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5 stars This album was may first encounter with Budgie,circa late 1973,when I first heard Baby please,don't goand from that moment on,to probably eternity, I am,and will be in the future,a devoted Budgie fan.I own this album in both CD and LP format,if ever Japanese mini lp sleeve edition becomes available,I'll be first to own it,this is to show how much I appreciate album and the band itself. Never turn your back on a friend,IMHO,is a definitive Budgie record,a step into legend,and artistic & musical statement worthy of a greatest Welsh band ever.From opening barage of Breadfan,Metallica's favorite cover song,to beautifuly crafted Parents ,this album rocks hard and along w/Sabbath was probably heaviest stuff you could hear during early to mid 70's.Production values are much better than on first two albums,sound is huge and still retains underground feel band is known for.Main architect of Budgie's heavy sound was Tony Bourge,his ability to create that trademark guitar sound(kinda mix of Tony Iommi and Leslie West,but in esence highly original sound)translated in monster riffs and complimented by huge drumming by Ray Phillips and rumbling bass work of Burke Shelley,makes Budgie one of the biggest names in HR/HM history.Considering qualites Budgie possesed, question is why this band has not earned more recognition with both critics and music consumers?From personal experience I can say that many progheads I know love Budgie and Never turn yor back.. album in particular as one of the cornerstones of British underground heavy scene and consider band as a real godfather of HM movement to come years later,a New wave of British Heavy metal. Definitely best Budgie album deserves absolute attention from all progheads,a must for prog-metal fans.This album started it all.
Report this review (#197105)
Posted Saturday, January 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Budgie spread their wings

With a couple of well received albums under their belt, Budgie reached full maturity with this their third album. The services of producer Rodger Bain were not required this time as the band took on production duties themselves. On the other hand, a full blown Roger Dean gatefold sleeve illustration undoubtedly helped to attract a wider audience, such was his blossoming reputation as an artist whose work appeared on fine albums.

The opening "Breadfan" is arguably the band's best known song, and was covered in the late 80's by Metallica. It is a fairly typical Budgie number, with an intricate arrangement which may appear at odds with the hard guitar rock on which it is based. The following "Baby please don't go" is a rare cover version by the band, the song's origins going way back to 1935 when it was penned by Big Joe Williams. This version turns the blues classic into a pounding, heads down rock anthem; it is for my money the definitive rendition of the song.

"You know I'll always love you" is the by now customary soft acoustic song for the album. It serves as a fine interlude piece for an otherwise hard rocking LP side. "You're the biggest thing since powdered milk", the closing track on side one, kicks off with a drum solo with phasing which thankfully gives way to a Black Sabbath style heavy guitar riff. At just under 9 minutes, the song develops well from its basic blues rock origins with ongoing changes of time signature and melody.

Side two of the album effectively consists of just two tracks separated by a brief interlude piece. It is for me the best album side the band have recorded. "In the grip of a tyre fitter's hand" is a shuffling blues rock number which features some wonderful lead guitar soling and riffing. The guitar sound is slightly different to the usual Budgie style here, being a bit more refined than the raw, undeveloped style we expect.

"Riding my nightmare" is about as close as Budgie get to a potential hit single, this acoustic soft pop number containing as it does a simple but infectious, repetitive chorus. The album closes with what I consider to be Budgies best song ever. The 10˝ minute "Parents" retains the guitar sound which appeared on "In the grip..", while offering a superb blend of acoustic beauty and powerful guitar driven rock. There are echoes of Rush and Wishbone Ash within the complex arrangement, but this is a unique number which sees the band at their most progressive.

"Never turn your back on a friend" is unquestionably the pinnacle of Budgie's output. The album offers a level of sophistication while retaining the raw energy which characterised the band's fine debut. While essentially an album of guitar rock, the intricate arrangements and solid performances make this an album which will be enjoyed by a much wider audience than simply those who seek such music.

