(U.K 1971 - Present)
This bootleg showcases Budgie during a period of transition in their musical career, moving away from their big power ballads and steering more towards heavier, riff orientated songs.
In 1979, John Thomas took over the axeman role from Budgie's temporary guitarist Rob Kendrick. An ex-George Hatcher player, "JT" injected the band with a new lease of life. Signing to RCA, their momentum was accelerated by the birth of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal which lead many younger rock fans to discover their back catalogue. In the next 3 years, Budgie released an E.P 'If Swallowed Do Not Induce Vomitting', three albums (Power Supply / Nightflight / Deliver Us From Evil), headlined the 1982 Reading Festival and took Poland by storm.
Incredibly, 1983 saw the band without a record deal and without a live album to encapsulate their stage delivery. They soldiered on until our last gig in 1988 with Jim Simpson (ex-UFO), Williams having departed in late '86.
In 1994, Shelley re-formed Budgie with Thomas and Robert
'Congo' Jones (ex-Love Sculpture) to headline the San Antonio music festival in front of 25,000 screaming Texans. Again, thanks to promoter Bill Lee, they returned to Texas in 1996 for another one-off show to celebrate 25 years since their first album.
A lavish double CD anthology, 'An Ecstacy Of Fumbling' came out in 1996. Via New Millennium Communications, a double live CD 'We Came, We Saw' featuring the entire Reading Festival Performances from 1980 and 1982 was released. To be honest, this material should have come out as a live album at the time of their popularity in the early 80's.
1997 and 1998 was a period of inactivity touring wise, and many fans thought Burke had called it a day once more. However, 'Heavier Than Air' was released, a double CD of rare live recordings spanning their career from 1972 to 1978. It gave fans the first official release of live guitar work by the hugely popular Tony Bourge.
Thanks to promotion from Ray Cordell and Alan Howard and management from Paul Cox, Letchworth 1999 and featured their first UK live performance in 11 years and the return of Steve Williams on drums. This was a warm-up show for the annual rock festival held in Sweden, with Budgie headlining on 12th June 1999. The 80's classic reformed line-up then played San Antonio for the 3rd time in April 2000.
Tragedy then struck with John Thomas suffering a cerebral aneurysm in June 2000. For a period, no one knew whether he would ever play guitar again. For those fans who were aware of John's illness, his return to the stage at the Legends of Welsh Rock was an emotional one. Budgie headlined this gig in Wales in September 2001. John Thomas, whilst not back to 100% top form, played a great show considering the treatment and recuperation he'd gone through.
At the start of 2002, Burke Shelley was in the mood to get back on the road once more and to engage the band into some serious touring. Andy Hart, a Birmingham based guitarist well known to JT was enlisted to replace him.
In 2002, Burke, Steve and Andy played over 30 dates, two of these being in the States. The show at San Antonio on 2nd August was recorded and released as a live CD entitled Life In San Antonio in November 2002. Due to commitments outside of Budgie, Andy Hart left the band in Feb 2003 to be replaced by Simon Lees who toured the US, Sweden, Holland, Poland and the UK with Budgie and also played on, and co wrote, much of the bands first studio album in over twenty years entitled 'You're All Living In Cuckoo Land'.
The following is a transcript of an newspaper article from the Birmingham Times (Dec 18, 1999) by Andy Coleman, who interviewed John Thomas just before his illness.
ROCK guitarist John Thomas is celebrating two 20th anniversaries this year. In 1979 he married his long time girlfriend Margaret - and joined cult heavy metal band Budgie. Both 'relationships' are still going strong. John, aged 47, and Margaret live in Birmingham with their two daughters Jayne, 17, and Joanne, 14, and pet dog Big Smudge, while Budgie are planning gigs in Sweden, America and Japan. In addition, Winson Green-born John runs JT's Guitars, a music shop in Bath Street, Birmingham city centre.
When he first joined Budgie from the George Hatcher Band John found life sweet as part of the power trio group, alongside Burke Shelley and Steve Williams. There were extensive tours of Europe and the UK and the release of three albums Power Supply (1980), Night Flight (1981) and Deliver Us From Evil (1982).
But record company wrangling and a series of personal problems led to John losing interest in the band. "We were doing the odd concert but I also got involved in a band called Phenomena with Cozy Powell, Glenn Hughes and Don Airey, among others," recalls John. "Budgie never broke up, we just left it alone." John had auditions to play with a variety from artists, ranging from Bob Geldof to Meatloaf, but his heart was really with Budgie. "Looking back, I've always been loyal to the band and I can see that it's hampered my career. I've tended to turn offers down in favour of staying with Budgie," he says. Within rock circles Budgie have always had a huge following and as young fans got older and formed bands of their own they never forgot the influence of the group. Metallica, Soundgarden and Iron Maiden have all covered Budgie songs, bringing their music to a whole new generation of fans.
In 1994 Burke Shelley contacted John, asking him to consider performing again. "I thought we'd be playing somewhere like Cardiff Top Rank but it was in San Antonio, Texas, so I said yes," says John. "We're only a trio but there were two limos waiting at the airport for us and when we did a record signing we broke all records for the number of fans turning up. We even attracted more than ZZ Top. "We headlined a show in front of 25,000 people and we were so loud the festival was cancelled for the next two years after complaints from residents!"
Budgie were later asked to take part in a Swedish rock festival with bands like Deep Purple, The Scorpions and Motorhead. To prepare they arranged a low key gig in Letchworth but when Radio 1's Mark and Lard raved about the band and advertised the concert the venue was packed out with Budgie fans. "It was the first time I'd played in England for 11 years," John reveals.
Future plans for Budgie include the release of songs recorded between 1983 and 1988, a live CD and video of the San Antonio gig and possibly a show in England. John says: "We'd love to do a British rock festival like Donington."
John opened his shop in 1995, financed by the sale of some of his collection of vintage guitars. Next year he plans to relocate to Rich Bitch recording studios in Selly Oak. "It's more of a hobby than anything else," he admits. "To be honest, you can never beat the excitement of standing on stage in front of a stack of Marshall amps and performing for thousands of people."
This post was taken from a very good audience recording (192kps) and includes full album artwork (source unknown). Although the recording starts off distant it quickly improves and the performance is outstanding - all three band members were on fire on this Nightflight concert.
Tracks featured come from their Power Supply and Nightflight albums (available from their website) but they still manage to squeeze in a classic and my favourite "Breadfan".
02. Panzer Division Destroyed
03. Crime Against The World
05. She Used Me Up
06. I Turned To Stone
Burke Shelley (Bass, Vocals)
John Thomas (Guitar)
Steve Williams (Drums)
Nightflight Into Guildford (60Mb) New Link 24/10/2015