::T R A C K S::

04. GUTS

GYR183 - $14.99

Mega-Awesome Budgie Tribute disc featuring Janne Stark (Mountain Of Power) on guitar & Tony Spinner (Toto) on lead vocals & guitar. Both outstanding, seasoned hard rockers who land kick-ass authentic with true admiration & respect to re-create and shine a bright modern day musical light on the brilliant, classic retro-70s, heavy rock excellence of Budgie. The Bandolier Kings: "Welcome To The Zoom Club" disc is an amazing, outstanding musical document with an excellent group of killer special guests including original Budgie band members Tony Bourge & Steve Williams and also featuring a cast of bad-ass rockers from around the world who land on the mighty "Zoom Club" which includes Bill Steer (Firebird), Mats Karlsson (220 Volt), Ian Haugland (Europe), Kyoji Yamamoto (Bow Wow), John Gallagher (Raven), Don Mancuso (Black Sheep), Peter Hermansson (220 Volt), Micke Nord Andersson, Jesper Persson, Joe Romagnola (Grooveyard Records) & Darren Welch (Impeccable). Prepare to dig deep and rock your ass off with the Bandolier Kings at this essential, brain-damaging, killer Grooveyard Records heavy guitar rock disc that celebrates the awesome music of Budgie.

Look up Budgie in the dictionary and instead of a bird, the description should read “The ultimate bad-ass heavy rock power trio.” Back in the day (the glorious 70s), I first heard Budgie being played on a kool local radio station called “WSAY” in Rochester, NY where I still reside today. From the second I heard the first killer heavy Budgie riff by Tony Bourge along with the incredible, powerful lead vocals of Burke Shelley I was hooked forever. Budgie have their own unique, identifiable sound that is all their own and make no mistake: It is definitely ALL about the ROCK.

Budgie released seven phenomenal albums with Tony Bourge on guitar through the years (1971-1978) with the first two Budgie albums being produced by Rodger Bain who also produced albums by Black Sabbath & Judas Priest among others. Mr. Bourge is one of heavy rock’s finest & most memorable Riffmasters. The epic Budgie riffage he created is classic & heavy and will live on eternally in the Guitar Rock Hall Of Fame. Burke Shelley’s awesome, identifiable lead vocals and low end bottom kool bass playing land rock solid bad-ass to the core and the three powerhouse 70s drummers of Budgie (Ray Phillips, Pete Boot and Steve Williams) all kicked serious rock n’ roll ass & laid down the heavy groove.

In producing Bandolier Kings: “Welcome To The Zoom Club” (A Tribute To Budgie), we decided to feature songs from the 70s era (Chapter One) Budgie. It was a difficult task selecting the songs to land since every Budgie song is killer. Clocking in at 77 minutes, we set out to produce a Budgie tribute album that shines a current day musical light on them and one that celebrates the awesomeness of their outstanding music. The (Chapter Two) era of Budgie saw John Thomas replace Tony Bourge on guitar in 1979 and the band produced and released four awesome albums with him. We are huge fans of John Thomas and the music he created with Budgie. We hope to produce a second Budgie tribute disc in the future featuring his excellent riffage, guitar playing and songs. May our good musical Budgie guitar rock brother John Thomas rest in peace.

The music of Budgie always landed dynamic, creative, melodic and awesome beyond belief. The band matured through the years and with each new album they produced an incredible legacy of heavy rock power trio music that stands tall and rocks forever. Bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Van Halen and Soundgarden have all covered Budgie songs through the years and I believe they would agree with my commentary about the greatness of Budgie along with the influence and inspiration their music has given heavy rockers around the globe. Budgie are true pioneers of the Stoner Rock movement. And of great personal note: Budgie is one of my all-time favorite bands and I can’t imagine a musical world without them and their incredible, timeless, classic heavy rock music.

