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Budgie - In for the Kill ! CD (album) cover




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3.74 | 142 ratings

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3 stars Kill 'Em All

Now enjoying a renaissance and deserved place in the history books, mainly thanks to the tributes paid by Metallica, Budgie are a Welsh hard rock power trio that until the 1980s sounded like a cross between Cream, the Groundhogs and Black Sabbath - and the high-register vocals of Burke Shelley must surely have joined Robert Plant as an influence on the young Geddy Lee.

This is also the only Budgie album to feature drummer Pete Boot, who was given the, um, boot shortly afterwards in favour of long-term replacement Steve Williams.

Like so many hard rock / heavy metal groups of the classic 1970s era, Budgie wrote in various shades of their chosen blues-based genre, and did not stray out of those confines, proclaiming in no uncertain terms that the music they played was not Progressive Rock.

However, we take no notice of what the artists themselves say or think as we listen to the music - we simply enjoy the slabs of riff that epitomise the phrase heavy rock, and Budgie's own production rivals that of original producer Rodger Bain (who also produced Black Sabbath and Judas Priests' earliest outings) in setting the bass well below and in stark contrast to the guitar, rather than blending it in as is modern practice.

In Budgie's music, the process of separating the voices out in production leads to a rather miraculous union in the overall power trio sound, and In For The Kill is an excellent example of this - although you could dip in at random in Budgie's back catalogue and pull out a good album. Tony Bourge, particularly, pulls out consistently excellent performances of blues guitar licks with a metal edge: Similar in many ways to, although lacking the technical finesse of Michael Schenker, his style is a halfway house between Alvin Lee and Tony McPhee - fast and accurate, but dangerous and gritty where necessary.

I'm not particularly keen on the opening title track, as it's much too close to the Groundhogs/Sabbath root of the band, and has little of interest, but thanks to Metallica, I do enjoy the uptempo version of Crash Course in Brain Surgery that follows (CCIBS was Budgie's first single, although until now, it was never on an album), Shelley's bass growling deeper than ever before - and going out of time in the trickier moments...

Then, by way of complete contrast is the Sabbath / Sam Gopal-esque Wondering What Everyone Knows, the acoustic guitar and bongo backing lending the same sinister air that is prevalent in Sam Gopal's debut. Sometimes, when Shelley sings in his lower register, he starts to sound like a less monotonous Jon Anderson, or even John Lennon in places.

Zoom Club is based on a kind of heavy Kraut style jam, only a bit more interesting structure-wise, as it introduces the pedal-point shifting chord technique that Judas Priest were to come around to a couple of years further down the line. This song even sounds like a kind of Proto-Priest track in places, although anyone who's ever jammed in a garage situation will recognise the kind of riffs that are repetitively trotted out - especially the Hey Joe riff towards the end.

Hammer and Tongs has an interesting minute and a half introduction that leads to a Black Sabbath paced riff with Led Zeppelin style interjections and Jimmy Page styled soloing, faster than you can say Dazed and Confused. Running from My Soul is a kind of Groundhogs meet Ten Years After number - with all the skills that such a fusion requires, and some Wishbone Ash flavoured guitar overdubs.

Finally, Living On Your Own is a lengthy composition loaded with the unique Budgie sound, as well as flavours from all over the place - a Stevie Wonder influence on Shelleys vocals is almost tangible in places, but this is the most unique, least obviously influenced and as a consequence, most proggy track on the album - pretty much worth the purchase price on its own.

If nothing else, by laying down such a high calibre hard rock/metal output in the 1970s, Budgie put Metallica into sharp relief as the band that really did progress just about everything in Metal - Budgie themselves are only really related to Prog as one of many bands that influenced Metallica. They don't even sound Prog, as In For The Kill evidences.

In summary, then, a consistently good guitar-driven hard rock album that doesn't set out to break any rules or moulds, but nevertheless manages to stamp out its own patch of turf in loud style. A good addition to any rock collection - but Never Turn Your Back on a Friend is probably a better starting point with this band - not least because it contains Breadfan, another song made famous by Metallica's inspired interpretation.

I'd also highly recommend Nightflight as the perfect illustration of how Budgie responded to the NWoBHM with the excellent Turned To Stone, and Keeping a Rendezvous. Neither of which are Prog, of course, but they're great headbangers!

Certif1ed | 3/5 |


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