Molly Hatchet: ‘Justice’ – 3 stars

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Molly Hatchet were formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1971 by Dave Hlubek and slowly rose to fame over the years, playing their own variation of Southern Rock with a triple lead guitar roster that earned them comparisons with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Things progressed nicely for the band as they went through the process of recording their first three albums; “Molly Hatchet” (1978), “Flirtin’ with Disaster” (1979) and “Beatin’ the Odds” (1980).  “Flirtin’ with Disaster” was their most successful album, reaching number nineteen on the American billboard charts and on the strength of those first three releases the band were able to tour the world to sold out shows.

Sadly, since then, it has been a slow, ever-decreasing circle of diminishing returns for Molly Hatchet, with the band often foregoing their Southern Rock roots to play more mainstream Hard Rock.  Original founder and lead guitarist Dave Hlubek departed in 1987, leaving the others to carry on, but in 1990, at a show in Ohio, Molly Hatchet (as a band) announced from the stage that it would be their last performance.

Perhaps it would have been better to have left with their legacy still intact, but in 1991 a new version of Molly Hatchet was revived for touring purposes with no original members.  Bobby Ingram, who had joined in 1987 as a replacement for Dave Hlubek had gone to court to acquire the rights to the Molly Hatchet name.

They would not record another album for five years and throughout the Nineties there were no original members of Molly Hatchet in the band.  Several albums were recorded later however; a couple of studio offerings and copious amounts of live albums and greatest hits were released to keep the flag flying.

Since the band’s formation Molly Hatchet have gone through 17 members in the line-up, some of them being in the band twice, and an additional ten touring members have pitched in when the guys were a bit short.  In 2005 Dave Hlubek was invited to rejoin his own band and accepted the offer, although on that year’s Molly Hatchet album, “Rainbow Warriors”, his photo does not appear on the cover, nor does he get any songwriting credit.  Bobby Ingram appeared to still have his hand firmly on the tiller.

Molly Hatchet in 2010. (Photo by Mollyhatchetband/Wikipedia commons)
Molly Hatchet in 2010. (Photo by Mollyhatchetband/Wikipedia commons)

Five years later in 2010 we were presented with this week’s reviewed album, “Justice”.  To be fair it’s not that bad, opening with a trio of rockers with all the things you expect from Southern Rock – good thumping tunes with gruff vocals and screaming guitars.  “Flying On The Wings of Angels” is a beautifully haunting ballad about losing a child and raises goosebumps, whilst the last three songs really go for the throat and are full blown rockers in the traditional Southern Rock style.  Overall though the album is a bit like a mirror of Molly Hatchet in the Nineties: no original members and no original ideas!

Molly Hatchet lineup on “Justice”:

Bobby Ingram – guitar

Dave Hlubek – guitar

John Galvin – keyboards

Phil McCormack – vocals

Tim Lindsey – bass guitar

Shawn Beamer – drums

Track List:

Been to Heaven, Been to Hell

Safe in My Skin

Deep Water

American Pride

I’m Gonna Live Till I Die

Fly On The Wings of Angels (Somers Song)

As Heaven is Forever

Tomorrow and Forever

Vengeance

In The Darkness of the Night

Justice

Note: Written by Hells Bells and Mott the Dog.  Mott The Dog and his cronies can often be found in Jameson’s Irish Pub in front of Nova Park on Soi AR, supping a light ale.