In closing, I would like to send a very Special Thanks to Janne Stark for co-producing & for doing such an amazing professional rock solid job at this Budgie Tribute disc. Janne is an awesome, prolific Swedish guitarist, producer and good musical brother of mine for many years. Many Special Thanks goes out to Tony Spinner for landing and doing such an outstanding job at the vocals and for laying down several killer guitar solos. Tony’s incredible dynamic vocal range combined with melodic soul-power lands legit with excellence & perfection throughout the disc. Of special note, we would like to send great amounts of deep Thanks & Appreciation to both Tony Bourge & Steve Willams for guesting & being part of our Budgie Tribute disc. Last but not least, I would like to Thank all of the excellent guest musicians from around the world who have joined the ranks of the “Bandolier Kings” to be part of this incredible musical document to celebrate and honor the legendary heavy rock music of Budgie.

Welcome To The Zoom Club • Joe Romagnola / Grooveyard Records (November 2019)

MP3 Sample Clips

04. GUTS







Check out the way-kool, killer Bandolier Kings: "Guts" promo video featuring Janne Stark, Tony Spinner and original Budgie Rockers Tony Bourge and Steve Williams!!! From the mega-awesome Bandolier Kings: "Welcome To The Zoom Club" (Budgie Tribute) disc released by Grooveyard Records. Long Live Budgie Rock N' Roll!!!



· reviews ·

Honor where honor is due!

Even if you may never have heard the name of this company, the subtitle of this album makes it immediately clear what this is about. The initiators of this BUDGIE tribute band are label boss Joe Romagnola and the Swedish guitarist Janne Stark (including OVERDRIVE / MOUNTAIN OF POWER and LOCOMOTIVE BREATH), who also shared most of the material with the guitarist and singer Tony Spinner and 220 VOLT drummer Peter Hermansson has recorded.

As is customary with such endeavors, the three studio cracks were not left on their own, after all, a whole host of guests took over the studio jack for this album as well. Bill Steer (FIREBIRD), Mats Karlsson (220 VOLT), Ian Haugland (EUROPE), Kyoji Yamamoto (BOW WOW) and John Gallagher (RAVEN) can be heard on this album. They all let Janne Stark motivate them to pay homage to one of the most famous bands that Wales has ever produced. Although the success it deserves for BUDGIE has unfortunately never materialized, the formation's independent brew has at least earned it a formidable reputation and BUDGIE also enjoys a damn good reputation among musicians. Possibly even a reasonably profitable one, because the METALLICA versions of 'Breadfan (Rocking Man)' and 'Crash Course In Brain Surgery' should have brought the band name closer to a target group that otherwise might never be familiar with the work of the Welsh people would have dealt with.

So it is not surprising that "Welcome To The Zoom Club" also opens with a broadside in the form of these two tracks. A comparison of the versions of the US metal icon soon shows that the lead guitar is much more in the foreground with BANDOLIER KINGS, but the vocals are used less aggressively. Presumably these two versions also received the blessings of Tony Bourge and Steve Williams. The two BUDGIE warriors were ultimately involved in the implementation of "Welcome To The Zoom Club" and can be heard in 'Guts'. This also ensures authenticity, because BANDOLINER KINGS only used material from the 1970s and Bourge is known to have been guitarist in the band from 1970 to 1978, while drummer Williams made his debut on the 1975 album "Bandolier". In general there is nothing to complain about when it comes to the selection of songs, as you get to hear a really essential cross-section of the early work of BUDGIE.

In addition to the two world-famous numbers, the already mentioned, hard-hitting 'Guts', the formidably intoned title track of the 1974 album "In For The Kill" as well as the 'Guts', also by this turner and giving its title to this fine tribute album, prove to be outstanding. Zoom Club '. A really respectable achievement by the initiators and everyone involved!

Finally, it should be added that the formation already seems to be working on a second part. Tribute is to be paid to BUDGIE's work after 1978 and after John Thomas, who died in 2016, joined the company. We are already looking forward to it!

