Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Thank Christ For The Bomb

Released 1970 on Liberty/UA
The Seth Man, March 2000ce
Talk about a great album title -- sardonic, sarcastic, literal or what? Luckily, it goes any way you want it and since the album’s all clean guitar lines, time signatures played and basking in a rough’n’ready/bluesy/amped up post Altamont surge out, it’s a glorious riot. The Groundhogs at this period in time were the perfect trio of Tony (T.S.) McPhee on guitar and vocals, Pete Cruickshank on bass and Ken Pustelnik’s on drums. “Soldier” refrains the title so often it works as a one word hook over masterful power trio ing deluxe. You can spin this record over and over and marvel at its completeness, integrity and singular purpose, keeping to a few themes -- actually, only one: alienation -- but rock out so complex yet effortless it’s a miracle. All the compositions and arrangements are by main ‘Hog Tony (T.S.) McPhee and are exquisite and rock out like crazy. “Thank Christ For The Bomb” is divided between side one’s suite of alienation and side two’s “...story of a man who lived in Chelsea all his life; first in a mansion then on the beaches of the embankment” spread over five tracks. AND side one's a complete winner as well, like the awesome title track that begins as a busking/CND acoustic meditation; a tongue in cheek yet strong anti war lament that crossfades into a dark electric rave up that builds all frenzied for far too long. Then cut to two atomic explosions going off. “Garden” has some perfectly timed tom-toms, incisive slide playing razor sharp with Iommi stormtrooping and gentle, almost mellotronic (!) slide guitar in the verse while Pustelnik maps out the perimeter with well timed drum accents. “Status People” opens with a killer bass riff that GETS YA like Geezer's opening riff on “Hand of Doom” as the arrangements corkscrew through another heady and complex buildup. It ends like "Wall of Sleep", as well. “Rich Man, Poor Man” sees more ensemble rocking out like crazy while “Eccentric Man” comes on like a power trio version of early Beefheart all murky, deep and churning. McPhee never seems to run out of those tasty, filigree yet hard riffs and the song ends on the thinnest dime. Great engineering by Martin Birch, who did a similar number as producer of Deep Purple’s “In Rock” the same year.