The Georgia Satellites will always be remembered as that slow-jammin’, denim-clad, proudly-twangy Southern rock band from Atlanta. The combo became best known for the smash-hit single “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” — a straightforward blues-rocker (in very basic 1-4-5 arrangement) about “true love and sin” off the their 1986 self-titled album on Elektra/Asylum. The video clip of the band jamming in the bed of a pickup truck and hanging out at a hee-haw shot-gun wedding ceremony staple was a on MTV that year, and the song became a familiar standard in every other bar band’s repertoire across the country.
The Satellites boogie into Charleston this weekend for a gig at Halligan’s. Minus toothy lead singer/guitarist Dan Baird (whose thick drawl was prominent on the band’s ’80s hits), the lineup these days features Rick Richards on guitar and vocals, Rick Price on bass, Kenny Head on piano, and Todd Johnston on drums.
If “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” was the band’s strongest chart-topping tune, some of their minor hits pulled even harder from the earliest era of rock ‘n’ roll — the same blend of blues, country, and rockabilly at the core of what Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Eddie Cochran were up to back in the day.
The rendition of Chan Romero’s 1959 hell-raiser “Hippy Hippy Shake” made it onto the original soundtrack for the Tom Cruise bartender flick Cocktail. The two-chord honky-tonk anthem “Battleship Chains” — originally penned by Terry Anderson — was instantly likeable. The slinky tavern rocker “Open All Night” fit in with “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” like a snivelling sidekick.
During the late-’80s, the band operated on the fringe of the pop mainstream and the “cowpunk” side of things on college radio (alongside Jason & The Scorchers, Lone Justice, Los Lobos, and many other bolo-tie wearing combos). The Satellites were unabashedly derivative and unfancy with their distinctly Southern rawk. Hopefully, they still are!