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Groundhogs - Split CD (album) cover




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3.96 | 53 ratings

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4 stars Despite Split coming from a dark place; being born and inspired as a result of mainman Tony "TS" McPhee suffering a nervous breakdown, it remains The Groundhogs finest recorded moment. Just a look at the cover gives the impression of an album brimming with energy and it certainly is.

The music is in a power trio format of guitar, bass and drums. It's basically blues influenced heavy rock with McPhee's brilliant and inventive guitar playing giving the music an edge that many who have played in the genre lack. He has an excellent picking style which comes from using his fingers rather than a plectrum, yet still nails those killer riffs with ease; surely one of the most underrated guitarists. He's aided admirably by a solid rhythm section comprising of Pete Cruikshank on bass and Ken Pustelnik on drums.

Side 1 of the original vinyl version, which I'm proud to say I own in the early gatefold sleeve pressing consists of Split parts 1 - 4. Each track is excellent on its own; all full of great riffs and wonderful soloing from McPhee making it difficult to pick a favourite. If pushed I'll go for Part 3 for the dynamic interplay between McPhee's sweet picking and heavy riffing. Really though it demands to be listened to as a whole, working at its best by treating it as a single piece. The side ends in fine style with a superb guitar solo from "TS", a cacophony of noise dying away to end.

Side 2 opens with the perennial live favourite, Cherry Red, an up tempo driving rocker with all the musical qualities to be found on side 1. A Year In The Life is a more mellow moment, at least in parts; brooding and melancholic one minute before exploding the next. Junkman has acoustic guitar trading places with wah wah infused electric, closing with another cacophonous guitar moment. After so much high energy closing track Ground Hog is pure blues, a simple stomping rhythm as McPhee plays some excellent blues licks while he sings over the top.

While the band are more experimental on other releases which lay a greater claim to their inclusion here on Prog Archives and despite other fine albums in their catalogue, Split remains their ultimate masterpiece and an essential slice of seventies rock. 4 1/2 stars.

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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