Report this review (#197322)
Posted Monday, January 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars Ooh, I've forgotten how good this album is. I haven't listened to this one for years, definately on par with their previous album 'Squawk'. 'Never Turn Your Back On A Friend' appears to be the 'pick of the bunch', concerning Budgie. An amazingly vibrant Roger Dean artwork graces the gatefold cover, undoubtedly further endearing it to many Prog-Heads. Not a jot of keyboards on this one though (perhaps the Mellotron on 'Squawk' keeps on luring me back to that one ?). Greeted with the peal of a bell, 'Breadfan' launches with Tony Bourge's juicy guitar riff with a sound so thick you could cut it with a knife. Burke Shelley is no slouch on the Bass either, chords a-plenty and a great sound. Drummer Ray Phillips is as heavy as ever, providing the required amount of muscle to keep things alive and flowing. Yeah, sure Shelley's voice tends to be rather thin, something like what Geddy Lee may have sounded like when he was 15 (!), but of course, he sings from the heart and it suits the music. Throughout this song, the guys churn out one great riff after another until the middle section slows things down with a mellow, acoustic interlude for a minute or two, then returns to the opening riff. The song pretty much sums up Budgie, and stands up proud against, say, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The old rocker 'Baby Please Don't Go' is a straight-up, well, rocker, with a driving rhythm that keeps things on the boil whilst Bourge solo's with aplomb. 'You Know I'll Always Love You' is a tranquil piece of melodic acoustic guitar and vocals lasting just over 2 mins. For the introduction to 'You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk', Ray Phillips steals the show with a Drum solo, full of super-sonic phasing effects, and what he comes up with on his somewhat small drumkit (something like a basic 5-piece with 2 bass- drums) is commendable. A crunching riff then enters for the 1st vocal section where the Bass Guitar is nicely upfront, giving way to a solo Bass riff (which I'm sure Steve Harris pinned for Phantom Of The Opera.....) and then the last section features a chunky riff with vocals from Bourge. Flipside we have 'In The Grip Of The Tyre Fitter's Hand' (where do they get these titles from ??) which is built around a basic structure but still choc-full of killer riffs and great playing all 'round as always. Another quaint little acoustic/vocal piece with 'Riding My Nightmare', further showing off their tendency to present lighter and accessible melodies and gives the listener some breathing space between the weightier moments. The album closes with the 10 min+ 'Parents', a grand piece of music which alternates between dramatic riffs, and laid-back simplicity. Here, Bourge gets to perform some beautiful solos, of which the first includes an inkling of Jazz, it's just superb. The main progression is 'jazzy' and very tastefully composed. The guitar effects simulating Gulls crying adds a wonderful atmosphere later in the song. 4 glistening stars for this great album.
Report this review (#198622)
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yes well this is Budgie at their best, vintage sound, vintage compositions, most progressive and greatest looking album cover too! Cover jokes aside, great work again from artist Roger Dean, the album though is near perfect from beginning to end. The opener is ' Breadfan', yes the original version of that successful Metallica hit, Shelley's screeching vocals setting the tone. A 'Them' cover follows next with an even better bluesy rock version of ' Baby Please Don't Go'. Man is the bass addictive here and works wonderfully well with Bourge's guitar licks. This trio show plenty of style on this album. Another typical slow number called You Know I'll Always Love You' is next, a kind of cool down before the solid and cunningly titled Your'e The Best Thing Since Powdered Milk'- Yeah right!! A finally balanced track very similar to some early Black Sabbath riffs, not plagiaristic in any form either, just plain authentic pure individual rock from this 70's era. A great track and one of the highlights on NTYBOAF. Five minutes in Shelley's bass sounds very similar to Rutherford's playing of Nursery Cryme. A great nod to a another great band just two years later of course. Hows this for another craftily titled song' In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter's Hand'. This is IMO the climax to the album, the most progressive sounding contribution from Budgie if not on this album but possibly even in their entire library of music over the years. ' Riding My Nightmare' is Budgie at their ballady best, some great harmonies from the vocal departments too.' Parents' plays out Never Turn Your Back On a Friend hinting at nostalic days, growing up too fast and not taking risks. Budgie certainly tooks risks on this their third album in 1973. Their most progressive to date and most polished too. A near classic, four and half stars and a must have in any Prog collector's music collection.
Report this review (#200995)
Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is probably the best of the three earliest Budgie albums, and not due the glorious Roger Dean covers, but as here I think the trashy trio's rock visions found its purest synthesis. The menacing opener "Breadfan" is much better here than Metallica could work out of it on their cover version, the repetitive riff is strengthened with contrasts of bluesy middle passages and a slow acoustic moment. "Baby Please Don't Go" explores also the depths of heavy stoner jamming of single idea flavored with Burke's "muscular voice". "You Know I'll Always Love You" is pretty, and the quick acoustic drafts of such gentle numbers have matured here to very good levels. "You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk" starts with the worst drum solo of the 1970's, where Ray's helicopter smashing is blurred via flanger-effects as really strange sonic porridge. Don't be fooled that I wouldn't like this drummer; I think he's is the best drummer this band ever had, but his power is not maybe in solo playing. Also I make an educated guess of humor relating to this intro, not claiming I would detect a joke. The main part of the composition is really powerful however, starting with more major key heavy blues, which turns after guitar solo with interesting turns to more minor key stoner coda in style of Black Sabbath at their best. On the B-side of the vinyl "In The Grip of A Tyrefitter's Hand" delivers more groove in the basic hard rock blues style of the group. "Riding My Nightmare" is maybe the most obsolete track here, but luckily short one, leading to dramatic "Parents". Here the lyrics are not again show the most sophisticated prose from the poets of the age, but the realistic and important theme of difficult relations between parents and their children in society's pressure is interesting realism and easy to sympathize. The song has a strong downwards heavy riff, which leads to more gentle acoustic main theme, from where the song gathers power and emerges from time to time, creating really beautiful and powerful song. I'm not sure if the guitar-created cries of the gulls are the best solution here, but I guess on could not find this kind of ideas from anywhere else than Budgie records. If you like the other early albums, then this is a must, and I would also suggest this album as the first listening experience of this group. For vinyl hunters the gatefold sleeves make this record even nicer collection target.
Report this review (#201802)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. BUDGIE are a power trio from Wales who have had their songs covered by the likes of IRON MAIDEN, SOUNDGARDEN, VAN HALEN and METALLICA. In my opinion that is high praise when some great bands like these want to play your songs.The singer's vocals are on the high side but quite melodic. The bass playing really stands out as he liked to play along side of the guitar instead of with the drummer. All these guys are excellent musicians, but really it's the songs here that have completely won me over.

