Get this crazy baby off my head!


The Groundhogs

The Groundhogs - 3744 James Road: The HTD Anthology - 2002 - Castle Music America

The Groundhogs were an at-times better than average 1960s British blues band led by T.S. McPhee, whose Jack Bruce-like vocals and raggedly aggressive guitar style made the group sound at times like a looser version of Cream. This two-disc set, divided into studio and live recordings, makes a pretty solid introduction to the band. The studio disc shows the Groundhogs' devotion to the blues, with solid covers of Howlin' Wolf's "No Place to Go," Willie Dixon's "Down in the Bottom," and Arthur Crudup's "Mean Ole Frisco" among the highlights. The live disc features even more blues, including the group's cover of their namesake song, John Lee Hooker's "Groundhog Blues," but also features several of McPhee's originals, like the extremely caustic "Thank Christ for the Bomb." The Groundhogs remain somewhat of an enigma, since the talent was there for bigger and better things, but as a blues band, at least, they were as good as any Britain coughed up in the '60s. © Steve Leggett, All Music Guide

This album is also released as "Htd Anthology". It's a brilliant two disc set from the legendary Tony McPhee and the Groundhogs. The Groundhogs began in 1964, when Tony McPhee and Pete Cruikshank formed John Lee's Groundhogs to back John Lee Hooker on a British tour. They released the great blues album, Blues Obituary, in 1969. After that, they became more heavy prog rock orientated, and, starting with 1970's "Thank Christ For The Bomb", they had three Top Ten albums during the early Seventies. "The HTD Anthology" is a thirty track double album by this great band. The 2nd CD contains 12 live tracks. The Groundhogs never achieved the status of many far less talented bands. They are the perfect example of a band who played their own uncomprising brand of powerful, raw blues rock. Totally disinterested in commercialism, they released classic progressive blues rock albums like "Thank Christ for the Bomb" and "Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs!". Tony McPhee has remained faithful to his blues roots all his life, and the man is a giant of British blues rock., even if he remains an underestimated, and underrated rock musician. Completely unorthodox in their style, the Groundhogs played raw, blunt "blues with twisting riffs and unexpected grinding chord changes". The great Tony McPhee and The Groundhogs are a very important part of psychedelic / blues / progressive rock. You won't be whistling any of these songs in the morning, but you will listen to this album again, and again. "3744 James Road" is VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Tony McPhee put together a new band in 2007, with long-time Groundhogs bassist Dave Anderson, and Marco Anderson on drums. This band toured England in 2008 with Focus and Wishbone Ash. The most recent 2009 line up of Tony McPhee's Groundhogs is Tony McPhee, Dave Anderson and Mick Jones. The Groundhogs "US Tour '72" album is @ GHOGS/USTOUR72 The band's "Hoggin' the Stage" album can be found @ GHOGS/HTS The great "Two Sides of Tony (T.S.) McPhee" album is @ 2STMCPHEE and Tony McPhee's "Foolish Pride" album can be located @ TMCP/FP


CD 1
1. Smokestack Lightnin' Howlin' Wolf
2. No Place to Go Burnett
3. Ain't Superstious Dixon
4. Sittin' on Top of the World Walter Vinson, Lonnie Chatmon
5. Shake for Me Dixon
6. How Many More Years Burnett
7. Nature Burnett
8. Down in the Bottom Dixon
9. Forty Four Burnett
10. Stuff You Gotta Watch Johnson
11. Can't Call Her Sugar London
12. Mean Ole Frisco Crudup
13. I'm Ready Dixon
14. Young Fashioned Ways Dixon
15. Hoochie Coochie Man Dixon
16. Mannish Boy McDaniel/London/Mor
17. Got My Mojo Workin' Foster
18. Country Blues Waters

CD 2
1 Razor's Edge [Live] McPhee
2 Want You to Love Me [Live] Waters
3 Split, Pt. 1 [Live] McPhee
4 Cherry Red [Live] McPhee
5 Eccentric Man [Live] McPhee
6 3744 James Road [Live] McPhee
7 Soldier [Live] McPhee
8 Mistreated [Live] Townsend
9I Love You Misogyny [Live] McPhee
10 Garden [Live] McPhee
11 Thank Christ for the Bomb [Live] McPhee
12 Groundhog Blues [Live] Davenport

