Lynyrd Skynyrd may have been the most famous band to emerge from Florida in the 1970s, but Molly Hatchet came a close second. You wouldn’t expect a band named after an infamous 17th-century ax murder to play sweet little folk songs, and you’d be right. Molly Hatchet’s brand of Southern rock was hard, loud, and, for a brief time at least, very, very popular. They may have lost their way in the mid-1980s, but that doesn’t detract from just how big (and good) they were in their prime. Prepare to doff your hat to Florida’s second most favorite sons as we count down the 10 best Molly Hatchet songs of all time.
10. Satisfied Man
The first few years of the 80s saw Molly Hatchet adopt a revolving door policy to its lineup. No sooner had one new member joined, another one left. But while no one was ever quite sure who was in the band from one week to the next, it didn’t stop them delivering some belting good tunes. As loudersound.com writes, 1984’s “Satisfied Man” isn’t universally popular with Hatchet devotees (the over-bearing keyboards sees to that), but it’s still good enough to earn tenth place position on our list.
9. Bloody Reunion
By 1981, Molly Hatchet had lost frontman Danny Joe Brown but they were still delivering some excellent tunes. The crisp, Tom Werman- produced “Bloody Reunion” is the band doing what they did best: delivering raucous Southern music with more guts than a butcher’s floor. Its success was helped along by the fact Lynyrd Skynyrd were still languishing on hiatus, but even without that, it was, and still is, a great track.
The 1970s and early 80s might have represented Molly Hatchet’s peak years, but they’re still capable of delivering the goods from time to time, even now. As ultimateclassicrock.com writes, guitarist Bobby Ingram has said the 2010 album “Justice” represents a mission to show “Southern rock and Molly Hatchet still operate on full throttle.” By the title track alone, consider it mission accomplished.
7. Beatin’ The Odds
When Danny Joe Brown quit the band in 1980, people wondered how Molly Hatchet could survive. After all, it was his gruff vocals and showmanship that had made the band what it was. But the doubts were misplaced. “Beating the Odds” proved in no uncertain terms that Molly Hatchet was more than the sum of its parts. Sure, Brown had gone, but Jimmy Farrar was a more than worthy successor. “Beatin’ The Odds” did exactly what the title says.
6. Whiskey Man
Bourbon and Southern rock bands go together like love and marriage. But Molly Hatchet took a different approach to “Whiskey Man” than the one you’d expect. Rather than simply extol the virtues of a fine drink through a fine song, they went another way. Spoken in the voice of someone who’s been there, seen that, and doesn’t care to repeat the experience, “Whiskey Man” is issued as a warning, rather than an endorsement. As alcohol awareness campaigns go, lines like ‘It takes whiskey to make you tall/You ain’t so very damn tall at all’ do the job and then some.
5. Fall Of The Peacemakers
As social commentaries go, they don’t get much better than “Fall Of The Peacemakers.” Written shortly after the murder of John Lennon, the track is heavy, thrashy, and politically on-pointe. With lines like ‘A voice from the past cried: “Give peace a chance”/He paid our price now, he’s free at last”, the track takes Molly Hatchet in a very new direction to the one we’d expect, but a very welcome one at that.
4. Bounty Hunter
As introductions go, you couldn’t have asked for much better than “Bounty Hunter.” The first track from Molly Hatchet’s first album signaled their arrival in no uncertain terms. In less than three minutes, the band outlined their MO. If you didn’t like it, you were welcome to leave. If you liked what you heard, you were in luck… there was plenty more of the same on the way.
3. Gator Country
Any band that sings the lines “‘Well, I’ve been to Alabama, people – ain’t a whole lot to see/Skynyrd says it’s a real sweet home, but it ain’t nothin’ to me” and “Old Richard Betts will tell ya Lord he was born a Ramblin’ Man. Well he can ramble back to Georgia but I won’t give a damn” has guts. Molly Hatchet had guts aplenty. “Gator Country” isn’t just a song, it’s fighting talk. Fighting talk with a sweet melody, a killer rhythm, and enough swagger to make the opposition turn on its heel and flee. As diss tracks go, you couldn’t ask for better.
2. Dreams I’ll Never See
In 1978, Molly Hatchet were preparing to unleash themselves on an unsuspecting world. The way they chose to do it – by releasing a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Dreams I’ll Never See” – can either be dismissed as naive or praised as an act of sheer bravery. Give the track a listen and you’ll be inclined to side with the second viewpoint. Most young bands would steer clear of drawing comparisons with such an iconic Southern band, but Molly Hatchet saw it as an opportunity not to be missed. The result is a groovy, up-tempo number that gives the original a good run for its money.
1. Flirtin’ With Disaster
Ranked by Rate Your Music as one of Molly Hatchet’s finest achievements, the title track of the band’s second album is a headbanger of the best kind. A road song with more twists and turns than a country lane, it was designed to do one thing and one thing only: entertain. There’s no politics, no cultural or social or economic issues being wrangled out. This isn’t a song to be discussed. It’s a song to play air guitar too. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Whatever you think of Molly Hatchet, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on: if ever there was a song that perfectly encapsulates Southern rock, it’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster”.