"Breadfan" gets lit up from the "get go" with some amazing sounding guitar. Drums and bass join in, and then vocals arrive around a minute. Nice guitar solo after 2 minutes with some heaviness to follow. A calm with acoustic guitar and reserved vocals 3 minutes in before it kicks back in at 4 1/2 minutes. Hell ya ! These guys really know how to contrast sounds to get the optimum results. "Baby Please Don't Go" is a cover song and a very successful one at that. Raw guitar solos over top of the killer rhythm section throughout. I love the way they just seem to jam here. "You Know I'll Always Love You" is a mellow track with acoustic guitar and vocals. "You're he Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk" opens with an almost 2 minute drum solo. It's good though,then guitar and bass join in followed by vocals. Check out the chunky bass on this one. The guitar solo after 3 1/2 minutes goes on and on as the bass competes for the spotlight at the same time. This is so cool. Vocals are back before 6 minutes.

"In The Grip Of A Tyrefitters Hand" is a political track with the name "Tyrefitter" being another title for "The Man". A great rhythm with guitar as the vocals come in with attitude. The instrumental breaks are incredible on this one. "Riding My Nightmare" is another mellow song with acoustic guitar and vocals but this one has some harmonies too. "Parents" is my favourite song on here. A nice powerful intro settles down quickly and vocals arrive a minute in. More amazing atmosphere after 4 minutes as it settles again,very emotional. Check out the guitar, so moving. Vocals are back 7 minutes in. Guitar takes the lead again before 8 1/2 minutes. The seagulls and guitar cry out to end it.

