Musician Ray Phillips, probably best known for his role as a founding member of legendary Welsh rockers BUDGIE, is set to complete his very first solo album early next year.
For Ray, a veteran to the music scene, it all began back in late 1967 in Cardiff, South Wales, when he and bassist vocalist Burke Shelley teamed up with lead guitarist Tony Bourge to form what went on to become one of the most influential rock bands of the 1970s.
During a time when the war-bomber guitar riff ruled supreme, it was no surprise when a music journalist likened the power trio's sound to be more in keeping with that of a "six-ton" budgie. SIX TON BUDGIE would become the bands pre-recording name.
The original lineup was always going to be a tough act to follow and it remains a fact — even today. Many hardcore fans would agree that nothing quite competes with the raw driving energy that was created by these fine Welsh birds of a feather, although many incarnations of the band have existed since, the original trio possessed a unique chemistry.
BUDGIE would sign a five-album international deal with MCA in 1970 after auditioning at Rockfield Studios in Wales for Roger Bain, a producer who had also been working with a band called BLACK SABBATH. Roger Bain went on to produce the early albums of both BUDGIE and BLACK SABBATH, and in later years the debut by JUDAS PRIEST. The majority of their early albums rocked hard, while contrast was also applied in the form of gentle ballads containing some remarkable melodies. BUDGIE also gave the impression they didn't take life too seriously with quirky song titles such as "Crash Course in Brain Surgery", "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman" and "Hot as a Dockers Armpit" — all of which couldn't fail to raise an eyebrow or two. The sound was classic Roger Bain — sparse and separated yet it came across "heavier than air."
BUDGIE were, of course, one of those bands well worthy of attention, but somehow got overlooked by their critics as the years passed by. This was no reflection on their ability or impact. The heavy down-tuned guitar riffs produced by lead guitarist Tony Bourge were on par with those of BLACK SABBATH's Tony Iommi. Burke Shelley's punchy bass and high pitched vocals were likened to early Geddy Lee, and Ray Philips (who employed double bass drums) had a style resulting in an endless powerhouse similar to that of both John Bonham and Bill Ward.
BUDGIE were widely considered as one of the first heavy metal bands and a seminal influence on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Although BUDGIE were never more than a cult band in the United States, their influence was felt by many notable American bands. Highly respected by the likes of METALLICA, who went on record as having credited BUDGIE as their major influence, while SOUNDGARDEN — who emerged from the Seattle grunge scene covered "Homicidal Suicidal". Interestingly, METALLICA, SOUNDGARDEN and IRON MAIDEN all covered/performed songs selected from the first three BUDGIE albums — arguably the band's finest offerings. The said albums all featured Ray Philips on drums — whom Alex Van Halen claimed as an influence. VAN HALEN — originally discovered by Gene Simmons who produced their 15-song demo, went on to be a huge household name. Ray would later emerge in the early 1980s with the launch of TREDEGAR (alongside Tony Bourge who departed BUDGIE in 1978) before some years later the SIX TON BUDGIE name would be resurrected.
In more recent times, not only is Ray busy preparing for his upcoming solo release with a string of interviews to be scheduled across the UK, United States, Japan and Australia, he is also putting pen to paper to produce his first book — which will feature many tales from the road, especially those from his BUDGIE years which range between 1967 and late 1973.
Irish rock band SWEET SAVAGE performed a version of BUDGIE's "Breadfan" at the 2008 Wacken Open Air festival in Germany and Ray is certainly not afraid to bring things up to date a little. Keen to inject some younger blood into the project, Ray has been working with Jus Forrest — a female guitarist, who contributes to the album on lead guitars. Playing Gibson SG's (including a Tony Iommi limited-edition signature) she had previously done some guest appearances with Ray's gigging SIX TON BUDGIE band, performing a number of signature BUDGIE songs while taking credit to be one of very few guitarists who managed to maintain the original Tony Bourge sound, doing the earlier material notable justice.
The Ray Phillips official web site is currently under construction and will be up and running shorly. In the meantime you can keep up with all the Ray Phillips news by logging onto the Ray Phillips official MySpace site.