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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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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
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.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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