Molly Hatchet - 'Regrinding The Axes'

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Molly Hatchet - 'Regrinding The Axes'

With the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Clapton getting the cover treatment it makes for an interesting album,

Formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1975, Molly Hatchet took their name from a legendary prostitute who allegedly mutilated and decapitated her clients. As one of the leading pioneers of Southern Rock alongside Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Mountain, Black Oak Arkansas, .38 Special, The Allman Brothers and ZZ Top their brand of Hard Rock Boogie is instantly recognisable the whole world over.

It comes as no surprise having chosen to record a covers album, they would feature some of their contemporaries including two songs from The Allman Brothers, also from Jacksonville having formed six years earlier. The acoustic ballad ‘Melissa’- probably the first song ever written by Gregg Allman in 1967 - (recorded for their ’72 Gold selling album ‘Eat A Peach’) and ‘Dreams I’ll Never See” from their debut.(Gregg wrote this sorrowful song in L.A. just before forming the band) Hatchet’s version of ‘Melissa’ is more uptempo than the original but fairly close in pitch but perhaps because of the lyrical nature should have been more faithful to the original. As for ‘Dreams’, Hatchet have replaced the melancholic Hammond with loud Blues guitar and play it way more close to Buddy Miles’ re-make, deviating considerably from the original. I’m not sure the subject matter lends itself well to this version. But, “Hey! What do I know?”

Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ is given the Heavy Metal treatment and it should be stated here and now that whether or not you prefer the originals to the Hatchet versions, Bobby Ingram and Dave Hlubeck play some seriously mean guitar on all the songs. Some of these covers sound invigorating played loud! Take George Thorogood’s ‘Bad To The Bone’ for example. It’s almost impossible for a band like Hatchet to screw up. In fact a perfect choice complete with added horn section. If Lynyrd Skynryd’s ‘Free Bird’ wasn’t included here it would have induced large raised eyebrows. As it happens though, it’s a faultless version with Phil McCormack’s vocals imitating Ronnie Van Zant’s Southern drawl and the mesmerising guitar solo by Ingram. ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ gets the Hatchet treatment including an extended lead break, boy(!) Bobby Ingram sure likes to widdle away. Tim Lindsey’s bass and Shawn Beamer’s drumming are metronomic and clear as a twelve bar boogie anthem like this lends itself to clarity.

When covering a song the whole world has heard a million times before it either has to be replicated to the nth degree, which rather begs the question “What’s the point?”, or totally performed left field to make it interesting. Therefore covering Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ and playing it straight means that most people will press the ‘skip’ button on their CD player. A song that should have been left well alone methinks.

With the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Clapton getting the cover treatment it makes for an interesting album, but the last word has to go to Bobby Ingram on the live version of ‘Dreams’: Man, that solo can be put on repeat all day long!

Carl Buxton

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