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Budgie - If I Were Brittania I'd Waive The Rules CD (album) cover

IF I WERE BRITTANIA I'D WAIVE THE RULES

Budgie

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2 stars I can still remember the disappointment I felt when this album came out. This was back in 1976 and I had just discovered Budgie. I had ordered all the older albums, except the first album, and during that period they were one of my favourite band. Earlier songs like Young is a world, Breadfan, Parents, I can´t see my feelings and Napoleon Bonaparte followed me most every day. And since those were the days long before internet there were no information to be found about this mythical group. My expectations were very high as I longed for their next album. So when, finally, IIWBIWTR was released I ran to my local record store and bought it.

The first song Anne Neggen made me a little nervous - was this the perfect choice as a starter? Burke Shelley sounded...uninspired..sort of....the production quality wasn´t bad but the sound felt empty. Well...hopefully things should get better.

But as If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules started things were getting clear - this wasn´t the hard rock band I had learnt to love. Instead it sounded like they were flirting with the fusion génre.

You´re opening doors was a ballad - but that should be a good thing since Budgie had delivered such charmy and emotionally short ballads one their earlier album. Well....YOD was not another one of those. Instead of a melancholy acoustic-based song it was a rather boring attempt. I also began to ask myself - were are the guitar solos? Three songs and not a solo so far!

Quacktor and Bureaucats was a minor positive step in the right direction since it had charm and some nice guitar licks.

Sky High Percentage felt ok at first - it reminded me of the style on Bandolier - but unfortunatly it just went on for several minutes in a repetetive way.

Heaven Knows Our Name - another ballad. This could have been a fine one if it wasn´t for the bad singing! Is it really Burke singing at this? My guess it that someone else was doing the mic on this one.

Finally Black Velvet Stallion made me kind of interrested. A ghostly mood surrounds Shelleys voice and there is a feeling of doom over it. Maybe, finally, a real memorable epic can save this album? Well...actually no! This could have been something really good, but Budgie didn´t use the time and mood in a positive way. The song never lifts. One can just imagine how good it could have been if they had made this song more progressive. One positive thing, though - finally Tony Bourge blasts away a dynamic guitar solo. It may be one of his best solos!

Today I can appreciate the titel track (IIWBIWTR) because my musical taste has changed a little over the years - apart from that I still fell that this was their least inspired album of the seventies.

Report this review (#201584)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you were a Budgie fan in the 70's or in the 80's you would find yourself in two different camps. The band changed over the years, not so much as evolved - ever applying themselves to the target market of the band they were currently emulating. The "classic" period would see them in slavish imitation of BLACK SABBATH, the eighties - a kind of generic pop-metal and a reduction in identity. Where they became what they truly were: An accomplished, hook-happy, British rock band was on this album: "If I Were Britannia, I'd Waive the Rules". If a true evolution can be creditted to the band it is here in the full eclectic enjoyment of songs that parade hard riffs, jazzy swing, bright melodies, and a new economy of structure. The playing is tight, and the singing effective even at larynx shredding height as on the title cut (Burke's got a very satisfying "fur" in the upper range). What's missing is the protracted guitar solos of the previous "classic" period - and to my ears that's no great loss. Bourge was a diabolical composer of riffs, as a soloist he was undistinguished - a kind of lower-rent Iommi.

I like the run of the entire album. Well programmed enough to invite repeated listenings. The epic closer "Black Velvet Stallion" is however less effective, the riff needing more detailed development over the course of the song and not right at the end. The rock offerings are all pretty solid with varying guitar tones and good dynamic changes in the vocal. The sometimes derided ballad - "Opening Doors" is a particular delight beniffiting from a fine melody and vocal despite the dated TRAFFIC sounding 70's synth solo.

A solid effort that finally marked Budgie as a band with enough originality to be taken seriously before slipping back into flavour-of-the-month.

3.5 stars really

Report this review (#214169)
Posted Thursday, May 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Budgie's classic period, marked with this album, is now over. The album signifies that the band were done pulling out classic album after classic album and classic tune after classic tune. Though, there are still shimmering songs here and there, the CD really does nothing to your collection if you own it or not and is one of Budgie's less noticable jams that they have ever recorded.

1.Anne Neggen - A fine opener, almost classic Budgie. The song has some great vocals from Burke Shelley, and steady beats from Shelley and drummer Steve Williams. The riffing from Tony Bourge is actually an intense mixture of blues and heavy metal rock, which, to say, is well played and very dramatic. Despite the positives to this song, it seems a bit disjointed when looking at other Budgie classics, and the chorus certainly dosen't help with this statement. An odd mix of great and medicore. (8/10)

2.If I Were Brittania, I'd Waive the Rules - Another steady rocking track, this one slightly better and less disjointed than the opening. The drumming from Williams is excellent, as his almost jazz and swing helps the atmosphere of the track, while Shelley and Bourge pull out great melodies that are catchy and interesting. A top track that is definatly different than most of their other work. (8.5/10)

3.You're Opening Doors - Budgie definatly lost something at this song. The track features power ballad guitar playing, and some increasingly boring vocal phasing and sleak editing that does nothing to save the song. The lyrics are some below average, almost Dokken like, pop influenced stuff. The only saving grace is the excellent bass playing from Shelley, who keeps the bottom end thumping and the top end shining. (4.5/10)

4.Quacktor And Bureaucats - A blues mash-up of average. Bourge's riffing in this song is so uninspired, and solos throughout the song are definatly awkward and are not as comfortable as they were in the older days of the band. Shelley tries hard to add the littlest amount of energy to the track, but it's no good with such nonsense of playing. (4/10)

5.Sky High Percentage - The band tries another blues-rock exploration, which, to say the least, is another fail. The lifeless drums of Williams don't help with the almost robotic sound of Shelley and Bourge, churning out mediocracy all over the place. Lyrics are a mess from the start, and I don't see a reason to keep going on with a poor experiment as this. (4.5/10)

6.Heaven Knows Our Name - The album picks up speed with this almost heavenly track, as it's one of the bands best ballad like tracks. Lead vocalist Burke Shelley does not sing on this track, and it may be a blessing. The song is mellow and very trance like in the rhythm. The band have finally found and injected life into their songs. (9/10)

7.Black Velvet Stallion - Easily the best track of the whole album. The song is a reminder of what used to be, as the band pulls out some excellent prog with intense jazzish chords and blues influenced rhythms. Williams drumming is subtle, and works well with the the intense and passionate vocals of Shelley. Bourge's guitar playing is bar none the best of the album, as his slow playing has such flow with the other group members. But by now, it's too little too late. (10/10)

The album dips in quality near the middle, only leaving 4 listenable tracks. The album deserves a 2.5 stars in all honesty, but i'll bump it up to a 3 stars because the last two tracks are impressive and some of Budgie's best. It's not really needed in your collection, but if you do decide to get it, skip tracks 3, 4 and 5 to get to the good stuff.

Report this review (#358649)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink

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