was abandoned and has never surfaced, A shame as the songtitles ('Long Distance Love' and 'Longing For A Feeling' among them) suggested a maturing of the more radio friendly sound that 'Quinella' realised with conviction. It wasn't until 1989's 'Truth In A Structured Form' that the band re-emerged, supposedly to typical high tech late 80's AOR which left many unmoved. I suspect otherwise.. The band is still in existence gigging regularly, with a much amended lineup albeit, with only one studio album since 1989, 'Eufala', released in 1999. With such an extensive back catalogue new music seems almost pointless, especially with gems like 'Quinella' at their disposal, a perfect album in all areas.

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#1 | Eric on March 27 2009 22:34:36
I saw these guys around 1995 playing a small room in an Indian Casino here in Minnesota. Before the show my wife and I were playing slots and a guy who I knew I recognized started playing the machine next to us. It looked like Ronnie Hammond (I own a lot of ARS albums, so..) and I started talking to him- sure enough it was. We talked for a couple minutes- even got his autograph, really nice guy and they put on a good- albeit short set closing with one of my favorite ARS classics-'Champagne Jam'.
#2 | fenton on June 28 2014 11:30:40
That abandoned album is worth tracking down for a little something called 'bad situation' an unabashed funky town ripoff must-hear

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