Rock Candy Records [Release date 24.04.20]
Musical blood brothers of Skynyrd and the Allmans, Molly Hatchet released their self titled debut in 1978, with the strikingly original “Death Dealer” artwork on the front cover. It’s one of many unique pieces by American artist, Frank Fazetta. More were to appear on subsequent MH albums.
The music was no less striking. Danny Joe Brown on vocals, and Dave Hlubek on guitar formed the same kind of creative, compelling, singer/guitarist collaboration as enjoyed by The Stones, Led Zeppelin and a handful of others during that fertile rock’n'roll period.
It opens with an explosive, celebratory “Hell Yeah!” from Brown. That yell was an affirmation of all they had worked for – the culmination of years of ambition… from their early struggle, thousands of road miles clocked up, personal issues, recognition, and ultimately, success. It’s all there in that opening moment.
It’s no surprise then that the songs are robust and thunderous, brimful of sturdy tunes and macho choruses. The stompin’ good ole’ boy romp, ‘Gator Country’ and the howling, animated ‘The Price You Pay’ are probably the picks. Though, that said, the verdict can change with each new listening.
Of particular note, the raw and raucous remasters of ‘Bounty Hunter’ and ‘The Creeper’ bubble and boil – you can almost taste the sweat as it drips from the studio ceiling. And the beefed up, muscle flexing live versions of ‘Big Apple’ and ‘Dreams I’ll Never See’, initially underwhelming, soon become sublimely exhilarating, giving the music a sense of liberation, of freedom, deliberate or otherwise.
Those two tracks are taken from the band’s 1981 “Molly Hatchet Live” album. And with three others from the same live recording, ‘Trust Your Old Friend’, ‘Bounty Hunter’ and ‘Gator Country’, make up the five bonuses on this remaster.
No question, with “Molly Hatchet” the debut, the band vigorously staked out their very own chunk of southern rock real estate.
Review by Brian McGowan
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