The focus this week being on Rock Trio’s on the Decibel Geek Podcast, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to take a moment and introduce some of the folks to a metal pioneer that never hit the big time in North America, one of the most important bands that you’ve probably never heard before.
Back in October 2011 I had heard about Saxon’s first concert in Canada in over twenty years. Not being able to coerce any of my metal-hating friends into going with me and having had enough of missing concerts for fear of going alone, off I went. A little bit of an odd feeling the first time by yourself, but I’ve never had an issue meeting people and making new friends with my friendly manner and easy-going personality and that I did. I struck up a conversation with a guy sporting a Saxon shirt (cause even after a beer or two I could figure out that he was headed to the show) at a nearby bar prior to the concert doors opening. Soon I met all his friends and we were anxiously waiting for Saxon to storm the stage and chatting metal (one of my favourite things to do). They recommended that I check out a band called Budgie. Always interested in discovering new bands and music I did exactly that the next day.
After purchasing You’re All Living in Cuckooland released in 2006 (their first new recording in 24 years) for my first foray into Budgie, I was hooked on the first listen. The CD opens with “Justice” an up-tempo 80’s sounding song. The second track, “Dead Men Don’t Talk”, has a catchy, foot tapping, air drumming hook once it gets past the electronic sounds at the start. The tempo slows down for the next track, but there’s a lot more rock to hear on this disc.
Searching for information on Budgie, I found that the trio began in Cardiff, Wales, putting out their first record in 1971 (Budgie) with two more, each in subsequent years (Squawk in 1972 & Never Turn Your Back on a Friend in 1973). The latter record contained the song “Breadfan” which has been covered by Metallica as has “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” off the 1974 record, In for the Kill.
They continued releasing albums with varying line-up changes, Burke Shelley being the only original member, up to 1982’s Deliver Us from Evil, the last offering until Cuckooland. Joining Shelley in this recently resurrected incarnation is Steve Williams and Craig Goldy. Yes, the very same Craig Goldy from Dio! Goldy offered his services in 2008 while Ronnie James Dio was working with Heaven & Hell.
While the first three albums are considered to be the definitive work, the later efforts provide some excellent tunes as well. Budgie was a big part of the NWOBHM movement influencing bands such as Iron Maiden and Saxon and their music has been covered by groups like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Van Halen and Soundgarden. Some of the songs are a little “off the beaten path” shall we say with titles such as “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist”, “You’re the Best Thing Since Powdered Milk”, “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” (covered by Metallica) and the latest CD is no exception closing out with “I’m Compressing the Comb on a Cockerel’s Head”. Budgie has a feel and sound a little bit like Rush and Shelley’s vocal style has been compared to that of Geddy Lee. If you can get around the few psychedelic sounding tracks in their repertoire, Budgie is an excellent listen and also, apparently, one of the pioneers of metal. I’d never heard of them and chances are you haven’t either……big mistake, go check them out! Now if they’d only play a few shows in Canada I’d be living in cuckoo land!