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Budgie - Never Turn Your Back on a Friend CD (album) cover




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4.18 | 247 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars BUDGIE were a Welsh power trio from Cardiff who apparently chose the ironic name Budgie for their band name, simply because the delicately sweet sound of a twittering budgie represented the complete antithesis to their particular brand of storming Hard Rock and Heavy Metal thunder. Budgie first took flight with the eponymously-titled "Budgie" album in 1971, followed swiftly by "Squawk" in 1972. It was with their third album though "Never Turn Your Back on a Friend" (1973), where Budgie really spread their wings and displayed their magnificently colourful plumage, in what is generally regarded as their finest album. The line-up for this album was:- Burke Shelley - bass & lead vocals; Tony Bourge - guitars & backing vocals; and Ray Phillips on drums. The colourful fantasy art work for the cover of Budgie's third album - reviewed here - was designed by album art supremo Roger Dean. The 2004 re-mastered CD edition added three bonus tracks to the original seven songs on the album. Following this album, Budgie produced four more albums from their perch during the 1970's:- "In for the Kill" (1974); "Bandolier" (1975); the deliberately misspelled "If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules" (1976); and the amusingly- titled "Impeckable" (1978). This Welsh band obviously weren't short on ironic humour when it came to naming their albums. It's also worth mentioning that the three classic MCA albums from the years 1973-1975 are available in a budget Budgie box set. Most of Budgie's albums also featured a picture of a budgerigar on the cover in some comically abstract form or another. Budgie weren't quite ready to retire and go home to roost at the end of the 1970's, because with a change of line-up they recorded three further albums in the early 1980's:- "Power Supply" (1980); "Night Flight" (1981); and "Deliver Us from Evil" (1982). Budgie went their separate ways and flew off in different directions after that 1982 album, but they were set to make an amazing comeback 24 years later when they undertook a gruelling 35-date tour of the United Kingdom alongside the release of their final album to date: "You're All Living in Cuckooland" (2006). The band obviously hadn't lost their ironic sense of humour in the intervening 24 years.

We're taking flight with "Breadfan", although this song is nothing to do with being a fan of the soft rockers, David Gates & Co. No, this song is all about our obsession with money ("Bread" being British slang for money). If you've never heard the sound of Budgie before, then all the Signals are that you'll sure be in for a big surprise when you hear the high-pitched vocals of Burke Shelley for the first time. He could certainly give Geddy Lee of Rush a good run for his money (or for his "bread") when it comes to hitting those helium-induced high notes. A budgerigar might be a sweet little songbird, but the band Budgie are like a Fly By Night stealth bomber swooping down with Permanent Waves of raw power and supersonic energy, leaving behind long streaming Vapor Trails in its wake. There's no need to Test for Echo with "Breadfan", because this is reverberant, full- Power Windows-rattling Hard Rock! There's a surprisingly gentle Caress of Steel in the Grace Under Pressure middle section of the song, but Hold Your Fire though, because Hey Presto, this only serves as a stopgap before another thunderous blast of Roll the Bones Rock & Roll for the storming conclusion. Budgie and their Canadian Counterparts Rush might be Hemispheres apart geographically, but their hard rockin' music is remarkably similar in style. This timeless Hard Rock has the kind of longevity and long-lasting appeal where new fans in a new century might be listening to Rush and Budgie on their Internet space pods - complete with Moving Pictures - as faraway as the year 2112, when we've possibly said A Farewell to Kings and we have a new world order. Who knows what the future will bring!? Such are the Snakes & Arrows of outrageous fortune where Clockwork Angels fear to tread!

The second song on the album "Baby Please Don't Go" will be very familiar to Rock fans everywhere because it was most famously recorded by Van Morrison's "Them" way back in 1964. It's a powerhouse Blues-Rock number thundering along at 100 miles per hour and with the singer sounding like he's flying high as a kite (or a budgie) again, having seemingly taken a good deep breath of helium beforehand to help him really reach those high notes. In complete contrast, the third song "You Know I'll Always Love You" is a beautifully romantic, acoustic guitar ballad, just as the song title implies. The normally high- pitched vocals of Burke Shelley are toned down by at least an octave here as he plaintively wears his heart on his sleeve with these touching heartfelt lyrics:- "Sun and moon and sky above me, These are things I treasure most, Sun that lights my way goes on and on and on, Simple things will not be lost, You know I'll always love you, No matter where you are, Feel it all around you, My love will travel far, Sea of grass and earth below me, These are things I treasure most." ..... Beautiful! "You Know I'll Always Love You" is just as emotionally appealing and heart-wrenching as Whitney Houston's similarly titled "I Will Always Love You", although Budgie's romantic twittering offering is more likely to appeal to prog fans than Whitney's warbling. Cue drum roll for "You're the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk" in which drummer Ray Phillips is the biggest thing since John Bonham and Keith Moon, if this stunning opening drum solo is anything to go by. This pounding percussive intro serves as a prelude for another fast and furious artillery ballage of heavy metal fire and thunder. This 1973 album was recorded back in the days when Budgie might well have been the biggest thing since powdered milk, if they hadn't been up against such high and mighty screaming eagles of Hard Rock such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep, to name just four major bands of the era. Sadly, Budgie never quite managed to soar up into the stratospheric heights of the major big league players during the 1970's, despite releasing a whole string of good solid Rock albums.

From the sublime to the ridiculous comes "In the Grip of Tyre-Fitters Hand", although the silly title is no reflection on the music. Budgie are all tooled-up and ready for another powerhouse performance, although the lyrics are nothing to do with a Kwik-Fit Fitter changing tyres. Who knows what the cryptic lyrics are about, but one thing's for sure, it's another sonic explosion of hard and heavy pile-driving Rock that barrels on ahead like a runaway steamroller. After that storming opening to Side Two, it's time for some light relief with the gentle and melodious ballad "Riding My Nightmare", proving that Budgie have many more musical feathers to their cap than relentlessly hammering out blocks of solid Hard Rock. The laid-back relaxed mood continues - at least to begin with - as we arrive at the outstanding closing number "Parents", a luminescent high- beam highlight of the album that even your parents might like. This 11-minute-long masterpiece is one of those outstanding epic songs that grips you right from the outset as it gradually gathers in intensity towards a tremendous crescendo of glorious sound for the magnificent finale. A truly awesome song that'll stay in the memory forever and ever and have you returning to this album again and again, hopefully!

It's easy to see why Budgie's "Never Turn Your Back on a Friend" is generally regarded as their magnificent magnum opus. In common with many other bands, Budgie have reached their artistic peak (or artistic beak) and achieved their maximum potential with their stunning third album. If you like the sound of Rush, then you might want to rush out and buy this Budgie album too - if you can still get hold of it - because both bands sound remarkably similar, particularly in regard to the high-flying vocals. You may have noticed there's a none-too-subtle album titles tribute to Rush contained within the second paragraph of this review. Not much has been heard of Budgie since the early 1980's - apart from their one-off 2006 album which barely caused a flutter in the music world - but you can probably still find them on Twitter.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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