Saturday, December 26, 2015

Rare Bird - 1969 "Rare Bird"

Rare Bird was a progressive rock band founded in 1969. They were formed in England, but had more success in other European countries than they did at home. They are mostly remembered for the haunting, organ-based track "Sympathy". It sold one million copies globally.

This debut featured an organist and an electric pianist, but no guitarist, resulting in a moody Hammond-heavy album from a band that would later become more progressive and varied in its sound. "Beautiful Scarlet" shifts easily from histrionic soul to offhanded slow-four interludes, and the instrumental "Iceberg" shows off the organist Graham Field and the rest of band's chops well. The whispered vocals and weird background noises of "God of War" achieves the kind of creepy gloom appropriate to an era of carpet bombing and napalm. Indeed, the production and instrumentation of this album makes it very much of a period piece, though certainly not in any derogatory sense.

Progressive rock band. Formed in London, England in late 1969. Rare Bird was originally formed around the principle of keyboard dominated progressive rock, shunning the use of guitars.

Their eponymous debut album achieved critical success. Releasing five albums in total, they never achieved commercial success. They dissolved in early 1975, victims of a lack of recognition in their own country.

Repress. Digitally remastered reissue of this 1969 album including previously unreleased bonus tracks. Rare Bird are perhaps best remembered for having the distinction of being the first act to be released on Tony Stratton Smith's gloriously eclectic label Charisma records (also the home of Genesis, the Nice and Van Der Graaf Generator to name a few). Like fellow future Charisma stable mates Van Der Graaf Generator, Rare Bird was formed around the principle of keyboard dominated Progressive Rock which eschewed the use of guitars. In December 1969, this eponymous debut album was released to great critical acclaim, (also becoming a US Billboard chart hit) and was followed in January 1970 by the release of "Sympathy" B&W "Devil's High Concern". The single reached the UK Top 30 and was a subsequent major hit throughout Europe.

One of the most underrated and unappreciated prog/rock bands of all time. The music is great, unbelievable drive combined with beautiful melodies, dominated by the organ and the electric piano, (no guitar). And of course there's the singers' smashing voice, one of the best front men who would make all heavy metal 'singers' sound so small! Unfortunately they only made 2 good albums, the first two, the rest you can forget .

Finally - this is the long-awaited legal re-issue of the legendary first album of "Rare Bird" (on Cherry Red Records which offers a superb connoisseur's choice) , rare and real gem of progressive rock. Founded in 1969 as a joint force of 2 keyboard players (Dave Kaffinetti and Graham Field), Mark Ashton on drums and, finally, Steve Gould - vocals, bass & rythm, it had it first international hit with minimalistic and dark "Sympathy", although "Iceberg" and "Beatiful Scarlet" had much more power. "Rare Bird" was armed with unique, manly and powerful voice of Steve Gould, and were well above more successful bands ("Yes", for a while). Great sound, bonus tracks plus superb leaflet and artwork. Really worth it (together with the re-issue of "As your mind..."As Your Mind Flies By. After these first albums, "Rare Bird" suddenly moved towards average mainstream - competent, but not inspiring. In 1971 Graham Field recorded "Fields" for Sony - together with Andrew McCulloch (featured on "Lizard" by King Crimson) and Alan Barry (of the same fame). This CD was re-issued by Sunrise in 2003 (BIEM/MCPS LC12774 30523052)* and shows excellent artwork of Colin Paynton: a golden eagle killing a hare - a collectors' item. Another attempt to re-surface from oblivion was made by Steve Gould himself in 1978 under the sign of "Runner" Runner(fortified by Alan Merrill, Mick Feat and David Dowle - an interesting piece for a true "Rare Bird" fan. Still, the first two albums are priority.

Track listing:

01 Iceberg 6:46
02 Times 4:00
03 You Went Away 4:17
04 Melanie 3:27
05 Beautiful Scarlet 5:23
06 Sympathy 2:30
07 Natures Fruit 2:32
08 Bird On A Wing 4:13
09 God Of War 5:08
10 Devil's High Concern (Bonus Track) 2:51
11 Sympathy (Mono Single Version) 2:36


Graham Field - Organ
Dave Kaffinetti - Electric piano
Steve Gould - Bass guitar and vocals
Mark Ashton - Drums.



  2. Last time I listen to this I was 18, good memories :) thanks