Review Summary: One of the greatest Hard Rock releases ever.
Budgie is commonly referred to as a crossover of two of the biggest bands of their respective genres – Rush and Black Sabbath. Their first record, released in 1971 –Budgie- defined these characteristics that Budgie mirrored. The riffs were very similar to that of Black Sabbath, with the vociferous blues influence and common solos. Yet the singer, Burke Shelley, bore a very similar voice to that of Geddy Lee, vocalist for Rush. Budgie’s self-titled album is regarded as one of the earliest metal releases, and although Budgie never got the huge breakthrough into mainstream society, they are still regarded as one of the most influential bands to ever rock the world, mainly due to their first 5 records which were as innovative as they were prominent. This record sees a bird, not taking off into the air and flying, but a budgie that is beginning to build its wings.
When first listening to Budgie, it is hard to believe that the record was made with just 3 members. On tracks like ‘The Author,’ there is so much going on, it sounds like Budgie would need the line-up of a ska band to pull it off. Yet due to the immense skill Burke, Tony and Raymond possess, they manage to create one of the most musically inclined albums ever. The musicianship is superb, it ties in perfectly with the way the album was written and intended to sound. The production, although slightly muddy, is still a very pleasing feature of this record. If Budgie were to use simple clean tones in the mastering of this album, the entire bluesy feel of the record would instantly be flushed down the toilet. Yet they don’t and due to this, the atmosphere that comes from this album is heightened. You can feel the rock and roll, crashing over you like ocean waves and searing through your body like a fire. There is no true way to describe the experience that comes with listening to this album, as it is different yet similarly beautiful for each individual that listens to it.
The song names are quirky, ‘The Rape of the Locks,’ and ‘Nude Disintegrating Parachutis,’ are perfect examples as to the strange nature behind their track branding. Yet Budgie are easily forgiven when those individual tracks are played, both of them being some of the most consistently shredding songs off the record. Tony Bourge absolutely slays anything and everything the band can throw at him. His colossal soloing talent comes into play on pretty much every track on Budgie’s 1971 release, yet it is exemplified on ‘The Rape of the Locks,’ where he belts out a guitar solo that would strike fear into any guitarists heart. Yet this is not his only endowment, Bourge also contains the ability to play scarring rhythm riffs, which portray Budgies heavy Black Sabbath influence.
The bass-work is brilliant. Burke Shelley’s input to this record – besides his soaring vocal performance- is priceless. Unlike most other retarded rock bands, whoever mastered this beast decided it would be a good idea for everyone to hear Shelley’s bass playing. What a masterful decision that was. The bass-work is such an important feature of this album, whether it is accompanying the guitar or performing a riff of its own – like on ‘Homicidal Suicidal.’ When it comes to his singing, it is hard to imagine Budgie without such an influential member. His immediately recognizable voice has become a thing of legend with the true rockers, one that emulates Geddy Lee’s common features, but no so much that people label Burke as a poser. Instead critics label him a hero to the genre and the band, and so they should.
Raymond Phillips is easily one of the greatest men to ever man a drum-kit. On Budgie it is a common occurrence to be hearing drum fills and refrains of unmatchable skill. Nearly every song has periods of time that are a showcase for his obvious gift for drumming. He even spices up just the normal beats that convoy the many verses in this record to great result.
Budgie is an essential for every metal-head to ever exist. Being one of the first and most influential hard rock bands gives Budgie that extra edge that helps them rise above and beyond. Yet they mainly do that because when the three members talents are factored into the equation, Budge slay to an unmeasurable scale. The legacy Budgie bought to the world of metal will live on forever.