BUDGIE were this really great Welsh power trio that is considered one of the earliest heavy metal bands; except that unlike BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN, or DEEP PURPLE, they weren’t very successful, which makes it all the more impressive that they grinded it out for twenty straight years and put out ten studio albums before calling it a day; coincidentally (ironically?) breaking up the same year MATALLICA covered “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” on The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited. Budgie did get back together in 1999, possibly as a result of Metallica releasing their multi-platinum selling Garage, Inc. double CD that had both of their Budgie covers on it in 1998, but then they broke up again after only releasing one album.

And, as tragic as bassist/singer Burke Shelley’s recent death is, Budgie hadn’t even been an active band for the last twelve years. It’s not like when Lemmy died, and we watched him deteriorate in real time, not knowing if the current MOTÖRHEAD gig would be the final one. By the time Shelley went to the great beyond, he’d long since stepped out of the public eye, and Budgie became just another well-loved underground cult act whose patch gets affixed to a rocker’s sleeveless denim vest. Actually they’d been another well-loved underground cult act long before Shelley died or Budgie even broke up. In fact, Tesco Vee, the lead singer of the punk-metal band the MEATMEN, was a huge Budgie fan, and he had a Budgie patch affixed to his sleeveless denim vest.

Some might wonder, if Budgie is that good, why weren’t they more popular? Initially I thought, well, that’s obvious; they didn’t have a good-looking lead singer, a marketable image, or any other sort of real gimmick to base a career on. But, then I realized that Leslie West is as big as a house and he didn’t blow fire or bite the heads off chickens. More than anything else, it seems as though the labels that Budgie signed to just didn’t have much interest in marketing them in any significant way and treated them as a tax write-off. I’m only speculating, but according to the liner notes on the CD reissues, MCA wouldn’t send them to America even after five studio albums; and when you don’t send a band to America, you’re pretty much kneecapping their career.

Whatever career they did have can effectively be divided into three main parts; the Tony Bourge on guitar era a.k.a. the 70s, the John Thomas on guitar era a.k.a. the 80s, and the reunion era from 1999 to 2010, which primarily featured Simon Lees on guitar but had Craig Goldy of Dio taking over in the last few years. There are also some other guitarists that came in and out of the band, but none of those are on the albums, so who cares about them. And, of course, Budgie had three drummers; No, not at the SAME TIME, dumbass.

Regardless of lineup changes, bassist/singer Burke Shelley was the center of the band, and he kinda looked like Geddy Lee with his big nose and coke bottle glasses, and even sounded like him a bit; but his voice was slightly deeper, and his lyrical concerns weren’t nearly as nerdy, even if Budgie occasionally expressed some of the same anti-government sentiments as RUSH. Which is another thing I want to address; Budgie is known for having these Monty Python-esque song titles like “Hot as a Docker’s Armpit”, “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman”, and “You’re the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk”, but beyond those titles, Burke Shelley was a pretty basic and pedestrian lyric writer who stuck to predictable rhyme schemes that he could fit to the music. So, don’t look for a lot of deep lyrical insights behind these otherwise amusing titles.

But, then, nobody listens to Budgie for lyrics anyway, do they? They listen because Budgie just kicks ass. Whether they’re playing 70s heavy metal, 80s heavy metal, bluesy hard rock, commercial arena rock, open-ended improvised jams, sissy acoustic songs, or even sugary power-pop, they’re insanely consistent; which is why their discography was such a joy to write about.

I mean, would you want to write about a band whose albums you didn’t like all that much?

Budgie (1971)

The first thing a 70s heavy rock kid with shoulder length hair, denim jacket, and floppy flares might notice upon scoping the first album by the Welsh power trio Budgie, after getting past the generic prog-rock album cover of a man with a budgie’s head riding a horse in the sky, is that it was produced by Rodger Bain, who, as anyone into heavy metal should know, also produced the first three Black Sabbath albums and the first JUDAS PRIEST album.

The second is that, on the back cover, instead of a moody black and white photo of the group like Black Sabbath had in the gatefold for Paranoid, you have drummer Ray Phillips with his happy-go-lucky Colgate smile stretching from ear to ear, bassist/singer Burke Shelley looking like a guy who prefers reading over snorting coke and shagging groupies, and guitarist Tony Bourge with his double chin and dead poodle on his head giving you one of those sarcastic, disapproving smirks that you give to someone who just said something really stupid. And below that, there’s a photo of Budgie frolicking with a horse.

If I could describe the first Budgie album in two words, it would be “bass heavy.” Burke Shelley’s bass is turned up really loud, and he plays bass with a pick, going all “BOOM-da-da-BOOM-ga-da-da-BOOM” on the strings, and it sounds AWESOME. There’s just one tiny problem. It’s often louder than the guitar. And it’s compounded by a second problem; they put the bass in one speaker and the guitar in the other to create that live feel. Your bedroom isn’t a concert venue, and you’re allowed to “cheat” by not having to position yourself in between your speakers to hear everything. As such, you get this weird feeling that Tony Bourge’s guitar sounds way too quiet. And, that creates a slight obstacle in enjoying an album based so heavily on GUITAR.

I mean, if Budgie wanted to be three or four decades ahead of its time and form a bass/drum duo like OM, BIG BUSINESS, or LIGHTNING BOLT, that would be one thing, but they're not an experimental and noisy bass/drum duo that formed in the 90s or 00s!!! They're a heavy rock/ proto-metal/ early heavy metal power trio whose emphasis is the Blues-based heavy guitar!!!

This becomes rather problematic during key moments on the album, like the rollicking heavy part of “The Author”, where the band start gettin’ all crazy and rockin’ and Bourge aggressively down-strokes his strings, so it’s like “da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da” really fast, but it doesn’t have OOMPH and POWER, because it’s drowned out by the bass; or the fast part of “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman” where the guitar goes “da-da-da-da-da-da”, but you just get the feeling it should sound LOUDER. And, then, when the band starts jamming out in “Rape of the Locks”, which is not about some freak who sticks his dick into key-locks but about someone who doesn’t want to get his hair cut (Shouldn’t it be “Murder of the Locks”???), the bass playing, as good as it is, distracts you from the guitar solos.

Hell, on “All Night Petrol”, the guitar is nearly non-existent. How much marijuana were they smoking when they made this? Didn’t they notice that you can’t hear the guitar on “All Night Petrol”? How did Rodger Bain manage to get it right on the first three Black Sabbath albums and screw it up so bad on this one?

