Groundhogs

The Groundhogs were an English experimental blues-rock/psych band that issued four albums on Liberty, starting in 1968 and culminating with the popular 1970/71 titles Thank Christ for the Bomb and Split. In 1972, they signed to United Artists for the albums Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs and Hogwash. After issuing their 1974 effort Solid on the short-lived WWA label, they returned to U.A. for the 1976 titles Crosscut Saw and Black Diamond. Guitarist/frontman Tony (T.S.) McPhee also moonlighted as a backing musician.

Members: Tony T.S. McPhee (guitar, vocals), Peter Cruickshank (bass, 1963-74, 2003-04), Dave Boorman (drums, 1963-65), Bob Hall (piano, 1963-65), John Cruickshank (vocals, 1963-64), Ken Pustelnik (drums, 1965-72, 2003-04), Tom Parker (keyboards, 1965), Steve Rye (harmonica, 1968), Clive Brooks (drums, 1972-74), Dave Thompson (bass, 1972), Mick Cook (drums, 1976), Martin Kent (bass, 1976), Dave Wellbelove (guitar, 1976), Rick Adams (guitar, 1976)


Background

The Groundhogs originated from pre-beatsters The Dollar Bills, formed in 1962 New Cross, London, by bassist Peter Cruickshank (b. 1943) and his singing brother John Cruickshank (b. 1945). Within months, they were joined by guitarist Tony McPhee (b. 1944), who steered them toward blues-rock and suggested they rename their band after the song “Groundhog’s Blues” by John Lee Hooker. The lineup was rounded by drummer Dave Boorman and a sequence of keyboardists.


“Shake It”

In 1964, The Groundhogs backed Hooker on his UK tour. This was followed by backing gigs behind fellow visiting bluesmen Little Walter and Jimmy Reed. McPhee assumed the mic from a departed John Cruickshank and the band issued their first single, “Shake It” (b/w “Rock Me”), on Interphon Records in January 1965. Soon thereafter, Boorman cleared way for drummer Ken Pustelnik. The following year, McPhee played (alongside Eric Clapton) on the Decca release From New Orleans to Chicago by pianist Champion Jack Dupree.


Herbal Mixture

In 1966, McPhee and Peter Cruickshank cut two singles as Herbal Mixture with drummer Mike Meekham. (Further recordings under this name were issued 30 years later on the Distortions Records compilation Please Leave My Mind.) The guitarist also issued two blues originals, “Someone to Love Me” (b/w “Ain’t Gonna Cry No Mo”’), under the nickname T. S. McPhee, the initials standing for “tough shit.”

By 1967, The Groundhogs had settled into a trio of McPhee, Cruickshank, and Pustelnik. Late that year, they signed to EMI-subsidiary Liberty Records.


Scratchin’ the Surface

The Groundhogs released their debut album, Scratchin’ the Surface, in November 1968 on Liberty. Musically, the album plies Chicago-style blues with adaptations of songs by Rosco Gordon (“No More Doggin”’), Willie Cobbs (“You Don’t Love Me”), and Muddy Waters (“Still a Fool”).

Scratchin’ the Surface is the only Groundhogs album with harpist and singer Steve Rye, who wrote “Early In the Morning” (not the Vanity Fair–Cliff Richard hit) and “Come Back Baby.” He dominates Tony McPhee’s numbers, including the lengthy “Man Trouble.” 

1. “Rocking Chair” (4:07)
2. “Early in the Morning” (4:47)
3. “Waking Blues” (2:29)
4. “Married Men” (4:40)
5. “No More Doggin'” (4:57)
6. “Man Trouble” (6:27)
7. “Come Back Baby” (3:54)
8. “You Don’t Love Me” (Willie Cobbs) (4:11
9. “Still a Fool” (McKinley Morganfield) (6:35)

Scratchin’ the Surface was produced by Mike Batt, Liberty’s nineteen-year-old Head of A&R.


