Sunday, 26 June 2011

Play the Devil

There are several versions of this - undoubtedly the best Sabbath bootleg - out there in the world; this, I think, is the definitive version.
(There is an expanded version, but I'm sure it just incorporates tracks from Cannabis Confusion, another Sabbath boot.)
But as to its true origins... who knows?
Your guess is as good as mine.

Some versions claim to have been recorded in 1976.
Others, '75.
From the references to 'the new album' Sabotage, it must be '75; the songs are obviously unknown to the audience, yet the album was released in the summer of that year.

As for the audience, well again that's a bit of a puzzle.
Some versions claim to have been recorded in London, others in the States.

The introductory announcement has a definite English accent, but that could merely be a roadie, proving nothing.
The audience does sound American [!], if you know what I mean; but the recording quality is so good, it could well have been recorded at Hammersmith Odeon (a venue that had stunning recording facilities [even Zappa rated it!], and this boot is of a very high quality), and it is a venue that one version does credit.

So, going out on a limb, I reckon it was recorded in 1975, at Hammersmith Odeon, attended by an all American audience, with the candlestick.

I saw Sabbaff once only - The Horror! The Horror! - right towards the end of part one of their curiously quixotic career.
It was during the Never Say Die tour; Ozzy had really gone to pot, or should I say to bottle.
It was obvious to all that the band were over.
He was all over the place, while the other three mainly ignored him; Iommi looked particularly, well, embarrassed really.
All in all, a bit of a car crash of a gig.
Memorable, though.

I'd loved to have seen them around the time this was recorded.
They may not have been the most intellectual or sophisticated of bands, but they certainly knew how to entertain, they knew what the audience wanted; and as this recording reveals, they could play a real blinder: here they're really peaking.

As with so many live shows the hottest tracks are usually those that are topical.
This is a good example. 'Hole in the Sky', 'Megalomania' and 'Symptom of the Universe' are really the stand out tracks, all of which come from Sabotage (the last of the great Sabbath albums), but I do have a soft spot for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath tracks (their best album!), and the opener 'Killing Yourself to Live' is a mighty fine way to start the show.
Ozzy never sounded so - paradoxically - diabolical.

Included are some great jams that do seem genuinely spontaneous. Interesting to hear, during the second of Iommi's freak outs, proleptic emergence of 'Rock n Roll Doctor'; its familiar riff surfacing from the hyperbolic noodling in a somewhat comforting manner.
Like Satan, himself, giving you a great big huggle.

Black Sabbath - Megalomaniac Architect (1975)

Killing Yourself to Live
Hole in the Sky
Symptom of the Universe
War Pigs
Sabra Cadabra
Iron Man
Black Sabbath
Spiral Architect
Children of the Grave

CD rip to mp3s, from several versions, pushed up to 320kbs.
Sounds jolly good.
Blacken your soul here and here

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Silurian Onslaught

Despite Burke Shelley's reticence at being associated with heavy metal and its 'weird' bricolage, when The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal really took off, he made sure Budgie were going to be a part of it.

I first saw Budgie in 1980. They were headlining a bill entitled The Heaviest Night of the Year; supported by a very drunken Girlschool, Angel Witch and Praying Mantis - takes you back, don't it.

Man, Budgie were loud.
I was deaf for a week.
Threw up on the way home.
Great night.

I then saw them a couple of years later in Dingwalls of all places.
Yeah, right, shouldn't be allowed.
Budgie at their most hardcore in that tiny venue.
I was deaf for a fortnight.

(I hold Burke Shelley partly responsible for my now ongoing relationship with tinnitus.
Cheers, Burke!
[Wouldn't have missed a minute of it])

Seeing him work up close, it really did seem that he was going to explode before our very eyes; kind of Scanners' style; veins rising from his neck and temples with ferocious and frightening force.

(It's no coincidence that Shelley recently suffered an aneurysm.
I'm surprised his vessels lasted as long as they did.
But apparently all is well; he's all patched up, and hey, he's out gigging again.)

This recording is from the same year as my Dingwalls' encounter.
Slightly bigger venue though: the Headline spot for the opening night of 1982's Reading Rock Festival; really reflecting their influence on the new sound and interest in British metal (Iron Maiden headlined the Saturday).

They sort of reinvented themselves.
Threw off their proggy weeds and got down with the kids, and according to the reception evident here, they went down a storm.

In a way Budgie kind of went back to their roots: back to Squawk territory, and due to the demands of the genre, they became more anthemic; but still managed to bang out some great hardcore boogie.

Shelley's voice had dropped an octave or two - his voice finally broke - but he made up for it by screaming as loud as his big old Welsh tonsils would allow; but mainly this is a jam fest, and there's some very tasty lengthy instrumental sections.
And that's something Budgie as a trio totally excelled at.

Budgie - Live at Reading, 1982.

Forearm Smash
Crime Against the World
I Turned to Stone
She Used Me Up
Panzer Division Destroyed

This has been released along with some other live Budgie recordings as part of the BBC Recording Series; this recording however, was captured when broadcast.
If I remember rightly, as part of Tommy Vance's Friday Night Rock Show on Radio 1.

