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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Allvey

THE SATELLITES - 28 YEARS

The Satellites - ’28 Years’’ Released: 22nd July 2022 Reviewed by Kate, 23rd November 2022 The Satellites are: Belinda - Vocals Steve M - Bass Hayden - Drums (Tom S on some earlier recordings) Steve G - Guitars Released via Planet X records. What were you doing twenty eight years ago? I imagine that twenty eight years ago, right now, I had just come home from primary school and was pestering my mother for a snack or was sitting quietly, faintly irritated by my younger sister.’s existence. Well, if you were a rockin’ cat in Adelaide, Australia, you may well have just begun your career in one of the coolest bands from Down Under, the Satellites. These icons of the the Aussie RocknRoll festival circuit have ventured to Viva, Hemsby and RocknRoll Jamboree and have been the go-to support band for every act with an upright bass who’s on a world tour, from Stray Cats and Horrorpops to the Go-Getters and Nekromantix. Like so many bands outside of the main European and American loop they are somewhat unknown and that really needs to change because the Satellites are a tremendous group who deserve far more recognition that they currently have. Simultaneously hot and cool, this album catalogues the group’s progress though serious slick fifties rock to country via smooth covers and hip shaking numbers to make you wiggle. It’s difficult to trace their musical heritage: ‘The Satellites have always drawn inspiration from all kinds of roots music, from obscure to wild and frantic Rockabilly, Rhythm and Blues to Crooners to Doo-Wop, Jazz, Hillbilly, 50s’ & 60’s pop and even Ska.’, but they cite ‘Stray Cats (influenced us in early teens), Johnny Burnette, T.E Ford, Collins Kids, Louis Jordan, Varetta Dillard, The Cues, Merrill E Moore, Glen Glen, Little Jimmy Dickens, Clyde McPhatter....plus too many more’ as some of their heroes. This a long compilation at thirty tracks, so you will definitely get your money’s worth. Boogie Shack - This compilation is arranged chronologically, so songs 1-5 are from 1998’s Bop Tonight record. Steve G’s guitar work is described as ‘the tone that shapes their sound. From screaming guitar solos (ala Brian Setzer style), to his unbelievable cool and mellow sound that you would swear were coming straight out of a vintage pedal steel. Steve’s talents are unmistakable and a joy to hear’, and it’s very clear even from the start that he has some serious talent. It takes a particular kind of cool to be able to say words like ‘boogie’ and make them sound appealing, and this hopping little number about dancing on a Friday night is a fun song with some bouncing bass and a nice click to the percussion. I Need A Man - We have a distinct change of pace here as Belinda comes in on vocals. She has a ‘distinctive vocal style and [her] solid rhythm guitar is one of the driving forces of this act. Whether belting out a wild 50’s flavoured rockabilly tune or delivering a sultry & sweet ballad, you’ll be amazed at how authentic and captivating it is to be part of the show’, and man, does she have a fantastic voice full of passion and soul! A classic melody that ticks all the right boxes. So Gone: A bluesy number that deserves to be played in a speakeasy, with the subtle bass tones fanning the flames coming from the guitar and Belinda’s incredible voice. Buddy Can You Spare A Dime: No relation to the depression-era tear-jerker, this upbeat, peppy tune brings the right tempo to get toes tapping. It’s clear at this point that the hallmarks of the Satellites sound are the guitar that seems to be desperate to burst into a solo and the sherbet fizz of Belinda’s voice. She shares lead vocals with Steve M, and it’s that same combination of sweet and savoury that bands like Hillbilly Moon Explosion are using on the other side of the globe. Rock Me Right: It’s all about Steve M on bass for this one. His ‘solid pounding bass and energetic performance coupled with his gravely vocal tones makes for the perfect complement to a solid line up of performers’, and it’s a very sweet, minimal tune about a lover who just can’t dance well enough. Goodbye So Long: Defiant, sassy and backed by a lovely click from the slap bass, this is the first track included on this compilation from 2000’s ‘Go Man Go’ album. Belinda is so over her loser boyfriend in this feisty little number. Sweet Lovin Daddy O: this could be the companion piece to the previous song, but from the chap who’s been kicked to the curb’s point of view. This whole album seems to be a lot quicker and tighter than the previous one, and partly the reason I love this compilation is that we can get a sense of the band’s growth and trajectory as time passes. Whole Lotta Livin’: This should be included in a Disney soundtrack about an independent princess because it is so very wholesome and optimistic. It’s Man, I Feel Like A Woman if it was written in 1958 and Mr Chuck Berry jumped in on guitar. This is probably the Satellites’ most famous track as it’s been used for national advertising campaigns for K-Mart in their native Australia. Go Man Go: Time to channel Bill Haley but with a slightly more cynical, ‘not ANOTHER retro cocktail party, honey’ vibe to the vocals. It’s a call to dance and made for a New Years Eve Party. Guess I’ve