Poor mixing job aside, the songs on the first Budgie album still kick ass. However, the first-time listener might be taken aback by the absurd, STOOGES-level simplicity of the plodding, bulldozer riff on the opening cut, “Guts.” It just goes “ro-ro-ro-ro-ro-ro-WEE-ro-ro-ro-ro-ro-ro-WAH” while Ray Phillips pounds away like an enthusiastic little kid with none of the subtlety or jazz techniques of your John Bonham or Bill Ward. Great way to make a first impression! For what it’s worth, Rodger Bain managed to get a nice, thick drum sound that sounds like pounding on upside down rubber waste baskets.

Thankfully, the band shows they DO have skill and dynamics when the songs move away from the simple, heavy riffs and get into the breakdowns and soloing portions. Hence, after two verses of head-scratching simplicity in “Guts”, Philips does a breakdown before going back to the first part but with Tony Bourge playing leads and Burke Shelley playing the riff on his bass. Similarly, closing track “Homicidal Suicidal” starts with another kinda stupidly simple riff but then abandons it quickly enough to show off their more intricate playing abilities.

There are also a couple pretty acoustic numbers which take up about three minutes of space on the 40 minute LP; neither which adds to nor subtracts from the experience.

To quote Rodger Bain on the back of the debut Budgie album, “Budgie are a rock band.”

Squawk (1972)

I hate when bands create individual tracks for parts of songs. The track listed as “Bottled” is, in fact, just a short bluesy bottleneck slide piece that sounds like part of the previous song “Drug Store Woman”; and then, before you know it, you’re on to the next track thinking you missed a song. God, that’s so annoying.

Packed in a sleeve with one of Roger Dean’s most boring cover paintings on the front and a bland, washed out black and white photo of the band on the back, and containing songs with far less quirky titles than the ones on the first album, it seems as though Budgie made a conscious attempt to portray themselves as a bit more normal on their second album; even if they called the album Squawk. Rodger Bain produced again, and, just like with the first album, Squawk is plagued by the same overly loud bass that drowns out the guitar.

Otherwise, Budgie doesn’t make any real radical changes to their sound. They’re still a blues based heavy rock power trio that likes to jam and throw in the occasional acoustic number to pretty things up for a couple minutes; and the songs on Squawk are pretty much as good as the ones on Budgie, if slightly more refined. Rather than opening their second album with another pounding heavy tune with a simple, plodding riff, they start it with the groovier “Whiskey River”, which has some really great intricate percussion and slightly more sophisticated guitar work. After that they go into the expected blues metal crusher, “Rocking Man”, which starts off with a thumping bass drum intro that will inevitably remind people of “Iron Man.”

Then, for some reason, they completely disrupt the flow of the album by putting the acoustic songs “Rolling Home Again” and “Make Me Happy” right next to each other. These aren’t bad songs, mind you, and they’re certainly short and give off the pleasant, relaxing vibes of lying in a dandelion field, but they just seem so awkwardly placed. Like, I get it; they want to be like Led Zeppelin, where they have the heavy stuff and the folky stuff, but couldn’t they have at least spaced these songs out? Speaking of Zeppelin, the last song, “Stranded”, starts with a dah-dah-pause-dah-dah intro that will inevitably remind people of “Good Times Bad Times”, and the main riff sounds kinda like the one from “Homicidal Suicidal” but played faster.

The others, though, hooee, are they great! “Young Is a World” starts light, goes into the heavy Sabbath part, and has some fairly progressive guitar work. And, while I love the song “Hot as a Docker’s Armpit” and its early, proto-thrash chugga-chugga riffing, I can’t help but thinking these lyrics don’t make any damn sense; and, not in a deliberately bizarre way, but just in a way where it seems that Shelley just threw the lines together after guffawing uproariously at the idea of singing “She’s as hot as a docker’s armpit” over and over again. I mean what does “gotta go, and I know/that I will never, never leave her alone/she’s a whore, at her door/that I could n-n-n-n-never ignore” even mean?

They should have gotten Geezer Butler to write the lyrics, so they could rhyme “masses” with “masses.”

Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (1973)

Budgie turns their back on Rodger Bain and produces their third album themselves; and they couldn’t have made a better decision. According to the liner notes for the CD reissue, they were bumped up to 24 tracks, where they were using only 8 and 16 tracks on the first and second album. So maybe that also had something to do with the overall improved sound quality, but the bottom line is the bass no longer drowns out the guitar, and the production is essentially GOOD.

Never Turn Your Back on a Friend is the quintessential Budgie album and where you wanna start your Budgie journey, assuming you didn’t start it from the first album. As much as I like Budgie and Squawk, those albums were hindered by weird/bad production and some questionable choices on the part of the band. But on their third LP, Budgie nails it. They get everything, from the songs to the performances to the production to the funny song titles to even the lovely and colorful Roger Dean fantasy cover painting and professional black and white shots of Burke Shelley, Tony Bourge, and Ray Phillips rocking out right.

The album has all of the expected ingredients in the Budgie sound; the ass kicking heavy blues metal riffs, the bluesy jam sections, and even the customary short acoustic folk numbers that apparently had to go on every Budgie album to show off the group’s wussy side, all honed to perfection. And thankfully, in the last case, “You Know I’ll Always Love You” (blechh!) and “Riding My Nightmare”, which has the kind of title you’d think expect to find slapped onto one of the group’s heavier tunes, are separated onto two different sides of the LP rather than being crammed together one after another like the two acoustic songs on the previous the album.

The tone is immediately set with the one-two punch of speedy metal (not speed-metal, ha!) “Breadfan” and a similarly up-tempo cover of “Baby Please Don’t Go”, which is beefed up by some heavy riffs on the back end; and, as implied in the first paragraph, Tony Bourge’s guitar is turned up loud and proud with nice, thick, and heavy distortion. And, while people listening to “Breadfan” today might just think of it is a damn good early heavy metal tune, it really was pretty ahead of the curve in terms of playing FAST heavy metal; setting a Sabbath-tier riff to a tight, fast, and aggressive drum-beat and being light years ahead of the plodding “Guts” from just two years earlier. And, if you’re wondering what a “breadfan” is, it’s a fan of “bread”, as in money. Actually the lyrics to “Breadfan” are not that bad and kind of an interesting depiction of greed and lust for power.

Speaking of a lust for power, the “tyrefitter” in “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand” is the government or Big Brother. And, speaking of songs with ham-handed political metaphors, “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand” must really, really MEAN IT, MAN, because, after every verse of kvetching  about how “The tyrefitter will not stop/he’s bleeding your brain/he will drive you insane”, the song goes “da-da-da-da-DAH-da-da-da-da-DAH-DAH”; so the narrator must be really ANGRY!!!

