Budgie was formed in 1967 by Ray Phillips, Burke Shelly and Tony Bourge



Budgie's music is a cross between the progressive metal textures of Rush and heaviness of Black Sabbath

Burke Shelley's vocals have been compared to Geddy Lee due to his similar approach of high-pitched banshee wails (incidentally, Shelley and Lee are also the bass players in their respective power-trio bands).

Although Budgie remained quite obscure during their early career, many future stars of hard rock/metal have cited them as an important influence and covered their songs, including Iron Maiden(I Can't See My Feelings), Metallica,(Breadfan, Crash Couse in Bain Surgery) Van HalenMelvinsAlice in Chains and Soundgarden (Homicidal Suicidal)

Budgie 1972

1971 Budgie
1972 Squawk
1973 Never Turn Your Back on a Friend

Tredegar live

Budgie: Early Years

Budgie formed in 1967 in Cardiff, Wales under the name Hills Contemporary Grass. Their original line-up consisted of Burke Shelley on vocals and bass, Tony Bourge on guitar and vocals, and Ray Phillips on drums. After performing several gigs in 1968, the band changed their name to Budgie the following year and recorded their first demo. The band originally formed under such names as Hills Contemporary Grass and Six Ton Budgie. Burke Shelley has said that the band's name came from the fact that he, "loved the idea of playing noisy, heavy rock, but calling ourselves after something diametrically opposed to that".

Their debut album in strong blues-oriented hard rock lines was recorded at Rockfield Studios with Black Sabbathproducer Rodger Bain and released in 1971, followed by Squawk in 1972. The third album, Never Turn Your Back On a Friend (1973), contained "Breadfan", which was covered by Metallica in 1988, the band having covered another Budgie song, "Crash Course In Brain Surgery" earlier in their career. Ray Philips left the band before the fourth album In for the Kill! was recorded and was replaced by Pete Boot (b. Peter Charles Boot, 30 September 1950, West Bromwich, Staffordshire).

In late 1974, the band were joined by drummer Steve Williams for the album Bandolier, for live shows promoting this album and the follow-up, If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules, the band were augmented by Welsh guitarist Myf Isaac, but both Bourge and Isaac left mid 1978 and were replaced by ex Trapeze guitarist Robert Kendrick. Music from the 1978 LP Impeckable was featured in the 1979 film J-Men Forever (shown frequently on the USA Network's "Night Flight" television series in the 1980s) which is now a cult classic. In late 1978, having been dropped by A&M and with no new recording contract, this line up floundered, and after 12 months Kendrick was replaced by "Big" John Thomas (b. 21 February 1952) in late 1979. This line up recorded two albums for Kingsley Wards 'Active' label: Power Supply (1980) and Nightflight (1981). 1982 saw them signed to RCA for Deliver Us From Evil their final recording for a "major label".



Tredegar Album cover


What we are dealing with in this entry is the band’s self-titled debut; an album that sees the bricklayers of Budgie (bassist/vocalist Burke Shelley, guitarist Tony Bourge and drummer Ray Phillips) lay down the mortar composed of super thick throbbing rhythms and an already apparent playfully brainy lyrical motif. Partly thanks to producer Rodger Bain (he of the early Black Sabbath sound jobs) this is easily one of the heaviest documents thus laid to vinyl to this point, but remember, heavy in the seventies is mostly in the sludgy, fuzzy, murky sense of Blue Cheer and Mountain. What makes Budgie's contributions unique are their weird sense of arrangements, their tendency to sprinkle brief acoustic cuts about, and the always high-pitched, quavering vocals of Shelley, who is undoubtedly one of the more unique vocalists ever in the genre.

Material wise for a debut in a mostly fledgling genre, this album’s contents are remarkably solid. “Guts” opens up the Pandora’s box of muddy blurge, and pounds on relentlessly, aided as it is by Borgue’s sense of wah-wah dynamics and Shelley’s deep-dish thick bass tones. At almost 9 minutes long, the very odd “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman” could have been an endurance test. But thanks to this lot’s ever present sense of dynamics (soft and loud, pounding and gentle) it remains engaging despite its girth. A brief slap in the face, “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” is another murk-drenched pulse, and would become through repeated cover version attention, one of the band’s better-known outings. Elsewhere, Burke Shelley espouses the sociological act of men wearing their tresses long in “Rape Of The Locks,” while “Homicidal Suicidal” stands as one of the band’s denser constructs. 

