An Ecstasy of Fumbling: The Definitive Anthology

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By spanning their entire career, this may be the most comprehensive Budgie collection, but it's hardly the best. Disc one is flawless, showcasing the band's early '70s material where bassist/vocalist Burke Shelley and guitarist Tony Bourge combined adventurous songwriting with uncompromising heaviness to great effect. These classics include "Homicidal Suicidal," "In for the Kill," "Breaking All the House Rules," "Crash Course in Brain Surgery," and their masterpiece, "Breadfan" (these last two were famously covered by Metallica in the '80s). Disc two, on the other hand, reveals a band gradually running out of inspiration ("Melt the Ice Away"), fighting to stay relevant by incorporating more commercial elements ("Superstar"), and finally transforming into a cliche-ridden, second-class metal band ("Forearm Smash"). To anyone interested in '70s hard rock and heavy metal, Budgie remains an essential band, but most would do well to stick with their MCA releases through 1975.

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