And, while Never Turn Your Back on a Friend has only seven songs on it, one of which happens to be the most overplayed blues song ever, these songs are long and have lots of parts; as opposed to being split into different tracks when the song changes, like “Drug Store Woman” and “Bottled.” That’s why the 8:45 “You’re the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk” begins with Ray Phillips bashing out a phased to all hell drum solo for one minute and forty-three seconds before the song even starts. It’s also got this really cool part at 5:19 where the bass goes “ba-da-la” over and over; sounding like it was lifted by IRON MAIDEN for “Phantom of the Opera.” Also, apparently Tony Bourge sings a verse, but if I didn’t read that in the liner notes, I wouldn’t be able to tell one way or another.

But it’s in the final song, the kinda depressing ten minute long, electric/acoustic “Parents”, that Burke Shelley utters one of the most bold, controversial, and politically incorrect statements to ever be made by a rock musician.


Thirteen years later, Rob Halford would sing, “We don’t need no, no, no, no parental guidance here!” Well, Burke Shelley says, you DO.

In for the Kill (1974)

Ray Phillips was too good looking to be in Budgie, so they got Peter Fonda lookalike Pete Boot to take his spot. But, then they realized he wasn’t ugly enough to be in Budgie either, so they got rid of him after In for the Kill. And I initially thought Rodger Bain was back, because it says that he produced “Crash Course in Brain Surgery”, but that’s only because the song was originally recorded and released in 1971, and the band just threw it on In for the Kill, because they otherwise didn’t have enough material.

To be fair, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” is one of their best songs; it’s just two minutes and thirty-five seconds of pure, head crushing, middle-upper tempo heavy metal with a riff that Tony Iommi could only dream of inventing. And, don’t compare it with Sabbath’s three minute filler track, “Paranoid”, just because they’re both short and quick. “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” is a sledgehammer of death, and “Paranoid” sounds like someone revving up a lawnmower.

As for the rest of In for the Kill, the album opens with a nice ‘n’ heavy head banging title cut, which has a similar swinging-vibe to Sabbath’s “Sabbra Cadabra” and showcases that Pete Boot is just as competent a drummer as his predecessor. Elsewhere the group shows off their growing versatility with their funkiest number yet, “Zoom Club.” It’s not straight funk, but it definitely has a funky beat, and Tony Bourges plays some “wah-wicky-wicky-wah-wah” riffs on it. It’s also ten minutes long and has this stupidly catchy chorus that I couldn’t actually understand until I googled it, because Burke Shelley draws out the words; making “zoom along, superstar” sound like “zoooooooooooooom along, suuuuuuuuuuuperstar.”

And, how can you have a Budgie album without an energetic if a bit generic blues “workout” like “Running from My Soul” or another long closing cut with lots of riffs, time changes, and guitar solos like “Living on Your Own”, that is sort of the happier sounding companion piece to “Parents” from the previous album? At first I thought “Living on Your Own” was actually a thematic sequel to “Parents”, in that I thought it was about living away from your parents, but it’s actually about breaking up with a girl and being single, or something.

(I listen to Budgie because of the music not to gain new perspectives on the world from their lyrics, okay?)

Also Budgie only included ONE acoustic song on their album this time around. That would be “Wondering What Everyone Knows”, which is all psychedelic with bongo drums and groovy non-distorted electric guitar accompaniment. Chances are it will draw comparisons with “Planet Caravan”, even though “Wondering What Everyone Knows” is the better and more tuneful song. And, while we’re all pointing out songs which remind people of other songs, the slow, dreary, heavy blues rock of “Hammer and Tongs” will most likely make people think of “Dazed and Confused.” Which is the better song between those two? Flip a coin.  

Look, if In for the Kill was a rush job with a filler track due to label pressure and a gruelling touring schedule, then at least it’s a more-than-solid rush job with a damn fine filler track. Rodger Bain may not be back to produce Budgie, but Budgie are still a rock band.

Bandolier (1975)

Pete Boot put on his boots and took a hike, and Budgie replaced him with a monster truck driver named Steve Williams, whose appearance perfectly fit Budgie’s “Music first/image last” aesthetic, and who remained in the group until the bitter end. In all honesty, he really was Budgie’s strongest drummer with the ability to play and adapt to a variety of styles.

But forget music; Budgie already won me over with the Planet of the Apes inspired cover painting. Bandolier can totally suck ass, and I’ll still give it a 10/10 just because the cover depicts a scene from my favorite science fiction franchise; you have three ape warriors, albeit with their heads replaced by those of budgies, on horseback potentially on the hunt for escaped human slaves in a desert landscape. Sadly, the cover concept doesn’t extend to any of the songs. Now that I think about it, why did they even call their fifth album Bandolier? Is it just because the guys on the cover are wearing bandoliers? That’s rather vague and silly.

Thankfully "Baldric" absolutely does not suck ass, and I’m not forced to say I like it just because they pay homage to Planet of the Apes. In fact, it’s quite good; not a solid 10/10, but easily an 8 if I gave number grades. As always, Budgie attempts to balance out the heavier tunes with softer and more subtle material, and there’s slightly more stylistic diversity this time around as well. Not to mention that the opening cut and one of my all-time favorite Budgie tunes, “Breaking All the House Rules”, appears to have adopted the more technically precise and polished riffs of Brian May over the thudding blues-based heaviness from their previous four albums. And speaking of being influenced by QUEEN, the otherwise hard rocking “I Can’t See My Feelings” has double-tracked electric/acoustic guitars.

That’s why I say the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is actually the third wave of heavy metal rather than the second. As far as I see it, the first wave of heavy metal was from 1967 to 1973 and consisted of all your heavy blues rock, heavy prog, and proto-metal bands, such as CREAM, the JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE, BLUE CHEER, Led Zeppelin, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, Black Sabbath, JETHRO TULL, KING CRIMSON, and, of course, Budgie. While the second wave went from 1973 to 1979 and consisted of bands who were already edging towards a more polished sound, with more compact songs that eschewed many of the psychedelic and progressive elements from the late 60s/early 70s; such as UFO, Queen, SWEET, THIN LIZZY, RAINBOW, SCORPIONS, and, of course, VAN HALEN.

