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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Georgia Satellites

Ultimate Georgia Satellites

Review by Gary Hill

I, like a lot of people, probably knew of Georgia Satellites because of two songs, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" and "Battleship Chains." Those are still great tunes, but I'd have to say that the one that got less attention "Battleship Chains" is the better track of the two. Well, you get both of those songs here along with every other song on the band's first three albums and a lot of bonus tracks.

I am sure that a lot of people think of this band as strictly a bluesy southern rock band, and that is an accurate description. What many miss, I think, is a lot of the songs aren't that far removed from the non-hit, straight rock band side of REO Speedwagon. I would even say that some of the vocals make me think of Kevin Cronin a little. Coming in, more or less new to the group, let me say that their third album is definitely their best of the discs from this first incarnation of the band. It's a bit sad that it was the final disc because it showed a range and maturity missing from the first two albums. It would have been interesting to hear what they would have done had they kept on going with that lineup. Still, what we have here is well worth enjoying.

Why is that final disc so much better? Well, it's because they seemed to be limited in terms of songwriting for the first couple albums. They produced solid blues rocking tunes with a southern edge and some great slide guitar, but it all tended to sound the same. The melodies for quite a few songs were just about the same as those on "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." That's not such a huge complaint. Artists like Chuck Berry had long careers like that, and if you only listen to a song or two at a time, it is never an issue anywhere. It's just that by disc three they really had expanded their range, and made for a much stronger album.

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Georgia Satellites + Bonus Tracks
Keep Your Hands to Yourself

It seems that pretty much anyone reading this review is familiar with this song. It was the group's one huge hit. The grinding roots rock groove still holds up really well. It's kind of a timeless tune in a lot of ways. There are hints of AC/DC on the tune, but with more of a real roots vibe.

Railroad Steel
If anything, I think this rocker might be even stronger than the opener. The killer blues rock vibe and progression really rock. It's a powerhouse with a lot of classic roots at its core.
Battleship Chains
This was a lesser hit for the band. It has a good anthemic rock groove and some killer guitar soloing in the mix. It's another strong tune.
Red Light
Meatier and harder rocking, this is a killer tune. In fact, I'd consider it stronger than the numbers that came before.
The Myth of Love
I really dig the guitar sound on this tune. The song is another powerhouse blues rocker.
Can't Stand the Pain

The guitar solo section on this is on fire with slide guitar brilliance. The song has a lot of energy and drive. It's really a standout tune.

Golden Light

There is much more of a Southern rock feeling to this tune. Roots rock, folk rock and more are on display here. This is less intense and rocking than some of the rest, but I'd think of it more as the electric side of Bob Dylan in terms of its musical pedigree.

Over and Over

More of a hard-edged blues rocker, this is a solid tune, but not much of a standout. That said, it has some driving hooks and killer guitar work.

Nights of Mystery

This opens with an acoustic guitar based rock motif. The tune sounds a lot like "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" in terms of structure and vocal delivery. That's even more true when they electrify it after the first vocal movement. An intricate acoustic guitar section ends the tune.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Here's a cover of the tune from Rod Stewart. This version a bit rawer. Ironically (given that Ron Wood was one of the co-writers) it feels more like The Rolling Stones here. There is an unfortunate line in the lyrics that definitely doesn't hold up well in today's climate.

Bonus Tracks:



The Myth of Love (Live)

This live rocker is a smoking hot one that a lot of energy.

Battleship Chains (Kick 'N' Lick Remix)
Given the title and parenthetical, you get an idea of what this is. The tune still works really well in this format.
Hard Luck Boy
I love the guitar fills on this energetic rocker. This is a lot of fun.
Red Light (Live)
Another live tune, there is some real meat on the riffing here. The tune has an edgy quality that works really well. It earns a minor parental advisory.
No Money Down (Live)
A full on blues romp, this has so much old school blues at its heart. Fans of newer music will equate it to George Thorogood, but old Lonesome George was channeling the old blues masters in the same way as the Satellites are here. There is a meaty guitar solo on this number.
Battleship Chains (Party Mix)
Here we get another mix of the band's second hit tune. I don't think I like this as well as the other versions. Still, it works well.
Nights of Mystery (Live)

Here we get another live tune. They do the whole tune electrified in contrast to the studio version. It works well in that configuration, but loses some of its uniqueness.

I'm Waiting for the Man (Live)

The final bonus track of the first CD is another live song. It's another powerhouse rocker and works really well in this performance. It is really on fire.

Disc 2
Open All Night + Bonus Tracks
Open All Night

Another classy blues rocker, this isn't a big departure but has its charms. The guitar work is classic on the tune. The song is another that sounds a bit too much like "Keep Your Hands to Yourself."