Walter Scheurer / Power Metal - Germany (April 2020)

Influential Welsh heavy rockers Budgie armed their first seven albums, which flew the coop from 1971–78, with an astonishing arsenal of heavy riffage – creating an unstoppable juggernaut that threatened to steamroll anything straying in its path. Budgie helped to invent and shape a new musical genre and forge the way for heavyweight bands to come. Van Halen, Metallica, Soundgarden, Iron Maiden, Raven and Megadeth would all cover riff-charged Budgie numbers. And countless doom and stoner bands from the States were influenced by material on Budgie’s first two albums.

And now there’s a fully fledged tribute album to the Welsh power trio that breathes new life and injects unbridled energy into 13 Budgie classics from the band’s ’70s catalogue. The Bandolier Kings’ “Welcome To The Zoom Club” disc, masterminded by Swedish guitarist and longtime Budgie fan Janne Stark, is an outstanding tribute to the feathered threesome. Stark’s many guests on the album include Ian Haugland (Europe) on drums, John Gallagher (Raven) on bass and Bill Steer (Firebird) on guitar. Steer is joined by a bevy of other guitarists, whose searing guest solos complement Stark’s own lead work, and crunchy riff and rhythm playing, superbly. What’s more, original Budgie guitarist Tony Bourge and longstanding drummer Steve Williams guest on early Budgie favorite “Guts,” adding an additional layer of authenticity to the project. American Tony Spinner handles vocal duties with great aplomb. He’s an inspired choice for the project, possessing a bluesy, high-register wail that equips him well to do justice to Burke Shelley’s high-flying vocal style and tunes. In keeping with the quality of the source material, Stark and his guest musicians maintain an impressively high standard throughout the tribute album – enhancing Budgie’s heavyweight legacy. The many standout tracks on the tribute disc include a frenetic version of “Crash Course In Brain Surgery,” previously covered by Metallica, and a stomping version of hypnotic riff-fest, “Zoom Club.”

The last word on the Bandolier Kings’ Budgie tribute disc goes to the Budgie riff master – Tony Bourge, himself. “Great sound and a great band – first class,” Bourge says. “The singing and the guitar, bass and drum work are like the best meal I ever had! It made me want to play and write some new songs.” Great praise, indeed!

Chris Pike / Author Of Several Budgie Books + Budgie Rock Historian (January 2020)
Check out the excellent Chris Pike "Budgie Books"

Formed in Cardiff in 1967, few bands can hold a light to the 1970s Welsh heavy rock of Budgie. The power trio of Burke Shelley, Tony Bourge and Ray Phillips laid a blueprint that was criminally unappreciated until Metallica decided to cover Breadfan, which was initially a B-side to Eye of the Beholder and then included with Crash Course in Brain Surgery on The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited. Although Budgie went through several line-ups during their career, they continued to produce some high-quality rock and caught the ear of many, both at the time and even now. Their crushing heavy power chords, groove laden power and individual style made them a band we still cherish in the Principality.

One person whose antenna was stimulated by Budgie was guitarist Janne Stark, who first heard them in 1975. His band TNT later covered Napoleon Bona Part 1. In 2007 Stark added In For The Kill on his first album by Mountain of Power, a side project that pays tribute to the 70s hard rock bands that influenced him growing up. In 2019 Grooveyard label manager Joe Romagnoila asked him if he’d be interested in doing a tribute album dedicated solely to Budgie. An instant and positive response led to the duo wading through the audio legacy of the Welsh titans. Identifying a vocalist to capture the unique high-pitched vocals of Shelley was a challenge but in Tony Spinner (ex-Toto and Paul Gilbert) he found possibly the next best thing to the original. Spinner also adds some guitar to the project. With drummer Peter Hermansson (220 Volt, Talisman, John Norum) on board, and Stark delivering the majority of guitar and bass parts, it was just a question of what songs to cover. The result is a splendid collection of songs from the early Budgie catalogue (all tracks apart from one (Melt The Ice Away) are drawn from the band’s first five albums) and a solid tribute to one of hard rock’s most innovative and much loved bands.