And, because I feel the NWOBHM was more influenced by this second wave of bands than the first, I also don’t see Black Sabbath as being nearly as influential on metal as UFO, Queen, Sweet, Rainbow, or Thin Lizzy. In fact, even Sabbath eschewed many of the psychedelic and progressive elements with songs like “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath”, “Symptoms of the Universe”, “Megalomania”, and “Back Street Kids.”

So, in other words, Budgie is playing some proto-NWOBHM on "Sam Browne Belt."

There’s also the mellow, pleasant, and relaxing Seals and Crofts style soft rock of “Slipaway”, which the liner notes claim has a “Bossa nova” feel, whatever that means, and the funky blues rocker “Who Do You Want for Your Love?”, which is the perfect companion to the previous album’s “Zoom Club.” And, where before I complained that Budgie needlessly separated “Drug Store Woman” and “Bottled” into different tracks when they sound like they’re the same song, this time, they’re putting two different songs on the same track and giving it the annoying title of, sigh, “Napoleon Bona – Part One” and “Napoleon Bona – Part Two”; where the first half is acoustic, and the second is the jah-jiggah-jah-jiggah, galloping metal part.

I’ll let the reader decided if "Sash" does, in fact, have six or seven songs; one of which happens to be a cover of “I Ain’t No Mountain” by Welsh guitarist/singer/songwriter ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW, who I’m not going to lie to you and pretend I actually heard of before reading the liner notes for the CD reissue. Other than Burke Shelley singing instead of Fairweather Low, Budgie’s cover is just as catchy, fun, bouncy, and country-ish without actually being as country as the original. Plus the title just sounds like something Budgie would have written.

I suppose it’s worth noting that the CD reissue also includes non-album single b-side “Honey”, which is another acoustic song and was not on the album. Didn’t Budgie realize that they could have put the song on the album after “I Ain’t No Mountain”, so that if you read the tracks out loud, you would say, “I ain’t no mountain, honey”, and it would be hilarious? Not to mention that the album is only 34 minutes long, and they could have easily added three minutes to its runtime?

But what do you expect from a band that names their album Bando-fucking-leer.

If I Were Brittania I’d Waive the Rules (1976)

Don’t look for any deep meaning in the title; they just copped it from a letter sent to them from one of their fans. And the cover has a science fiction theme like Bandolier to the point where I thought the three figures on the cover were the same ones from their previous album until I realized that THESE three budgie-men flying into battle with their futuristic space gear and artillery have wings, while the ones on Bandolier do not! Of course, none of this has anything to do with the songs on the album.

In fact, on their sixth album, it seems Budgie are moving FURTHER rather than closer to 80s heavy metal.  It’s like, after Bandolier, they thought they were getting too heavy metal and decided that the 70s hard rock of TED NUGENT or MONTROSE would be a better hill to die on. Seriously! Listen to “Sky High Percentage” and tell me that doesn’t remind you of the riff from “Great White Buffalo”, which I suppose is actually by Ted Nugent’s AMBOY DUKES rather than Nugent solo, but still. Or, that “Quacktors and Bureacats” doesn’t sound like something ZZ TOP would do? What happened to the chuggin’ proto-NWOBHM riffs from the last album?

And it’s not like If I Were Brittania I’d Waive the Rules is bad. Far from it; Budgie are strong musicians with a knack for melody; in fact, there is some looovely non-distorted arpeggio chord strumming on the nearly progressive title track which reminds me of the GROUNDHOGS for lack of a more popular reference. And it certainly shows off that Steve Williams is a dynamic drummer, certainly more than Ray Phillips or the Peter Fonda lookalike that came before him.

It’s just that, if you’re all like "hell yezz, TIME FOR MORE RIFFS FROM THE KING OF RIFFS, TONY BOURGE," and you’re expecting “Breadfan”, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery”, or “Breaking All the House Rules”, it’s a little disappointing that the album opens with the STATUS QUO style blues boogie rock of “Anne Neggen.” On top of that, the once brief acoustic numbers of yesteryear found on Budgie, Squawk, and Never Turn Your Back on a Friend have evolved into fully fleshed out soft rockers and ballads; well, one soft rocker and one ballad to be precise.

Not that I don’t enjoy a good melancholy rainy day tune like “You’re Opening Doors” with vague lyrics that could be about anything. It’s just that I turn to Budgie to ROCK; not to sit around and feel pensive, or something. Curiously the album also has a rather pessimistic tone throughout; Budgie kinda always told ya how it was with songs like “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand”, but this time they seem especially determined to let you know how we all struggle in the rat race and that we’re all pawns in the game and that being in a working rock band is actually quite a grind. Or the lyrics make no sense at all; at least not to a pea brain like me who prefers lyrics to be blunt and entirely devoid of metaphors.

I also am not particularly fond of the final track, “Black Velvet Stallion”, which sounds like Tony Bourge endlessly soloing over Burke Shelley going “ba-bum, ba-bum” on his bass for seven straight minutes. I read in the liner notes that it’s considered some sort of classic among Budgie fans. I don’t know who these fans are or how much marijuana they smoked to come to such a conclusion, but it’s a sadly fitting ending to what is otherwise considered to be a lesser effort by Budgie themselves. As I said, it’s not a bad album, as no Budgie album can be a bad album, but there’s overall just a lack of energy and a feeling of going through the motions throughout. And THAT’S their first album for their new record company! Like, thanks a lot, dudes! We scoop you out of your old contract, because that company didn’t wanna send you to the States, and this is how you repay us?

Impeckable (1978)

Congratulations Budgie on winning the award for the most godawful and stupid album cover of the 1970s. And, trust me, you’ve had some stiff competition with all those nonsensical Hipgnosis covers that came out over the years. 

What’s really hilarious is that they actually credited two different people for snapping the photo of the confused looking black cat and the budgie overlaid onto the ugly purple/blue background; like, really, dudes? You couldn’t have just made this cover yourselves? You actually had to hire professional photographers to create such a monstrosity? Yeah, forget the halfway intriguing science fiction concepts from your previous two albums; a black cat staring awkwardly at a budgie on the front, and then a budgie that’s five times the size of the cat carrying the cat away in its claws on the back will really catch the public’s eye!

And it’s really sad that Impeckable was decorated in such a wretched sleeve, because, it’s really damn good! Like, hell yeah, it’s a total recovery from the last album! First things first, I think Budgie figured out that the best and easiest way to hook your listener is by starting your album with a fast song. In this case, “Melt the Ice Away” is this album’s “Breadfan”; just a fun and energetic metallic rocker with a complicated monster riff that will get your head a-bangin’. You know what’s crazy, though? It was Burke Shelley who wrote the riffs for “Breadfan” and “Melt the Ice Away”, not Tony Bourge! Can you imagine that? You’re the guitarist known for creating all these great riffs, and you’re being shown up by your bass player?

