Sunday, June 08, 2008


The Groundhogs-THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB CD (EMI, EU)

It may seem like heresy, but until now (almost four decades after the fact!) I never had the opportunity to hear this (some might say) "seminal" Groundhogs album. Well, maybe there were opportunities to give this platter a spin, but it wasn't like I really was champing at the bit as they used to say. But yes, all those years of underground hype and collector scum flagging in the pages of FLASH was not enough to get me off my fat and pitted behind to search out a copy...not that doing something along those lines in the eighties and nineties was exactly possible given this particular album's unavailability in the racks of anyrecordstore USA, and it wasn't like I had the $$$$$ or the energy to pay the usually exorbitant prices these once cutout gems were now commanding on the set sale market. But really, I should bow my head in abject shame!

But get it I did (as part of that aforementioned Groundhogs box set) and hey, I'm glad I did to be even more trite about it. While nowhere near the top of the heap when it comes to the best hard rock albums of 1970 (as Hot Scott Fischer mused in his NIX ON PIX piece on these boys) THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB is still a solid condender from an age where the gap between post-sixties folkies and heavy metal scrunchers was ever widening. Not that it's another FUNHOUSE or IN ROCK (two albums that Fischer decided to lump THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB in with, at least aesthetically), but when you stack it up next to the early-seventies softie competition it's no contest man, no contest!

For being an early-seventies "antiwar" album (whether or not it's the WW I-themed "concept album" that a couple critics have claimed is open to discussion...frankly I say nada) these Groundhogs sure did a good job of it by not being too obvious, or better yet not letting the message get in the way of the music like many whole wheat commune types and their hardcore offspring did. (Which reminds me of the time I heard the American representative of Crass' Existencil Press making an appearance on the old MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL radio show a good quarter-century back. Well anyways, it seems as if this particular lass, who was on the show giving the anarcho-punk line for the eagerly-awaiting denizens of hardcore USA ripe and ready for OVERTHROW, was the most dour, saddened, and staid-serious individual who seemed to be walking the face of this earth, perhaps burdened by the weight of all the world's ills and she sure wanted to let the rest of us know all about it! When, during her discourse on the anarchist movement [of a particularly anti-capitalist nature] someone from the MRR peanut gallery asked if the music that appeared on the Crass label was entertainment, Ms. Existensil gave a definite resounding "no!" as if how could someone oh-so-enlightened as herself even consider thinking about such frivolities! No , the music of Crass and the various artists on their label was not just something to listen to casually or for the artists to "make money" [for shame!] off of, but of a higher plane with the musings of such free-thinking anarchists as Bakunin and Goldman which continue to influence all sorts of brainy boys 'n girls for their revolutionary role in the Next Great Depression! Or something like that. For years I thought that her views were rather lofty, and I'm sure they were as well for the average snooty kid buying up Crass along with their Oi and whatever else hotcha imports Systematic were tossing our ways, but I still get the sneaking suspicion that a few of the eighties Crass leftovers are still taking the words of Crass' US representative to heart! What do you think?)

Oh...where was I??? Yeah, at least the Groundhogs KNEW that their music was first and foremost to their entire rockism makeup, and the message, although I guess important enough, wasn't supposed to overpower the general high energy setup of this band. And while THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB may not be a "heavy metal cruncher" of the first order, that certainly doesn't mean it's instant douse. Au contraire, this 'un really a nice slow-cooker that I'm positive would have made it big with a few more early-seventies hard rock maniacs other than George Brigman!

And really, what else is there to say other than it's a nifty perk up for the ears and much more! Don't wanna do a track-by-track dissection of the disque since I already mauled Simply Saucer with just that last time, but I will make these observations...1) Tony T. S. McPhee was one of the best post-blues hard rock players and singers of the early-seventies, and in the hest heavy metal tradition he really knew how to capture the despair and angst that the HM formula was building its reputation on at the time, 2) the antiwar lyrics, like on Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", really transcended the typical hippydippy "Peace Train" and "War is not good for children and other living things" quap of the time and make for intriguing study, 3) the Groundhogs really washed a lotta their traditional blues tendencies outta their system with this one and 4) although the record seems to drag out a little towards the end it's probably because I was exhausted from listening to the first 3/4th of it! But I hope that if I eat enough Maypo I will be getting enough energy to sit through this one w/o dropping off into slumberland...that's what I get for reserving my listening time to the wee-wee hours, and I'm not talking about Chuck Berry's extracurricular activities either!

(And as an aside to my earlier Existencil Press comments, I should mention to you that the bizarroid English anarchopunk band known as the Apostles actually recorded the Groundhogs' "Mean Mistreater" [from the CROSSCUT SAW album] on one of their cassette-only releases, which probably doesn't mean a hilla beans to you but it sorta makes my above point come around full-circle, in its own bizarre sorta way.)

1 comment:

Woody High said...

I've been meaning to pick this up for years. I only have Split, which is so good I'm worried that their other albums will disappoint me.