Fallen in Love: If this is the record of the Satellite’s achievements today, it seems only fitting that they’ve included two live tracks from 2001’s Satellites Live. They are a very versatile lot, with a sweet, subtle, slightly tropical tune that breaks down into Heart And Soul on the bridge. You’re My Baby: Yes! A fast dark song to succeed Guess I’ve Fallen in Love is a genius move. The whoops and hollers and addictive, and Demented Are Go need to cover this as soon as possible. Come Saturday: From 2002’s EP of the same title, another lovely dance track. I’m a huge fan of the harsher shouts on the backing vocals and the sheer optimism beaming out of this one. Too Late: The first of five tracks from 2003’s Jump album. Back to their roots with a howl in this slower number, Steve gets a chance to show off his full vocal range. Jackpot: As the last track suggested, we’ve gone country for this album, and that’s not a bad thing. The Satellites haven’t compromised their sound, just added a tumbleweed or two to their musical main street, and their retro style has come into its own on this album. Loaded Gun: Possibly my favourite Satellites song, we’ve got tequila soaked echoes of Carlos and the Bandidos with that classic Satellites slap bass style. The central metaphor works tremendously well with the change in style. Jump: The Slap Bass is brought to the forefront, and much like they did on Come Saturday they’re using the two voices really effectively here. This is the sound of a band who have matured and become really confident with their musical arrangements. Double or Nothing: A slower, sleepier country duet that focuses on the vocals and settles us in for the night with that gorgeous guitar twang. Have Mercy: Both this and the next track were recorded live, and this is a very, very good song. I think with these guys less is more, and this is an absolutely stripped down, minimal little gem. The guitar fires out like a rifle and we don’t really need more than that. Wouldn’t You Like To Know: This looping guitar is like the red bow on top of a present and when the band drop it down to just vocals, acoustic guitar and stomping bass drum there’s this glorious, Lumineers energy. I Got Stung: By 2007, the Satellites had decided to conquer some covers, resulting in ‘Radioactive Hits’. Their Elvis cover sticks very close to the spirit of the exuberant original with more of a rock rather than rock n roll edge to it. Call Me: Not the Blondie or Petula Clark songs, instead this is a sweet, springtime, timeless country song that drifts along powered by a cute vocal. Right Behind You: Vince Taylor’s B-Side to Brand New Cadillac is a solid retro cover choice that you can’t get wrong. With more drawn-out vocals and a deeper bass heart, this is sure to be a regular feature on their setlist. These Boots Are Made For Walking: A more grownup, rock version of Nancy Sinatra’s classic with some really lovely pauses to let the slap bass shine. Jackson: It’s amazing how the little things make a difference. In both the Johnny Cash and June Carter original and the new Hillbilly Moon Explosion cover with Sparky, the contrast in voices create the impression of a couple in conflict. However, the Satellites’ decision to make the vocals harmonious make them seem like a couple who are experiencing momentary frustration and it puts a whole new spin on the story. That’s The Only Way To Live: I was not expecting a song about hugs from the title, but I am pleasantly surprised at this domestic, wholesome, and entirely charming song with such a professional guitar solo. You Look That Good To Me: We’re back in full fifties party mode with this little number and it makes me want to buy a swing dress in the black Friday sale. We’re talking full on rock n roll, jiving vibes and it’s utterly brilliant. Too Close For Comfort: As sweet and tropical as a fresh smoothie, this love song about how a new partner takes up residence in your head is an absolute winner. Wrong Move: Evidently by 2009’s ‘Wrong Move’ release, the Satellites had found their favourite decade to inhabit. To round off this trio of retro tunes, we’ve got a punchy number with echoes of Shakin Stevens and a nostalgically jumping guitar line. C’Mon A My House: After a six year hiatus, the Satellites returned in 2015 with the aptly titled ‘Re-Activated’, and seemed to have a more mature, bluesy tone that they wear so very well as an older band. It’s a slower song with these clever snare touches, and I feel like they’ve arranged these tracks so very well to manipulate our dancing feet. Aint Love A Lot Like That: As a farewell, we’re sent on our merry way out the saloon into the dark night with a song that wouldn’t be out of place on any of the Country charts. They genre-switch with ease and this is a comfortable, warm, welcoming song. As a record of a lifetime in the scene, this is a compilation to be very, very proud of. The Satellites’s music lives every corner of the vintage music habitat and they aren’t afraid to take risks, jump up high or take it down low. Hopefully, now the dreary days of the pandemic are behind us, they’ll get a chance to come back to Europe and bring a little bit of their sepia toned sunshine with them. No matter how old you are or where you’re at in your life, you need a little bit of the Satellites.




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