Once the listener is hooked, however, Budgie turns into a bell-bottom-and-paisley-wearing 70s band blissfully unaware of how violently the rock landscape would shift in less than two years. So don’t expect Impeckable to be very much more metal after the first song. I mean, if you use your imagination, there are some heavier, angrier sounding riffs on the otherwise blues rock boogie tune “Smile Boy Smile” and the last song, “Don’t Dilute the Water”; but then there are occasionally heavier, angrier, and metal sounding riffs on various AEROSMITH or ZZ Top albums as well. Actually, speaking of Aerosmith, the opening to “I’m a Faker Too” sounds like that big, bombastic intro to “Back in the Saddle.”

In general, the styles represented on the nine tracks on Impeckable are the funky, groovy, heavy, and bluesy hard rock with a few curve balls thrown in; such as the Skynyrd-ish ballad “All at Sea” – at least, it would be Skynyrd-ish if Shelley could sing in a Southern accent, and Bourge’s guitar had more twang – the butt-shakin’ funk tune “Dish It Up”, and the acoustic Beatles-influenced “Don’t Go Away.”

And, even though Impeckable was released in the 70s, I was taken aback by JUST how 70s it sounds. You might think I’ve been smoking something to think it odd that a 70s sounding album came out in the 70s, but hear me out! Van Halen had released their first album, which basically sounds like 80s metal, in 1978; UFO, Queen, and Black Sabbath were polishing up their sound with cleaner production and more arena rock techniques; FOREIGNER, TOTO, STYX, and JOURNEY had just hit the scene with more commercial and radio friendly hard rock; CHEAP TRICK and AC/DC were playing a faster, punchier brand of hard rock that rivaled punk; and the Scorpions, Rainbow, and Judas Priest were also putting out metal that leaned more in an 80s direction. In other words, even though Impeckable came out in the 70s, Budgie sounds more 1972 than 1978!

Then I read that they relocated from the UK to Canada almost explicitly because the punk thing hadn’t really taken off in North America and the continent was still very rock friendly. Sure, I guess that’s true to an extent, but Grand Funk Railroad and Deep Purple were long gone; KISS was starring in a made-for-TV kids movie and making lousy solo albums; ALICE COOPER was appearing on The Muppet Show and doing show tunes; ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin were both in the midst of three year breaks between albums; URIAH HEEP, NAZARETH, Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT were on the decline; the big “rock” album of 1977 was Rumours; and, golly gee whiz, have you guys heard of DISCO?!  And, for what it’s worth, you had Rush and PINK FLOYD filling some sort of nerdy ‘n’ virginal progressive rock niche. But is THAT worth flying over the pond for?


But, I’m not here to dog on a band for not being “hip” or “with it”! I’m here to praise Tony Bourge for his multi-faceted guitar playing that shows he’s not just a heavy-riffin’ one trick pony; there are some especially lovely melodic note runs on “Pyramids”, which also showcases some of Steve Williams’ most complicated drumming. And you still can’t go wrong with riff-filled, rockin’ jams like “Love for You and Me”; or any of these songs, really.

If nothing else, Impeckable is a really good album and a respectable conclusion to the Tony Bourge era.

If Swallowed, Do Not Induce Vomiting EP (1980)

I wonder how a kid shopping for metal records in 1980 reacted when he saw these three middle aged dorks on the cover of the If Swallowed, Do Not Induce Vomiting mini-LP. They look more like maintenance men than members of a heavy metal band! Did he laugh or respect them for having the balls to look like that and tell the world, “This is who we are! Take it or leave it!”? As it turns out, the guy in the middle with the porn mustache and motorcycle jacket that doesn’t help him look cool at all is new guitarist John Thomas, who was obviously hired for his playing ability rather than his looks.

Apparently it took Burke Shelley and Steve Williams about a year and a half to even find Thomas after Tony Bourge left; they had both Huw Lloyd-Langton of HAWKWIND and Rob Kendrick from TRAPEZE on guitar in the interim. Thankfully that didn’t work out, though, else Lloyd-Langton wouldn’t have played on the awesome Hawkwind album Levitation, which also came out in 1980 and has Ginger Baker on it.

New Budgie guitarist John Thomas was exactly who the group needed to move away from their 70s sound and become a PROPER metal band; not a 70s rock band that happens to also play metal. While John Thomas is just as much of a riff guy as Tony Bourge, he’s not all that bluesy, his tone is brighter and shinier than his predecessor’s, and he just plays taught, palm-muted riffs and blazing leads; not leaving much room for the subtle elements found on Budgie’s 70s material. Furthermore Shelley is now shouting a lot more like a heavy metal singer too. His voice kind of reminds me of Biff Byford at times but with more of a frog in his throat. And, overall, the band basically ingratiated itself into the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

The EP or mini-LP or whatever you want to refer to If Swallowed, Do Not Induce Vomiting as, is a four-track teaser for the group’s next full length album Power Supply. The four songs include “Wild Fire”, which will immediately draw comparisons with AC/DC on account of its driving drumbeat and simple, basic riff, except that the riff is played with more distortion and has palm-mutes between the chords. What’s annoying about this song, though, is that the cool riff that comes at the end of several bars doesn’t come when you’re expecting it. It’s like, ah, here comes that really GREAT part again, and then you have to wait and wait and wait for it.

Then you have “High School Girls”, a mid-tempo head banging tune with a deliberately stilted, Ritchie Blackmore type riff and the drums behind the beat, “Panzer Division Destroyed”, the album’s mini-epic that really allows for Thomas to showcase his guitar skills on several different parts, and lastly “Lies of Jim (The E-Type Lover)”, which once again merges the chugga-chugga metal riffing with the driving AC/DC drumbeat.

And, it would have been nice if the dudes who did the Budgie CD reissues included all four tracks with Power Supply the way WHITESNAKE threw all four songs from the Snakebite EP onto the Trouble CD reissue as bonus tracks, but how else you gonna prove you’re a REAL fan than by buying a 20 minute CD (I guess 29 minutes with the two live bonus tracks, woo hoo) at full CD price?