Check out GROUNDHOGS/BIO for information on band formations


The Groundhogs were not British blues at their most creative; nor were they British blues at their most generic. They were emblematic of some of the genre's most visible strengths and weaknesses. They were prone to jam too long on basic riffs, they couldn't hold a candle to American blues singers in terms of vocal presence, and their songwriting wasn't so hot. On the other hand, they did sometimes stretch the form in unexpected ways, usually at the hands of their creative force, guitarist/songwriter/vocalist T.S. (Tony) McPhee. For a while they were also extremely popular in Britain, landing three albums in that country's Top Ten in the early '70s. The Groundhogs' roots actually stretch back to the mid-'60s, when McPhee helped form the group, named after a John Lee Hooker song (the band was also known briefly as John Lee's Groundhogs). In fact, the Groundhogs would back Hooker himself on some of the blues singer's mid-'60s British shows, and also back him on record on an obscure LP. They also recorded a few very obscure singles with a much more prominent R&B/soul influence than their later work. In 1966, the Groundhogs evolved into Herbal Mixture, which (as if you couldn't guess from the name) had more of a psychedelic flavor than a blues one. Their sole single, "Machines," would actually appear on psychedelic rarity compilations decades later. The Groundhogs/Herbal Mixture singles, along with some unreleased material, has been compiled on a reissue CD on Distortions. After Herbal Mixture folded, McPhee had a stint with the John Dummer Blues Band before reforming the Groundhogs in the late '60s at the instigation of United Artists A&R man Andrew Lauder. Initially a quartet (bassist Pete Cruickshank also remained from the original Groundhogs lineup), they'd stripped down to a trio by the time of their commercial breakthrough, Thank Christ for the Bomb, which made the U.K. Top Ten in 1970. The Groundhogs' power-trio setup, as well as McPhee's vaguely Jack Bruce-like vocals, bore a passing resemblance to the sound pioneered by Cream. They were blunter and less inventive than Cream, but often strained against the limitations of conventional 12-bar blues with twisting riffs and unexpected grinding chord changes. McPhee's lyrics, particularly on Thank Christ for the Bomb, were murky, sullen anti-establishment statements that were often difficult to decipher, both in meaning and actual content. They played it straighter on the less sophisticated follow-up, Split, which succumbed to some of the period's blues-hard-rock indulgences, putting riffs and flash over substance. McPhee was always at the very least an impressive guitarist, and a very versatile one, accomplished in electric, acoustic, and slide styles. Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs! (1972), their last Top Ten entry, saw McPhee straying further from blues territory into somewhat progressive realms, even adding some mellotron and harmonium (though the results were not wholly unsuccessful). The Groundhogs never became well-known in the U.S., where somewhat similar groups like Ten Years After were much bigger. Although McPhee and the band have meant little in commercial or critical terms in their native country since the early '70s, they've remained active as a touring and recording unit since then, playing to a small following in the U.K. and Europe. © Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com