The album kicks off with THAT RIFF – yes, it’s Breadfan (what else!) and it’s immediately apparent that Stark has managed to capture the chugging groove of the band whilst Spinner is one of few singers who can get close to Shelley’s unique delivery, pitch and tone. Dispensing with the breakdown in the middle of the song and adding Rocking Man instead is a wise move, before returning to complete the original song. Crash Course in Brain Surgery maintains the momentum, with Spinner giving an album winning performance. A song that featured as an early single for Budgie and co-written with Phillips on drums, Crash Course appeared on the only album to feature drummer Pete Boot; 1974’s In For The Kill. This is a killer cover and better than a certain American band’s rather crass delivery.

As the album progresses, tracks such as Breaking All The House Rules and the crazily titled Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman (from the self-titled debut) sound fresh but retain the feel and emotion that Shelley, Bourge, Phillips, Boot and long-serving drummer Steve Williams served up with ease. The guitar work is superb, with some searing lead breaks hidden amongst the tracks. As well as the crunching riffs, Stark plumped for the mellowness of Rolling Home Again (from Squawk), a sub-two-minute acoustic number which he and Spinner capture almost to the note. It may be virtually identical to the original but there is little to disappoint in this tender and sensitive version.

Stark has also assembled several guest players on the album which adds nicely to the feel and quality. Williams and Ian Haugland (Europe) recorded a couple of songs along with Jesper Persson (Alicate). John Gallagher (Raven bassist) adds four strings for one song whilst Stark also shared his guitar solos with several other players, including Bourge, Kyoji Yamamoto (Bow Wow), Mikael Nord and Bill Steer (Firebird, Carcass, Gentleman’s Pistols).

Welcome to The Zoom Club is a fitting tribute to one of the most underrated UK rock bands with each track doing justice to the originals. Williams and Bourge not only lent their musical talent to the album. They have also provided glowing tributes to it. Williams stated “one of the best recorded tributes to Budgie. Proud to have played a small part alongside Tony Bourge and a drummer I've always admired, Europe's Ian Haugland. Tony Spinner does a great job on, what some would say, was the most unique part of the Budgie sound, Burke Shelley's vocals.” Bourge added “I have now heard the tracks and it is the best meal I have ever had! You and the guys have made me feel something I thought I had lost. Mix is great, drums and bass, vocals and guitar work dish it up. So, thank you and the band!”

Paul Hutchings / The Razors Edge (January 2020)

Bandolier Kings is an inspired and hard-rocking tribute project dedicated to the seminal Welsh power trio Budgie. The album is called Welcome To The Zoom Club (A Tribute To Budgie) and was released in the USA December 12th, 2019 on Grooveyard Records. The European release is set for January 24th, 2020. Bandolier Kings was launched by Swedish guitarist Janne Stark (Overdrive, Mountain of Power, Grand Design, Constancia, Merryweather) and Grooveyard manager Joe Romagnola. Original Budgie members Tony Bourge (guitar) and Steve Williams (drums) appear on the record as part of a distinguished supporting cast that features drummer Ian Haugland (Europe), vocalist/guitarist Tony Spinner (Toto, Paul Gilbert), and drummer Peter Hermansson (220 Volt, Talisman, John Norum).

Budgie was one of the first bands to play heavy metal back in 1971 and has been a deep but under-appreciated influence on many artists who came after them, including Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Van Halen, The Melvins, Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. Budgie’s sound was often described as a cross between Rush and Black Sabbath because of its riff rock foundation and bassist/vocalist Burke Shelley’s Geddy Lee-ish high tenor voice. The band’s legacy has remained somewhat obscure in the modern era despite inspiring so many high-profile bands and Bandolier Kings offer a long overdue tip of the hat to one of the original progenitors of rock and metal.

