Search This Blog

Friday, January 22, 2016

Budgie: Impeckable


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.


  1. "Sabbath's Never Say Die alos showed a sharp drop in quality"

  2. "the New Wave of change that kicked the ground from under all these old heavy rockers' feet around 1978?'
    Interesting question. Mick Box: definitely. Jimmy Page: already several years before. Stretching things a bit: Steve Howe and Chris Squire (they could rock heavily): yes. Blackmore: somewhat - Long Live Rock'n'Roll is a bit half-hearted.

    "Impeckable was released at a turning point for the heavy metal scene."
    Absolutely correct. I already knew Rush (an anomaly), Judas Priest and ACDC, while Motörhead and Iron Maiden were soon to come.

    Like you on the old site I like the opener Melt the Ice away. Again it's a bit poppy. The idea to use all those stops and starts is probably taken from Status Quo's (another band in transition in 1978) first international hit Down Down. That one was nailed at Allmusic with "littered with false starts, fake endings". I think the main riff of Melt the Ice Away better - it's pretty complex - than that one of Don't Dilute the Water. So it's the one that made it to my compilation. My personal tracklist:

    Crash Course
    Parachutist Woman
    All Night Petrol
    Whiskey River
    Rockin' Man
    Docker's Armpit
    Young is a World
    Baby please don't go

    Powdered Milk
    Tyrefitter's Hand
    In for the Kill
    Zoom Club
    Breakin' all the House Rules
    Sky High Percentage
    Melt the Ice away

    The studio output of Black Sabbath, Ozzy era, as far as I dig it fits on one CD. Of course there is also the Live in Paris show, where BS reaches a level of madness that never was matched by Budgie's light but smart irony.
    Tony Bourge remained silent for several years. In 1986 he would release an eponymous album with Ray Phillips, a former drummer of Budgie, with whom he had formed the band Tredegar. It's a highly enjoyable album. The riffs are not as good as Bourge invented for Budgie though.
    Bourge left Tredegar too. They recorded a second, but totally unremarkable album. They also covered Sabre Dance, which is excellent. Bourge might play the guitar on that song too.

    Finally it seems that Bourge released a solo album a couple of years ago. I never heard it.

  3. Had this on 8-track, weird format, it repeats a song to fill up space.