I think fans of Heavy-Prog will be impressed with this album. Simply outstanding.

Report this review (#201840)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars Never Turn Your Back On Budgie!

Before the Canadian power trio, there was the Welsh power trio called Budgie, which were one of the true originators of Heavy Prog, and probably also of classic Heavy Metal, sadly they're often forgotten because of more succesful classic Heavy Rock bands of the time like Deep Purple, Rush, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

Budgie at this time was dealing with some proto-heavy prog with their previous album, Squawk, much in the likes of Fly By Night by Rush. With Never Turn Your Back on a Friend, they continue the heavy proggy path, in a bigger extent. By the way, having mentioned Rush, this power trio, Budgie, could easily be the precursors of early Rush style, besides Led Zep's influence on them, there are notable similarities between them, like the front-man of both bands, play the bass and also sing high-pitched vocals, also both relie on heavy guitar riffs and notable bass lines, the only difference would be that Budgie doesn't have a fiercefull drummer. Now to the songs:

Already from the breath-taking opener, Breadfan, you know this will be a damn good album, with it's well-recognised guitar/bass riff, covered later by Metallica, proof of Budgie's influence on Heavy Metal, as well with it's acoustic middle section, simply beautiful, giving a more elaborated view to this Heavy Rock band.

By the way, talking about covers, the next song, Baby Please Don't Go is a cover version of a very old blues song by Big Joe Willians, while this version not being very famous, I'm sure it inspired Ac/Dc to their cover-version which is a bit more recognised. As far as this version goes, you can expect a killer guitar solo, and a very catchy rythm section.

To chill things up, Budgie delivers you the short and gentle acoustic sort-of ballad, You Know I'll Always Love You. With some very sweet vocals, and OK acoustic guitar work.

However, that previous chilling, just prepares you for the awesomeness of the next song, You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk, with a fiercefull drum solo at the begining, and then aheading to a great heavy riff. From the length of the song, you can imagine some Proggy leanings, which are certainly true, with a resemble to The Return of the Giant Hogweed's intro by Genesis made by Burke's bass, and then changing time completely to even a heavier riff, making the song just excellent.

The next song is the groovy In the Grip of a Tyrefitter's Hand, with a very catchy vocal delivery, as well as bass line, reminding me of the song Freedom by Jimi Hendrix. However, the song does feature some powerful chords every now and then, as well as a great guitar solo.

After 2 very strong songs, Budgie delivers you once again a acoustic tune, called Riding My Nightmare, to chill you a bit, as well as to prepare for a killer ending, this time a bit more catchy, with a bit of resemble to Crosby, Stills and Nash's up-lifting, catchy acoustic songs.

As far as the killer ending goes with Parents, you really couldn't have imagined it. A full blown Prog track, mixing sweet harmonies within acoustic textures, with then 2 soaring guitar solos, with a wonderful bass line and a reliable drum work, just stunning beauty!

Never Turn Your Back on a Friend is one of it's own in the whole Heavy Rock/Hard Rock realm, with killer riffs everywhere, as well as great acoustic tunes. Definitely worth checking to know a bit more of the predecessors of Heavy Prog, as well as for some damn good heavy rock to enjoy.

4 stars.

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Posted Thursday, April 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Budgie took a rather anonymous start on their first two albums. While they were two agreeable hard-rock albums, they betrayed too much of their awe for Zeppelin and Sabbath. The third album shows a more mature band that developed a more personal sound: a kind of upbeat rock&rolling metal with high pitched vocals and prominently bobbing bass.

With Breadfan Budgie stretched their legs into more metallic directions. When Metallica covered this song they didn't have to change much but the vocals, everything Metallic is here: speed metal riffs, energy, head-banging beats, epic song dimensions and that tasty rumbling bass. It's an essential metal song that not only made an impression on Metallica but that clearly must have influenced earlier acts like Rush, Judas Priest and even Motörhead in my ears. One of the strong aspects of Budgie are their delicious mellow moments. Also Breadfan has such a moment, in the middle sits a gentle section that makes everything around it rock even harder. It's a trick that reminds me again of Judas Priest, especially of their epic masterpieces.