A bit more of a mainstream rocker, this is a nice change. It's hook-laden and has a lot of class and charm.
Whole Lotta Shakin'
I like the piano on this tune. It's a strong cover of Jerry Lee Lewis and does a great job of both updating and paying tribute to the classic sound of old-school rock and roll.
Cool Inside
This hard rocker seems more in line with the music of the first album. It works well.
Don't Pass Me By
I dig the country rocking vibe on this song. It's another strong entry. It has some great piano work, too. I like the classic guitar work a lot, too.
My Baby

Here we're back into "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" territory. This is a good song, but we've heard it before.

Mon Cheri

This one seems cut from the same cloth, too. It's not bad by any means, but it is just too samey.

Down and Down

This has more of the blues rock sound of the first album without feeling redundant or monolithic. It's actually one of the stronger tracks of the whole set. It seriously rocks.

Dunk N' Dine
I love the slide guitar soloing on this hard rocker. It's not a big change of pace, but it is quite an effective screamer.
Baby So Fine
This rock and roller is a lot of fun. It has a cool guitar solo, too. This one definitely makes me think of REO Speedwagon in a lot of ways.
Hand to Mouth
The harmonica and slide guitar on this bring a real down-home blues element. The song is more of a rock ballad and some definite variety.
Bonus Tracks:
Let It Rock (Live)

Mining Chuck Berry's catalog for music, this tune does a great job of updating the sound.

Hippy Hippy Shake

Another cover tune, this one  of a song by The Swinging Blue Jeans, this is another solid entry.

Sheila (Remix)

What you get here is pretty obvious from the title and parenthetical. I think this version of the song might be stronger than the one on the album proper.

Battleship Chains (Live)
A live version of their second best-known tune, this is a potent entry.
Railroad Steel (Live)
I dig this high energy live rocker a lot, but the bass feels like it might be just a little too high in the mix. There is some cool jamming later in the tune that really elevates it.
Almost Saturday Night / Rockin' All Over the World
More of a mainstream pop rock concept is on hand here. This is another that makes me think of REO to some degree.
Disc 3
In the Land of Salvation and Sin + Bonus Tracks
I Dunno

More of a straight-ahead rock and roller, this is another that doesn't seem that far removed from some of REO's music. It's high energy and catchy.

Bottle O' Tears
More along the lines of what you might consider  a "generic Georgia Satellites song," this works well after the previous slab of variety.
All Over but the Crying
A balladic rocker, this is a big change and a very strong tune. In fact, this might be one of the best things here. Part of that comes from the change it represents, but it's just a really strong song on its own.
Shake That Thing
With a goofy little intro bit as a nice touch, this works out to a tasty kind of rock and roll groove. This has a great riff driving it. It reminds me a bit of Free (the band). There is some smoking hot slide guitar in the mix, too.
Six Years Gone
I can hear that REO thing on this tune, too. This rocker has a lot of energy, great riffs and catchy hooks. It's another strong piece.
Games People Play
This is another winner. It's more of the blues rocker, southern rock variety, but it's not generic or samey by any means. It has catchy hooks and some meaty guitar work. The slide guitar work on the instrumental break is particularly cool.
Another Chance
Built around acoustic guitar, this is more of a southern-laced soft rock number. I dig the vocal arrangement and hooks a lot.
Bring Down the Hammer
Another with a real mainstream rock vibe, this is also yet another winner. The cut is just a fun tune with some real meat on the bones.
The instrumental section later in this tune is purely on fire. This is a hard-driving screamer that has some of that REO thing along with plenty of the earlier Georgia Satellites sound at play.
Stellazine Blues

I love the guitar work as this drives out from nothingness. This tune is one that feels like it could have fit on the first album. That's kind of a fresh sound on this disc, though. The tune shifts toward almost psychedelic zones late in a nice twist.

Sweet Blue Midnight
A balladic cut, this has a lot of charm and style to it. There is a lot of country music in the mix, and it really feels like something that could have been released in the 1970s. The female backing vocals lend some magic to the number.
Days Gone By
A soaring, anthemic rocker, this has plenty of southern rock built into it. It's another classy entry for the catalog.
With some cool piano and a good time vibe, this feels like a song that would have worked on the first album. 
Dan Takes Five
Now, this tune really does feel like the kind of music we were used to on those first couple discs. The thing is, at the end of this set, that seems fresh and not tired at all. This is high energy and fun.   
Bonus Tracks:
Saddle Up

A real scorcher, this is more like the kind of thing I expected after the first couple albums. That said, it seems to be turned up to "11." This is on fire.

That Woman
With some killer slide guitar, this is another from the more generic Georgia Satellites school of sound.
Another Chance (Edit)
As the title and parenthetical indicates, this is an edit of the earlier tune. This really feels like something The Eagles might have done, especially in this edit.
All Over but the Cryin' (Shorter Version)
This alternate edit is very effective.
Shake That Thing (Edit)
Here we get the final song, which is another effective alternate version.


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