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Budgie : If I were Britannia, I'd waive the Rules
(A&M - 1976)
Category : underrated
4,5 stars

According to many Rock critics and to most fans of the British Hard Rock & Metal scene, there are five (some say three) classic Budgie albums. Those are the five first albums of their carreer. Of course 'If I were Britannia..." happens to be their sixth or otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.

It's true that it's a transitional album of sorts. On the first five albums, Budgie sounded like a less depressing (in part thanks to the high pitched "innocent sounding " voice of Burke Shelley) and slightly lighter version of Black Sabbath. Bands like Iron Maiden, Soundgarden and Metallica all covered songs from this period, and with good reason. They did release some solid material back then.

On the albums following 'If I were Britannia...', Budgie gradually turned into your average NWOBHM (*) band, although it has to be said, that even then they still managed to put at least one or two killer songs on each of the albums.

But inbetween these two periods there was 'If I were Britannia...', an album that musically fits neither in the first, nor in the second period. It's like a small island, not even lying inbetween two continents, but somewhere else completely. Here the band experiments with doses of Funk and adds a higher percentage of Progressive elements. This resulted in the most varied and contrasted album in their catalogue. But people hated the fact that it wasn't as straight forward. They thought Budgie had whimped out to become a sort of Art Rock band.

Yet if they had given it more time, maybe they would've understood that 'If I were Britannia...' simply is the sort of album you have to sit down for and really listen to. It's only then that the music reveals its beauty. Personally I think it's the strongest album of their entire discography, and one I would surely recommend to anyone who's into adventurous forms of Classic Rock.


(* note : NWOBHM = New Wave of British Heavy Metal. An early 80's movement of British Hard Rock and Heavy Metal bands, with among others Iron Maiden, Def Leppard,...)

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