Next to Blue Cheer, The Groundhogs may very well have been responsible for some hearing loss on my part in the late 60s/early 70s. One of the best bands to listen to under headphones, cranked up past the threshold of pain – they were a sonic feast and were the epitome of Heavy distortion-drenched Rock/Prog that went on to become the prototype for a lot of genres (including Grunge) over the coming decades.
I first knew them as a Blues band, having been around since 1963, but hearing them for the first time in 1968 when they issued Scratching The Surface. But it was around the time they did the landmark Thank Christ For The Bomb and their follow-up Split, that things took on a whole new meaning.
The group’s album releases Blues Obituary (September 1969); Thank Christ for the Bomb (May 1970); Split (March 1971); and Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs (March 1972), recorded as a trio, all but Blues Obituary the Top 10 in the UK Albums Chart. Split reached number 5, spending 27 weeks in the UK Albums Chart and achieved gold record status, while a single release from the album, “Cherry Red”, was featured on BBC Television’s Top of the Pops programme on 22 April 1971.
They supported The Rolling Stones on their 1971 British tour at the request of Mick Jagger and released an album of their live set on the Stones tour, recorded at Leeds University and called Live at Leeds. All these albums and live shows were performed by the classic power trio of Cruickshank, McPhee and Pustelnik. Ken Pustelnik left in 1972 and Clive Brooks from the band Egg joined on drums for Hogwash released in November 1972. 1974’s album Solid saw a last return to the charts.
This session, done for Top Of The Pops on July 29, 1970, features mostly material from the upcoming release of Split.
If you’ve never heard Groundhogs before, you have missed something. But you can get caught up by way of this session. As one of the bands supplying the groundwork for the evolution of Rock, they are essential listening. When you listen to them, you can almost point your finger on who they’ve made an impression on later.
Crank this one up – maybe not to the threshold of pain but . . . .close.