The Groundhogs - Back Against The Wall

The Groundhogs - Back Against The Wall

Back Against The Wall./No To Submission./Blue Boar Blues./Waiting in The Shadows./Ain't No Slaver./Stick to Your Guns./In The Meantime./54156.

DMCD 1014

The Groundhogs

During 1987, the GROUNDHOGS fourth album "SPLIT" was reissued by EMI in their "ROCK FILE", price attack series, and a reviewer at the time had this to say. "The GROUNDHOGS, (some of you won't even have heard of them) were a power trio of guitar, bass and drums, led by a talented blues guitarist called TONY "T.S." McPHEE. They produced heavy rock music with a difference consisting of unusual riffs (sometimes bordering on the atonal) and some times awkward time signatures. Certainly they were more adventurous than most other power trios of the time, including LED ZEPPELIN, and it is a sad reflection on the record buying public that the GROUNDHOGS never made it into the big league. TONY McPHEE has led the GROUNDHOGS during all the bands life, but has never fully gained the recognition that his talents deserve. Like many players of his time, CLAPTON, BECK, PAGE etc he first played the blues and unlike the aforementioned still has a passion for his music. He has had a varied career forming various other bands and playing with other musicians. The first GROUNDHOGS were formed in the early sixties, playing blues with McPHEE on guitar, PETE CRUICKSHANK on bass, JOHN CRUICKSHANK on vocals and harmonica, DAVE BOORMAN on drums and BOB HALL on piano. A guy called FRED played alto sax for a while but soon left. The band at this time were known as "JOHN LEE'S GROUNDHOGS" in homage to JOHN LEE HOOKER with whom they toured. At this period of time they backed many of the U.S. blues giants when they were touring in Europe. They recorded an album with JOHN LEE called "JOHN LEE HOOKER WITH THE GROUNDHOGS" with TOM PARKER replacing BOB HALL. Although they became well known on the blues circuit, the blues boom soon fizzled out. At this point they tried a different style, more souly but this was short lived and the band folded up. In 1968 however, Tony reformed THE GROUNDHOGS bringing back CRIUCKSHANK on bass, KEN PUSTELNIK on drums, and STEVE RYE on harmonica and sharing vocals with Tony. Almost immediately their first album was recorded, titled "SCRATCHING THE SURFACE". Unfortunately, sales were not so good which has led to the album being quite rare with collectors paying upwards of L35 a copy. The band went back to being a trio when STEVE RYE left upon the release of this album. 1969 saw the second album "BLUES OBITUARY". As the title suggests the band wanted to break away from the blues tag that they had been stuck with and this album had a more progressive rock style. This album though was not as successful as "THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB" which was released in 1970. This marked the turning point in their career. As with "BLUES OBITUARY" Tony was now not only writing the songs but producing them as well. "THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB" was a concept album and became the first GROUNDHOGS album to go into the charts. At this time they made their first BBC Radio 1 sessions followed by "In Concert" which bought them even more acclaim.

In 1971 the album "SPLIT" was released and went straight into the UK charts and became the bands biggest seller. By now the band were supporting the "ROLLING STONES", appearing at the READING FESTIVAL and even "TOP OF THE POPS". Although a splendid rock album the final track is a blues acoustic number called "GROUNDHOG BLUES". This is a JOHN LEE HOOKER title from which Tony got the idea for the bands name and showed that he had not given up his blues roots entirely. The next album was called "WHO WILL SAVE THE WORLD - THE MIGHTY GROUNDHOGS?" released in 1972. This sounded different to the previous albums due to Tony's use of a Mellotron as well as guitar. Again the album went straight into the charts and the bands popularity rose even further. A tour of America followed, but on their return to Britain KEN PUSTELNIK decided to quit the band as he didn't like the direction their music was heading in. Ken's style of drumming had his own particular sound and had added a lot to the bands overall feel for their brand of music. His replacement was CLIVE BROOKS from the disbanded group EGG and work soon started on the next album "HOGWASH" also released in 1972. Tony was now using synthesisers and with Clive's more orthodox drumming the bands sound again changed. Recorded in Tony's own studio "HOGWASH" was another superb album and again the last track was another solo blues track called "MR HOOKER SIR JOHN" in a similar vein to "GROUNDHOG BLUES". The band remained a popular live attraction and toured regularly, but strangely "HOGWASH" failed to make the charts. Undeterred , the band kept up an extensive gigging schedule and went back into Tony's studio to make their next album, "SOLID", released in 1974. This album was not as well received as the others and the band were experiencing management and record company problems. However they toured for another year until they folded in the spring of 1975.

