Album review: BUDGIE – The MCA Albums 1973-1975

BUDGIE - The MCA Albums 1973-1975

UMC [Release date 03.06.16]

This straightforward, budget-priced, three album box set arguably misses out on Budgie’s “finest hour” or two hours if you count the band’s second album ‘Squawk’.

One wonders if the first two albums will be reissued in this format as both were originally on MCA, and it therefore begs the question why we couldn’t have had one boxed set “The MCA Years 1971-1975″ as it would then be really all the Budgie you ever need.

The three albums are remastered and reissued in facsimilie gatefold sleeves with a new essay giving the background, by the omnipresent Malcolm Dome.

Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (1973) was the band’s first self-production and the last to feature drummer Ray Phillips.  It featured a wonderful Roger Dean gatefold sleeve and moves up again in recording quality – 24 track this time. And it is, perhaps, the band’s most accessible album.

‘Breadfan’ opens at a frenetic pace.  ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ is one of their few covers with screaming fretwork and Burke Shelley’s almost impossibly pitched vocals.  ‘I Know I’ll Always Love You’ and ‘Riding My Nightmare’, typically skilful ballads.

‘You’re The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk’ with its two minute phased drum ‘solo’ intro.  ‘In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter’s Hand’ a stomping rocker and climaxing with the wonderful Parisienne Walkways-like ‘Parents’.  *****

1974′s In For The Kill saw the band’s first line up change with Pete Boot stepping behind the drum kit.  Due to constant touring, the band didn’t have a lot of material available and were under record company pressure to come up with another album.

The album opens with a thundering title track, followed by the equally wonderful ‘Crash Course In Brain Surgery’ although this was a ‘left over’ from the first album sessions.

Elsewhere, ‘Zoom Club’ – a slow burner – is impressive, but ‘Hammer And Tongs’ and ‘Running From My Soul’ whilst competent are uninspired and highly derivative of early Zeppelin. ***

Bandolier (1975) saw Steve Williams claim the drum seat and a return to more original songwriting. But is has a typical mid-1970s commerciality to it – not dissimilar, in many ways, to contemporary Thin Lizzy.

‘Breaking All The House Rules’ is a typically heavy opener, ‘What Do You Want For Your Love’ is almost funky, ‘I Can’t See My Feelings’ was later covered by Iron Maiden, ‘I Ain’t No Mountain’ an Andy Fairweather-Low cover and ‘Napoleon Bona-Part One & Two’ the album’s centrepiece working from a gentle start to a crashing riff.  ****

The band struggled on in the late seventies, releasing five more albums but never furthering their original impact and they’ve largely been remembered for influencing a generation of heavy rockers, including Metallica.

This set is a fair, if incomplete, introduction to Budgie but completists might also want to check out the individual album reissues in 2005 on the band’s own label which contained welcome if limited bonus material.

Review by Pete Whalley.  Additional material by David Randall

Archive feature (2005)

On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)

Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)

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