Blues Obituary

The Groundhogs released their second album, Blues Obituary, in September 1969 on Liberty. Here, they embrace a looser, more jam-based style.

Blues Obituary features six McPhee originals, including “Mistreated,” “B.D.D.,” and “Daze of the Weak,” plus their own arrangement of the traditional “Natchez Burning.”

1. “B.D.D.” (4:00)
2. “Daze of the Weak” (3:45)
3. “Times” (5:15)
4. “Mistreated” (5:15)
5. “Express Man” (3:55)
6. “Natchez Burning” (4:35)
7. “Light Was the Day” (6:50)

McPhee himself handled production on this and all subsequent Groundhogs albums.


Thank Christ for the Bomb

The Groundhogs released their third album, Thank Christ for the Bomb, in May 1970 on Liberty.

1. “Strange Town” (4:16)
2. “Darkness Is No Friend” (2:43)
3. “Soldier” (4:51)
4. “Thank Christ for the Bomb” (7:15)
5. “Ship on the Ocean” (3:27)
6. “Garden” (5:19)
7. “Status People” (3:32)
8. “Rich Man, Poor Man” (3:25)
9. “Eccentric Man” (4:53)


Split

The Groundhogs released their fourth album, Split , in March 1971 on Liberty.

1. “Split – Part One” (4:25)
2. “Split – Part Two” (5:10)
3. “Split – Part Three” (4:25)
4. “Split – Part Four” (5:38)
5. “Cherry Red” (5:40)
6. “A Year in the Life” (3:07)
7. “Junkman” (4:52)
8. “Groundhog” (5:35)


Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs

The Groundhogs released their fifth album, Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs, in March 1972 on United Artists.

1. “Earth Is Not Room Enough” (4:45)
2. “Wages of Peace” (4:33)
3. “Body in Mind” (3:45)
4. “Music is the Food of Thought” (4:30)
5. “Bog Roll Blues” (3:02)
6. “Death of the Sun” (3:40)
7. “Amazing Grace” (Traditional) (2:20)
8. “The Grey Maze” (10:05)


Hogwash

The Groundhogs released their sixth album, Hogwash , in November 1972 on United Artists.

1. “I Love Miss Ogyny” (5:20)
2. “You Had a Lesson” (5:45)
3. “The Ringmaster” (1:25)
4. “3744 James Road” (7:15)
5. “Sad is the Hunter” (5:15)
6. “S’One Song” (3:40)
7. “Earth Shanty” (6:50)
8. “Mr Hooker, Sir John” (3:34)


Solid

The Groundhogs released their seventh album, Solid, in June 1974 on WWA.

1. “Light My Light” (6:23)
2. “Free from All Alarm” (5:14)
3. “Sins of the Father” (5:29)
4. “Sad Go Round” (2:55)
5. “Corn Cob” (5:36)
6. “Plea Sing, Plea Song” (3:00)
7. “Snow Storm” (3:28)
8. “Joker’s Grave” (8:41)


Crosscut Saw

The Groundhogs released their eighth album, Crosscut Saw , in February 1976 on United Artists.

1. “Crosscut Saw” (3:44)
2. “Promiscuity” (5:43)
3. “Boogie Withus” (3:51)
4. “Fulfilment” (7:36
5. “Live a Little Lady” (6:05)
6. “Three Way Split” (4:56)
7. “Mean Mistreater” (2:32)
8. “Eleventh Hour” (6:46)


Black Diamond

The Groundhogs released their ninth album, Black Diamond, in October 1976 on United Artists.

1. “Body Talk” (4:47)
2. “Fantasy Partner” (5:12)
3. “Live Right” (3:50)
4. “Country Blues” (4:15)
5. “Your Love Keeps Me Alive” (5:57)
6. “Friendzy” (5:28)
7. “Pastoral Future” (2:44)
8. “Black Diamond” (6:10)


Razor’s Edge

The Groundhogs released their tenth album, Razor’s Edge, in May 1985 on Landslide Records.


Back Against the Wall (1987)


Discography:


Sources:

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