“Breadfan (Rocking Man)” is the first jam on deck and Stark and friends power it up in a way that highlights why Budgie drew comparisons to early Rush. It’s heavy, bluesy, and technical in that same way, built on a fast rock ostinato played in lockstep by the guitar and bass. Tony Spinner does a fine job here and throughout the set tackling Burke Shelley’s unique singing style and channels the proper vibe for this sort of pumped up 70s rock. “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” skews more to the Sabbath side and lets the guitars and drums run free. It’s an energized and well-executed take on Budgie’s 1971 single, a proto-metal track with a sound that’s still part of the rock vocabulary today. The more you listen, the better you understand why Budgie matters.

“Napoleon Bona Part 1 & 2” foreshadows modern prog-metal in a major way. Budgie’s light-to-heavy dynamics, long non-pop song structure, and intelligent grit are timeless under Stark’s direction and he again shows us how innovative the group was in its original period. “You’re The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk” is lusty, harder-than-Zeppelin blues/rock with hints of chops-laden stoner metal. It’s one of the best songs on the album, especially for guitar fans, and demonstrates the high level of musicianship that Bandolier Kings bring to this material.

“Rolling Home Again” shifts gears into a jangling acoustic sound that, while certainly tuneful, still contains some dissonance and some uncommon chord changes that conspire to give the song a strong identity. It’s a smooth and breezy ride on a summer day and makes a perfect transition away from the aggressive tracks that precede it. “Zoom Club” gets back on the prog-rock track with long guitar breaks, a well-conceived arrangement, and a run time of nearly ten minutes. Still, it’s hard rock at its core, eschewing the delicate touch of progressive icons like Yes and Genesis for a much more glandular approach.

Welcome To The Zoom Club (A Tribute To Budgie) is very much a passion project for Stark and everyone else involved and they all bring their A-Game to these sessions. Budgie should get more respect and remembrance than it typically receives and Bandolier Kings deserve mad love for shining a light on this important band that helped create much of the sound of heavy music. Put this one through your ears and let the Kings take you to school.

Mike O'Cull / Rock And Blues Muse (January 2020)

‘Welcome to the Zoom Club,’ was a revelation for me. I came in cold: I had never heard Budgie before. Now, having listened to this, I have to explore all their records — and fast. But, truth be told, I doubt they can match this tribute album. Swedish musician Janne Stark on guitar is superb, and Tony Spinner, one of my all-time favorites, outdoes himself on vocals & guitar as well. In fact, the disc includes a large smattering of lead guitar players who make each song vibrate with unique and innovative soloing. This is an all-star cast, and they all make Budgie shine, dare I say it: More than the original. This is intense rock at its best, equal parts Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, hard rock meets heavy metal — but rendered with taste and artfulness. If you don’t know Budgie, you should, and if you don’t have this tribute disc yet, go out and get it — immediately.

Steven J. Rosen / Author + Journalist (January 2020)

To fully understand and appreciate the BANDOLIER KINGS’ “Welcome To The Zoom Club (A Tribute to BUDGIE),” one must first understand the seminal and legendary Welsh Heavy Metal innovators BUDGIE. Formed in Cardiff, Wales in 1967, and productive in the metal industry (although through several lineup changes) until 2010, BUDGIE has been called “The Heaviest Band of their Time.” They were innovative, blending their heavy roots with elements of Progressive and Funk music, and have influenced and been covered by countless acts; most notably METALLICA, when they recorded “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” on the Garage Days Revisited EP. Lead vocalist and bassist Burke Shelley has been compared, for good reason, to RUSH’S Geddy Lee, and could well have been a harbinger of his vocal style.