But there's more to this album then just Breadfan. Baby Please Don't Go is a brilliant bit of boogie bluesy metal, You Know it All a two minute mellow ballad, very warm and beautiful. The acoustic guitars almost sound like an Alice in Chains ballad. The heavy blues rock of You're The Biggest Thing gives plenty more arguments for naming Budgie the first grunge band. They have that defining raw sleazy sound with that plodding pace and heavily pounding drums and bass. It was almost literally copied by grunge pioneers the Melvins and all the famous bands that followed in their trail.

In the Grip of a tyrefitter's Hand has a start/stop power blues chord progression that almost sounds like AC/DC. It's another ominous song. Riding my Nightmare offers chill-out acoustic angel melodies, a bit of a joke maybe but a fine song in that style. Parents is the most ambitious Budgie song ever and their best one here next to Breadfan. It's more then 10 minutes of beautiful mellow melodies and shredding guitar solos. Two years earlier, Budgie was a typical copy-cat metal band. On Never Turn Your Back they have grown into a defining band that produced one of the coolest early metal albums, up there with Zeppelin, Sabbath and Purple's gold platters.

Report this review (#262050)
Posted Saturday, January 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I just noticed that Budgie's classic album, Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (1973), only has 20 ratings here at ProgArchives. There's quite a disparity between that and Black Sabbath's top-rated album, Paranoid, which has 113 ratings. These are both superb heavy blues- inflected works, but for whatever reasons the Budgie album is generally overlooked. My review may not add anything to the other fine commentaries here on PA but hopefully it will generate a little interest in this superb album.

Hailing from Wales, Budgie is a guitar, bass and drums combo that features the distinctive vocals of bassist Burke Shelley. His voice is something of an acquired taste and has a similar helium-induced quality to the likes of Geddy Lee and David Surkamp. While his singing may take some getting used to, his bass playing is superb and provides the perfect foil for Tony Bourge's leads. This is exemplified on the wonderfully titled IN THE GRIP OF A TYREFITTER'S HAND, one of a hat trick of outstanding originals on the album. The towering BREADFAN, which includes one of rock's ultimate riffs, and the 10-minute PARENTS complete this trio. The latter is arguably the album's most progressive piece and does indeed sound like Wishbone Ash at their best, with perhaps some John Lees guitarwork thrown in for good measure. Budgie also do a mean cover, with a knockout version of the standard BABY PLEASE DON'T GO that reminds me of the Golden Earring hit Radar Love.

Never Turn Your Back On A Friend contains some stunning material and is an album that should appeal to fans of heavy bluesy prog/rock, although there are plenty of acoustic moments as well. The beautiful cover artwork, one of my favourite Roger Dean designs, is simply the cherry on the top of a very tasty cake.

Report this review (#283378)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After two bluesy and rather underappreciated albums, Budgie come up with the masterpiece of their carreer. The thing that the group ultimately needed was a bit more sophistocated song-writing and an inch of prog and contrast in their music; the latter always present though. The album they created was not only a masterpiece of proto-heavy metal, but a masterpiece of proto-heavy progressive rock, as the band would influence many bands to come.

1.Breadfan - Easily the top cut from the album. The almost thrash riffing in the song is perfectly contrasted by the acoustic and low-key of the middle section. The lyrics stray away from the normal Led Zeppelin "baby, baby" lyrics, but don't add too much to the already perfect song. The main has influenced many, namely Metallica, but it's not only that. The song can rock hard than any of their Heavy Metal piers, and it can be as decadent as the softest of rock bands. Excellent start. (10/10)

2.Baby Please Don't Go - Though not as progressive or as interesting as the opening, it's the perfect follow-up. The heavy blues that churnes out of Tony Bourges guitar is stunning, while Ray Phillips and Burke Shelley add possibly the most rocking rhythm section that you will ever hear. The bass guitar in itself is excellent in tone and in playing, showing the true talents of Shelley. A steady beat makes way for the normal love lyrics that I have grown used to by now, but with an added bit of soul with Shelley's howling voice. (9.5/10)