By the end of 1975 Tony had reformed the GROUNDHOGS this time with a second guitarist DAVE WELLBELOVE , MARTIN KENT on bass , MICK COOK on drums and Tony on guitar and keyboards. They released a new album in 1976 called "CROSSCUT SAW". Again by touring they built up a sizable following, helped by an appearance on BBC's OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST. Later in the same year they released another album "BLACK DIAMOND" with RICK ADAMS replacing DAVE WELLBELOVE. After touring in Sweden upon their return to the UK Tony again felt the format was not working and once again disbanded the group. Over the next five years Tony formed another couple of bands , but for the most part quit the music scene. By 1981 ,by chance, a new interest in the blues developed and again Tony formed a new band. After a short period with different rhythm section a stable line up emerged in 1982 with MICK KIRTON on drums and STEVE TOWNER on bass. They worked under the name THE TONY McPHEE BLUES BAND. The band played all blues numbers but after repeated requests from fans at gigs GROUNDHOG songs were introduced into the set. Before long as many GROUNDHOG numbers were played as blues and again came yet another name change ,TONY McPHEE BAND, with the blues tag being dropped.

Again the band toured constantly both in the UK and Germany during 1983. They recorded a single "TIME OF ACTION" which Tony produced himself for his own label. In 1984 an album was released on the Indie label PSYCO . Called "HOGGIN THE STAGE" it was a live recording of classic GROUNDHOGS material recorded in LEEDS and LONDON in 1971 , and STOCKHOLM in 1976. From this release three thing occurred. Firstly , the album reached the upper positions of the Indie charts , secondly Tony appeared in interviews with SOUNDS and thirdly Tony decided to change the bands name back to the GROUNDHOGS. At this time ALAN FISH who had worked with Tony before left the band TREDEGAR and replaced STEVE TOWNER on bass. The band went into the studio and recorded yet another album, "RAZORS EDGE" which was released in 1985. True to form the last track was an old blues number, this time a MUDDY WATERS tune. Again the band toured continuously , gaining further exposure, when they appeared on HTV televisions ROCK SOLID program. However in January 1986 , MICK KIRTON and ALAN FISH left the band and again Tony was forced to form a new line up. He found a new bass player in DAVE THOMPSON and amazingly KEN PUSTELNIK returned on drums after an absence of thirteen years. The line up was again short lived , with both Dave and Ken leaving but not before recording a session for the BBC Radio 2 program "BLUES ON 2" The next line up lasted longer. DAVE ANDERSON came in on bass and he bought along with him MICK JONES. Dave had played with the legendary German band AMON DUUL 2 before joining HAWKWIND and recording their classic album "IN SEARCH OF SPACE". With this line up the GROUNDHOGS continued to constantly gig both in the UK, Germany, and Scandinavia. In 1987 the band recorded a new album "BACK AGAINST THE WALL" at Dave's studio and released it on Dave's DEMI MONDE label. This was also the first recordings released on C.D. This album showed the variety of Tony's writing and as usual had one acoustic blues track. 1988 saw the release of the second DEMI MONDE, GROUNDHOGS album taken from live recordings made on their December 87 German tour titled "HOGS ON THE ROAD", and the band continues to tour constantly.