35 Years Ago: Molly Hatchet Break Out with ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’
Their stellar sophomore album, October 1979's ‘Flirtin’ with Disaster,’ would ably fill the void -- led by its No. 42 title track, which remained on the Billboard charts for 10 weeks. ‘Flirtin’ with Disaster’ also helped solidify the momentum built around Molly Hatchet's eponymous debut from ’78, which had clawed its way to a platinum certification. Their follow up went one better, crashing the U.S. Top 20 on the way to double-platinum sales.
The LP's opening rocker ‘Whiskey Man’ welcomed fans back for a trademarked shot of their muscular sound. Then, a foot-tapping cover of ‘It’s All Over Now’ — as written by soul man Bobby Womack and made famous by the Rolling Stones — confirmed the group’s twin influences in American roots music and the British invasion. Next, ‘One Man’s Pleasure’ laid down reams of slide guitars, while subsequent tunes like the catchy ‘Jukin’ City,’ the cowbell-assisted ‘Gunsmoke,’ the riff-driven ‘Good Rockin’’ (think honky tonk Kiss!), and the self-explanatory ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ all celebrated weekend nightlife below the Mason Dixon.
The late-album highlight ‘Long Time’ took a more somber approach, with memorable results, while Molly Hatchet's side-one closer ‘Boogie No More’ unexpectedly turned on a dime and went from nondescript shuffle to a triple-threat guitar jam of epic proportions — courtesy of resident shredders Dave Hlubek, Steve Holland and the great Duane Roland. This song would come to life on stage, as Molly Hatchet tirelessly toured the country in the years to come.
Then there was the title track, which came to epitomize the Molly Hatchet approach with its risk-taking moxy and Marshall stack power. 'Flirtin’ with Disaster' remains the band’s signature moment all these years down the line, and a mandatory staple of their concerts.
Finally worth mentioning, because it completed the picture (literally!), was another striking piece of album-cover imagery -- courtesy of notable fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. Entitled ‘Dark Kingdom,’ it convinced droves of red-blooded teen males to check out Southern rock’s next potential champions, as they battled beast and bands alike, in their quest to sit on that coveted throne.