Baby’s got to know about the way I feel
I got a heart that’s made out of railroad steel
cold, hard, true, and mean but when her train
rides through it’ll make me sing
Yup, listen up ladies, ol’ 1537 may well be a dream come true, God’s one true gift to the fairer sex, but don’t try and tame me none because I am cold, hard, true and mean. Word up!
I had a shed-load of musical fun tonight courtesy of Georgia Satellites an album I bought back in the day on a bit of a whim. At the time I really enjoyed the singles ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’ and ‘Battleship Chains’ and I played this one a good few times before casting it aside and heading off for far heavier waters. I can’t have played this LP in about 20 years. What a moron I am, it’s a fine case of shit-kicking southern barroom rock. You know the influences already, some hard-nosed boogie, a touch of country styling and a chunk of the Faces, pretty much the simplest magical formula around.
Lead track ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’ was all over the radio in 1986 reaching #2 in the US* and I remember it as a rare breath of fresh guitar air in those, mostly, musically dismal times. I know it’s got a slight whiff of novelty hit running through it, but it really isn’t any the worse for that, it’s a cute tale and it boasts some proper cast-iron guitars. You can’t argue with a track that makes you smile and rock.
You see, I wanted her real bad and I was about to give in
That’s when she started talking about true love, started talking about sin
I said, “Honey, I’ll live with you for the rest of my life”
She said, “No huggee, no kissee until you make me a wife”
My honey, my baby, don’t put my love upon no shelf
She said, “Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself”
The Georgia Satellites must have thought this music career game was a cinch at this point, first single hitting #2 and all, but it was pretty much all they got; thereby adding themselves to the 1537 One Hit Wonders Roll of Honour, along with Timbuk 3, the Slingbacks, Nena and Falco**. ‘Battleship Chains’, despite boasting a big, big, big drum sound and some huge loud guitars again, just didn’t catch people’s ears as well, mostly I think because of that annoying ‘dins-ling-a-ling’ line^.
My favourite track on Georgia Satellites is ‘Red Light’, another cute tale (Dan Baird was damned good at penning cute tales) about a mad girl ‘totin’ lead’ and a Firebird with ‘Van Halen wailin’ on the stereo eight track’. The slightly off-kilter boogie is propelled ably by Rick Richards guitar, but Baird’s vocals steal the show, everything is just spot-on perfect on this one. In the fact the whole band’s playing is great throughout, tight as a, umm (shelves original very off-colour simile), tight thing! The Georgia Satellites sound like the best bar band you can possibly imagine and that’s not meant as a back-handed compliment at all, it’s great, deceptively simple and all played as if their lives depended upon it by a really well-drilled outfit. In fact, given Bill Gates-style wealth I’d book them for my next birthday bash immediately.
Maybe it’s a Georgia thing. I can really hear their DNA in bits of Black Crowes Shake Your Money Maker, check out the intro to ‘Railroad Steel’ next to the intro to ‘Thick n’ Thin’:
Oh yes – Mr musicologist strikes again.
It’s not all brilliant, ‘Myth of Love’ aims at Springsteen and ends up hitting Jimmy Barnes and ‘Over and Over’ (sadly not a Black Sabbath cover) is just nondescript. But there are some really good rockers here, the slow burning ‘Nights of Mystery’ is a particularly fine tune with some great wistful lyrics and one of them fine cuss words I love so much,
All I need is one fine moment of intuition and clarity
Just one fine, fine moment, that’s all I’ll ever need in this life for me
I got this genius of the heart that shines wild and free
Don’t I love, love to be caught out on your sweet nights of mystery
Dan Baird gets some individual extra bonus 1537 points for that first line and the band picks some up too for running the track straight into a really rocking version of ‘Every Picture tells a Story’. What a great track it is too, racial slurs and all. Imagine my shock then, dear reader, when watching TV one day to find that sneaky Rod Stewart had somehow perfected time travel solely to cover a Georgia Satellites’ tune 15 years before they wrote it! What a rotter.
Throw things at me by all means, but I have to stand up strong and proud and shout out that I prefer the Georgia Satellites version. I know that puts me in a minority of one but you know, with the exception of one Faces LP, I like all the bands and singers who’ve been influenced by Rod Stewart far more than I like any of his actual music. I know, I know, the feds are putting me into the Hipness Protection Program in the morning…
*only kept from #1 by ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’.
**any of you have a problem with ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ – we’ll take it outside!
^ I still found myself singing it aloud at the station this morning though. I have a regular gig performing there between 6.50 and 7.15 weekday mornings, no dress code, all ages welcome, ticket prices vary.