Very aptly titled double CD set documents the band's concerts at two Reading Festivals - of 1980 and 1982. In fact, they played Reading thrice, in 1981 too, but it's the first time and the last one, when they were headliners, that were exiting the most. Surely, that was no prime time for the band, which paved the road for many NWOBHM bands and, subsequently, METALLICA, who covered two of the BUDGIE tunes on their "Garage Days". Nevertheless, live Burke Shelley and Co were always excellent.
Strange yet challenging seems BUDGIE decision to give the people not what they longed to hear, the classic stuff, but the band's latest material off the "If Swallowed, Do Not Induce Vomiting", "Power Supply" and "Nightflight" albums - with a few exclusions. Their 1980 gig the three-piece unit kicked in though with "Breaking All The House Rules" from 1975's "Bandolier". Solid and heavy rock'n'roll, a wakening slap in the face, remindful of Rory Gallagher's endeavours coming straight from the blues. Bouncing "Crime Against The World", a fresh track rocking to the bone, in its playfulness sounds not unlike SLADE, but while you can liken Shelley's vocals to those of Noddy, John Thomas' riffs come sharper than Dave Hill's.
A flashback to "Bandolier" to deliver "Napoleon Bona Part One and Part Two" - what a mighty band it was, always overshadowed by ZEPPELIN, almost gone at the moment to let BUDGIE shine in full glory. Unison between vocals and guitar, underpinned by Shelley's groovy bass and Steve Williams' drums, is just amazing. A moment of reflection gets out to be followed by strong but standard rock'n'roll of "Forearm Smash", which opened up the "Power Supply" album. Remember, NAZARETH those days went reggae with "Fool Circle", so the audience's response to BUDGIE is understood. More original appears "Panzer Division Destroyed" with rhythm loved by all the MAIDEN and DIO fans. It's quite hard to believe there's only three people playing - listen to "Wildfire": twin guitars trick could be reproduced by one harmony guitar. Interesting that BBC, having transmitted the BUDGIE gig, omitted legendary "Breadfan" off "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend", a showcase for Thomas' leanings for classical music and Chuck Berry hooks.
By 1982 the Reading crowd were up and ready for their heroes, so BUDGIE would "Forearm Smash" the audience strictly with new songs from the last four LPs. "Crime Against The World" that time came more relaxed and lost some of its attack, the point compensated by the SCORPIONS-styled ballad "I Turned To Stone", good but too predictable in its development. "Truth Drug" off the then new album "Deliver Us From Evil" has almost the same beginning as SABBATH's "Children Of The Sea" and comes throbbing yet not catchy but with Lindsay Bridgewater's keyboards given prominence. Back on the stomping blues ground lead "Superstar" and "She Used Me Up", hardly on par with BUDGIE's old stuff - so no surprise it was the band's dusk and the twilight needed to be highlighted by "Panzer Division", always a killer.
One could downplay these recordings, but given notice that BUDGIE have no official live album of classic era, they're a must have. For METALLICA-devoted, too.