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Groundhogs Thank Christ for the Bomb album cover
3.93 | 52 ratings | 4 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Strange Town... Alienness of a Community (4:20)
2. Darkness Is No Friend... Alienness of a Small Room (3:48)
3. Soldier... Alienness of a Country (4:55)
4. Thank Christ for the Bomb... Alienness... (7:25)
5. Ship on the Ocean (3:27)
6. Garden. (5:24)
7. Status People. (3:34)
8. Rich Man, Poor Man. (3:26)
9. Eccentric Man... The Story of a Man Who Lived in Chelsea All His Life; First in a Mansion Then on the Benches of the Embankment (4:56)

Total Time 41:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony McPhee / vocals, guitar
- Pete Cruikshank / bass
- Ken Pustelnik / drums

Releases information

Produced by Tony (T.S.)McPhee for Zak Productions.
Recorded during February, 1970 at De Lane Lea Studios, London.
Engineer - Martin Birch.
All compositions written and arranged by Tony (T.S.) McPhee.
Published by United Artists Music Ltd.
Sleeve Design - Clearwater Conception.
Artist - Alan Tanner.

LP Liberty LBS 83295 (70)
CD EMI 5848 202 (Digital Remaster 2003)

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GROUNDHOGS Thank Christ for the Bomb ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GROUNDHOGS Thank Christ for the Bomb reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "I hate the glorification of war. I hate how people were duped into fighting. Not much changed between World War 1 and World War 2 for the soldier." - TS

Intending to create something away from the Blues, manager Roy Fisher, thinking of a concept Tony could work on, came up with the phrase "Thank Christ for the Bomb". At the time the cold war with Russia was still deep in the public psyche, "Ban the Bomb" marches occupied the press, the album title statement was an antedote to all this, saying that the nuclear standoff would stop nuclear wars happening in the future - and here we are 39 years later and still no world war three nuclear holocaust. yet!

Completely divorcing himself from the blues, the album "Thank Christ For The Bomb", released in may 1970, consists of nine tracks; the main theme covers both World Wars beginning with the soldiers in the First World War and ending with the nuclear bomb in the Second, but the sympathies in the message carries through to this day...

"I always felt that through the ages, the broadsword must have been the ultimate weapon at one point, because they could chop people's heads off all over the place, and the crossbow and the longbow - there's always been the ultimate weapon, it's just a question of degree, really. -TS

Side One has the group of four war songs "Strange Town.alienness of a community", which features some solid riffs, fast drumming and meandering swirling guitar solos, the music ebbs and flows from one peak to another. "Darkness Is No Friend.alienness of a small room" a shuffle / boogie rhythm on this song interspersed with punctuated time signatures and changes in tempo. "Soldier.alienness of a country" was the song aired by John Peel which resulted in huge sales of the album - "without him it would have been just another album among many. The album wouldn't have made it, no doubt about it." said Tony on the importance of airplay promotion. The song is full of catchy riffs, interweaving double tracked guitars and bass lines. "Thank Christ For The Bomb..alienness.", the song is in two parts developing from just vocals and acoustic guitar.

"Our fathers fell in thousands for the freedom of the rich and poor, believing as we do today that democracy is the only way"

The song fades to the sound of a procession of soldiers marching across the speakers, and builds frenetically towards a crescendo ultimately climaxing in a huge nuclear BOOOOM..!

The album actually boast two concept pieces which would connect somewhere in the middle - " I realised that every song was about the way that, in a world crammed with people, there are levels of alienation, from individuals living isolated in one room through to communities which cannot accept individual differences and countries that are unable to communicate with each other."

"Soldier, fix your bayonet - before the enemy comes, cos you won't have time - when they start to climb the hill y'know. Soldier - when you see 8,000 - climbin' up the hill, Don't see them as men - just see them as enemies of the king, y' know"

The other songs on alienation are on Side Two - "Ship On The Ocean", "Garden", "Status People", " Rich Man, Poor Man", "Eccentric Man..the story of a man who lived in Chelsea all his life ; first in a mansion then on the benches of the embankment".