BANDOLIER KINGS is the love child of OVERDRIVE and MERRIWEATHER STARK’S Janne Stark and Grooveyard exec Joe Romagnola, both huge fans of the Welsh rockers. Janne, along with TOTO and Paul Gilbert collaborator Tony Spinner, and an absolute Murderer’s Row of special guest musicians, have assembled an hour and seventeen minute tribute to some of BUDGIE’S finest. As a matter of fact, two vets of the band, drummer Steve Williams and guitarist Tony Bourge, make appearances. Ian Haugland of EUROPE and Peter Hermansson of 220 VOLT are also onboard.

Opening the album with the rocker “Breadfan (Rocking Man),” the band wastes little time. The opening, iconic guitar riffs from the original are done sweet justice, and the song resonates with every bit of the same raw energy as the original. These guys have not just tried to parrot (pun MAY be intended) BUDGIE, but to add their own feel and exceptional abilities to the content. The song has an infectious and heavy groove from start to finish.

“Crash Course In Brain Surgery” follows, and is more faithful to the original than METALLICA’s bombastic cover. Janne and Tony show a lot of overdue respect to Burke Shelley’s vision, not only with this song, but later, as well. When you hear the beautiful acoustic guitar work that opens “Napoleon Bona Part 1 & 2,” the influence is undeniable… When the song crescendos into the heavy anthem that it is, the love these musicians display for the band’s work is amazing.

This record never feels like a retread. There is enough originality in the presentation to keep any feel of staleness at bay, and the material speaks for itself. There is not one sour moment I have heard. When taken as a stand-alone project, “Welcome To The Zoom Club (A Tribute to BUDGIE)” still shines. When taken as the heartfelt tribute that it is, to a criminally underrated band, it stands tall. Thanks to them for it.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

Mike McMahan / Metal Temple (February 2020)

Bandolier Kings is a collection of great musicians brought together by the relentless Swedish guitarist Janne Stark to celebrate the Wales power trio Budgie. Janne is of course no stranger to tribute albums as he has recorded several under the name Mountain Of Power. He is also one of the founders of one of Sweden’s earliest Heavy Metal bands Overdrive as well as being a member of numerous other acts, like for example Locomotive Breath, Grand Design and Merryweather Stark and so on.

“Welcome to the Zoom Club” features 13 tracks all from my favorite Budgie period, the seven albums from the seventies when Tony Bourge was the guitarist in the band. Janne actually managed to get Tony to guest on the track “Guts” together with Budgie drummer Steve Williams, how amazing isn’t that! Janne Stark himself is not only playing all rhythm guitars, all acoustic guitars and shared lead guitars but also all bass guitar, except for on one song (“I Can’t See My Feelings). The vocals are handled quite amazingly by American guitarist Tony Spinner who manages to sound almost identical to Burke Shelly. He also shares lead guitar duties with Janne on three of the songs. The drums are mostly handled by Peter Hermansson who started his career in 220 Volt, another early Swedish Metal band. Then there are also a bunch of other great guest musicians like Kyoji Yamamoto, Mats Karlsson, Mikael Nord Andersson, Don Mancuso, Joe Romagnola, Darren Welch on lead guitar. Ian Haugland and Jesper Persson on drums and John Gallagher on bass. Need I say that the musicianship on all the songs is “impeccable”.

This is an album that every true Budgie fan needs, not just because Bourge and Williams is featured but also because the songs are interpreted very close to the original arrangements but still with some creative diversions here and there to make it interesting. For example, when it’s time for the mellow part of “Breadfan”, that opens up the album, it’s exchanged for “Rocking Man”. The mellow part is actually featured as a song of its own as the final track “Breadfan (Slight Return)” of the album, very clever in my opinion. At the end of “Breaking all the House Rules” there is a very short snippet from “Hot as a Docker’s Armpit”. On other tracks there might be some cool unexpected harmony guitars and so on. To pick a favorite song is impossible as Stark has managed to pick almost all of my Budgie favorites. The only ones that I miss are “Black Velvet Stallion”, “Parents” and “Young is a World”, but I can see why they are not featured this time. There is talking about a second album featuring the John Thomas years, maybe they could add those three songs as a bonus…

Anyway, with all these great songs (you probably know my love for Budgie if you have read my chronicle “Budgie and me”) I must give “Welcome to the Zoom Club” the highest grade possible, 10 out of 10. The album is released both on a limited gatefold vinyl edition as well as on CD and streaming.

