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Budgie - Squawk CD (album) cover




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3.31 | 113 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Not Budg(ie)ing

Throughout their career, Budgie have never been a band who sought to progress or examine new areas of music. Working on the principal of if it ain't broke don't fix it, the band followed up their 1971 debut a year later with this album of more of the same. Black Sabbath producer Rodger Bain was retained, the resulting sound once again being a heavy riff laden guitar-fest.

The tracks are generally slightly shorter than on the debut, the arrangements being more straightforward especially on the five tracks which make up side one. The vocals tend to be more up front in the mix, to some extent removing the appealing naivety of the debut.

The opening "Whisky river" and "Rocking man" are both basic blues rock affairs featuring lead guitar. "Rolling home again" offers one of those welcome Budgie surprises, the brief acoustic number sounding like a cross between the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel! The lighter mood continues on the soft "Make me happy", another acoustic guitar number with a delicate vocal hook and unaccredited piano.

Normal service resumes for the metallically named "Hot as a docker's armpit". While essentially another riff based number, the track features the most overt use of mellotron by the band thus far, adding a welcome new dimension to their sound. "Drugstore woman" seeks to Americanise the band's appeal, in lyrical terms at least, but the sound is remains rooted in the British blues of the likes of Led Zeppelin. The track combines with the blues rock guitar instrumental "Bottled" to form a decent two part piece.

The strongest track on the album is undoubtedly "Young is a world", a power ballad of sorts. The track swims in delightful mellotron while featuring a highly melodic vocal and a fine mix of acoustic and lead guitar. The 8+ minutes of the song demonstrate the under appreciated ability of Budgie to occasionally step outside their natural comfort zone. The album closes back well within that comfort zone, "Stranded" being a conventional guitar rock anthem.

While "Squawk" made for an appropriate follow up to the band's fine debut, it is perhaps significant that none of the tracks feature on the main "Best of Budgie" compilations which have since been released. The main problem with the album is that it is just a collection of decent rock numbers. Things would however get back on track with the next album..

The sleeve illustration was the first for the band by Roger Dean, but while imaginative its not one of his best.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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