The album was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios and engineered by in-house Engineer Martin Birch. Tony remembers. "I wanted to use the three-piece band fully, so I wrote the bass parts as well. I didn't really want the usual root notes. I was writing different chord sequences and I wanted everything whirling about."

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Thank John Peel for the break

"Thank Christ for the bomb" was the album which delivered recognition and album chart success to the Groundhogs for the first time. Having released two decent if unremarkable blues based albums, Tony TS McPhee asserted his de facto position as band leader and guided them in a new, more ambitious direction. The three man line up remained unchanged, with Pete Cruikshank and Ken Pustelnik simply providing bass and drums respectively in support of McPhee's lead guitar and vocals. McPhee also writes all the songs here.

The album's anti-war concept needs no explanation or expansion, the songs covering various 20th Century conflicts and threats. The album came to the attention of noted BBC (UK) DJ the late John Peel, who regularly played the track "Soldier" on his Saturday afternoon show. This was enough to bring the band and the album to the attention of an eager public, who bought the album in sufficient quantities for it to enter the UK top 10 album chart.

The album opens with "Strange Town", a far more complex piece than anything on the first two albums. Still restricted by the basic guitar and vocals backed by bass and drums line up, Tony McPhee manages to diversify the sound well here, primarily though the multi- tracking of various lead guitar sounds and effects. "Darkness is no friend" has something of a boogie feel to it, similar to some of the early work of Wishbone Ash.

As mentioned, "Solider" was the song which single handedly changed the band's fortunes. Significantly, the track features acoustic guitar as well as electric, the result being a much more refined sound than the band have managed up to now. The multi tracking of the various guitar parts was advanced for its time (1970) and the song as a whole has a dynamic to it which makes it stand out from the others on the album.

The 7 minute title track opens with just acoustic guitar and vocals, the lyrics describing in vivid but basic terms the two world wars and subsequent nuclear stalemate. There is something of a folk feel to the early part of the track, until a marching beat introduces a lengthy instrumental section which builds through acoustic then electric guitar towards a chaotic crescendo and bomb blast!

"Ship on the ocean" is the least distinguished of the tracks, although even here the guitar- work is impressive. "Garden" boasts a veritable guitar orchestra, the downbeat vocal sections contrasting superbly with the multi tracked lead guitar flourishes. "Status people" is a simple folkish pop piece.

"Rich man, poor man" is the heaviest of the tracks, the multi-tracked vocals being supported by some rocking lead guitar. Even here though, the song has a semi-acoustic core section and an interesting arrangement. The album closes with "Eccentric man" sub- titled "the story of a man who lived in Chelsea all his life; first in a mansion then on the benches of the embankment". This Allman Brothers like driving blues rock number is also reminiscent of some of Frijid Pink's work.

One of the most impressive aspects of "TCFTB" is the way it demonstrates how a band with limited options in terms of line up can still make an album of considerable diversity. While the focus is naturally on the guitar playing skills of the band leader, the tracks are well crafted and arranged, retaining the interest of the listener throughout. In today's terms, this album will undoubtedly sound somewhat dated, but in many ways that it part of its appeal.

Review by DangHeck
4 stars An Escape from Blues Rock Mundanity is an Escape to Your Emancipation Apparently haha.

This, The Groundhogs' third album, starts off with a bombastic new confidence on the opener "Strange Town". This is 1970, and as we all know, there is just so much going on at this point in time. We are on the backend of Psychedelic Rock's most popular blast; and, with this album and many of its contemporaries, we see ourselves at the fore of more overtly "progressive" music (certainly as we currently understand it) coming to prominence. Especially across the European continent, Progressive Rock itself was then coming into further popularity. This song has an interesting mix of Artsy over their Blues Rock base. It's a fantastic song; a must-hear.

