Updated: Apr 16, 2019
Written by Chris Watson and Sara Vian
A special Record Store Day release of "Thank Christ for the Bomb" by the legendary blues rock trio “Groundhogs” is available on vinyl from Raves From The Grave in Frome this Saturday.
The zeitgeist of the early 70's is just as applicable (and mainstream news!) today, delivered with the distinctive style of Tony McPhee’s arrangements, riffs and effects and electrified with blisteringly good guitar solos. Following John Peel's play of "Soldier" on Radio 1, it soared into the album charts.
Renowned for his experimentation and early use of guitar effects, McPhee is an admirer of Jimi Hendrix and was inspired to create a difference; the short guitar solo on "Ship on the Ocean" is an absolute gem and the slide effects on "Garden" truly evocative. Although maybe not for everyone, the album stands the test of time and McPhee’s double interleaved solo on "Soldier" is exquisitely poignant.
McPhee's songs deal with classic issues and lifestyle choices that still haunt us today, revealing how we are so often programmed to live with the ennui of "Strange town", the loneliness and poverty of "Darkness is no friend" and the lament of war in "Soldier" - get ready to need a stiff drink! "Thank Christ for the Bomb” is a well worked set of lyrics encapsulating the complexities of two World Wars and questions why. Surely, most of us would agree that nuclear weapons should be scrapped or are they ironically why we we’ve avoided another World War so far… "everyone's scared to obliterate, so it seems for peace we can thank the bomb, so I say thank Christ for the bomb"
A drifting "Ship on the Ocean" tells further tales of emptiness, boredom and spiritual disconnection, sacrificed for financial security, "Garden" envisions how the earth could be; "Status people" is a rejection of the consumer-culture; and finally, "Rich Man, Poor man" and "Eccentric Man" leave behind wealth and goods to have peace with nature.
Having recently been privileged to meet the Groundhogs’ drummer, Ken Pustelnik, at the monthly Bristol Music Industry Network events, it is a delight to hear that Ken's Groundhogs will be helping to kick off the Rhythm and Blues Festival at the Cheese and Grain in Frome on 24th May. Find out more about the Groundhogs at: www.thegroundhogs.co.uk