Our top 10 Budgie songs introduce us to a Welsh band famed for its heavy metal music influence. The band was formed in 1967 with an original lineup consisting of guitarist and vocalist Tony Bourge, drummer Ray Phillips, and vocalist and bassist Burke Shelley. Initially, the band went under the moniker Hills Contemporary Grass, only to change it to Budgie after performing quite a number of gigs. The band’s name idea was inspired by Shelly’s love for the idea of playing a bit noisy heavy rock.
A debut album would come in 1971, having the band seek the services of Black Sabbath producer Rodger Bain. The album featured strong blues-like hard rock. Budgie would later receive critical acclaim with the release of the third album, Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (1973). The album featured “Breadfan,” which is among the songs by Budgie that were covered by the famous metal band Metallica. However, soon after, the band had some lineup changes that had it recruit new members, some of who played with other bands such as Hawkwind and Trapeze.
Budgie continued to have successful days during the British new wave era of heavy metal. Touring Europe made the band play alongside notable names such as Iron Curtain and Ozzy Osbourne. Although Budgie enjoyed little success in the United States, the band did had a cult following in Texas, having its music receive some airplay on several Texas radio stations. Following this, the band Texas and Dallas entertain its fans in the US while seeking to grow its fanbase.
The band has established itself as hard rock and heavy metal band. However, Budgie incorporated some elements of progressive rock and funk in its music, spicing some of its releases with some humor in its musical style. The band has been described by many as a blend of Black Sabbath and Rush. Specifically, Burke Shelley’s high-pitched wails have drawn comparison to Rush’s Geddy Lee’s vocals. While the band might have remained obscure during the first half of its career, many artists/bands have cited Budgie as an influence on their art. Some of these artists/bands include Metallica, The Melvins, Soundgarden, Iron Maiden, Alice in Chains, and Megadeth. Here are the top 10 Budgie songs sampled from the band’s eleven studio albums.
#10 – Hot As a Docker’s Armpit
Ushering us to the top 10 Budgie songs is the hit “Hot As a Docker’s Armpit,” from the band’s album Squawk (1972). The song has stood out among the songs in the album thanks to its stomping as well as stuttering riff mirrored in the song’s vocal melody. “Hot As a Docker’s Armpit” introduces us to the heavy metal vibes from the band. You ought to love how the song progresses to an upbeat feel as it approaches halfway. Think that was Geddy Lee from Rush? Not really! That’s Burke Shelley giving his best vocals on the song, making him a pillar towards the success of this band.
#9 – You Know I’ll Always Love You
Never Turn Your Back On a Friend (1973) is one of the best albums by Budgie that helped shape the future of progressive metal. Budgie surprised its fans with the song “You Know I’ll Always Love You,” from this album having it feature awe-inspiring lyrical themes and high-pitched vocals that remind you of bands like Rush and Led Zeppelin. Allow me to talk about the soothing vocals in this song. Burke must have been the best thing to ever happen for Budgie. Can heavy metal acts give emotive performances on such a beautiful song? Well, the answer is there goes Budgie amusing you all in a slightly above two minutes long song. The line “You know I’ll always love you” is also featured in “Love Me Do” by The Beatles and “Love Us More” by MUNN.
#8 – Crash Course in Brain Surgery
Heavy metal gets even sweeter when lyrics go philosophical. Even before we get even further, is there a crash course in brain surgery? I know you will say no! But many have become self-made psychiatrists and advisers who will solve every problem at hand no matter its magnitude. That’s my metaphoric definition of a crash course in brain surgery. Away from that, Budgie released the song “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” for their album, In for the Kill (1974). Thanks to the lyrical prowess of Burke Shelley, Ray Phillips, and Tony Bourge that the band released quite an amazing song which was later covered by the iconic band Metallica.
#7 – In The Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand
I know this will sound quite funny! Have you ever shaken hands with a tyre fitter who loves to channel his elation through literally grabbing and shaking your hand? Until you do, you probably won’t know much about the grip of a tyrefitter’s hand. Most of these guys have tough hands, or better said iron fists! Strong for their work and tough for a living! “In The Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand” by Budgie channels quite a similar but poetic vibe about tough life metaphorically tagging along with a tyre fitter’s grip.
#6 – You’re The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk
The first time I had the song’s title, I was like, “How big was powdered milk (Lots of laughter)?” I didn’t wish to struggle with this since I have you to give me thoughts about it, but hi, powdered milk seems to have been a great thing back in the days. If not for all, at least for Budgie.
So, what a romantic way to channel out feelings to a woman. I tend to believe some poetic vibes spiced up with a touch of lies worked (or probably) works magic in making ‘girls’ feel warm and relaxed. Maybe it’s the sense of humor in such words that makes a man strike perfect with quite some truthful words in channeling love to a woman. Ushering us to such vibes is the ballad “You’re The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk.” I’m still smiling about this!
#5 – Guts
Here comes one of the best Budgie songs from the band’s debut eponymous album. Listening to the song makes you realize how much of an underrated band Budgie has been in the heavy metal scene. The song features descending riffs that help Budgie deliver the wonderfully twisted lyrics to this release. Lyrically, “Guts” feels more of a perspective of a desperate soul that’s incapable of seeing his cruelness and arrogance towards the opposite gender.
#4 – In for The Kill
Back to the 1974 album In for the Kill, where we meet this awe-inspiring release from Budgie. Here we meet the album’s title and track “In for The Kill,” which was penned down by Burke Shelley and Tony Bourge. Everything about the song feels perfect for a heavy metal/hard rock release. Probably the reason why the song was covered by Van Halen adding to the band’s covered songs.
#3 – Baby Please Don’t Go
“Baby Please Don’t Go” takes us back to the 1930s when Big Joe Williams released the original song. The song has become one of the most covered songs in blues history, having it re-released by other artists/bands such as Muddy Waters, The Orioles, Them, Jimmy Page, AC/DC, and Aerosmith. Budgie was also not left behind in coloring the song with its heavy metal/hard rock touch. With tons of artists/acts covering the song, it is undeniable that this romantic ballad was very worthy of inducting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
#2 – Parents
In slightly more than ten minutes, Budgie performed one of their best compositions of all time. Featured on the band’s album Never Turn Your Back On a Friend, the song “Parents” has been described as an almost-perfect scene of romantic despair. As if its lyrics were not enough to have the band’s fans melt in awe, Burke unleashes his best vocals while guitarist Tony Bourge takes on an amazing single riff playing it to his amazingly best.
#1 – Breadfan
Number one of our top 10 Budgie songs is the hit “Breadfan,” from the band’s best album release, Never Turn Your Back On a Friend. The song’s title alludes to a person’s relationship to money, having the word ‘bread’ used to mean money. Coming to the song’s lyrics, Budgie further highlights the moral dilemmas on how we use our money. Options stated here include spending it, giving it away, keeping it, or else being free from it and letting it rule not your life. The song has been considered one of the primary influences on progressive metal’s development. Metallica would, later on, do a cover of this song, telling the world how much of an influence Budgie was on its career.
Photo: Andrew King, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons