Budgie - hotter than a dockers armpit
10am Monday 18th December.
Wow - what a week. Last monday I was watching Iron maiden blast the socks off all and sundry at the Cardiff International Arena. On saturday the venue was somewhat smaller as I went to Tom's bar in Pontypridd (I got there eventually! The area has a one-way system competing for the coveted prize of "Most confusing road system in a small Welsh town!" It's a big award. Really!) to see classic rockers BUDGIE. Wow. And wow again. If you've not come across Budgie before (what!) i suggest you pop out and buy one or two or nine of their albums right now. I recommend Bandolier or Nightflight or In For The Kill. They have more killer riffs per record than almost any other band. It's why Metallica covered Breadfan and Crash Course In Brain Surgery on their 1988 Garage Inc album. Iron Maiden covered I Can't See My Feelings on their Fear Of the Dark CD (Bonus Disk), Sound Garden reinterpreted Budgie's Homicidal Suicidal - while Van Halen used to play In For The Kill live their early days. In fact Iron Maiden's main man Steve Harris is a big Budgie fan! No wonder. In front of about 150 people in a crowded venue, the band started with a few numbers from their latest album You're All Living In Cloud Cuckooland. Two of those songs, Justice and Dead Men Don't Talk, were phenomenal. New guitarist Simon Lees plays at a blistering rate. You can barely see his fingers move up and down the guitar fret. He adds a real sharp modern punch to the Budgie sound. (See pics of Burke Shelley and Simon Lees above - taken on a mobile phone)
Next up, as the band start one of their classic tunes, I Turn To Stone, the whole crowd start singing the opening line seconds before lead singer Burke Shelley got there!!! By the time the band finish an hour and half later with Breadfan, the place was bouncing so much, it moved two buildings down the street and has since had to change its address!!!
I met up with the band backstage and they were great - I'd spoken to the drumer Steve Williams and Burke before for my book ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD, as a whole chapter looks at Budgies time there - when they recorded their first six albums at the studios. They also returned again a few years later to record again.
As we chatted pre-show Steve (the drummer) told me a great story from 1978. Budgie had been recording and touring in Canada for a year or two and had been away from the UK music scene for a while, missing the advent of punk.
Upon their return their promoter lined up a few gigs in the UK. In Hastings they had trouble with the support act, who were not happy that they could only use two thirds of the PA system. Budgies manager explained to them that the full pa was traditionally held back for the main act. Undeterred, two of the group barged into Budgie's changing room and confronted their manager. Waving their fists at him and telling him he was "out of order" to treat them this way. And they weren't going to stand for it. Well Budgie's manager at the time was a big guy. He grabbed the two guys, forcefully threw them out of the dressing room and told them that if they didn't like it they could Fuck off!!! Later the band discovered the two guys from the support act who'd complained were Malcolm MaClaren and Johnny Rotten. The band: The Sex Pistols! It was their first ever gig.
Anyway on Saturday Budgie tore the roof off Toms with a cracking performance. If you like Black Sabbath or Rush or classic hard rock. Get a Budgie album now!!
2pm Back to writting the book. The final chapter is coming on apace. Kasabian and the Tokyo Dragons had a ball at Rockfield. KT Tunstall struggled and quit the place because she was overwhelmed by its history. Coldplay also struggled for their first album and thought their record company was going to dump them (Oh if only I could build a time machine!!!!) while Starsailor revelled in the studios history.
I've had difficulty writting the sort of summary at the end of the chapter but in taking a few choice quotes from people who've recorded their down the years I think I've nailed it. I end on a quote to highlight the bizarre, surreal and yet homely atmosphere at Rockfield. It involves homemade trifle and studio mixing desks!!! Enough said for now!
It's on to the christmas cards. This is harder than writing the book. My arm is now sore. I need an Xmas card stunt arm to finish this! A search on Google for Stunt Body Parts R Us proves fruitless. I press on. Cards done. Now to catch the post. What do you mean last christmas posting day was yesterday? Damn!!! Hand delivered maybe???
ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD will be published by The University of Wales Press (Europe) and University of Chicago Press (USA). It will be available to buy on Amazon.co.uk and amazon.com.
Published spring/summer 2007 date TBC.
Book 2 is to be the story of BUDGIE!! STAY TUNED!!!!