Georgia Satellites’ Rick Richards on covering the Beatles, meeting the Faces, and thanking Jack Daniels

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 29, 1988

By Steve Newton

If you were in a rockin’, blues-based guitar band and wanted to cover a song from the Beatles’ White Album, you’d probably pick one of the heavier Lennon/McCartney tunes like “Yer Blues” or “Savoy Truffle” or “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”, right? You wouldn’t even think about Ringo’s semi-goofy “Don’t Pass Me By”.

The Georgia Satellites would, though. It’s one of the two cover tunes on their new album, Open All Night, and will probably be one of the songs they play live at the Commodore on Thursday night (July 28). Guitarist-vocalist Rick Richards, whom the Straight reached in London, England last week, says he doesn’t know of any other version of the Richard Starkey gem.

“I don’t think anybody in their right mind would cover that song, ” Richards says. “We just liked it ’cause it’s got kind of a country feel to it, and it gave us the opportunity to rock it up a bit.”

A bit, indeed. Try a whole lot. Not much for ballads (there’s one on the new album and none on the first), the Georgia Satellites turn Ringo’s tune into–as the LP liner notes call it–a “right royal rave-up”. It’s actually a song that’s been a staple of the band’s stage show since the beginning, unlike the album’s other cover tune, “Whole Lotta Shakin'”, which they were asked to do for the soundtrack to the new Tom Cruise movie, Cocktail.

“We liked it so much that we decided to steal it back,” says Richards. “We cut another song for Cocktail called ‘Hippie Hippie Shake’ by the Swingin’ Blues Jeans.”

If Vancouver boogie fanatics haven’t already bought the album, the tune most familiar to them would be the title track/first single. Unfortunately (and as is often the case with first singles), it isn’t one of the album’s best. In fact, it’s pretty well a carbon copy of the band’s debut single from ’86, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”. Richards admits they have received some flak from critics for making their follow-up single so similar to the first.

“Yeah, we get a bit of that. But it wasn’t’ intentional, believe me. That was just the song that was chosen as a follow-up. It does sound a bit like the first song, I will agree–but what are gonna do?”

The only non-original on the first album was a version of the Faces’ “Every Picture Tells a Story”, and for the new one former Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan played piano on three tracks–the two covers as well as Richards’ own “Hand to Mouth” (the lone ballad).

“It’s kind of a dream come true workin’ with somebody you’ve admired and respected for years,” says Richards. “We’re all big Faces fans, but I’m probably the biggest one in the group. And [McLagan] came in and did all the three songs in one day–just one after the other. He’s so talented, you know. You want to slap him, he’s so good.”

Richards also got to meet another hero, Ron Wood, when he played at the latter’s Florida nightclub, Woody’s, last New Year’s Eve.

“We’re slowly knockin’ down the Faces,” he says, “gettin’ to meet ’em all. I saw Steve Marriott here the other night too. So I’ve gotta meet Rod [Stewart] next.”

A fan of all kinds of music, Richards told the Straight last Wednesday (July 20) that he was planning to see Michael Jackson’s show at Wembley Stadium the next night. A bit surprised, we asked him who else he’s been listening to lately.

“I’ve really gotten into the Pogues a bit,” he says. “We played a festival with them over in Germany, and I had no idea they were so talented. And I happened to get a copy of the new Dwight Yoakam, so I’m listenin’ to that. And of course the old standards–Beatles and Stones.”

And Chuck Berry too, no doubt. The new album’s credits read “Support & Inspiration: Mr. Chuck Berry and Mr. Jack Daniels”. But do they really drink that stuff?

“Occasionally,” says Richards. “We’ve been known to dabble in the spirits. But not as much as we used to, I’ll tell ya. We’ve kind of cooled out considerably.

“I mean you can’t party like you used to, being on the schedule that we’re on. It’s not very conducive. You’ve got to keep the energy level up and get to sleep every now and again.”

 

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