Power Supply (1980)

After much thought, deliberation, consideration, and soul searching, I consider Power Supply to be the best Budgie album; and it’s not even close. Like, I feel as though it took Budgie thirteen years, from forming in the wake of Jimi Hendrix squeezing loud noises out of his guitar to Budgie hitching their wagon to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, for the group to create their career masterpiece.

I still believe that people should probably start their Budgie collection with Never Turn Your Back on a Friend if they want to understand why Budgie is considered so underrated among the early 70s heavy rock and proto-metal milieu, but, as far as the riffs, hooks, melodies, and SONGS are concerned, Power Supply just gives me an overall greater visceral charge than any of the seven albums that preceded it. Not to mention that it has excellent cover art of a robotic metal budgie-man onstage in front of a crowd of head bangers, and lively gig photos that make this trio of dorky middle aged men look like a badass metal band; which they, effectively, ARE.

By drummer Steve Williams’ own admission, Budgie was in a state of identity crisis after Tony Bourge left the band and right up until they recruited John Thomas in late 1979. And it wasn’t until Geoff Barton at Sounds officially declared that there was a NEW wave of heavy metal, British or otherwise, that it was clear that heavy metal was a separate genre from rock or hard rock. In fact, it became kind of a joke by 1980 for some kid in an Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, or Motörhead t-shirt to claim he listened to “rock” when he obviously listened to METAL.

So, I can only imagine the excitement Burke Shelley and Steve Williams felt when they scooped up new guitarist John Thomas and officially declared themselves part of this whole heavy metal thing that was apparently taking the UK by storm the way punk did a few years earlier. In fact they blatantly say so in the song “Heavy Revolution”, in which Burke Shelley enthusiastically shouts, “IT’S A HEAVY REVOLUTION!!!” louder than he ever shouted on any previous Budgie album. Overall Shelley began taking Ray Davies’ advice to open up and shout it out and never try to sing.

And, as I mentioned in my review of the If Swallowed, Do Not Induce Vomiting EP that came out right before Power Supply, new guitarist John Thomas’ tone is brighter and shinier than his predecessor’s, and he just plays taught, palm-muted riffs and blazing leads; not leaving much room for the subtle elements found on Budgie’s 70s material. Over the course of the eight songs on Power Supply, from the speedy, raucous 4/4 AC/DC-by-way-of-TYGERS OF PAN TANG “Forearm Smash” to the mid-tempo, chugging 4/4 AC/DC-by-way-of-SAXON “Crime Against the World”, it was clear that this was a NEW Budgie for a NEW decade; one that didn’t have time for superfluous jam sessions or wussy acoustic folk songs.

Not that they were against using acoustic guitars at all, since multi-part Western metal “Gunslinger” begins with a neat acoustic part that sounds like it’s from a Spaghetti Western and further raises a point I’ve made on several occasions; why don’t metal bands sing more about Western themes? Why aren’t there more songs about cowboys in metal? You have entire subgenres of metal dedicated to Vikings and pirates, but you only have a handful of songs about Peacemake-shooting, Stetson-hat-wearing, gun-twirling bad-asses; “Outlaw” by RIOT and “Shoot You in the Back” by Motörhead are two others that immediately come to mind.

Otherwise, you have some surprisingly crunchy ANGEL WITCH riffing on “Hellbender” and “Secrets in My Head”, while the title track is more 4/4 speedy AC/DC-by-way-of-(fill in a NWOBHM band). The album’s only real oddity is “Time to Remember.” I guess it’s the album’s ballad, since it does the quiet verses/loud chorus formula, but I couldn’t place exactly why it sounded so different from your standard ballad until I realized that the chord progression in the verse sounds like it’s pulled right out of a power-pop song, only with additional guitar harmonies and echo effects to add to the stirring mood.

But, anyway, Power Supply is the best Budgie album, and you need to find the power to supply it to yourself.

Nightflight (1981)

I’d like to assume that a band’s intentions are pure, especially one like Budgie, where bassist/singer Burke Shelley, guitarist John Thomas, and drummer Steve Williams seem totally down-to-earth and humble and approachable and honest and all that good stuff you want from people. But, if I DIDN’T know anything about Budgie, I might get the impression that they’re trying to piss off the fans they had just acquired with their previous album. I mean, after you release a heavy metal masterpiece, does it make any sense to begin the next album with a ballad? And “I Turned to Stone” is a pretty good ballad with some pretty sad lyrics about a guy who realizes he doesn’t have any close friends; but doesn’t that violate a certain sacrosanct law of heavy metal that you’re supposed to start your album with, ya know, a song that rocks to get the listener’s blood pumping? If you say anything about Demons and Wizards by Uriah Heep, I’m gonna punch you.

What’s funny is that “I Turned to Stone” is a two part track that abruptly switches to galloping metal after four minutes of being a ballad. It’s curious how things “progress.” Nine years earlier on the Squawk album, Budgie separated “Drug Store Woman” and “Bottled” into separate tracks in a completely unnecessary manner, since they effectively sounded like different parts of the same song. Then, three years later on Bandolier, they crammed two unrelated pieces onto one track and called the parts “Napoleon Bona – Part One” and “Napoleon Bona – Part Two”, but still felt it necessary to tell the listeners that the track has two different parts so they wouldn’t get confused. And, now, six years later, they put two completely unrelated songs on the same track and called the whole thing “I Turned to Stone”, causing the listener to have to get up and check the needle on the turntable to make sure it isn’t on the second song.

It’s almost like the band is being cheeky or something. I doubt that’s what they had intended, but throughout all of Nightflight, it might seem like Budgie is messing with their newly earned head banger following. I mean, they couldn’t think the same people who rocked out to Power Supply would want to hear radio-friendly pop-rock songs like “Keeping a Rendezvous”, “Apparatus”, and “Change Your Ways”, catchy as they may be. Also, naming the minute-long flamenco instrumental at the end “Unfinished Lullaby” is appropriate, since the album feels unfinished.

The fact that it’s only 33 minutes long isn’t a problem, since all six David-Lee-Roth-era Van Halen albums are all just over 30 minutes long; the issue is that it just doesn’t feel like a COMPLETE effort. It seems like the group didn’t know where to go from Power Supply, so they just cobbled together some pretty good songs of various subgenres and called it an album. There are still some pretty rockin’ metal tunes on Nightflight, though; the sleazy mid-tempo “She Used Me Up” and the swinging “Don’t Lay Down and Die” could easily fit on Power Supply.