One final thought. Around the same time as I got this album I read a new interview with Burke Shelly where he said that there is a new and final Budgie album (One Last Hurrah) on the way featuring some songs that he recorded vocals for before he had an aortic aneurysm in 2010, where he lost his ability to sing. Thankfully he can still play bass. Well, I hope that someone will send Burke this album, because if he can’t convince Tony Bourge to play the guitars on that final album I think that he should seriously consider Janne Stark, as you can hear on this album, would be a perfect fit for Budgie!

Rating: 10/10

Stefan Björnshög / Stargazed Magazine (February 2020)

Budgie are one of those unsung bands from the 1970s. They wrote a big list of classics that you may know or may have heard. Probably not the original. Even though important bands as Saxon made covers of their songs, Budgie are the band that everybody knows a song but doesn’t know who originally recorded it. Funny thing, Bandolier Kings is a project of guitarist Janne Stark who is a huge fan of the band. Janne gathered a bunch of his related musicians including Budgie’s drummer Steve Williams and shared guitar solos with Budgie’s guitarist Tony Bourge, Bow Wow’s Kyoji Yamamoto and Michael Nord Andersson to mention only a few. Quite a team I must say.

Well, what to say about an album like this. Budgie are Budgie, man! A legendary unsung band that most Metal bands must pay all the honors and respect possible. If you are interested listen right away to the first track “Breadfan (Rocking Man)” and second track “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” paying attention to the incredible guitar riffing full of groove and energy. Do they not remind you a lot of modern riffing? Yeah, sure they do. Lots of famous Metal bands hail Budgie and list them as an important reference.

Tribute albums like this were like a plague in the late 1990s early 2000s. The difference is that they used to get a bunch of unknown bands to honor their favorite bands. The outcome was most of the time okay. Sometimes the team was made with famous bands and musicians. It was a gold mine. Unfortunately – or the opposite -, as each formula, people got sick and tired of them. Bandolier Kings opted for the most respectful way of making it; recording the songs as loyal to the originals as they could. The outcome I must say as fantastic. It’s Budgie, but it isn’t Budgie. You know what I mean. Well, from where I’m standing I’d rather listen to an album like this. Versions could result in a disaster as the dreadful Nazareth’s version of Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.” They should’ve been fined for doing a thing like that. But not “Welcome to the Zoom Club (A Tribute to Budgie)” whose thirteen Budgie’s classics are very well represented.

My tip is: if you don’t know Budgie and want to get a hold on them, “Welcome to the Zoom Club (A Tribute to Budgie)” is a great start. Win-win situation, two birds-one rock because you’ll also get to know guitarist Janne Stark and his gang.

Poleto / Metal Addicts (January 2020)

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Metal

Just got my copy of the Bandolier Kings’ “Welcome to the Zoom Club (A Tribute to Budgie)” (Grooveyard Records, 2019), and boy … it’s a good one. Yes, it’s a tribute album, but I could lie and tell you it’s all new material, and most of you wouldn’t know the truth. Budgie is the greatest metal band you’ve never heard of. They never achieved the commercial success of Black Sabbath, but their songs absolutely rock. The riffs are just as heavy as Sabbath’s, and guitarist Tony Bourge is one of the greatest free soloists to ever pick up an electric guitar. Co-founders of Heavy Metal, this Welsh power trio went in the opposite direction of Sabbath, choosing more of a party vibe for their music instead of nuclear war, drugs, and demonology.

