The majority of the top 10 Georgia Satellites songs peer into the recording career of the Southern rock band from the Peach State that spanned from 1985 to 1989. The most popular single credited to the group was “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” as this became the group’s biggest hit after it was released the year Georgia Satellites recorded and released its debut album. After taking a three-year break in 1990, Rick Richards took his crew to the stage again before recording and releasing 1996’s Shaken Not Stirred.
The history of the Georgia Satellites began in 1980 when its founders Dan Baird, Ken Christopher, David Michaelson, and Rick Richards first named themselves the Satellites. After performing a few gigs in their home city of Atlanta, Georgia, the men experienced its first lineup change. Christopher was replaced by Dan Hewitt on bass while Randy DeLay replaced Michaelson as the band’s drummer. While putting together a demo recording, the group changed its name to Georgia Satellites. As the group waited to be discovered, the men performed every Monday at an Atlanta-based bar known as Hedgens. It didn’t wait very long, however, as shortly after the demo was recorded, the bandmates went their separate ways during the summer of 1984. They felt they weren’t going anywhere together as a rock group and felt they needed to reconsider their career options.
Although Georgia Satellites experienced a slow start to its recording career, one of its managers, Kevin Jennings, refused to give up hope. He was able to win over the attention of a record label in Yorkshire, England, who liked the demo enough to have it released as an EP titled Keep the Faith. It became popular enough to get the attention of record labels in the United States. It was a good enough reason for Baird and Richards to give Georgia Satellites another go as a group. Now with Rick Price on bass and Mauro Magellan on drums, Georgia Satellites secured a contract with Elektra Records that would release its debut album in 1986. The group’s debut single, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” was the big breakthrough Georgia Satellites needed to achieve stardom at both a national and international level. It played a key role with the group’s debut album to become certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The big breakthrough Georgia Satellites earned with its debut and “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” was a relatively short-lived experience as the single would be the one and only that would become a top forty hit for the group. The closest contender was 1988’s “Hippy Hippy Shake,” a cover version that was featured in Cocktail, a movie that starred Tom Cruise. It became a minor hit for the group as it focused on producing its second studio album, Open All Night. Also a 1988 release, its title track as a single failed to make a chart impression.
In 1989, Georgia Satellites released its third studio album, In the Land of Salvation and Sun, a recording that featured one of the songs from the group’s 1985-released EP, Keep the Faith. “Crazy” and “Six Years Gone” received favorable reviews from music critics, as did the album, but not enough fans seemed interested enough to buy it. Also in 1989 was the release of Georgia Satellites’ second EP, Another Chance. However, whatever momentum Georgia Satellites had in 1986 as a rock group was lost and it was enough to convince Baird to break ties and pursue a solo career.
As of 1990, Georgia Satellites went on hiatus as a group after it released Never Stop Rockin’ as its third EP. It wouldn’t be until 1993 that Dan Baird and Rick Richards would pick up where the band left off, first with the release of its compilation album, Let It Rock: The Best of the Georgia Satellites. In addition to a tracklist that featured the best songs from the three studio albums and EP that were produced between 1986 and 1989. This led to the 1996 recording and release of Shaken Not Stirred, the fourth and final studio album by Georgia Satellites. The combination of older songs that were rerecorded, along with original material summed up the album’s tracklist. The tradition of Dan Baird serving as the group’s primary songwriter continued with the eight new songs that were recorded for the album.
While the Georgia Satellites may not shine as prominently as it did during the second half of the 1980s, its talent pool continues to make its mark in the music industry. As fate had it, the majority of the bandmates belonging to Georgia Satellites were able to enjoy the taste of success as musicians. However, each did so on his own terms. Baird not only embarked on a solo career but formed his own band, Homemade Sin. Its lineup featured former members of Georgia Satellites, Ken Christopher and Mauro Magellan. In addition to performing as a rocker, Baird also teamed up with country music’s Trent Summar & The New Row Mob, as well as The Yayhoos.