And, please don’t hit me, but I can’t help but think that “Reaper of the Glory” sounds like a heavier version of “Hold the Line”, and that “Superstar” sounds like AC/DC covering “Simply Irresistible.” Hey, I LIKE “Hold the Line” and “Simply Irresistible”, so don’t take that as a criticism. It’s just that, to THESE ears, the shuffle beat and passionate delivery of “Reaper of the Glory” and the riff and vocal melody of “Superstar” make me think of these popular songs by Toto and ROBERT PALMER.

Really, though, neither can be such a bad thing if Saxon recently covered “Hold the Line”, and Angel Witch just did “Simply Irresistible.” Okay, that second part isn’t true.

The drums also have more reverb on them, since it’s the 80s, and the cover is pretty cool.

Deliver Us from Evil (1982)

Do you like keyboards and synthesizers? Do you think Rush and GENESIS only got good in the 80s but could have been even better with metal guitars? Do you enjoy hearing fake strings on a “Here I Go Again”-style ballad with lyrics inspired by the V.C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic cleverly called “Flowers in the Attic” and then used again in a cutesy 60s-ish pop-ballad about a girl named Alison cleverly called “Alison”? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are the target audience for the final Budgie album (well, before their reunion, anyway), Deliver Us from Evil!

Okay, in spite of the facetious sounding opening paragraph, Deliver Us from Evil IS really good and a major improvement over Nightflight in every way imaginable. Some Budgie fans might not think so because of all the keyboards and a blatant shift towards a more poppy and commercial sound, but they’re wrong and stupid. Plus it wasn’t even entirely the band’s fault, since the songs “Bored with Russia” and “Young Girl” were written by outside writers and foisted upon the group by the record company.

Personally speaking, I think the album opener “Bored with Russia” is a power-pop gem and should have been an easy hit for the band in the States. But the lyrics are really odd; Shelley is talking to Russia as if Russia was a girl he just broke up with! Then later on the album, there’s a song called “Finger on the Button” that also has a title that sounds political but is about a chick who has her proverbial “finger on the button” ready to “shoot down” some dude over some argument they had or something. And then there’s the song “N.O.R.A.D. (Doomsday City)”, but that one is actually about the air defense system and isn’t another clunky relationship metaphor.

And, while I love the pop schmaltz of “Young Girl”, where the synthesizer parrots the vocal melody in a way which I find highly enjoyable but other people with taste might find nauseating, my friend said he couldn’t get through 20 seconds of the song. In general, though, if you’re a fan of the Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner eras of Rainbow or Bonnet’s post-Rainbow band ALCATRAZZ, then you’ll probably dig the AOR-meets-80s metal of Deliver Us from Evil. And, yes, Budgie listed new keyboardist Duncan Mackay as an official band member on the back cover of the album, but I guess Mackay didn’t feel like having his picture taken with the overweight drummer with facial hair, the emaciated and freshly shaved bassist and singer who apparently just discovered contact lenses, and the overweight guitarist with facial hair.

Otherwise Deliver Us from Evil is still pretty darn rockin’, even if only “Truth Drug” and “Give Me the Truth” can TRULY be considered the heavy metal that became the group’s trademark sound when John Thomas joined the band; and even then, “Truth Drug” has big ol’ synthesizers accentuating the riffs. I guess you can throw “Don’t Cry” in with the metal tunes if you consider a Rainbow-style rocker with a catchy vocal hook and an excellent keyboard solo to be metal. Ironically, I think if the final track, “Hold on to Love”, had a catchy keyboard part, it could have probably been an arena metal hit along the lines of “The Final Countdown.” I mean, it’s already halfway there with the metal gallop and urgent, over the top delivery!

Sadly, none of this would come to pass. In spite of its timely 80s production, outside song-writer contributions, additional keyboards, and other obvious commercial touches, Budgie was dropped from their label and floundered about for another five years before calling it a day.

The Last Stage (2004)

Okay, Budgie wasn’t immediately dropped from their label after Deliver Us from Evil. They toured until 1983, demoed some new material, and then were dropped. But what I find odd is that they couldn’t find a Metal Blade, Mega Force, Shrapnel, Music for Nations, Neat, or Roadrunner to scoop ‘em up and keep their career going. How hard would it have been for seasoned veterans like Budgie to get signed to one of the top independent heavy metal labels? That is, unless they felt they were too good for that; in which case, it’s THEIR fault that the world had to wait until 2004 to hear them cover IKE  AND TINA TURNER.

By the way, what is it with metal bands covering “Nutbush City Limit”? I just got the UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER album, My Way, and he covers it too!

As the title implies, The Last Stage consists of a bunch of songs Budgie recorded before breaking up; 16 total for a runtime of 62 minutes, several of which were initially demoes for what would have been the album after Deliver Us from Evil had Budgie not been dropped by their label. Others were recorded in various one-off sessions between 1983 and 1985, and a couple songs date all the way back to 1979 and 1980; including the one and only song Budgie ever recorded with Rob Kendrick from Trapeze on guitar right before John Thomas joined.

Keyboardist Duncan Mackay, who played on Deliver Us from Evil, is gone, and Budgie is back to being the power trio they always were. Some of the songs do have keyboards, though; specifically “You Ain’t Got Love”, “Renegade”, and “Sweet Fast Talker”, but they’re not the overbearing synthesizers you heard on Deliver Us from Evil. They’re just your normal ol’ Jon Lord hard rock keyboards that provide a foil for the guitar; and if you absolutely have to know, they’re played by Budgie’s sound guy, Simon Dawson.

But, even without the keyboards, they’re basically doing the AOR-meets-pop-metal of Deliver Us from Evil; which makes it all the more disheartening that these are nothing more than demos, because, for the most part, the songs are pretty damn good! Especially the third track, “Same Old Sad Affair”, which is easily one of the catchiest songs the group has ever recorded; so catchy, in fact, that it was stuck in my head all day today! But, boy does the band wear its heart on its opening track! I understand that Budgie is going for that commercial sound, but geez, dudes, don’t you think you’re coming on a little strong with “Love Is When You Love”?

Otherwise the majority of the songs still rock in that major chord riffs/big, catchy choruses kinda way, albeit with some “experiments.” Those include the hilarious, so-bad-it’s-good Prince-inspired funk rocker, which uses a PROGRAMMED DRUM MACHINE, “Heaven in Your Eyes”, and a really weird tune called “Picture on a Screen”, where Burke Shelley sings like a robotic Alice Cooper, or Alice during his early 80s, crack smoking, new wave phase, in the verse and turns into DEF LEPPARD in the chorus. Not as experimental, but also worth noting are the sugary pop-rock ballad “Signed Your Own Fate” and the BON JOVI rip-off “Victim.”

