We all “knew” who Budgie was thanks to Metallica. Their cover of “Breadfan” was better than many of Metallica’s originals. Then, I came across Martin Popoff’s debut tome Riff Kills Man. The praise thrown at the Welsh trio got all our attention.
I always thought Budgie had elements of all the classic metal bands. Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Priest, Maiden, with a vocal vibe reminiscent of Geddy Lee.
Burke Shelley was the voice, the vision, and the rumble. He made basslines into hooks and had a knack for a long, twisted song title. “I’m Compressing the Comb on a Cockerel’s Head”. “Nude Disintegrating Parachute Woman”. “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand”. Unforgettable! Metallica covered “Crash Course in Brain Surgery”. Maiden covered “I Can’t See My Feelings”. But not all the song titles were labyrinthine. “Guts” from the debut LP packed just as much punch in just four letters!
Budgie’s first album soared in 1971. They broke up in the 80s, but flew once more with 2006’s You’re All Living in Cuckooland and a new lineup. Now Burke has left us in Cuckooland, but at least we have a rich back catalogue of albums and singles to enjoy.
Fly high, Burke.