One of my lifetime favorite thrift store record scores from the collection-enriching and bountiful years when vinyl was still misperceived as a “dead” format was Thank Christ for the Bomb, a 1970 LP by a lesser-known British psych/blues band called The Groundhogs. It probably cost me 50¢, tops, and I bought it for the title alone, wondering if it was a bitterly sardonic anti-war statement or if this was some terrifying jeremiad by apocalyptic Jesus freaks. When I listened to it, not only did it become clear it was the former, but I had to wonder why these guys weren’t being talked about in the same breath as Cream or Fleetwood Mac. I much prefer it to the early Mac stuff, actually—it avails itself of progressive ideas without being ostentatious, it’s bluesy without being a cliché storm of trite pentatonic licks, and every note played by every band member at every moment seems impeccably tasteful and perfect. Turns out I wasn’t alone in this esteem for the album—Pavement’s Steven Malkmus cited Thank Christ for the Bomb as his top desert island pick in the March, 1997 issue of Tower Records Pulse!
And, upon doing my post-blown-mind due diligence on the band, I found that at one time, they had been the object of some exceptionally high repute. During the mid-‘60s blues boom, they were chosen to serve as John Lee Hooker’s backing band, which was surely a huge honor, as the band had lifted its name from one of Hooker’s songs. In their own heyday as a trio, they released not just Thank Christ… but several albums, including the acclaimed Blues Obituary and Split, and toured supporting the Rolling Stones. (Again, how had I missed out on their existence?) They broke up in 1976, but have been intermittently resurrected, sometimes even by different original members. The band continues today as a quartet led by guitarist/singer Tony McPhee. Live footage of the original band seems difficult to come by, but there’s good footage from a 1974 performance here. (Embedding is disabled, otherwise, I’d, y’know, embed it.)
Here’s the entire Thank Christ for the Bomb album. It’s all impressive, but the title track is a killer.
And lastly, if you have trouble with Grooveshark embeds, here’s the entire LP uploaded by a YouTube user.