The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


High On The Hogs: Artists On The Genius Of The Groundhogs
Patrick Clarke , August 5th, 2021 09:59

Artists including Brix Smith Start, Luke Haines, Underworld's Karl Hyde, reflect on the overlooked genius of Tony McPhee and The Groundhogs, and pick their favourite albums and tracks


Simon Fisher Turner on Split (1971)

Once upon a time during the summer of 1971 I worked in a clothes shop in Chapel Market. Odils was the most expensive, posh shop in the market and It sold multicoloured ties and shirts from Italy, leather jackets, and somewhere tucked away in the back right hand corner was the record section run by Rob. I was started on trying to sell the best most expensive clothes, but it obvious that I was more interested in the record department.

Obviously the advantage of working in the record corner is that you got to play the sounds for the whole shop. Boxes of LPs arrived and I’d have no clue what was what. The summer of 1971 we sold a lot of the Shaft soundtrack and A Nod Is As Good As A Wink, but for the guitar geek in the shop it was Split for me. Actually not too popular on a Saturday up the Angel, when they’d try and shift shirts not LPs.

My favourite track is ‘Split 2’. Crazy new sounds from McPhee’s guitar. Whammy bar specials I had no idea how were made. It’s a very clear sound. Little reverb and up front vocals. Punchy blues. ‘Split 4’ is pretty cool too. Angular and irregular, not the usual British blues approach which I wasn’t too keen on. The track ‘Groundhog’ is also a delight. Straight toe-tapping swamp sliding blues. Why I never saw them live I’ve no idea because I went to more gigs than anyone I knew.

Photo by Isabella Fisher Turner