40 Years Ago: Budgie Release ‘In for the Kill’
Arriving seven years and three studio albums into Budgie's career, May 1974's ‘In for the Kill' summed up the group's current state of mind. The album, though no match for the career-best offering that preceded it, remains one of the Welsh trio's heaviest offerings.
Of course, your average fan today might only recognize Budgie via Metallica's covers of ‘Breadfan’ and the amusingly titled ‘Crash Course in Brain Surgery.' But Budgie helped create the heavy rock genre with albums like 'In for the Kill,' even if the project ultimately came to be seen as transitional.
Budgie's initial trio of recordings had been progressively adventurous, offering uniquely good-humored proto-metal. But then vocalist-bassist Burke Shelley and guitarist Tony Bourge parted ways with founding drummer Ray Phillips, welcoming the lead-footed (and aptly named) Pete Boot into the fold. That, combined with a series of brutish metallic riffs, gave 'In for the Kill' its titular menace -- as heard on the album's driving title track, which would soon become the set opener for a fledgling Van Halen.
Next came their definitive reworking of ‘Crash Course,' originally a first-album favorite, followed by the gentle acoustic respite of ‘Wondering What Everyone Knows’ and the ten-minute ‘Zoom Club’ jam. These were textbook samples of Budgie’s versatility, and carried Side One of ‘In for the Kill’ through to a brawny finish.
On Side Two, Budgie roared out of the gates with ‘Hammer and Tongs’ (a relatively straightforward blues whipped into a power-chord colossus a la Led Zeppelin), segued into a snappy boogie stomper in ‘Running from My Soul,’ and then wrapped everything up with another epic, eclectic heavy progger in ‘Living on My Own,’ which was highlighted by a bolero section nestled midway through.
While impressive by any external measure, 'In for the Kill' was no match for the previous year’s ‘Never Turn Your Back on a Friend’ and remained unjustly ignored, not charting in the U.S. and barely making the Top 30 in the U.K. That perhaps led to further lineup changes by Shelley and Bourge, and yet another musical shift for the group. Steve Williams took over for Boot, and the wonderfully idiosyncratic Budgie emerged with a serious funk rock fetish on 1975’s excellent ‘Bandolier’ album.