A – Z Story Challenge: B is for Beer, Budgie and Bandolier

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚



  1. BBC recently, last week I think did a complete evening of heavy rock shows on BBC, and Budgie appeared in a couple. this particular clip. Sat through the lot, until 0300am I do enjoy BBC shows. πŸ™‚

  2. Sounds like a great evening Gerry πŸ™‚

  3. thank you for
    Beer, Budgie and Bandolier
    – and other BRAIN / Skull attacks!

  4. Ah, yes the SR-71! I saw one (in flight) at an airshow, once. Or, maybe I should have said ‘caught a brief glimpse of one’ as it ‘slowed up a bit’! I think I still have a model I built of one hanging up in my old room at my parents house, too! Pretty amazing… I think I had heard (this was some time ago) that some of the technology there was still classified… which, if that’s true, is pretty spectacular, really.
    Among lots of other incredible stuff I also got to see a AV-8 Harrier Jump Jet perform a vertical take-off… probably one of the coolest things, (and the loudest noise) I’ve ever seen/heard!

    • I’ve seen them a few times in the UK – noisy, but not as bad as the Vulcan which had the ability to make the ground throb so that your feet were bouncing around in your shoes!

      I used to go to quite a few airshows and ‘they’ finally admitted the existence of the SR-71 in the mid-1970’s which allowed it to participate. That almost certainly meant that there was a newer aircraft taking up its frontline spying role. (Will project aurora finally step out of the shadows soon? πŸ˜‰

      Airshows were always fun. The Dutch used to bring an F-27 with them and do some spectacular stunts in what is essentially an airliner – you want to see fast and very low… watch the Netherland AF with their F-27’s / F-50’s – how they never left paint on the runway I’ll never know!

      But, the jet fighters used to like to face off in the vertical climb stakes at airshows in the 1970’s – so the US brought the F-15 Eagle which they liked to claim was supreme in the climbing stakes at the time. I’ve never seen so many jaws drop as those of the US aircrews when the elderly English Electric Lightning was put through its paces at Mildenhall – the thing stood on its tail and disappeared in a pure vertical. It never had the range of the more recent F-15 or the Russian Foxbat but, for ‘get to the altitude of the incoming threat and launch that standoff missile’ it was unrivalled and the look on the US servicemen’s faces showed that πŸ™‚ – F-15, Lightning and Foxbat all claim 55,000ft a minute climb rates (all exagerations I suspect), only the Lightning was 20 years older than its competitors!

      Don’t forget that the Harrier was one of ours too – You Yanks dealt with the one major oversight… Allowing the pilot to see out properly πŸ˜‰ Actually, the US Marine Corps added a bit more than that – increased wing area by adding to the front inboard sections, thus increasing the payload that could be carried πŸ™‚

  5. Well, here’s a new vein of music to listen to, Martin, thank you!

  6. B for Bliss here Martin!

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