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Albums Of The Week: The Groundhogs | Road Hogs: Live From Richmond To Pocono

Guitar hero Tony McPhee's legendary trio unearth some long-buried live revelations.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Like some lost treasure that Indiana Jones’ cooler roommate just happened upon, this triple vinyl release tracks the mighty Groundhogs on a 3,941-mile journey from Richmond Athletic Ground to the Pocono Raceway track in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

It takes them from blues revivalists to head-friendly prog icons and power rock innovators; bridging the gap between their first two bluesy albums and the nirvana and nadir of the band’s most lauded line up of Tony McPhee (guitar and vocals), Pete Cruikshank (bass) and Ken Pustelnik (drums) at their final show on that big American tour that broke up the original trio. Along the way they were heralded by Mick Jagger and Robert Plant, became embroiled in student riots in Germany and were acclaimed in the weeklies as the hardest working band around, while guitarist McPhee guffawed at comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Peter Green.

Sitting in the Warner Brothers’ vault for 50 years, four reels of tape lay wedged between the masters of the groundbreaking albums Thank Christ For The Bomb, Split and Who Will Save The World… The Mighty Groundhogs. The first two boxes had a handwritten scrawl acclaiming them as Groundhogs live at Richmond Athletic Ground, November 7, 1969. Originally it had been thought that they were recorded at the Ninth National Jazz And Blues Festival — a nomadic event that had previously rocked up in Richmond. In fact, they turned out to be a one-off support slot to Free, a break from their Marquee residency; the mood is intimate, jokey between songs rhetoric punctuates a monumental set that debuts Cherry Red at the time an un-named “new song.” The second two boxes — marked Pocono — were recorded at what would turn out to be the final show for this seminal lineup when their truncated hurricane-threatened U.S. tour ended abruptly after Tony broke his arm in a freak horse-riding accident.

Over 976 days and with 250-plus live shows under their belt, The Groundhogs had sealed their legendary status.”