Beatin' The Odds

Molly Hatchet

Epic Records, 1980

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Lineup changes in any band are funny things, no matter what the circumstances are. Sometimes, the change is so organic that the listener would be hard-pressed to know the difference. Other times, the change is so obvious that one has to wonder whether they're listening to the same band.

Molly Hatchet's first documented line-up change couldn't have happened at a worse time. They were riding high on the successes of their first two albums when singer Danny Joe Brown left for a solo career. In came Jimmy Farrar, who added a touch of blue-eyed soul to the Southern rock core of Molly Hatchet.

It was a daring experiment, admittedly, but their third album, Beatin' The Odds, is a definite step backwards. With many solid moments to its credit, a good portion of the Southern twang is removed, leaving Molly Hatchet as a band searching for a genre.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Admittedly, long-time fans will argue that Molly Hatchet was unfairly pigeon-holed as a Southern rock band a la Lynyrd Skynyrd, and that they really were a rock band at heart. This may be true, as tracks such as "The Rambler" and "Sailor" suggest. Also, one has to admit that Farrar is not the sole reason that this album is different. True, his vocal style is different than the rough-and-tumble style of Brown's, and that Farrar seemed to almost add a layer of gloss to his vocals at times.

Yet the combination of a new vocalist and a shift in musical styles from the previous albums does leave Beatin' The Odds pretty much without a musical road map, and the results turn out to be spotty (though the high points are definitely worth the effort). The overall sound is a cross between Street Survivors-era Skynyrd and Johnny Van Zant-era Skynyrd.

Tracks like "Few And Far Between" do suggest that this new partnership in Molly Hatchet could work well. The guitar interplay of Duane Roland, Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland was still quite tasty, and there was enough Southern funk in this one to keep things very interesting. Likewise, the ballad style of "The Rambler" is both charming and intriguing, making one wonder exactly where the song is headed and keeping you locked in throughout the journey.

Yet one can't ignore the missteps on this disc. The title track is overly simplistic, and sounds like it was thrown on the disc to try and pad it out a bit. This is most definitely a song which needed a couple more coats of paint before it would have been ready for prime-time. Likewise, "Poison Pen" doesn't develop into anything special like it seemed it would at the start, and if any track called for the use of harmony vocals, this would have been the one. Let's not even get into the half-hearted blues of "Penthouse Pauper."

Possibly the highlight of this disc, aside from "The Rambler," would be "Dead And Gone," a track which does successfully merge the band's Southern roots with a more contemporary rock sound and creates both a powerful rock track and a poignant anti-drug song.

Beatin' The Odds is undoubtedly a transition album, and some lenience does have to be granted to Molly Hatchet as they tried to right their ship after losing Brown's talents. But while this one has its moments, it does leave open the question of what could have been.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.