Budgie – Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (1973)

Budgie_NeverTurnYourBack4 out of 5 Stars!

This U.K. band, whether fairly or not, always reminded me of Rush. Both bands consisted of only three musicians, both played similar styles of hard-driving rock (at least on the debut albums), and both bassists/vocalists (Burke Shelley and Geddy Lee) had higher-pitched voices that either intrigued and shocked some listeners (although Geddy’s voice was the most untamed, and the higher and “shriller” of the two—therefore, the most nerve-rattling). Nevertheless, both groups had tons in common at the beginning of their respective careers (apart from their geographical origins, and the fact that Budgie appeared on the scene several years prior to Rush) and are often interchangeable, so I enjoyed them about equally.

But unlike Rush, I always appreciated Budgie’s more creative song titles (on this album alone, there are some real beauties). And again, unlike Rush, which quickly dove more and more into Progressive Rock territory after its debut album, Budgie (although usually adding minimal Prog-Rock elements to its albums, as evidenced here on the tracks “Parents,” “You’re the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk,” and “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand”) stuck mainly to its heavier roots (such as on “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Breadfan,” and the aforementioned tunes with the Progressive elements also showing) along with a few lighter acoustic-based moments (“You Know I’ll Always Love You” and “Riding My Nightmare”) and continued playing a mixture of these same styles for much of its early career. Although looking at the band’s album covers through the years, (including some Roger Dean masterpieces such as this stunner), one might think the band was more Progressive-oriented.

Nevertheless, I enjoy many of Budgie’s ’70’s albums, with Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (the group’s third studio effort) being one of my favorites, thanks to Tony Bourge’s wild guitar leads and numerous overdubs, Burke Shelley’s always imaginative bass lines, and Ray Phillips’s often frantic and unpredictable drumming. Too bad Budgie never got the same recognition as Rush, since the group truly deserved similar fame.

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