Open All Night, the second full length offering from the Georgia Satellites, contains at least a few great rock and roll moments, but it’s hard to find them in the middle of all the clutter, and the ambivalence and mixed messages contained therein.
Consequently, parts of the album have aged more gracefully than their pretty consistent debut album, and other parts haven’t. First of all, the mix isn’t so dated – the drums are loud, but reasonable in a way that the snare sound on the first album wasn’t.
Second, Dan Baird’s original songs have progressed beyond the three chord boogie slop material that, good at it was, he could probably have continued writing in his sleep. “Sheila,” for instance, straddles the border between the soul searching of Steve Earle’s “Someday” and the cars & girls philosophy of Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline.” A pair of songs creating a fine edge on which to travel but a beauteous combination when done right, as it is here.
Even their choice of covers shows a band going through so-called “second album syndrome” (as in: you’ve got a lifetime to make your first album, and six months to make your second). Their cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” is a walk through – strictly perfunctory and not that interesting. But their musical mauling of Ringo Starr’s “Don’t Pass Me By” is inspired and brilliant and in a perfect world ought to be one of their best known songs.
So – in the final analysis, it’s a case of six of one half a dozen of the other. A better album than their first some would say, but not able to fulfill the first album’s promise of a bigger and better and louder version of the Stones meet the Faces. But why rip off the Stones or the Faces when you have a chance to establish your own story in your own context? Make no mistake – Open All Night is not the sound of a band sitting in a 24/7 truck stop diner thinking about some girl with far away eyes, but a band on the move, driving flat out fast with the windows open all night and moving on to the next roadhouse and the next promise of all things rock ‘n’ roll.
By the way – if Ringo heard the cover of his tune, I hope he liked it.