Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't bury the Hatchet!

It be time to salute my 2nd-favorite Southern Rock band of all-time whilst I track through them on the ol' CD player, Molly Hatchet.  Not unlike with Lynyrd Skynyrd, I was initially put-off by the band's macho biker-bar brawler image, but this band grew on me rather quickly during my freshman year in High School when their first two albums received heavy airplay on the mighty KY-102 circa 1979-80.

I have to admit I actually hated Hatchet's first hit song, "Dreams I'll Never See" initially (a complete overhaul of the Allman Bros.' song "Dreams"), but boy do I feel stupid now—this song is fucking great!  The rest of that first MH album rules too, with tracks like "Gator Country", "Bounty Hunter" and "The Price You Pay", and the second album was even better.  Flirtin' With Disaster was one of the finer sophomore efforts of any band, and Hatchet secured their place in history with tunes like the title track, "Whiskey Man" (not to be confused with The Who's song of the same name), "Jukin' City", "It's All Over Now" (also done by the Stones in 1964) and the "Free Bird"-like "Boogie No More", which nearly put Lynyrd Skynyrd's triple-lead guitar attack to shame.

Hatchet did indeed feature three pretty damn good guitarists—Dave Hlubek, Duane Roland and Steve Holland (no relation to me)—as well as lead singer Danny Joe Brown, whose distinctive growl was the band's trademark.  After Flirtin', Brown had issues with the band's management—"There were too many hands in the till," he once remarked—so he left Hatchet (who transparently blamed DJB's departure on his bout with diabetes) and was replaced by singer Jimmy Farrar for their next two albums, Beatin' The Odds and Take No Prisoners.  Nice guy and a decent singer—he would have fit in perfectly with say, Marshall Tucker Band—but Farrar was rather bland compared with his predecessor, although he did sing on one really cool song, 1981's "Bloody Reunion".  MH wisely brought Danny Joe back into the fold for 1983's No Guts...No Glory, which is my personal favorite Hatchet album.  I literally wore out the cassette copy I had of that one driving back-and-forth to college during the Fall of '83, and just loved tracks like "What's It Gonna Take?", "What Does It Matter?", "Ain't Even Close" and yet another "Free Bird" clone, "Fall Of The Peacemakers", which solemnly reflected on the deaths of John Lennon and John F. Kennedy, and featured splendid lead guitar work throughout.

Molly Hatchet even landed on MTV during this time with videos lifted from No Guts, as well as from the follow-up album, 1984's The Deed Is Done, which featured hits like "Satisfied Man" and "Stone In Your Heart".  A live album followed in 1985—Hatchet's final recording for Epic Records—and the band later resurfaced in 1989 on Capitol Records with the excellent, but sadly-overlooked Lightning Strikes Twice, featuring the humorous opening track "Take Miss Lucy Home" and a rather touching closing song called "Heart Of My Soul".  This was more or less the last hurrah for this band, even though they've recorded off and on since then, having endured numerous personnel changes over the years.  The current touring outfit that goes by the name Molly Hatchet contains no original members of the band, and seems more like a tribute band than anything else.  Singer Danny Joe Brown died in 2005 and guitarist Duane Roland passed away just shy of a year ago.  Rest in peace, gentlemen...

My All-Time Molly Hatchet Top 10:
1) "Boogie No More" (1979)
2) "Fall Of The Peacemakers" (1983)
3) "Flirtin' With Disaster" (1979)
4) "Bloody Reunion" (1981)
5) "What's It Gonna Take? (1983)
6) "Bounty Hunter" (1978)
7) "Heart Of My Soul" (1989)
8) "Jukin' City" (1979)
9) "Ain't Even Close" (1983)
10) "Dreams I'll Never See" (1978)

And while I'm at it,
1) Black Oak Arkansas
2) Molly Hatchet
3) Lynyrd Skynyrd
4) The Allman Brothers
5) .38 Special
6) Charlie Daniels Band
7) The Outlaws
8) Marshall Tucker Band
9) Ozark Mountain Daredevils
10) Blackfoot


Randy Raley said...
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Brian Holland said...
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