While he continued to enjoy his career run as a musician, so did Rick Richards. Richards has been part of Izzy Stradlin’s band since the early 1990s and together have released and recorded eleven albums. Fans of Guns N’ Roses will remember Stradlin as one of its guitarists. In addition to working with Stradlin, Richards also kept in touch with Kevin Jennings. Together, the two released an album in 2013, For Ol’ Times Sake, as The Western Sizzlers.
The most recent album released by Georgia Satellites was Lightnin’ in a Bottle. This was a live recording the band performed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1988 but wasn’t released until March 2022. Altogether, Georgia Satellites released four studio albums, three EPs, two compilation albums, and a live album. From that, all seven of the singles it released charted on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart between 1986 to 1990. Even though Georgia Satellites didn’t score as many hits on the US Billboard Hot 100, the group was still able to maintain a solid fan base of rockers who love its brand of Southern-style rock and roll.
Top 10 Georgia Satellites Songs
#10 – Can’t Stand the Pain
For the most part, Dan Baird has been the main songwriter for Georgia Satellites. In the case of “Can’t Stand the Pain,” this was written by the band’s founder and lead guitarist, Rick Richards. He also performed the lead vocals in a song that served as a prime example of what Southern roots rock was all about. Even before “roots rock” became a term, this was a brand of music Georgia Satellites performed since it came together as a group for the first time in 1980.
It was this style of music that was first overlooked by American record labels but won the attention of UK-based Making Waves when it released the group’s first EP, Keeping the Faith, in 1985. “Can’t Stand the Pain” was a 1986 release from the Georgia Satellites album. In the lyrics, an anguished Richards lamented over a relationship he had with a love interest that was apparently tormenting him from the inside out.
#9 – Let It Rock
Chuck Berry’s iconic hit, “Let It Rock” was a live performance Georgia Satellites covered before it was recorded and released on its 1989 EP, Another Chance. While it’s virtually impossible to match Berry’s raw energy as one of the greatest performers to grace the music industry, Rick Richards did a stellar job as a rockin’ guitarist himself. Already a fiery number by the legendary Chuck Berry, “Let It Rock” experienced a good dose of Southern-style rock by a group that made a career out of taking old-school favorites and turning them into country rock bar gems.
#8 – All Over But the Cryin’
The final single released by Georgia Satellites before going into hiatus was 1990’s “All Over But the Cryin’.” This came from the 1989 album, In the Land of Salvation and Sin. While both the song and the album received favorable reviews from the critics, neither was quite able to win over the fans enough at the time to be regarded as commercially successful releases. This was a power ballad that had no trouble tugging at the heartstrings of listeners who could relate to the empty feeling received once they realized the person they love the most had been cheating on them.
What “All Over But the Cryin'” demonstrated as a song was how far Dan Baird and Rick Richards came as musicians since the earlier days of a rock group that first rose to fame after “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” This song was a refreshing change of pace among critics and critics who could see there was more to Georgia Satellites than performing honky-tonk style rockers.
#7 – Another Chance
What made Georgia Satellites stand out as a rock band was the bits of humor that would play along with most of its songs. “Another Chance” not only pulled this off as a song but as an emulation of the songwriting style of Ronnie Lane for “Faces” and Ron Wood’s slide guitar performance of “Ooh La La.” In the songwriting credits, Dan Baird commented “Hats off to Woody and Ronnie Lane.”
According to the lyrics, Don Baird appealed to someone named Richard to give him another chance. Was this referencing his bandmate at the time, Rick Richards? Perhaps, as both men found themselves realizing as musicians they’ve experienced all the highs and lows that come with striving to achieve stardom, then hanging onto it the best they can as they enjoy the ride. By the time Baird left Georgia Satellites, he personally felt he had nothing left to contribute to a band that seemed like it had already ridden its course as a recording artist. The lyrics seemed to reflect that as Baird stressed he didn’t want another chance to run in a race he felt was already done.
