My regular readers will know that I am a great fan of the Welsh band Budgie. Whilst definitely at the Heavy Rock end of the spectrum their early albums exhibited a fantastic level of craft combined with strong rythms and a powerful driving bass. The lyrics and song titles always set them apart as, perhaps, a trifle crazy… ‘In the grip of the Tyre Fitters Hand’ or ‘Hot as a Dockers Armpit’ for example. But the guitar work by Tony Bourge and Burke Shelley was always exemplary.
The first album by Budgie to capture my attention was ‘Squawk’ – I stumbled upon it in a local record shop back in the days when you could ask for a demonstration play of the album you were thinking about buying. I had been chasing up some more Argent or Groundhogs but as I moved through the B section I was confronted by the stark design of the album’s cover.
Those who bought albums in the early 1970’s will immediately recognise the name Roger Dean. He designed some of the classic album covers of the period – For bands like Uriah Heep, Osibisa, Yes, to name just a couple. Budgie were one of his customers, but the Squawk album is quite unique in that it doesn’t show an alien landscape but a plane in a screaming descent. A closer look reveals a crows skull in place of the cockpit and nose section of what was, in those days, just about the fastest thing flying – the SR-71 Blackbird. As an album cover it is both extreme and simple and therefore a perfect description of the music contained within, because Budgie’s music retained that simplicity that so many bands of the 70’s forgot to preserve.
In 1975 Budgie produced the excellent album Bandolier. The cover design lacked the flair of Roger Dean’s work but was in line with one of the hit tv shows of the time – Planet of the Apes! Not sure why… but I’d rather be subservient to Budgies than Gorillas 😉 The Cover might have been naff, but the music wasn’t with the powerful two-part Napoleon Bona – part’s 1 & 2 leading the heavy metal charge and ‘Who do you want for your Love’ demonstrating the strong but subtle side of the band. It remains one of my all time favourite rock tracks and I make no apologies for picking it again and adding a youtube link below along with one for another of my other Budgie favourites – Parents. Listen to the words on that one and think back to when you were a child 😉
And where does the beer come in? Budgie should always be enjoyed with a good pint. Brains SA is a good choice Welsh beer – normally referred to as Skull Attack 🙂