3.You Know I'll Always Love You - The softest of the tracks. The track isn't really essential listening, but Budgie had crafted a music better and soulful ballad than the predecessors on previous albums. The lyrics are sung with passion from Shelley, and the excellent folky guitar from Burge is still mysterious. (8.5/10)

4.Your the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk - After the softness of the previous track, it was time for the band to get real. The opening is like another treat itself, as Ray Phillips slaps down what is possibly the best drum solo I have ever heard from anyone in 1973. His knowledge of hard rock, blues, and swing are all combined into an interesting opening to an intresting cut. After the lenghty minute and a half drum solo, the song turns into a totally rocking and contrasting track. The way the Shelley and Bourge work together to create odd musical landscapes is turely fascinating, especially here. The riffage is totally rocking and essential for any guitar player searching for more obscure work. (10/10)

5.In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter's Hand - Another nearly perfect track. The riff is extremely excellent and can sometimes rival the opening the cut for best riff, but I tend to find them equal or one slightly better than the other. The bass work from Shelley is the best here, as he storms out heavy and picked percision bass, along with soulful wails that he is known for. The grooving drums from Phillips are excellent, and some of the best on the album. Another underappreciated track that deserves to be at the top of the heap. (10/10)

6.Riding My Nightmare - A needed slow-down in pace is actually another folk-influenced track. The song isn't as ballad like as track three, but the song deals with some odd topics as dreams of terror. The song really isn't important, but the vocal harmonies are something to look forward to. (8.5/10)

7.Parents - The epic of all Budgie epics, the group composes one of their all-time great tracks. The song lyrics aren't particularly important, dealing with the troubles within a childs head during the strict rules of a child. The music is really important though. Mid-paced yet hard rocking and acoustic at the same time, the contrasts in the music are the best on any of their other albums. The bass playing and vocals from Shelley are some of his best, with his grooves during the slower sections being extremely neat and well-polished. Bourge's guitar playing on acoustic and electric are some of his best, with the cut having some of his best soloing ever. Ray Phillips keeps the beat well and sets an interesting twist on the song. An excellent closer to one hell of an album. (10/10)

The album really dosen't have much flaws, besides the two folksy ballads that don't do much. The album is well crated and the musicians associated with making of the tracks are at their finest here, with soul, blues, jazz and metal flowing out of them to create this masterpiece of an album. A 5 stars, because it truely is needed in any collection.

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Posted Monday, December 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another high-class album from Budgie, this one is a marked improvement from Squawk and opens with the classic Breadfan, which not only influenced Metallica but sounds an awful lot like early Rush - partly due to the power trio instrumentation, partly because singer Burke Shelley's singing voice had at this point developed a falsetto highly reminiscent of Geddy Lee's. Or maybe, since this came out before Rush's debut, it would be more appropriate to say Geddy Lee's falsetto sounds like Burke Shelley's?

Another touchpoint to early Rush is the Led Zeppelin love - see the cover of blues standard Baby Please Don't Go - but Budgie also show the influence of the other giant of early 1970s proto-metal, Black Sabbath, with the doomy In the Grip of a Tyrefitter's Hand. The album isn't quite perfect - in particular, the slow dirge Parents is about two to three times longer than it really needs to be, with its whining vocals and its laid-back, uninspiring classic rock musical backing. Still, on the whole the album is a more than creditable slice of proto-metal with a good claim, considering Breadfan's insane pace, to be a foundational document of speed metal.

