30 October 2016

Don Crown (& His Busking Budgies) - Mrs Wilson's Budgie/ Flying Machines



Label: President
Year of Release: 1971

Don Crown is absolutely no stranger to this blog (and he's even an occasional reader of it). I'm a keen admirer of his lost psychedelic pop single "Budgerigar Man", and covered it back in August 2012

As stated back on the previous entry, Don Crown was a street performer and busker who incorporated budgerigars into his musical act, arranging for them to - as clearly stated in song on "Budgerigar Man" - "Perform tricks while I sing and play". Budgerigars may be part of the parrot family, but they're not widely acknowledged as being especially bright compared to their larger brothers, nor easy to train, so the patience involved in producing such a show is clearly saintly. And for what it's worth, I caught Don Crown doing his stuff live as a child, and it absolutely made my day, even though I was never successful at replicating the results at home. 

Don did make a few media appearances with his birds, and it's probably thanks to that exposure that some record labels tried to make arrangements for him to have a hit single. "Budgerigar Man" on Orange Records flopped, and this, the follow-up on President, was equally unsuccessful. More lo-fi and one-man-band than the debut single, "Mrs Wilson's Budgie" may be taking some cues from The Blossom Toes "Mrs Murphy's Budgerigar", or it may be that the lyrical similarities are purely coincidental. Unlike the Toes, though, "Mrs Wilson's Budgie" has a much more jaunty, almost jugband feel to it. It's a likeable novelty record, but doesn't scale the production or arrangement heights of his debut.

The flipside "Flying Machines" has attracted slightly more attention recently, being compiled on "Electric Asylum Volume 3 - Rare British Acid Freakrock". I'd describe it as being absolutely nothing of the kind. It has a very lo-fi, sixties beat feel to it, with a Joe Meek-ish homemade production. Towards the end as the song reaches its peak, it even starts to bear a resemblance to a Lee Mavers out-take from some aborted Las sessions, though I highly doubt he was ever taking any notes from Uncle Don. Or perhaps the reason The Las didn't put out a second album was due to not having the right kind of budgies in the studio - "They should be proper sixties blue budgies, la". 

Irrespective of that, it's the better side of the two, but is commercially available. I'd advise you to make your way over to iTunes or elsewhere to grab yourself a copy, but I've included a brief snippet below.


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