The Groundhogs
Split


4.5
superb

Review

by JamieTwort CONTRIBUTOR (28 Reviews)
June 2nd, 2012 | 32 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tony McPhee and co.'s finest album and one of the best psychedelic blues rock albums of the 70’s.

Following the success of their breakthrough album, Thank Christ for the Bomb, The Groundhogs didn’t waste any time in returning to the studio to begin recording their next album. Having seen their previous album reach number nine in the UK charts, the band were enjoying what was at that point the most successful point of their career and they were evidently keen to get to work on its follow up. Emerging in early 1971, Split saw the band build upon the experimental elements that graced some of the material on Thank Christ for the Bomb to create their strongest and most consistent album to date.

While its predecessor had a loose concept running through all nine of its songs, Split is very much an album of two halves. Side one of the original LP is made up of the epic four-part title suite, while side two consists of a series of more straight forward but equally engaging songs. The lyrical themes of this album are a lot more personal than the themes of ‘alienness’ and war that were featured throughout Thank Christ for the Bomb but they are no less intriguing, particularly with regards to the first half of the album. The lengthy title track, which has been split into four separate parts, remains one of Tony McPhee’s finest compositions. Despite at first sounding very much like the type of drug influenced tales typical of lengthy psychedelic rock tracks, the lyrics are actually much more unconventional, telling the tale of a panic attack McPhee experienced in May 1970. This sprawling twenty minute-plus epic describes the singer/guitarist’s feelings of panic, confusion and claustrophobia over a backdrop of heavy, bluesy guitar playing complimented by Peter Cruikshank’s throbbing bass lines and Ken Pustelnik’s impressive drumming. Tony McPhee’s Jack Bruce-esque vocals are as strong here as they’ve ever been and are perfectly in keeping with the twisted tales of paranoia and hallucinations. It’s McPhee’s guitar playing however that really stands out. Raw, powerful and full of emotion, his playing is creative but never over indulgent.

While not quite as enthralling as the first, the second half is by no means disappointing. Cherry Red is rightly hailed as one of the band’s best songs, featuring an impressive vocal performance from McPhee as well as some blistering guitar work. Modern psych band Earthless covered the song for their 2007 album Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky, which goes some way to explaining the song’s iconic status within the psychedelic rock genre. Elsewhere the John Lee Hooker inspired Groundhog is a prime example of raw, dirty blues at its best while A Year in the Life provides a moment of rest bite from the album’s heavier moments.

While McPhee is undoubtedly the driving force behind the band, Pete Cruikshank and Ken Pustelnik, on bass and drums respectively, are much more than mere extras, providing an excellent tight rhythm section, which is essential for a blues rock power trio. There’s a strong chemistry evident on this album and the band show that they have enough creativity and collective talent to be considered a major force in the late 60’s/early 70’s blues rock movement and while the band went on to release some strong material after this album, this remains their finest achievement.



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user ratings (11)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As always any comments or construcive crticism is much appreciated.

rockandmetaljunkie
June 2nd 2012


3426 Comments


Great stuff Jamie, glad to see you returned to reviewing.

Will read later.

TheNotrap
June 2nd 2012


8108 Comments


Very nice review JT, have a pos.

Will check this out for sure.

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scissorlocked
June 2nd 2012


3511 Comments


seems awesome, there must be interesting stuff here

Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys.

Yeah this is very interesting indeed scissor.

CaptainDooRight
June 2nd 2012


29881 Comments


Good review bro. Gonna have to check this. Pos.

Digging: Impetuous Ritual - Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence

greg84
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


7417 Comments


Great review. Pos'd.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


6197 Comments


Great and informative review, pos.

Digging: Aeon Sable - Visionaers

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks everyone.

I can definitely see you digging this Captain.

CaptainDooRight
June 2nd 2012


29881 Comments


Hell yeah I was sold on psych blues rock but then your review drained my pocket. Can't wait to hear this.

I'm sure I can find some of this on YouTube.

CaptainDooRight
June 2nd 2012


29881 Comments


Just listened to split one and two and damn I need the full asap. This is exactly according to my taste.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad you dig it bro.

Nagrarok
June 2nd 2012


8259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Psychedelic blues, eh? Might be nice. Great to see you reviewing this kind of stuff.

Jethro42
June 2nd 2012


12478 Comments


I have to pick this up since you recd it to me. Cant wait to hear the Split' suite. Good job on the review, Jamie.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 3rd 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm pretty sure you'd like this, Nag.

Thanks Jethro. Let me know what you think when you do get round to checking it out.

rockandmetaljunkie
June 3rd 2012


3426 Comments


Read it, great review man, pos'd.
You have a skill dude. You can write short, but very informative and coherent reviews. You should write more often.


"and while the band went on to release some strong material after this album, this remains their finest achievement."

I guess you must have heard their next albums to judge that right ?

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 3rd 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dude. I plan to write more over the next few months.

"I guess you must have heard their next albums to judge that right ?"

I have indeed. The two that come after this one are both great albums and well worth exploring but they pale in comparrison to this. I've also heard some of Tony McPhee's solo material, which is also very interesting, particularly 'The Two Sides of Tony (T.S.) McPhee'.

rockandmetaljunkie
June 3rd 2012


3426 Comments


That's great man. It shows you're not the typical metalhead and you're affable to listen to as many subgenres as possible. You have some variety in your tastes. Keep it that way.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 3rd 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah man, I enjoy genres such as prog, blues and psych just as much as I enjoy hard rock and metal. I also like other genres like folk and jazz fusion.

Jethro42
June 3rd 2012


12478 Comments


I dont have time to listen to this by now but yeah sure, I'll let you know what I think!



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