Curiously “Can’t Get Up in the Morning”, the one song recorded in 1979 with Rob Kendrick on guitar, perfectly fits in with most of the other songs on The Last Stage, because it sounds closer to the kind of music Budgie was making on Deliver Us from Evil onward – minus the keyboards, of course – than the stuff they made when John Thomas replaced him and turned Budgie into a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. Speaking of heavy metal, “Rock Your Blood” is the only song on The Last Stage which even hints at Budgie once being a heavy metal band. Yes, amid the commercial hard rock, ballad, funk rocker, and Def Leppard and Bon Jovi pandering is an actual heavy metal song with an angry palm-muted riff and strong, melodic guitar work, that recalls songs like “Panzer Division Destroyed”, “Hellbender”, and “Gunslinger.”

And lastly, I can’t talk about The Last Stage without mentioning how Burke Shelley’s voice sounds like it dropped an octave or five! Shelley’s typically high-pitch, nasally voice that kinda sounds like Geddy Lee is almost completely unrecognizable here. He just sounds like a not great but perfectly serviceable arena hard rock singer; the kind a band might use as a place-holder before securing a Joe Lynn Turner or Graham Bonnet. Maybe, at this point, Budgie should have considered hiring an actual singer, especially if they were going for that more polished commercial sound. I mean, there’s no shame in just being a bass player, right?

You’re All Living in Cuckooland (2006)

Budgie is back with their first studio album in 24 years and their final studio album ever. And it’s not a bad way to go out. But it is kind of bittersweet to think that You’re All Living in Cuckooland would be a last hurrah rather than a new beginning; unlike other bands that broke up and got back together and continue to make albums to this day. Also, considering that neither Tony Bourge nor John Thomas plays guitar on it, it’s not even really a true reunion album. Then again, at the end of the day, are there really any people who care whatsoever which incarnation of Budgie they get or who Burke Shelley plays with or whether Budgie even released a new studio album in the first place?

The answer is, yes, of course there are; just as many as who care that Duck MacDonald played guitar on the final Blue Cheer album.

Bassist/singer Burke Shelley and drummer Steve Williams are joined by new guitarist Simon Lees, whose credits include playing with the original Judas Priest singer Al Atkins and re-recording old Budgie tunes for the bonus tracks on the Budgie CD reissues. And he’s a good guitarist, but, for some reason, his guitar has a really computerized tone with a bunch of phasing effects on it; to the point where the guitar solos on “Justice” and “Falling” sound as if they’re being played on a KEYBOARD, and “Dead Men Don’t Talk” opens with the kind of beep-boop noises you’d expect to hear in a DEVO song. It really did surprise me and took some getting used to, but thankfully Lees doesn’t do that on the entire album.

Otherwise, just like the early Budgie albums, the heavy songs are broken up by a few lighter moments, and a couple of the songs have those whacky titles you’ve come to expect from Burke and the boys. Speaking of which, I could easily do without the last track, “I’m Compressing the Comb on a Cockerel’s Head.” Yeah, yeah, laugh it up; hilarious title. But, the song just bounces along to a 4/4 beat for eight straight minutes and repeats the same two parts over and over; then it just repeats the title over and over and fills any blank spaces with guitar solos. Maybe they had a blast in the studio making it, but it’s not exactly a thrilling conclusion to an otherwise decent album.

And, if you’re wondering, Shelley sounds nothing like he did in the 70s. He’s just got a kind of scratchy, untrained rock singer voice. Also, none of these songs are early head-busting blues metal like “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” or “Breadfan.” That doesn’t mean they don’t rock and aren’t heavy; in fact “Justice”, “Dead Men Don’t Talk”, “Falling”, and “I Don’t Want to Throw You” still have plenty of that early 70s heavy rock groove from songs like “You’re the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk.” They just tend to get a little funkier and the choruses are a bit prettier, almost like Aerosmith, or something off the Impeckable album.

I gotta admit, though; I’m not too fond of the dopey ZZ Top/Van Halen/dumb rock song “(Don’t Want to) Find That Girl”, with its “Love Shack” drum beat, “Oo-ah” choruses, and sleazy, tequila drinking, party vibe. Not only is Burke Shelley too square to sing about such topics, but when he does, he sings lyrics like “Cats eyes, cats eyes, cats eyes every time I look at you/that's why, that's why, that's why I'll never be attracted to you.” So, even if it was a better song, Shelley comes off sounding like a self-righteous scold instead of some horny dude out on the town looking for loose women. It’s like, oh, I get it; this is the party song, but it’s actually the ANTI-party song. Just stick to singing about tyrefitters, dude.

And you have the soft songs like “We’re All Living in Cuckooland” – that’s, right, the title for the album might be You’re All Living in Cuckooland and might have budgie-man pointing at YOU, but the song says WE’RE all living in cuckooland and implicates all of us – the sincere and sappy “Love Is Enough”, and “Captain.” They’re all pretty good, I guess, but with all acoustic songs on Budgie albums, I have nothing really to say about ‘em, other than that they’re pleasant little interludes between the group’s heavy songs.  There’s also an okay power ballad called “Tell Me Tell Me” with some pretty good guitar work.

You’re All Living in Cuckooland ended up being the final Budgie album, but the group still toured for four more years, raising the question of whether Budgie knew at the time whether it would, in fact, be their last album.

Then I scoped this here lyric from the song “I Don’t Want to Throw You”:

Don't want to throw you but this thing is going nowhere
Don't want to throw you but this thing is up in the air

Well, then!

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
30th April, 2022

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  1. Thank you for such a complete and copious review. The fact that you ride roughshod over some of the most poignant musical moments in the soundtrack to my life can be forgiven because of the trouble you have gone to. Why Budgie never broke as big as the bands they came up with with is a well- trodden path now and will no doubt be debated for years to come. In old reviews of the 70s I can detect early signs of dismay and despondency in Burke as Budgie gets mauled by self-important music critics firing their cheeky wordplay back at them in scathing reviews which both mimic and mock them at the same time. Often based on remarks about their personal appearance or their physical facial features these ascerbicly entitled articles labour over their shortcomings offering little or no encouragement and missing the point that they were a blue collared gigging band. Your article is titled with a positive pun and makes some valid points about production but at times drifts into the areas I've outlined above.

    The genuine affection for them, mostly (but not entirely) males it must be said, is evident still on the internet and by touching so many hearts and giving voice to so many is a real testament to what they have achieved.