Loyal Southern Rock fans have been waiting for years for the reissue/remaster of the Atlanta Rhythm Section's seminal live album Are You Ready?, and it's finally here thanks to the folks at BGO Records, who have done a fine job in recent years reissuing the bands stellar back catalog. Though there's always been some debate as to just how 'live' Are You Ready? really is (there has always been a note on the album claiming that it contains live recordings & live studio sessions), that was pretty much the case to many legendary '70s live albums anyway. Anyway you look at it, cleaned up in the studio or not, Are You Ready? is a hell of a live album and show ARS at the height of their powers.
Not content to live off the same hard rocking boogie of fellow Southern Rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws, or Blackfoot, nor delve into jazzy, blues territory like the Allman Brothers Band or country rock of The Marshall Tucker Band or Charlie Daniels Band, ARS instead delivered virtuoso, Southern flavored pop rock with just enough jazz and hard rock elements to give their music some edge. Led by the amazing vocal talents of the late Ronnie Hammond, ARS chalked up a bunch of hit singles, such as "Imaginary Lover", "So Into You", "Champagne Jam", "I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight", "Doravile", and "Angel (What in the World's Come Over Me", all which contain catchy hooks and the sizzling guitar licks of J.R. Cobb and Barry Bailey. These memorable songs are given royal treatment here, chock full of soaring vocals and stellar musicianship (check out the extended guitar solo on "So Into You"-wild!), and there are also riveting renditions of deep album cuts like "Sky High", the heavy rocking tribute to Skynyrd "Large Time", and the mostly instrumental jam "Another Man's Woman", complete with a rousing bass solo from Paul Goddard, their resident prog-rock fanatic with his Rickenbacker bass.
Are You Ready? sounds great, and BGO has included a nice booklet filled with photos and an essay about the album & history of the band. Totally worth the wait folks, so be sure to go get your copy.
1 Prelude: Tara's Theme/Sky High
2 Champagne Jam
3 I'm Not Gonna Let it Bother Me Tonight
4 Large Time
5 Back Up Against The Wall
6 Angel (What in the World's Come Over Us)
8 Imaginary Lover
10 Another Man's Woman
11 Georgia Rhythm
12 So Into You
13 Long Tall Sally