Tony McPhee was part of the first generation of young British blues disciples influenced by Cyril Davies and his band Blues Incorporated. A member of the same generation of young blues buffs as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones, he never ascended to the heights achieved by the future Rolling Stones, but has recorded a small, highly significant body of blues-rock. Originally a skiffle enthusiast, he received his first guitar as a Christmas present and formed his first band soon after, while still in school. He gravitated toward the blues during the early '60s, and soon discovered Cyril Davies. After seeing a few performances by Davies with Blues Incorporated at the Marquee Club in London during 1962, he became hopelessly hooked on blues and RB, and decided to try and make it as a blues singer/guitarist. McPhee's first group was the Dollarbills, a pop band featuring John Cruickshank on vocals, Pete Cruickshank on bass, and Dave Boorman on drums. He quickly steered toward blues, most notably the sound of John Lee Hooker, and with the addition of Bob Hall on piano, the group changed its name to the Groundhogs, in recognition of Hooker's "Ground Hog Blues." the Groundhogs were a very solid blues/RB outfit, playing soulful American RB and raw American blues at venues such as Newcastle's ~Club A-Go-Go, and they subsequently became the backing band to Champion Jack Dupree at a series of gigs at the -100 Club. Finally, in July of 1964, the Groundhogs reached their zenith when they were chosen to back John Lee Hooker himself during his current British tour. Hooker later selected the group to back him on his next tour, and also sent an acetate recording of the group to executives at his label, Vee-Jay Records. That acetate, the hard-rocking, piano-and-harmonica-driven band original "Shake It" backed with a very powerful and persuasive cover of Little Son Jackson's "Rock Me Baby," was released on the Interphon label, a Vee-Jay subsidiary. It failed to reach the charts, but it did mark the group and McPhee's first American release. Meanwhile, back in England, the group recorded a studio album with Hooker, somewhat misleadingly entitled Live at the A-Go-Go Club, New York. The group's fortunes seemed to improve in 1965 when producer Mike Vernon recorded three tracks, "Big Train Blues," "Can't Sit Down," and "Blue Guitar," but none saw any major release or success, and only "Blue Guitar" ever received much U.S. exposure, appearing on the 1970s Sire Records collection Anthology of British Blues. By the end of 1965, the British blues boom had expended itself, and soul was becoming the new sound of choice. McPhee had already shown a predilection for soul music in his writing, especially "Hallelujah," which the group cut with its newly added brass section in 1965. the Groundhogs transformed themselves into a soul band, and were persuaded to record a song called "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." As a first soul outing it was a promising beginning, despite a beat that was too reminiscent of Otis Redding's "Can't Turn You Loose" -- the dissonant guitar in the break was a refreshing change that would never have made it out the door at Stax Records. The song failed to get much airplay or achieve a chart position, and its B-side, the upbeat, haunting McPhee original "Over You Baby" disappeared as well. the Groundhogs split up soon after, and McPhee did session work for a time, as well as recording some blues sides on his own, under the auspices of producer Jimmy Page, that later turned up on various British blues anthologies released by Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records label, backed up by Jo-Ann Kelly and fellow Groundhog Bob Hall. Unlike a lot of other blues enthusiasts from the early '60s, McPhee remained true to his roots, and was good enough to rate a berth as a sessionman on Champion Jack Dupree's 1966 Decca album From New Orleans to Chicago. In August of 1966, McPhee and bassist Pete Cruickshank teamed up with drummer Mike Meekham to form Herbal Mixture, a Yardbirds-like outfit mixing psychedelic and blues sounds at a very high amperage. They were one of the more soulful and muscular psychedelic outfits, reflecting their RB (as opposed to pop) roots, and even their spaciest material has a bluesy feel. "A Love That's Died" relies on fuzz-tone guitar, and would have made good competition for anything by the Yardbirds had anyone been given a chance to hear it. Their cover of "Over You Baby" is, if anything, superior to the Groundhogs' original, and deserved a better hearing than it got. Herbal Mixture had some success playing the ~Marquee and ~Middle Earth clubs in London, and were good enough to get a gig opening for the newly-formed Jeff Beck Group at the ~London Roundhouse. Their records, however, didn't sell, and at the end of 1967, following Meekham's departure, the band ceased to exist. McPhee continued playing blues in his spare time, however, and passed through the John Dummer Blues Band during early 1968. His music had left an impression on at least one record company executive -- in 1968, Andrew Lauder of United Artists' British operation offered McPhee the chance to record a complete album if he could put together a band. He formed a new Groundhogs, carrying over bassist Pete Cruickshank, and the album Scratching the Surface was duly recorded and released that year. Ironically, this incarnation of the Groundhogs, put together for the one album session, ended up lasting far beyond its origins -- five additional albums, including his best-known long-player, Me and the Devil, were recorded through 1972, and the group has remained a viable unit, continuing to perform in England and the European continent (where there's always work for British blues bands) with McPhee as its leader. © Bruce Eder, All Music Guide


A.O.O.F.C said...



p/w aoofc

Vasily Zaytsev said...


A.O.O.F.C said...

Hello, Vasily. You are very welcome. I am happy that you like the great Groundhogs. Please keep in touch....Cheers!

Hans Hund said...

That's fine.I was looking for Groundhogs/Who said Cherry Red?
I did not found but I found another Groundhogs I don't know:3744 James Road.Looks very interresting and I
can't await to hear it.
Thanks a lot and all the best to your
great blog!

Hans Hund from Hamburg/Germany

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks for comment, Hans. You can find "Cherry Red" @


Hope to talk to you soon

Hans Hund said...

Wow.This is really great!Thank you very much for the "Cherry Red"too.
Tony allways meant a lot to me.I saw Groundhogs first 1969 at the famous Star-Club in Hamburg.
In the 1980s I had some talks with him in Hamburg(Top Ten Club,Logo)and London(Putney Halfmoon).
He remembered the Star-Club Show better than me:I asked him for the Show with Man and Vanilla Fudge.He answered:It was Samson not Man.
It was always a pleasure to talk with him.He was allways wide open.

Thank you very much for your great work!

Hans Hund

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Hans. You're lucky to have heard the Hogs live, and to have spoken to Tony McPhee. I've always loved their music, because they play pure raw blues, and never cared about being radio friendly. It's great to hear from a Groundhogs/Tony McPhee fan. Please keep in touch, Hans. I hope to talk to you very soon