Bandolier Kings pay tribute to Budgie

Bandolier Kings
Bandolier Kings

The criminally overlooked Budgie come in for the tribute treatment from a wealth of stars and, most importantly, include original Budgie members Tony Bourge and Steve Williams… that gives it a bit more relevance than some of the plethora of tribute albums out there. If you look at the ‘RAMzine Classics’ section of this site, you will see an in depth article on the eponymous debut.

It was steered by the Swedish guitarist Janne Stark (TNT) and features members of Europe, 220 Volt and Raven amongst others. The album is suitably named Welcome to the Zoom Club and attributed to the Bandolier Kings. The problem, as with all tribute albums, is that if you love the original band, then surely you don’t need or want someone else’s version. Now, if you’re covering a band as precious to their fans as Budgie, the question becomes. “how can anyone ‘do’ Burke Shelley?” Well, Janne recruited the guitar/vocalist from Toto and Paul Gilbert; a certain Tony Spinner and, mercifully, he doesn’t try to impersonate Burke but sings in his own way with a definite nod to the intonation and emphases that the inimitable Mr Shelley always employed. The only real shame here is that Janne did not look at the later releases such as the 2006 track ‘I’m Compressing The Comb on a Cockerels Head’. 

Still the versions of ‘Breadfan’, ‘Guts’, ‘In For The Kill’ and ‘Napoleon Bona – Part 1 & 2’ illustrate perfectly how the musicians have interpreted the songs with reverence while making them a little different. My favourites have to be the marvellous ‘Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman’ when Tony does a great job and the instrumentation is just different enough to add something to the magnificence of the original. Similarly, ‘I Can’t See My Feelings’ brings some added flourishes that make it, like all of the album, well worth listening to regardless of your Budgie allegiances. Special mention goes to John Gallagher for the superb bass performances.

This is way better than most tribute albums and surprised this Budgie fanatic by how faithful yet different and thoroughly enjoyable it is.

Out now via Grooveyard Records.

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