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Power Supply was probably the Budgie album I was once most interested in hearing. Here, reputedly, the band completely drop the funk leanings of their late 70’s period and adopt a NWOBHM image and attitude, delivering their heaviest offering to date. But while the band had indeed achieved a sound more resolutely “metal” in substance, they sacrificed much of their inherent strangeness and charm to do so. Once they were a brick, now they are aluminum foil. One is compositionally more “metal,” perhaps, but which one is heavier?
Painfully loose analogies aside, Power Supply is Budgie at their most blunt. Once a unique entity, now they’re every 80’s heavy metal band. Big plain riffs leftover from the Judas Priest playbook, conventional drum patterns, generic lyrics: basically everything Budgie never was. Burke Shelley still delivers a convincing vocal energy with his tireless wailing and some of John Thomas’ solowork is quite inspired, but the effort on a whole is unconvincing. “Forearm Smash,” “Power Supply,” “Heavy Revolution,” though menacing in title, are nothing more than the simple hook-heavy rockers soon to be all too common for the decade. Even AC/DC could deliver material like “Crime Against the World,” and yet we’re to accept that this is from the almighty Budgie? Maybe I’m too attached to their glory days, but 80’s Budgie ain’t the Budgie for me. It’s too obvious, too easily digestible compared to the obtuse, thoughtful epics of the not-so-distant past.
Some signs of life: “Gunslinger” is a dissonant take on typical, catchy metal riffage, with an acoustic intro supplying a welcome diversion. Still, it’s very rock ‘n’ rollish and different from the band’s typical sound. “Time to Remember” is even more dramatic, and had it been performed by a band like Saxon or Iron Maiden, it might have been a well-tread classic. Probably the only song to really bother with dynamics, the shifts from section to section are awesome. Shame so little thought was put into most of the other material.
For those for whom 70’s Budgie was too weird, Power Supply delivers a more acceptable incarnation of the band. No-nonsense catchy rock, its right up the alley for fans of AC/DC or early Saxon/Def Leppard/Accept etc. But for fans of the old Budgie, Power Supply will likely fall short of demand. I can’t even honestly declare it a poor album, it’s just well below the mark for a band of Budgie’s previously impeccable standing.
What else can I say? I was disappointed.