BUDGIE – Nightflight (1981 Active Records)
I love this album. Nightflight sounds like the kind of music I was exposed to, when I was growing in Kitchener, Ontario in the early 80’s. I was surrounded by new and exciting music, thanks to stations like MuchMusic, and friends who would let me tape their records. If I had been aware of Budgie in the 80’s, I absolutely would have been a fan.
In their early days, similarly to Thin Lizzy, Budgie started out with a prototypical sound and eventually evolved into a more metallic beast. Nightflight is Budgie’s Thunder and Lightning, perhaps. It has that vibe, and it’s awesome. Of the records I own, this is my favourite Budgie album. Burke’s voice is as nasal as ever, in the best possible way. The band has metamorphosed into something more mainstream metal, which still sounding like classic Budgie. That anchoring bass, the unstoppable grooves, and the simple and smoking solos: it’s still there.
The opening track “I Turned To Stone” is a major highlight. It takes balls to open an album with a song this soft, but eventually the ballad-like tune transforms into an Iron Maiden-gallup with this killer off-kilter guitar solo. “Keeping a Rendezvous” is more accessible; Budgie plundering hard rock with equal success. The organ-infested “Reaper of the Glory” is a brief step back in quality. It lacks the memorable melodies of the first two songs.
“She Used Me Up” kicks ass with a steady AC/DC beat and a choppy Priest-ly riff (circa Point of Entry). “Don’t Lay Down and Die” continues this overall direction. You can hear the organ once again, and the guitar solo is catchy as hell. It is very much in an 80’s metal mold.
My favourite track is “Apparatus”. The lyrics are pretty strange, but this ballad is irresistible. Burke’s earnest lead vocal is high pitched nasal perfection. But if you didn’t like “Apparatus”, that’s OK because “Superstar” is likely to blow you away. Budgie again stray into AC/DC territory. This song anticipates Blow Up Your Video by several years. Steve Williams keeps it simple on the drums and that’s what makes it cool.
The mid-tempo and melodic “Change Your Ways” is just as likable. You’ll dig the gang-of-Burke lead vocal technique on the verses. You have to admire a singer who has his own voice, and doesn’t resemble anyone else. It’s easy to compare Burke to Geddy Lee, but that’s really not doing it justice. Both singers have their own techniques. Burke is more soulful.
“Untitled Lullaby” is pretty much what it sounds like it would be. It’s one of Burke’s acoustic ditties, only 1:16 so really it’s just a coda. It’s lovely and it ends the album on an upbeat note. Nightflight is a short but enjoyable ride.
Upon review, I found seven of Nightflight‘s nine tracks to be indispensable to me. Based on that math and rounding up: