The release in 1973 of “Never Turn Your Back On A Friend” was the Budgie’s third studio L.P. and proved to be a major milestone in the long, hard gigging career of the Welsh rockers. It also established the band’s hard rocking style, with the drums and bass thumping along and Tony Bourge’s lead guitar work ruffling even the largest feathers.
The first song off the perch was to become Budgie’s standard bearer, “Breadfan”. It opened with Tony Bourge’s rocking guitar before the bass and drums come thundering in with the fuzzy crunch of twelve thousand banging heads. Add to this Burke Shelley’s very high pitched, quintessential 70’s metal singing (reminiscent of Geddy Lee of Rush but much sharper), and this heavy metal bird takes flight.
Metallica paid tribute to Budgie on their covers collection “Garage Inc.”, but even they failed to capture the great dynamics of the original.
Budgie deliver this album in true hard rock style, but pacing it nicely with two acoustic songs to break up the heavy metal bluster. I’ll even forgive the one-minute thirty-eight second drum solo at the beginning of the fourth track as it’s so short, sharp and heavy.
The final song “Parents” is a true supersonic power rock ballad that elevates you through the stratosphere and is very similar in structure to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”. Burke Shelley sings of the torment of turning from child to parent, hitting the heart fair and square with Mott who has a few puppies of his own. This song alone makes this album worth hunting down. The parents tell their children, “Wash your hands & up to bed, mind your manners or you’re dead, watch the cars ‘cos you got school on Monday”. Haven’t all parents at some time spoken in these jumbled spurts of love and warning?
Though they never reached the dizzying heights of success like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath or Cream, Budgie did leave behind 10 hard rocking studio albums. Filling a void when the major bands were too big to tour, Budgie were always turning up at your local town hall and their wild concerts were attended by a substantial live following.
Budgie also specialized in wonderful album and song titles. As well as the ones on this album, there was also “If I was Britannia I’d Waive The Rules”, “Impeckable”, “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman” and “Hot As A Docker’s Armpit”. This, at least, proves that the boys from the valleys had a sense of humour. Well, you try fitting those words in a chorus!
Add to this, Roger Dream’s stunning artwork for the album cover and you always got the complete package with this bird. This is one Budgie the Dog will never mess with.
Rating: 5 Stars
Baby Please Don’t Go
You Know I’ll Always Love You
You’re The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk
In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter’s Hand
Riding My Nightmare
Burke Shelley – bass and vocals
Tony Bourge – lead guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals
Ray Philips – drums