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Groundhogs - Solid CD (album) cover




Prog Related

3.31 | 18 ratings

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3 stars I was very pleased to see that The Groundhogs have been added as a "Prog Related" band here, a very worthy addition as although they were for much of their career a band in the classic power trio tradition, Mainman Tony "TS" McPhee liked to experiment with various guitar effects and sounds as well as the use of the Mellotron and Synths giving their music a progressive edge.

During the seventies the band released a string of very strong albums, Solid while not being one of their best does have moments that almost equal classics on albums such as Split and Hoggwash. Unfortunately though the momentum of the early part of the album is not kept up and trails off in quality for much of the second half.

Things kick off in fine style with Light My Light, an excellent up tempo rocker. McPhee as already mentioned was not averse to using plenty of effects for his guitar sound, here much of the time it's heavily phased. There's an excellent extended guitar solo, again heavily effect laden. Although the Groundhogs were primarily McPhee's baby Pete Cruikshank and Clive Brooks on bass and drums respectively provide simple but solid backing, essential to give McPhee the freedom to go where he wants at will.

Free From All Alarm starts as an acoustic guitar/vocal only blues composition until the band pile in full force making for a powerful second half. Sins Of The Father is a superb number, McPhee making plenty of use of the Mellotron alongside his guitar on another up tempo rocker. Sad Go Round is the least enjoyable track of side 1, simply being an okay mid tempo rocker.

Corn Cob, not surprisingly from the title is a bit of country blues, no drums but a few of McPhee's sometimes effect laden guitars. On Plea Sing, Plea Song, once again McPhee shows he's not content to just let a guitar sound like a guitar with hardly a natural sound present but turns out to be a bit of a mess. Snow Storm like Sins Of The Father makes plenty of use of the Mellotron alongside a cleanly picked guitar and finally the almost 9 minute Joker's Grave closes the album. Opening with an array of random synth sounds alongside electric guitar, the hi-hat and bass soon bring it into a steady rhythm. It then picks up with some fast picking from McPhee and bongos from Brooks but ultimately turns out to be a bit disappointing as so much more could have been made of this track, wandering along a little aimlessly as it does.

In some ways then a bit of a frustrating album. Despite containing some excellent moments, a good portion of the album, partly down to McPhee's insistence to experiment with effects comes across as a bit of mess. However such is the strength of the best bits it's still worth adding to your collection but not the best place to start for the uninitiated.

Nightfly | 3/5 |


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