#6 – Railroad Steel
“Railroad Steel” was a song that came from Georgia Satellites’ debut album which was released in 1986. It was the recording’s third single and it peaked as high as high as number thirty-four on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. This was a love song written by Dan Baird that made reference to a train riding the rails as a metaphor for how he’d like to take his woman’s love with him everywhere he goes. According to him, his heart is made from “Railroad Steel” which is mostly cold and hard but remains true to the one he loves the most. This was a great tune that demonstrated why Georgia Satellites earned a loyal fan following who had a love for rootsy-style Southern rock.
#5 – Don’t Pass Me By
Released in 1988 as a single, “Don’t Pass Me By” was a Beatles cover the Georgia Satellites performed as one of the songs from its second studio album, Open All Night. The Beatles first recorded and released this song in 1968 from its White Album as a country rock song written by its drummer, Ringo Starr. It was released as a single among the Scandinavian nations and became a number-one hit in Denmark.
For the Georgia Satellites, its cover version became a number thirty-three hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. For Starr, “Don’t Pass Me By” was his first composition and it was regarded by fans and music critics as an endearing blueprint for the rock and roll genre. Among recording artists specializing in country and Southern-style rock, “Don’t Pass Me By” was a favorite. What the Georgia Satellites did was turn this version of “Don’t Pass Me By” into a honky-tonk style rocker suitable for any bar.
#4 – Open All Night
Released in 1988, “Open All Night” was the title track belonging to the group’s second studio album. Although it failed to make a chart appearance on the US Billboard Hot 100, it did become a number-six hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. Written by Dan Baird, “Open All Night” was about enjoying an evening out on the town with a love interest whom he hoped would be willing to spend time throughout the night. In the lyrics, he couldn’t care less what his friends thought as he was more interested in spending time with her.
#3 – Battleship Chains
“Battleship Chains” was the follow-up single released after “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” Also released in 1986, it became a number eleven hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number eighty-six before it faded back out into obscurity as a single. It didn’t fare much better in Australia as it peaked as high as number eighty-two. In the UK, “Battleship Chains” performed better than “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” by peaking as high as number forty-four.
This was a cover version performed by Georgia Satellites that was first written and recorded by Terry Anderson while he was with his band, The Woods. While the song may not be recognized as a big hit, it has been a favorite among fans and recording artists to cover. In 1990, R.E.M. and Warren Zevon collaborated on a side project known as Hindu Love Gods that covered “Battleship Chains” for its album recording. What Georgia Satellites did with its version of “Battleship Chains” was turn it into a cranked-up rocker that became one of the group’s trademarks as performers.
#2 – Hippy Hippy Shake
Written by Chan Romero, the “Hippy Hippy Shake” was recorded for the first time as a single in 1959. It became a hit in Australia but had yet to win over the rest of the world for the iconic classic this song had become. The 1963 performance by The Swinging Blue Jeans was the covered version that received all the attention that would turn it into such a big hit in the UK at number two. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number twenty-four.
It became an iconic hit covered by many recording artists, including Georgia Satellites. The Atlanta-based band covered this song in 1988 for the Tom Cruise blockbuster, Cocktail. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number forty-five hit. It was even more popular on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart at number thirteen. In Australia, it peaked as high as number thirty-seven while in the UK, at number sixty-three.
#1 – Keep Your Hands to Yourself
When “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” was released as a single in 1986, it became a number-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 as well as on the US Mainstream Rock Chart. It also became an international hit as it peaked as high as number three in Canada, at number twenty in Australia, and at number sixty-nine in the UK. This debut single from Georgia Satellites came from its self-titled debut album while signed with Elektra Records.
In addition to this song becoming a big breakthrough hit for the group from Atlanta, Georgia, it also earned an MTV Video Music Award. Mary Deacon was recognized as Best Art Director for the music video that added the visual appeal to “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” as it continued to spike in popularity as a hit single. What made “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” such a classic was Dan Baird’s energetic performance as the band’s lead vocalist. This was a song about a woman’s refusal to go beyond “first base” with the singer as he attempted to woo her with romantic charm. Adding even more humor to the song’s lyrics, the music video that was shot for it ended with the woman convincing her man to commit to what she wanted from him all along, which was marriage.
Feature Photo: Brian Mansfield, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Georgia Satellites Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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