The Blues Rock is somewhat more strongly displayed on "Darkness is No Friend". Pretty decent melody, this'n, and it features a forward-driving rhythm. Hard to say exactly what it's most reminiscent of for me. "Soldier", then, has a beat that feels very very timeless; like something that could have happened in the late '80s or early '90s in Alt Rock [I take note of this feeling later on as well]. A compliment, I assure you. We're still in a Bluesy sort of jive, but this song has some special sauce for sure. Kind of Psychedelic, if I can say [and I shall]. The theme of war continues on the wonderfully-named title track, "Thank Christ for the Bomb". This song's first 2+ minutes is an acoustic-vocals-only ballad, of sorts. It shifts, more noticeably around minute 3, with quieter electric instrumentation, really to a very interesting effect. It builds on this section to heavier and heavier echelons with drums wildly rolling underneath the rest. Purty good. The ending... Now, that was unexpected. [And I meant it.]

Mid-album starts off with the bombastic, fun Art-Psych number "Ship on the Ocean". This song has an upbeat rhythm, a light Psychedelic feel (especially thanks to the wild drumming and the melodic bass). The guitar is twangy and reminds me of some of the best of The Kinks. It's at this point that I would like the say just how much stronger this album is than their first two... Just wow. Big jump in quality and focus. Big props. Up next, we have the quieted, reflective "Garden". The drums continue to roll and... the vocals are... Did Robert Plant steal this too?! This vocal melody is incredibly familiar. And knowing that the Groundhogs really are coming from a similar place/scene as Led Zep it makes me wonder all the more. I am blown away... Not surprised, but... Again, just wow.

Over a sweet and steady groove, "Status People" is a meditative number with still-rolling drums and a hypnotic layering of guitar riffage. Even in its simplicity, this is a great example of early Prog Rock. Fantastic. I like being impressed by... [what may on its surface appear] little haha. The main riff that opens up "Rich Man, Poor Man" is yet another moment that feels just plain timeless. This sh*t would live and breathe well in the Alternative scene of the mid-to-late-80s. I mean, it's just really interesting to hear this in 1970. Like a cross between late-60s Garage Rock and '80s Alt? I dig it. Finally, we have "Eccentric Man", the track that I very likely first heard from them. This features a very confident, striding group of concentric and overlapping riffs as well. Very cool, to say the least. No wonder, given the very riff-heavy instrumentation and the highly memorable vocal melodies, that this track is one that's perhaps better known than others. I would say, though, here and now, there is much more progressive and daring songs/compositions throughout this. Nevertheless, as implied, a great great song. Therefore, as I sometimes say elsewhere, a great album closer.

True Rate: 4.25/5.00

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This album was released in 1970 and Tony McPhee the leader, composer, guitarist, singer etc. decided to take the blues based sound that they were known for on their previous two albums out of this one. The first half of this album which is four tracks are part of a suite dealing with alienness. Each song deals with alienness on different scales, the first in a community, the second in a small town, the third in a country and then fourth in the world. I have to say that this record along with the followup "Split" from 1971 are both must-haves as far as I'm concerned. Quite different from one another but both really impressed me.

That first track is pretty good especially the instrumental sections. A fairly heavy and determined sound. The second track is not that great, kind of a pale version of the opener. The next two songs to end the suite deal with war. Both are exceptional tracks. The album cover and especially the album's title would have been so controversial in 1970. A bold move and then John Peel starts playing that third track about soldiers with such meaningful and passionate words. An anti-war track that Peel would play regularly giving this band a huge spotlight. And what a song! No doubt there were many haters for this one but the lyrics are right on. The biting words and the way he says " know " after certain lines just works so well. The fourth one of the suite ends with a nuclear explosion but we get some walking bass and killer guitar as well. Such a good song.

The last five tracks don't quite measure up to the last two before it but this is a fairly consistent album and there's something about each of the last five that works for me. "Garden" might be my favourite of those for the lyrics and sound. The closer "Eccentric Man..." is little heavier and a little slower and quite catchy, a highlight. 4 stars.

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