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Friday, February 26, 2016

Budgie: Radio Sessions 1974 & 1978

BUDGIE: RADIO SESSIONS 1974 & 1978 (2005)

CD I: 1) Breadfan; 2) You Are The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk; 3) Hammer And Tongs; 4) Zoom Club; 5) Parents; 6) Rocking Man.
CD II: 1) Melt The Ice Away; 2) In The Grip Of A Tyrefitters Hand; 3) Smile Boy Smile; 4) In For The Kill / You Are The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk; 5) Love For You And Me; 6) Parents; 7) Who Do You Want For Your Love; 8) Don't Dilute The Water.

Budgie proudly subscribe to the rule that says the less important a certain band is, the more archive releases it has to put up on the market (because ten cheaply assembled albums will even­tually sell more than two, even if the total number of copies will still be hardly enough to cover your cigarette expenses). There's quite a few packages of outtakes, rarities, and live performances out there for the hardcore devoted fan — we are only going to focus on a couple, and rather brief­ly at that, because...

...well, see, one of the reasons why Budgie never put out a live album in the Seventies (just like Black Sabbath) is that they were never a particularly outstanding live band, and this double live CD is a very representative example. We have two shows here, one recorded relatively early in the band's career (London, 1974) and one from the Impeckable era (Los Angeles, 1978) — different drummers, but Bourge is the guitarist on both shows, so you could theoretically hope for the best. Unfortunately, even if you disregard the questionable sound quality of the 1974 show (the 1978 one is much better), it is not easy to recommend them as useful additions to the studio versions, let alone suitable replacements.

Technically, the band sounds good, although Shelley occasionally finds it hard to sing and play bass at the same time (ironically, he has his worst flubs on ʻBreadfanʼ, where you'd rather expect Bourge to slip every once in a while on the speedy riff). But the songs are performed very close to the studio originals and inevitably pale whenever Tony finds it impossible to reproduce all the original overdubs (he does try to insert a few screeching gulls on the early version of ʻParentsʼ, with questionable effects, but he hardly even tries any more on the later version). There is no extra improvisation whatsoever, with the exception of an obligatory-unnecessary drum solo in the middle of ʻRocking Manʼ; and the songs are not taken to a new level of wild wild metal energy because... because, I guess, Budgie are not really wild wild metal people.

Basically, the guys were hard working pros with a knack for a certain humbleness (and maybe so much for the better, because Burke Shelley as a Robert Plant-style swaggering frontman would only embarrass people) — perfect for the studio, not so interesting for the stage. Add to this the occasional problem with the setlist (ʻHammer And Tongsʼ does not cease to be a lame ʻDazed And Confusedʼ rip-off just because it is rolled out on the arena), the occasional problem with the sound, and most likely you will not be returning to these recordings fairly soon. Which should not prevent you from having at least one good listen, though. But Live In Japan or Live After Death this ain't, not by a mile.

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