Georgia Satellites continued ferocious run with ‘Open All Night’

Sophomore LP from Southern rockers not as good as debut, still has bright moments

When Atlanta band the Georgia Satellites hit the worldwide rock scene in 1986, they mixed ferocious guitar riffs, a few raunchy lyrics and passionate vocals. The group’s debut LP turned the pop scene on its ear with its unique blend of Southern rock and arena rock, similar to the styles of Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special. But the Satellites also brought a hard edge, akin to that of Van Halen.

That self-titled LP featured a pair of big-time hit singles in “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and “Battleship Chains,” and the Satellites appeared to be on their way to superstardom. They, like other similar bands of the day such as Lone Justice and Living Colour, turned out to be flashes in the pan commercially, even though all were pretty much extremely critically acclaimed. They also have retained a cult following.

The Georgia Satellites released “Open All Night” in 1988, and the work all but flopped on the charts. Yet the album, the second of three that the band would release before calling it quits, was a big hit with critics who valued its fun, old-time, kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll. Frontman Dan Baird would have a solo hit with 1992’s “Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired,” an album that was released on Def Jam Records, who brought us fellow Georgian hard rockers the Black Crowes, whose fate would be similar to that of the Satellites (although Chris Robinson and his gang would last a little longer).

With “Open All Night,” the Georgia Satellites used the same formula that made their debut an unmitigated worldwide success. Most of the songs, however, don’t quite pack the same punch as the earlier works like “Battleship Chains,” “Myth of Love” or a rowdy, hard-rocking cover of Rod Stewart’s classic “Every Picture Tells a Story.” What the sophomore effort does have, though, is some rocking classics of its own, such as “Sheila,” “Mon Cheri” and “Dunk ‘n’ Dine.”

The biggest hit and brightest highlight of the LP is a rollicking cover of the Beatles’ “Don’t Pass Me By,” which was the first Fab Four song penned by Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr. On it, the Satellites took a country song that was originally released on “The Beatles” (White Album) and transformed it into a rock masterpiece that threw the original version out the window. Former Rolling Stones session player and Small Faces and Faces piano man Ian McLagan played keys on that track; coincidentally, he also played on a cover version of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic “Whole Lotta Shakin.’”

For the most part, the LP is a fun look at a good time period for rock ‘n’ roll. Its one weak moment comes when Baird and company (which included guitarist Rick Richards, bassist Rick Price and drummer Mauro Magellan) take a stab at heavy metal with “Cool Inside.” This track is a disaster that nearly ruins the whole LP. Thankfully, the band bails itself out when it returns to its roots.

“Open All Night” ends on a high note with “Hand to Mouth,” a ballad written and sung by Richards that is truly a lost gem. It’s got a hard-rock edge, too, that stands up well along with classics like AC/DC’s “Ride On” and Tesla’s “Love Song,”

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