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HOGWASH

Groundhogs

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mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "..it's going to be about rubbish" - TS

"It is an extraordinarily good record that covers a wide expanse of ideas and sound" "Tony McPhee has really come to terms with both Mellotron and Synthesiser and knows how to use them to dynamic effect" - Melody Maker.

"Hogwash", the follow-up album to "Who Will Save The World" made the same year (1972) was a more experimental affair. As Tony was temporarily limited on the use of the guitar due to a riding accident resulting in a fractured wrist, the Mellotron which was used on the previous album and newly developed synthesisers were brought forward into the band's music with great effect. During a turbulent year drummer Ken Pustelnik left and ex-Egg drummer Clive Brooks was brought in to replace him, adding a new dimension to the band's sound.

"Hogwash" was a different animal to the preceding albums, much publicised and again featuring socio- political and sci-fi song themes, and listing "Astronic Equalisers", "Schaller wah wah's" and "Ring Modulators" into the mix, the Ring Modulator was used to good effect on "The Ringmaster" , some clever word play on "I Love You Miss Ogyny" and on " S'One Song" (Swan Song), and the deeper songs awash with a "sea" of Mellotron on the ecology / sci-fi yarn "Earth Shanty" (the nearest the band came to creating a Prog epic), and the first signs of Tony's abhorrence with hunting "SAD IS The Hunter" (SAD.IS T. ).

As guessed "I Love You Miss Ogyny" contains a lot of contradictory words and statements which Tony enjoyed writing,

"The days that you're gone, I can't stand the silence, The hours that you're here, I can't stand your prescence, The starlight that shone from your eyes in the beginning, now blinds me with hate for you and all women.."

The next song "You Had a Lesson" was a warning about a young person falling in with bad company, the next track the aptly named "The Ringmaster" featured experiments on drum sounds using an electronic device called a Ring Modulator - something which can be found in most easily obtained computer effects programmes or devices nowadays but in 1972 was revolutionary. Alluding to the band's roots "3744 James Road" was the place in Memphis they stayed in during part of their US tour and had grown very fond of. The track features some amazing playing from Tony and remains a live favourite.

"Sixteen hours after leaving my home, three thousand miles to the west. Feeling tired and very alone, need. to take a bath and get refreshed. " "3744 James Road you've been like a home to me, 3744 James Road I'll come back and see you again."

To me "Earth Shanty" remains the album's crowning glory - awash with Mellotrons, Synthesisers and every effect imaginable, it captures a bleak ambience which lends itself perfectly to the song title -

"Skyward fly the Eagles as the Hawks search out their prey, Seaward fly the seagulls.catching fish beneath the spray, For their young amongst the shingle to feed them for the day, Look back on this and linger seeking thoughts of yesterday." "And the Moon. mirror of the Sun, night-light of the World, Drags a blanket of cooling sea across the sand in furls, In the night when the stars provide a reason for Man to strive, He reasons that's the reason He's alive." The album rounds off the mood perfectly with "Mr Hooker, Sir John", a moving acoustic blues tribute to the band's mentor John Lee Hooker.

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#202045)
Posted Sunday, February 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars After the disappointing Who Will Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs! The Groundhogs came back with one of the best albums of their career. In fact Hogwash even rivals the mighty Split.

From the opening I Love You Miss Ogyny (geddit?) we're back in business. Who Will Save The World? lacked the inventive riffs and tunes. Not so here - Miss Ogyny has some great Tony "TS" McPhee playing, the track full of light and shade moments against harder riffing. New drummer Clive Brooks, formely of Egg keeps a simpler solid rhythm than his previous band would have required.

You Had A Lesson is just as good. A stop/start unison guitar/bass patern takes hold with TS weaving between and Brooks pinning it all down solid as a rock. There's arguably the bands best use of mellotron here too. Long serving bassist Pete Cruickshank powers the track along and is well up in the mix. A great guitar solo from TS ends as the rhythm speeds up.

The Ringmaster is a thankfully short throwaway track - a drum solo drenched in reverb and echo and not the greatest you'll have heard but we're soon into the best track on the album - 3744 James Road. It's the band at their most explosive; once again the lighter shades making the powerful riffs stronger. Mid song we're given an extended and inspired TS solo which builds back into the chorus to end.

Side 2 of the original vinyl version struggles to live up to the excellence of side1 though still has some very strong material. Sad Is The Hunter is another hard rocking piece with TS taking every opportunity to stick in one of his inventive guitar solos, which he seems to do very frequently. S'One Song is a simple mid paced rocker with an unexpected change of tack midway with some aggressive riffing and soloing. The mellotron gets another look in on Earth Shanty, storm effects in the background which gives way to an acoustic guitar/vocal verse. The mellotrons back as the full band kicks in for this atmospheric and more restrained song.

The album closes with an acoustic blues in the vein of Ground Hog from Split. A tribute to blues player John Lee Hooker titled Mr Hooker, Sir John reminding us that no matter how experimental TS may get with guitar sounds and mellotrons that The Groundhogs were/are primarly a blues rock band.

Overall then one of the bands best, in fact the band would never consistently reach such musical heights again, Hogwash along with Split and Thank Christ For The Bomb capturing them at their most inspired.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#221158)
Posted Sunday, June 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Love 'em or hate 'em?

It is unthinkable these days, but back in the early 1970's, bands would often release two (or more) albums in the same year. So it was that in November 1972, The Groundhogs followed up 'Who will save the world...' with this album 'Hogwash'. In the first significant line up change since they were formed, drummer Ken Pustlenik moved on, to be replaced by Clive Brooks, ex of Egg. Meanwhile, Tony McPhee injured his wrist sometime between the two albums, limiting his dexterity on lead guitar. It was therefore in part through necessity that his digression towards keyboards which started on the previous album was taken further on this album through the introduction of synthesisers in addition to mellotron.

The title of the opening 'I love you Miss Ogyny' is a play on words, Misogyny being the hatred of women. Musically, the song is unusually refined for the Groundhogs, a theme which will prevail throughout the album. Indeed the following 'You Had a Lesson' features some superb mellotron sounds alongside slide guitar. The songs are slightly more complex than on earlier albums, but the prog aspects should not be over emphasised here, this is essentially a blues rock album.

The weak point of the album is the short 'Ringmaster' which is just a few ambient sounds over some phased drumming. It is kept brief though, and soon we are into the longest track on the album, the 7+ minute '3744 James Road'. Once again, this is a pretty straightforward upbeat blues number of the style adopted by bands such as Ten Years After and Creedence Clearwater Revival. It plays out in narrative form, the band longing for their home from home in Memphis. McPhee is back to his best on lead guitar here, much of the track being given over to some extended soloing.

'Sad is the hunter' is a rather ordinary song with a prosaic vocal melody, but it does build nicely via the lead guitar towards the end. 'S'One Song' is another of those witty titles, this time playing on a 'Swansong' variation. The song itself is less inspired though, being a shorter pop style ditty for the first part, before changing completely midway and becoming a heavy rock number. 'Earth Shanty' is probably the track which will be of most interest in these parts. The opening mellotron solo set on a back drop of winds blowing is very prog It leads into some appealing acoustic guitar and processed vocals. It's all rather Moody Blues, and by far the best track here.

The album closes with a tribute to the band's mentor John Lee Hooker entitled 'Mr. Hooker, Sir John'. As might be expected, the song takes the band back to their earliest days, being a basic acoustic blues.

In all, a significant improvement on 'Who will save the world..'. Tony McPhee continues with his efforts to diversify the band's sound, while seldom straying too far from their blues roots.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#403465)
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permalink

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