BUDGIE: IMPECKABLE (1978)
1) Melt The Ice Away; 2) Love For You And Me; 3) All At Sea; 4) Dish It Up; 5) Pyramids; 6) Smile Boy Smile; 7) I'm A Faker Too; 8) Don't Go Away; 9) Don't Dilute The Water.
A brief, if somewhat half-assed, return to hard rock quality here. Perhaps they realized that Brittania took things a little too far and placed them in danger of completely losing whatever little bits of identity they had. In any case, Impeckable rocks with more energy and has somewhat better riffs — but that's about it, then: not a single song has the stunning power of a ʽBreadfanʼ or the viciousness of ʽIn For The Killʼ. Which is too bad, because some stunning power and viciousness would have fit in very well with the look on the face of that black cat on the cover. Wait a minute, though... the cat is aiming for the budgie, right? So what is this, a hint at the dark hand of fate poised to tear the band in two?
As in some other cases as well, the best songs here are probably the first and last tracks. First one comes on as a strong imperative (ʽMelt The Ice Awayʼ), boogies like crazy, and builds a nice descending ladder in the chorus, while Bourge tries on Angus Young's speed-choked soloing style for a change. Last one is a prohibitive (ʽDon't Dilute The Waterʼ) has some well constructed sectional transitions and arguably the best riff on the album (there are several, actually, but you'll know the one when you hear it), providing us with at least one «snappy» moment (meaning that you'll actually be feeling the guitar attacking you, lashing out at your heels, rather than just doing its independent shtick somewhere out there in the atmosphere).
In between... well, some of the songs are really strange, like ʽLove For You And Meʼ, where the verse sounds like a preview of late period AC/DC (slow lumpy leaden riffage) and the chorus borrows its formulaic soulfulness from Foreigner; or like ʽDish It Upʼ, where they once again make the mistake of descending into funky territory. But the power ballad ʽAll At Seaʼ is surprisingly not bad, with tasteful, lovely, melancholic harmonies in the chorus; and the return to acoustic guitars and falsetto harmonies on ʽDon't Go Awayʼ seems to me to be more successful than ʽRiding My Nightmareʼ from their best album.
Still, it is clear that re-embracing the past is no longer an option for these guys: something went wrong, and now it is as hard for Bourge to stay sharp and inspired as it was for his senior pal Iommi that very same year (Sabbath's Never Say Die alos showed a sharp drop in quality — was it really the wind of change, or, more accurately, the New Wave of change that kicked the ground from under all these old heavy rockers' feet around 1978?). Even the best songs meander, and it never feels as if the players believe in themselves and their mission. At least Tony certainly did not: right after the album was released (and flopped), he quit the band for good.
Essentially, Impeckable was released at a turning point for the heavy metal scene — the old school ideas were running out of steam, and the New Wave hadn't quite kicked in yet, let alone the speed and thrash idioms. On the other hand, since the «refreshed» Budgie of the 1980's never truly managed to make a respectable transition to the new values, a half-hearted, meandering, transitional record like this is still preferable to whatever happened when Mr. Shelley switched his role model from Black Sabbath to Judas Priest. Seen from that angle, ʽDon't Dilute The Waterʼ is at least a fitting swan song for the classic era of this band.