Back in August 2018, I saw the band, SOB, which is not what you think it stands for. It’s the Steve Oakley Band out of South Jersey. They were performing at a little joint on Grape Street in Manayunk (Philadelphia), for the Liberty Music Festival. They perform original songs, catchy straight rock and roll style. My favorite is, “I’m Not There.” Check them out on www.steveoakleyband.com.
Now you’re asking yourself, why I’m writing about an American music band on a Greek website? Glad you asked. Steve Oakley, who is not Greek, by the way, does have a connection to Greek music, and when I saw him, the memory floodgates opened, and I remembered that this was the year, the 20th Anniversary. He is the “Yia Sou, Baby!” man. Back in 1998, my Greek-American band, Atlantis of Philadelphia (you may remember them!) recorded our CD, “Yia Sou, Baby!” featuring covers of the popular Greek songs of that time.
In all of Atlantis’ full-length recordings (and those of their predecessor, Orpheus), we always included an original song. “Yia Sou, Baby!” was no different except this time we wanted to combine Greek music with American music. In discussing the concept, we remembered how, back in the day when we visited the clubs, we would watch the immigrant Greek guys (or any ethnic guy) try to pick up women. Their mannerisms, their dress, the way they spoke, and the Greeklish they used all contributed to something that, for us, was amusing, but classic. The concept of the song was born. A Greek guy trying to pick up an American chick in a club!
As for the music, we decided to go with the disco/club beat of the day with heavy bass and drums. We would add a little douberleki drums and bouzouki to get the “Greek feel.” The real decision was whether we would use Greek lyrics or English. We went with the English version, and we turned to Steve Oakley, a singer-songwriter. Steve was friends with our guitar player, Ted. The two of them had formed a rock band years before called, “Rough Mix.”
We explained the concept to Steve and told him that he had to write the lyrics around the title of the song, which was “Yia Sou, Baby!” He took to the song like a fish to water, or in our case, a Greek to a Frappe. Lines like, “What’s your sign doesn’t pass my test, I hope to God that’s not your best,” or, “Men like you really drive me crazy, so go away, Yia sou, baby!” are now timeless. He put down on paper exactly what we conceptualized. It was magic.
Steve’s lyrics made the song, but what brought it to life were performances by the Atlantis musicians, the powerful vocals of Popi, and the Greek lines by Stavros Liappis, whose baritone voice saying, “Yia sou, Baby!” and adlibbing the pick-up lines were superb and hilarious. That title, “Yia sou, Baby!” became the tagline of the year. To top it off, we had, in our opinion, the best engineer running the board, Mike (Ianneri) Ian (Mike is one of the most talented musicians we have had the pleasure of knowing and working with. See is work on www.mikeian.com).
The song was a hit and was played on Antenna Radio in Thessaloniki, and Top FM Radio in Patras, and the hundreds of nightclubs throughout the islands and mainland of Greece. The song was also remixed in Belgium for use in European techno clubs.
We owe a great debt to Steve who turned a simple phrase into a memorable tune. Even though our man Steve is plucking his guitar and singing his songs at the different venues throughout the Philadelphia area, to us, he will always be known as the “Yia Sou, Baby!” man!
As for the title of the song, for years, we have been asked how we came up with it. For the record, while performing at the Wilmington (Delaware) Greek festival for five days straight, at the end of the last day, as we were all tired and exhausted, I turned to our bass player, George, and told him to say goodnight. A young woman walked by just as he proceeded to close out the night. George was impressed. He said goodnight then turned toward the woman, and added, “Yia Sou, Baby!” We knew that we had to use that line for the song.
Twenty years have now passed and “Yia Sou, Baby!” still brings a smile to your face when you listen to it, as Popi sings, “Please excuse me if I want too much, I’ve been waiting for that Midas touch!” Happy 20th Anniversary to all of the people that made the song possible and a hit – “Yia Sou, Baby!”
To hear “Yia Sou, Baby!” go to https://youtu.be/W-YHmGBo238.
To see 30 years of photos and videos of Atlantis of Philadelphia, which performed from 1985 to 2016, go to https://www.facebook.com/atlantisofpa.
This article is sponsored by Seizmos Music. From contemporary to classic, their talents have captivated generations of Greek music lovers. Whether it's a wedding, dance or festival, your special affair deserve the best, Seizmos Music. For more info please visit www.seizmosmusic.com or call (610)-352-2929 & (610)-449-8781.