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


Dubrobots said...

Don't forget the Furries! They're the best band to have come out of Wales...

roy rocket said...

'Mwng': great album.
But as for the rest, I just never got it....

teifidancer said...

ah, the list is endless, but Budgie truly rocked......
dim amser i listio fy hoff bandiau, ond...... oh nevermind..xx
cool cymru.... now that was a bloody hype, it's always been cool