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Non-Prog DVD/Video Reviews

Molly Hatchet

Live In Hamburg DVD

Review by Mike Korn

Here's a no-messin', no-frills DVD from a no-messin', no frills band. It seems hard to believe this is the first real DVD for the longtime Southern rockers, but so it is. In comparison to other recent DVD's I've seen featuring Sodom and Annihilator, this is notably less manic and flashy. There are no spastic quick-cuts or bizarre camera angles here - it just wouldn't fit the band. On the down side, the crowd seems subdued compared to the maniacs we see jumping around on the Sodom and Annihilator videos. This is definitely the "classic rock" crowd that's more into hand-waving and moderate head-banging.

Filmed during Harley Days in Hamburg, Germany, the show catches an experienced band of entertainers doing what they do best. The set features a lot of Hatchet classics such as "Whiskey Man," "Beatin' the Odds" (a personal fave) and "Dreams I'll Never See" and the musicianship rarely lags. The anchor of the band is certainly lead guitarist Bobby Ingram, who demonstrates he is an all-out axe hero. This guy shreds in the tried-and-true tradition and prior to "Dreams I'll Never See," he cuts loose with an exhibition that starts with a bit of Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla," mutates into a screaming, metal-mangling display of guitar overkill and finally winds up in a heavy version of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King!" Now that's how it should be done.

Long time keyboardist John Galvin is virtually the invisible man during most of the set but he gets a very nice showcase where he shows he can play almost classical like piano etudes and smoky jazz riffs in addition to the honky-tonk usually displayed on Hatchet tracks. This guy adds a lot of color and flavor to the band's music. Lead singer Phil McCormack is a towering grizzly of a man, a longhaired good ol' boy with a gruff bellowing roar that is definitely an acquired taste. I could almost hear him in a death metal band! He's not a technically brilliant vocalist and his voice finally cracks on final cut "Flirtin' With Disaster," but he has a ton of heart and conviction in his delivery.

I like a lot of the longer, more epic tracks in true Southern rock tradition like "Freebird.". Hatchet has several notable ones, like the excellent "The Journey," "Devil's Canyon" and "Rainbow Bridge." This last tune is emotionally dedicated to Ingram's recently deceased wife and is chock full of great axe-work from the guitarist. Also worth a mention is the slow, bluesy crawl of "The Creeper," where McCormack's vocal bellows really fit the track.

The supplementary material is also pretty straightforward. We get some behind-the-scenes footage that seems like an advertisement for Harley Davidson, along with a photo gallery, biography and discography. Bobby Ingram is interviewed and comes across as extremely articulate and dedicated. However, it's pretty awkward when the questions flashed on a black screen in fractured English say stuff like "Are you biker?" and "Are you redneck?" The German roots of the DVD show through there.

This is not a spectacular and dazzling work that's going to revolutionize the rock and roll business, but it does a very good job of showing Molly Hatchet at its best - in the live environment.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

 
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