REVIEW: Budgie – The Definitive Anthology: An Ecstasy of Fumbling (1996)

BUDGIE – The Definitive Anthology: An Ecstasy of Fumbling (1996 Repertoire)

Dear young and old, far and wide:

This 2 CD compilation is an excellent starting point for digging into the monumental sound of Budgie, formerly Six Ton Budgie. (That’s a really heavy bird!) Helmed by the Geddy Lee lookalike Burke Shelley and his shifting cast of players, Budgie is a power trio and the prototype for the sound of bands as diverse as Rush, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Metallica, and Iron Maiden. Formed in ’67, Budgie predate them all.

Want some proto-Sabbath sludge? It’s here. AC/DC-type fast riff rockers with simple beats? Also here. Songs driven by catchy, eloquent basslines? Look no further. Metallic gallops? These guys were doing it while Steve Harris was still struggling away in Gypsy’s Kiss! Everything good that happened with heavy metal had already been done by Budgie before those sounds hit the mainstream. All with a singer who could have been Geddy Lee’s long lost brother (and look at those glasses too)!


This album includes some of the best tracks from their albums 1971-1982. It also includes B-sides, single versions, and EP tracks. Burke Shelley stopped gigging with Budgie in the late 80’s but returned with some serious thunder and a 2006 comeback album. This stuff, however, is some of the creme de la creme of the initial phase of Budgie.

Highlights for me included:

  • “Homicidal Suicidal” – a 6 minute exercise in bass-driven groove.
  • “Whiskey River” – a shorty; killer bassline, catchy as hell.
  • “In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter’s Hand” – another one with a catchy as hell bassline.
  • “Breadfan” – you already know Metallica’s version of this proto-thrash number.
  • “Beautiful Lies” – rare, synth-driven ballad.  Previously unreleased.
  • “Forearm Smash” – fast heavy AC/DC style rocker.
  • “Wildfire” – very much like Maiden’s “2 Minutes To Midnight” riff.
  • “Time To Remember” – Spacey, echoey, epic.
  • “I Turn To Stone” – the gallop at the end is pure Iron Maiden with some Blackmore type soloing.
  • “Superstar” – great fast rocker.
  • “She Used Me Up” – another one that AC/DC fans will love.
  • “Panzer Division Destroyed” – pure proto-thrash brilliance.


That list is very incomplete, because I think every one of these 29 songs are really good.  Some go beyond that into “great” territory, and others one step further to “fucking awesome.”

Photo0317Truly, Budgie were way ahead of their time. Chances are the kids on your street have never heard any of these songs, except when covered by Metallica and Iron Maiden. Now it’s time to prove to them who knows their rock music. Pick this, or any Budgie album, up today.  If you go with this one, you’ll also get a gigantic booklet with ample liner notes about the band and every single track.  I consider it a great stroke of luck, the day that one of my customers sold this one to me.  (His name was Dan and he’s the same guy who sold me tons of great stuff before.)  I was aware of Budgie because of Maiden and Metallica, but mostly because Martin Popoff raved about them in his first book, Riff Kills Man!  I had to have it.  I’m glad I bought it.

If I Were Britannia I’d Waive The Rules, but I would also make sure that everybody knew who Budgie was!

5/5 stars


  1. Great band, and neat review! Really strong collection of tracks. Got to mention to few personal favourites of mine … great music and, as 1537 says, the best song titles … ‘Hot As a Docker’s Armpit’ (check out Tony Bourge’s guitar solo), ‘Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman’, and ‘Napoleon Bona Parts 1 and 2’ – dig Burke’s chanteuse vocal … magic stuff.

    When Randy Rhoads died, Tommy Vance broke the news to UK rock fans and played two of the tracks you mention above (‘I Turned To Stone’ and ‘Superstar’) as a tribute on his legendary Friday Rock Show. (Always thought there was a hint of RR in Big John Thomas’s guitar work.)

    Burke had a health scare a few years back while on tour in Eastern Europe, and I’ve not heard much about his return to full health recently. Don’t know if we’ve seen the last of Budgie as a live and recording force – but what a great band, and what a stunning back catalogue!



    1. Thanks so much for the comment Michael! I remember hearing Burke’s health has not been the greatest lately. I hope he’s doing much better.

      Ahh yes, “Hot As a Docker’s Armpit” — one of the greatest titles Burke has come up with yet!


  2. This collection looks awesome. I’ve got a few Budgie albums and always want more. I think a collection like this might be the way to go for me to get some more of their tracks. This is one of those sets where every time I see or read something about I think “why haven’t I bought that yet?” There’s just no reason for me not to have it!


    1. If you find it, Scott, lemme know what you paid for it – it seems to be fairly high in price, from my quick researches.

      I’m hoping to find a good used copy when we go to Taranna!


        1. Yeah, if you’ve got some LPs I say just go after the main ones you need from there. I’m starting from having nothing, though, and am thinking the anthology would be a good starter kit.

          Then again, if you can find it cheap, as you say it’d be a good way to get some of the tracks you don’t have!


        2. Not only is a great starter kit but you do get songs that aren’t on the standard albums. Good songs. Not just versions of songs. So I think that’s a value here.


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