Molly Hatchet? Are they still around? That’s what a friend of mine said when my band, Lukyn Skywyrd, opened for them a couple years back. Bobby Ingram was handed the Hatchet torch back in the mid-90’s and both he and Phil McCormack, the lead singer, have been keeping the Southern faith ever since. After asking original guitarist, Dave Hlubek, to rejoin the band a few years back, Molly Hatchet once again has at least one founding member in its lineup. John Galvin is still playing keyboards, having joined the group back in 1984. Tim Lindsey, best known for his playing in the Rossington band and fill-in work with Lynyrd Skynyrd, is on bass and Shawn Beamer rocks the drums.
Molly Hatchet’s latest album, JUSTICE, is the band’s newest addition to the Southern rock lexicon. The first two straight ahead rockers that lead off the album are “Been to Heaven, Been to Hell” and “Safe in My Skin.” Lamenting the fact that they’ve been through heaven and hell, the best place for them is back in Jacksonville! And the best way to get there is in a souped-up Silverado. Watch out playing these first two songs while driving out on the highway. May induce excessive speed! The third track is “Deep Water.” This song would seem very at home in 1985. The beginning synth-keyboard, syncopated drums, and lead guitar riff is something I would expect if I took a trip in my DeLorean and turned on MTV. Or maybe on the Scorpions farewell tour, at the very least. Another song that reminds me of the retro eighties is “Vengeance.” Now that I think of it, a lot of these tunes would work on MTV, if they still played music on that channel. Another great tune, “American Pride” makes the band’s patriotic statement with “Got that American pride with that Southern style, born and bred something deep inside.”
One of the most heartfelt tracks on this album is “Fly on the Wings of Angels (Somer’s Song).” The band has dedicated this song to Somer Thompson, a seven year old Florida girl who was assaulted and murdered. The band played a charity concert in her honor to raise money and inform the public about what had happened. Fittingly, the band rounds out this disc with “Justice.” Phil preaches, “We need some justice to make the wrong right” and then, the band proceeds to make an eight and a half minute epic reminiscent of the glorious 70’s.
The sound quality of JUSTICE is due in part, to the tracks being recorded on an analog mixing board. The warmth of analog cannot be beat. My only criticism is that sometimes I can’t understand Phil’s vocals. If you’ve listened to any of the previous CD featuring Phil’s singing, that seems to be a running theme. He just gets muddied up when added to the modern guitar sounds of Bobby Ingram. On second listening, my ears have gotten used to it but I really have to work at picking out lyrics here and there. Other than that minor flaw, the music on this album rocks. This band isn’t going anywhere for a long time. So, yeah, my friend, Molly Hatchet is still alive and kickin’! Hell yeah!!
Review by Keith Stefanec