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Friday, March 4, 2016

Budgie: The BBC Recordings

BUDGIE: THE BBC RECORDINGS (1972-1982; 2006)

CD I: 1) Rape Of The Locks; 2) Rocking Man; 3) Young Is A World; 4) Hot As A Docker's Armpit; 5) Breaking All The House Rules; 6) Crime Against The World; 7) Napoleon Bona-Part 1 & 2; 8) Forearm Smash; 9) Panzer Divi­sion Destroyed; 10) Wild Fire; 11) Breadfan [lost edit].
CD II: 1) Sky High Percentage; 2) In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter's Hand; 3) I Turned To Stone; 4) Superstar; 5) She Used Me Up; 6) Forearm Smash; 7) Crime Against The World; 8) I Turned To Stone; 9) Truth Drug; 10) Superstar; 11) She Used Me Up; 12) Panzer Division Destroyed.

Okay, here is another one worth a quick mention. Again collected from radio transmissions, but this time spread out over a much larger period and concentrating way too heavy on the John Thomas stage of the band, including not one, but two mini-shows (or excerpts from shows) at the Reading Festival, in 1980 and 1982 respectively, which explains why some of those less-than-stellar songs are captured here in two versions.

Of course, fans might be interested in the John Thomas version of the band performing ʻBread­fanʼ — just to see if he can nail that fabulous riff, and you know what? He comes somewhat close, but he can't, which is probably why they cut down the number of bars repeating it, and did not include the number in the original transmission either (it is qualified as a «lost edit» here, with a lopped off intro and probably a lopped off outro as well, since it concludes with a lengthy show-off guitar solo without returning to the opening theme). Just a somewhat telling bit of difference between the old and the new guitarist — or, rather, between classic Seventies and early Eighties styles of metal playing.

On the other hand, the disc is historically treasurable for containing some of the earliest live Budgie recordings caught on tape — four tracks from a 1972 show at the Paris Theatre in London, with Bourge setting the world on fire with his soloing on ʻYoung Is A Worldʼ and ʻHot As A Dockers Armpitʼ, the band still riding that old Sabbath vibe for all it's worth. The two tracks from 1976 are not nearly as stellar — ʻSky High Percentageʼ is a throwaway from one of their weakest albums, and the classic riff of ʻTyrefitter's Handʼ sounds so much shriller and sharper in the stu­dio that they might as well have left it out of the setlist for good.

And the new stuff? Well, one thing's good: the decision not to include (or perform) any of the awful songs from Deliver Us From Evil, except for one (ʻTruth Drugʼ, which was originally not transmitted, but the Devil made them excavate it anyway). I certainly do not mind them doing their AC/DC-type schtick like ʻForearm Smashʼ and ʻSuperstarʼ, except that AC/DC have ways to make their stuff even more exciting live than it is in the studio and these guys are too laid back to do it. The audiences love it, though — from both festivals, you have your fans going wild and screaming their heads off for "Budgie! Budgie! Budgie!" (One question, though: why didn't you buy the records, if you loved the band so much?).

In any case, this collection still does not properly satisfy the demand for a Budgie live album, and makes one wonder how the hell is it at all possible that not one single complete recording of a classic era Budgie live show has survived in acceptable quality to complete and dignify this series of semi-satisfying archive releases. Was the band too hard up back in those days, or were they just too lazy to set up a bunch of recording equipment, letting the BBC do it all for them? (Note that there is at least one officially released live album from the reunion era — 2002's Life In San Antonio, but the setlist there is way too unappealing, with way too many songs from the expen­dable 1980-82 era, for me to bother).

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