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Groundhogs - Thank Christ for the Bomb CD (album) cover




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3.92 | 49 ratings

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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.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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