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Surpringly Sludge Heavy Early Masterwork - 85%

brocashelm, April 19th, 2006

The eccentric tale of Welsh weirdo’s Budgie is a twisted epic indeed, rife as it is with power trio density, wacky lyrical observations, bizarre song titles, and at times some of the heaviest metal to ever wrap itself around mortal ears. Ever under appreciated for their contributions to the genre as a whole, it’s possible that Budgie is the real red headed stepchild of heavy metal; a band with a vast trove of art to offer, most of it all falling to the wayside of attention. True, the band’s long and winding catalog is anything but consistent in style, but it’s always baffling, rewarding and as head scratching as it is head-banging, so please pay full attention. Anything less than complete concentration, and you’ll be more lost than Ted Nugent at a PETA fundraiser.

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!