Report this review (#503593)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Budgie's inclusion in the annals of ProgArchives may well raise a few eyebrows(not least by the group themselves who have on at least one occasional included the phrase 'We're not progressive' on their album notes) and their subsequent post-seventies career showcases a rather straight, proto-metal outfit more in love with sharp riffing than complex instrumental arrangements. However, whilst the bulk of their material tends to eschew progressive aesthetics, this 1974 album goes gloriously against the grain. Undoubtedly the high watermark of the Welsh power-trio's lengthy career, 'Never Turn Your Back On A Friend' is the group's most expansive, inventive and eclectic work, featuring a selection of crisp rockers, a charming ballad and the superlative Budgie signature piece 'Parents'. A fan favourite, 'Parents' finds Budgie taking rare strides into progressive territory as lead vocalist Burke Shelley gently recounts a bittersweet tale of parental guidance. Its a marvellous ten-minute epic with a strangely maudlin tone, featuring cleverly used acoustic guitars and some poignant lyrical statements regarding how the people who bring us up usually know best, even if we doubt it at the time of our growing up. Yet whilst 'Parents' may well be the album's stand-out number, elsewhere on the album you have the muscular 'Breadfan' - a track famously covered by Metallica no less - the groovy, steel- riffed funk-rock number 'In The Grip Of A Tyrefitters Hand' and the dreamy acoustic ballad 'You Know I'll Always Love You', three very different tracks that help make 'Never Turn Your Back On A Friend' a truly remarkable album. They may not be a genuine progressive rock outfit, yet for a brief moment Budgie's star shone super bright with this prog-tinged proto-metal classic. A real surprise; a fantastic album. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
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Posted Thursday, October 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars As has been stated by others, this is not progressive rock, but it is infused with a progressive attitude and a wealth of instrumental excellence that sets it above most hard rock releases of the time. This is a wonderful recording, fusing Tony Bourge's Bourge's blazing guitar riffs, Burke Shelley's strident bass playing and vocals, and Ray Phillips' sharp, effective drumming. Recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, it also features a suitably otherworldly cover designed by Roger Dean (another prog-rock link, I guess). There are some superb hard rock moments across this recording, notably the blistering Breadfan, with it's molten, propulsive guitar riffs that literally crackle in your speakers. This exhilarating song showcases a trademark change of tempo, with a lilting summery acoustic mid-section creating a respite, before that snarling main riff charges through again. Bourge remains one of the great underrated rock guitarists, sadly unknown to the wider public, but a huge influence on many other players of the hard rock / metal genre. His swaggering riffs sprawl across In The Grip Of A Tyre Fitter's Hand with genuine panache and skill, and his guitar tone takes on a formidable substance and weight. Credit must also go to the subtle cross rhythms created by Shelley's intricate bass playing, again sorely underrated. His vocals have never been outstanding, but he can carry the heavier songs with a ragged flair and soothe out silky melodies on the slower ballads. You Know I'll Always Love You is a lilting poignant short song which bravely opened the cassette version of this album back in 1973. It is shimmering and beautiful, extremely well constructed despite it's brief length, showing how effortless the band was with softer material. Parents makes use of the light and shade approach that set Budgie apart from many other hard rock bands of the time. It's emotionally soaked guitar melody reappears throughout the song, punctuated by soft jazzier verses which reflect on the wisdom of parents. This is a beautiful, expressive and powerful song, later even covered by Shirley Bassey. Surely the most progressive track on the album is the three-part You Are The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk, which starts out as a sonically spiralling drum solo by Ray Phillips, played through a flange filter and panned across the speaker channels. It morphs into the song's main convoluted riff, and finally evolves into the galloping third section, sung by Bourge. The expansive riffs and shifting rhythms are much more inspired and intricate than those that appeared on the group's next album (the tired and lacklustre In For The Kill). The band snakes through a bubbling version of Baby, Please Don't Go, which brims with a playful abandon, especially in the solos. It gets the job done. The weakest track on this excellent album, and the reason this is not a 5 star review, is Riding My Nightmare, which carries both a mundane melody and a hackneyed chorus, incapable of lifting it from it's mediocre status. Otherwise, this is easily one of the top 10 hard rock recordings of 1973. If you have never heard Budgie's music, this is the perfect place to start.
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Posted Sunday, December 25, 2016 | Review Permalink
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.

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Posted Wednesday, February 19, 2020 | Review Permalink

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