Excellent rip from cassette captured FM broadcast @320kbs
Prepare to bang head here

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Like Pins, Like

What does the word bring to mind?
What does it conjure up?
Moby Dick? Thar she blows? Corsets?
Well, sorry, you're dyslexic.
I mean Wales.
Wales the place; the country; the nation!

The voice, that's what comes to mind - no, not sheep, rugby and coal (as if) - no, it's music, and in particular the voice - and if you're thinking Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey, you're reading the wrong blog.

Mind you, the voice in question here also originated from Tiger Bay in Cardiff, the original stomping ground of the aforementioned diva.
But as Dame Shirley knocked 'em dead, Burke Shelley was merely gargling, waiting for his voice to break - although it never did - and waiting for his moment.

The first Budgie album turned up in 71; this, their second, an album that I feel is far more confident and dynamic than their first, is in my opinion their best.

I know they went on to write and record some real classics throughout the seventies - who could forget the monster riffed 'Breadfan'? - but they did get bogged down somewhat, lured by the ostentatious trappings of prog, and it just didn't suit them - Roger Dean covers indeed!

They were far more formidable as a hard rock blues band. Down and dirty. And very, very loud.
And that essentially is what this album is all about: some very full-on hard core blues and boogie; always riff driven, with Shelley's vocal - got to have been one of the strongest soprano voices in rock; makes Geddy Lee sound like Paul Robeson - tearing into your lug'oles.

Saw Shelley recently in a BBC documentary about British Heavy Metal.
He came across as a bit of a grump.
He despises the term Heavy Metal, and never considered his music to be part of that "weird scene".
As a "Christian" he never liked the connotations associated with the genre, and considered those who did merely to be "weirdos".

But then I'm sure Shelley was never considered weird by those who beheld him back in those early days when he played such gigs as The Swansea Working Mans' Club or Pontypridd Rugby Club; I'm sure he wasn't considered weird at all; just one of the boys. Eh, bach?

Great album, and still sounds good.
'Hot as a Docker's Armpit' and 'Stranded' are well worth the download on their own (forget the acoustic ballads; I'm sure they're only there to make the heavier tunes sound even heavier).
And yes, Metallica, Sabbath and even Zeppelin are all kind of in there.
For a trio from Cardiff , they did have quite an influence.
Perhaps Burke Shelley never really got the recognition he deserved; perhaps that's why he's so curmudgeonly; bitter even.

Never mind, Burke.
Some of us are still listening, and we know that Budgie were the greatest thing (O, there's the Man Band), were one of the greatest things (don't forget Gorky's, says Cem), were among the greatest bands (what about the Alarm - Fuck Off!) ever to have come out of Wales.

Just a shame they went through that whole Roger Dean thing....

Budgie - Squawk (1972)

Whiskey River
Rocking Man
Rolling Home Again
Make Me Happy
Hot as a Docker's Armpit
Drugstore Woman
Young is a World

CD rip to mp3s
Llwytho i lawr yma

Monday, 6 June 2011

Let Us Call Thee Devil

Back from the Big Smoke.
New scene; new outlook; new genre.

And what could be more appropriate after visiting one of the most exciting cities in the world than some no nonsense, heads' down, mindless boogie!
And there's none more mindless than AC/DC.

And don't you just love 'em for it.

For me, AC/DC came to an end with Highway To Hell.
I wasn't that keen; and once Bon had gone, well... different band, right.

I still think their best was Let There Be Rock, and that's why I like this set so much, as it really showcases that album; with the real standout track being that magnum opus of headbanging delight 'Let There Be Rock' itself.

Recorded in 1977, as part of the BBC's Rock Goes To College series- it was broadcast on a Saturday evening, round about six o'clock if I remember rightly - a very enthusiastic Essex University, pre-metal audience took AC/DC to their hearts.
The band play a blinder, and all are ecstatic.

Anti Christ Devil Child!
Always cracked me up that one.
Angus was of course nothing more than the ultimate problem child; but when he threw a tantrum everyone listened and eagerly geed him on.

Unfortunately, Bon's problems were to do with his off stage antics rather than what went on in public.
But man, for an ex-roadie, he really knew how to perform.

If you're wondering what's going on during the couple of minutes of chunkity-chunkity-chunkity-chunk-chunk, well, that's when Angus does his striptease, only down to his shorts, of course, but his blazer, shirt and tie are removed in a curiously gratuitous fashion; and what with Scott strutting about, bare chested, stuck out like a cock-sure rooster, when you consider the gig was attended by a 98% male audience, you do have to wonder what exactly is going on....
It almost has something of the Greek about it.

O, and has anyone else noticed how similar Bon Scott's voice was to that of Lord Charles?
Separated at birth, I reckon.

AC/DC - Live Essex University, 1977 (BBC broadcast: Rock Goes To College)

Live Wire
Bad Boy Boogie
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock

Excellent audio rip from DVD captured broadcast @320kbs
Plug in here

This post is dedicated to Polly

Polly (1997-2011)