Once long lost to the vinyl vacuum of the post-vinyl era, this album is now pretty much easy to find on CD, either on import or domestically. So fans of early heaviness should have their marching orders by now...get it!

Source: http://www.metal-archives.com 2011/2013

Squawk album

Nestled in between two absolute classics of the genre, Squawk is the redheaded stepchild of classic-era Budgie, oft forgotten due to its lack of sustainable anthems and Mellotron experimentation. But what it lacks in songwriting it nearly makes up for in variety and exhibitionism: this is the sound of a young band striking out into different musical pathways and testing their meddle, the product of which would eventually be one of the 70’s most worthy heavy metal albums. Here they are still finding their way, and it is at the very least interesting to see what directions they might have headed in had things progressed differently for them.

Though the guitars have come up in the mix to better match the titanic bass tone, Squawk is not quite as heavy an endeavor as its predecessor. Riff-wise, it’s sort of a step back from the primordial, chromatic, doominess of their self-titled in favor of riffs more firmly planted in the band’s bluesy roots. Opener “Whisky River” and “Rocking Man” are the most apparently ‘traditional’ as classic rock goes, but even the token oddball-titled track “Hot As A Docker’s Armpit” seems to be more regressive than similar material off the last album. Tony Bourge even plays slide guitar here. But the band still rocks out purposefully: Bourge’s pentatonic-from-hell soloing, Burke Shelley’s pounding bass riffage and fevered vocals, and Ray Phillips’ unwavering percussive mastery still forge the heaviest sound this side of Sabbath. And with tunes like “Drugstore Woman” and “Stranded” in their repertoire, even the Fab Sabs might have been just a wee bit envious of their Welsh contemporaries.

http://www.metal-archives.com 2012

Never Turn your back on a Friend by Budgie

'Never Turn Your Back On a Friend'

All the songs here are classics. The previously mentioned Breadfan has a powerful main riff, very catchy vocals over the top ("Breadfan open up your mind open up your purse open up your bones never ever gonna looooose it!"), before going into an inspired little melodic part in the middle (which Metallica omitted from their version in favour of an instrumental section), and then returns to the mighty opening riff! Hell yeah, this song rocks, and this whole album is worth buying for that song alone.

If ever Budgie had an album that should have garnered them worldwide acclaim, it was this one. Never Turn Your Back on a Friend, the third and last album to feature the band’s original lineup, was (and remains) a class act from beginning to end. Beneath the mythical, radiant Roger Dean cover work were molten heavy metal treasures, a few nice ballads, and even a cover tune (something the band would never try again, I believe), and yet somehow things failed to pan out for them. If I had to guess, I’d say people thought they were just too weird a group, and in the 70’s of all places, with their odd song-titles and unusual arrangements. Time has shown that those people were almost right…everything but the “too” part. This album was just perfectly strange enough to remain in one’s memory eternally, though even today, it remains unknown by many.

http://www.metal-archives.com 2003/2013

Ray performing with Budgie, 1972

Ray in 1986


Burke Shelly, Tony Bourge and Ray in Rockfield Studios

Ray, Tony and Burke, 1973 MCA Records


Very early Budgie in 1969 - Ray (Brian) Burke and Tony.

Very early Budgie 1967

Heavier Than Air - Rarest Eggs. Compliation of tracks from BBC and US radio sessions between 1972 - 78. double album, 1998

Heavier Than Air

Whiskey River single, 1972

Whiskey River single by Budgie

Best of Budgie - compliation covers, 1975, 1997, 2003


Budgie Best of 1975


Duma EP coverAlbum sleeve



Budgie compilation21997 compilation



1967 - 1973: Burke Shelley, Ray Phillips, Tony Bourge

1973 - 1974: Burke Shelley, Pete Boot, Tony Bourge

1974 - 1986: Burke Shelley, Steve Williams, Myf Issac/Rob Kendrick

1986 - 1988: Burke Shelley, Jim Simpson, /Brian Goddard

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