The common thread between Budgie and Black Sabbath is producer Rodger Bain, who could easily be considered the “Midwife of Metal.” Bain produced the first three Sabbath albums … and the first two Budgie ones (he also produced the first Judas Priest album). Much of the early recording for these bands was done at Rockfield Studios in Wales – just a stone’s throw from Budgie’s base in Cardiff. Rockfield is also the place where the last real full reunion attempt by Sabbath began and ended: Bill Ward had a heart attack there while the Sabs were in the midst of recording a new album that was to include “Selling My Soul” and “Psycho Man.” The reunion was aborted.

The original Budgie – consisting of guitarist Bourge, singer/bassist Burke Shelley, and three different drummers, including the third and last drummer, Steve Williams – recorded seven albums over the span of the 1970s. The reason you have probably never heard of them is because their label, MCA, decided not to release their third album (and one of their best), “Never Turn Your Back on a Friend,” in the United States. And a planned early tour of the US that might have launched them to success had to be cancelled. The only place in the USA where Budgie took hold was San Antonio, Texas, after two local DJs continuously played Budgie’s songs on the radio.

This Budgie tribute album is the labor of love of Janne Stark – a Swedish guitarist who first heard them in 1975 on the radio. He scrambled to record that song on a cassette player so as not to lose it; shortly afterward, he recorded another Budgie song on his first-ever demo. Stark – a founding guitarist of the Swedish metal band, Overdrive – never lost his love for Budgie’s music, and now has led the effort to produce this tribute album by the Bandolier Kings. The band was actually assembled specifically for this tribute, and features a core of fine rock musicians – including singer Tony Spinner, drummer Peter Hermansson, and guitarist/bassist Stark – and a bevy of guest artists, most on guitar solos. There is even a track – “Guts” (the first song on the first Budgie album) – with Budgie members Steve Williams on drums and Tony Bourge on lead guitar. And both these original musicians have still got it.

The “Zoom Club” in the title of the CD refers to a Budgie song by the same name ... and to the music club in Frankfurt, Germany, where Budgie played back in the early 1970s. While the Beatles and Black Sabbath perfected their acts at the Star Club in Hamburg, Budgie instead honed their craft at the Zoom Club. It was a favorite of American GI’s on their way to Vietnam. Zoom Club also happens to be the Budgie song that got me hooked on the band; I bought the purported “Best of Budgie” CD (it’s not, by the way) and quickly got addicted to that track, putting it on a loop and wearing out my ears on it.

And now, I have a modern, “fresh” version of that song – and twelve more (some of which are medleys) – performed by vibrant, contemporary artists. All of them are the same Budgie songs, but these versions sparkle and pop, compared to the originals, because of an infusion of new energy. You can almost hear and feel the love these musicians put into making their versions. And not only are they keeping Budgie’s music alive, they are bringing it to a new generation of metalheads – one that may not even be aware of the original band’s existence.

It doesn’t matter if you have ever heard of Budgie; give this CD a listen. And I think you will discover an entire repertoire of metal that will surprise, astonish – and hopefully, delight you. And if you want to believe the Bandolier Kings is the hottest new group in metal – I think that would please Bourge, Shelley and Williams (and Ray Phillips, the first Budgie drummer) immensely. After all, they did these songs first … a long, long time ago.

Neoptolemus / The Xperience (December 2019)

I never owned a Budgie album back in the day. It a friend of mind was a big fan and we did listen to their records. First time I heard the bands name, I had to chuckle. Now of you asked me to guess what band from the 70’s had a new tribute album out I would never have guessed Budgie. When I saw this it peaked my curiosity. I listened to some samples and it sounded good so I picked it up. I dont remember the songs so I cant compare it to the originals. But what I can say is i th sounds great! Great production. Janne Stark does a crazy good job on the guitar and blues rocker extraordinaire Tony Spinner seems like the perfect vocalist for this bands music. In other words they nail it. There's also some of the original band members and other guests. Some great 70’s hard rock coming back at you with a great sounding album to rock you out. Long live Budgie!!

Gary Milligan / Amazon Review (January 2020)