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Budgie - Squawk CD (album) cover




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3.38 | 124 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Budgie, now - I'm kinda surprised. Hard-Rock band from Wales, Budgie, have released some strong albums over the years, and have been highly influential in doing so. Thrashers METALLICA have a high respect for the band, and they were also closely cited alongside BLACK SABBATH as pioneers of the up- coming rise of what became the 'Heavy Metal' genre. I'm certain that IRON MAIDEN's Bassist Steve Harris learnt a thing or 2 from Shelley's Bass-playing. I have only hung onto a couple of their records, so, I speak from a truly 'critical' reviewer's point-of-view, rather than a follower of their craft. This 2nd album, entitled 'Squawk', featured one of Roger Dean's early forays into LP art, with the skull of a bird fixed to the nose of a model jet. Quite eye catching in itself, really. This is the Budgie record I return to most often. Between the 3 musicians, Burke Shelley played some awesome Bass and contributed the Mellotron parts heard on many of the tracks. Riff-based Guitar player Tony Bourge was only a notch behind the great Riff-master Tony Iommi, showing that there was stiff competition in the field. Drummer Ray Phillips treads the same path as Bill Ward ever did, competent, but not a complete virtuoso. Together, they forged some memorable Hard-Rock songs and cool albums. I've dusted off my old record in order to speak of the songs here, and, here goes : - 'Whisky River' shows off a simple, harder-edged rock-riff with Shelley's higher-pitched, Hard-Rock oriented vocals (reminding one of Purple's Glenn Hughes), listenable, but nothing fantastic. 'Rocking Man' is more like it, with a more grungey riff and cool interplay between the instruments, and an understanding of creating odd-time sigs for the benefit of the song, and not just for the sake of it. One very good song. 'Rolling Home Again' is a brief (under 2 min long), jangly acoustic piece in softer mood, complete with some bouncy mellotron stabs, sung well and somewhat catchy. Currently I'm on the song 'Make Me Happy', which is acoustically based and mellow, the Piano adds to its softer vibe. It immediately launches into the knock-out tune 'Hot As A Docker's Armpit'. Full of changing tempos, catchy riffs and excellent musicianship, this song should please most Prog-Heads. The amazing mid-section offers the listener some stunning action on the Bass Guitar and tasteful mellotron playing. Bourge's Guitaring is also notable. They sound more accessible, and less oppressive than the mighty Sabbath, but equally as enjoyable. Time to change the side.....'Drugstore Woman' is similar to the opening tune, a basic 12-bar tune, only performed in 'Heavy' fashion. Still, nothing that requires a snob-nose or a quick skipping over. 'Bottled' is a brief instrumental bash (again, under 2 min.) which sounds like a jam with Bourge on Slide-Guitar. The 8 min+ 'epic' entitled 'Young Is A World' kicks off with some ethereal Guitaring, and again, a mellower approach. This tune is quite basic, with some heavier instrumental breaks, and more Mellotron (for those of us who just can't get enough) and pleasant vocals. It should never outstay its welcome. The change in the middle features a simple riff, but played effectively and can offer any budding Bass-Player some pointers. Overall, a great song. The last track, 'Stranded', is more Hard-Rock riffing in the way that Sabbath performed (I can't help but compare the two - if it wasn't Sabbath who were successful, I'm sure Budgie would've been at the forefront). So, there you go, fine people ; a really good Proto-Metal album, with a gutsy sound and tough musicianship. 4 stars.
Tom Ozric | 4/5 |


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