THE GROUNDHOGS — Solid (review)

THE GROUNDHOGS — Solid album cover Album · 1973 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
cannon
The 'Hogs pour out the pig iron. Hoofed-heavy, filthy, gluttonous and gloomy, so smeltering sloopy. Solid snorts out the eccentric, existential despair and the schizo side of "The Hog" (Tony McPhee).

Just coming off his solo album, "The Two Sides Of Tony (T.S.) McPhee" (1973) with his experimentation of the latest electronics on the side long track, "The Hunt", is a real shift from the bluesed psych, guitar swilling so synonymous with the Groundhogs and showcases McPhee's talent on the keyboards and synthesizers. McPhee would take his twisted taste of technical trickery and snarl it with his sonic, shifting guitar style that would be Solid.

Bringing back his rhythm section from Hogwash, drummer Clive Brooks and long time bassist, Pete Cruickshanks and recording in his home studio, this is all about the 'Hog and his new toys of a Mellotron and the latest synthesizer with a ring modulator, phasers and wah wahs and even on some tracks sending his gruff vocals through a vocoder with muddled effects, at times being messy.

The Mellotron morbidly magnifies the melancholy, manic-depressive lyrical content and shadely blends with the bog bottom blues boom and the progressive, stabbing sig shifts with "Light My Light", "Sins Of The Father" and "Snow Storm". Three outstanding tracks that would be become a mainstay in the 'Hog's live performances for the next two and half decades.

"Free From All Alarm" opens up acoustically, but McPhee can't make it without engaging electrification halfway the track. Too bad, the tune has a great greasy groove of country gliding over boogie. "Gosh darn it Tony! Let the strings slide and sing."

"Corn Cob" is the bacon of the 'Hogs. Barbequed blues-rock.

"Plea Sing, Plea Song". Please no.

"Hello da'ere" opens up "Joker's Grave" as it captures the capricious center of Tony McPhee's eccentricity. Synthesized silliness. Erratic and no purpose. Nine and half minutes of needless noodling.

Solid isn't up to the snuff as thier conceptual trilogy, "Thank Christ For The Bomb", "Split" and "Who'll Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs!" and has the qualities and irregularities of Hogwash.

The Groundhogs disbanded after this release but McPhee put together a new lineup two years later and released two albums in 1976, "Black Diamond" and "Crosscut Saw". The 'Hogs didn't sell out to the "mainstream" as so many of thier contemparies from the heyday of proto-metal did, however they were also put out to pasture by the emerging presence of punk.

Note: August 2011. Just released, a live album from the tour that followed the release of Solid in 1974 containing, "Light My Light", "Free From All Alarm" and "Sins Of The Father/Sad Go Round" from Solid. "Dog Me Bitch" from the solo album, The Two Sides Of Tony (T.S.) Mcphee and "Soldier" from Thank Christ For The Bomb.

All these tracks have been released in part on other live compilations but never together as recorded on May 23rd, 1974.

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