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Rare Bird - Sympathy CD (album) cover


Rare Bird


Crossover Prog

3.38 | 28 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Definitely not a dodo

"Sympathy" is a compilation of tracks selected only from Rare Bird's first two albums released in 1969 and 1970, during the band's time on the Charisma label. The album is named after their most famous and indeed most successful track. The song "Sympathy" was a sizeable hit and led to Rare Bird joining the ranks of one-hit-wonders, at least in singles terms in the UK. The track is a deceptively soft yet powerful plodder, more recently covered by Marillion who also released it as a single.

"Sympathy" is fairly representative of Rare Bird's music around this time (but not later). Their sound is built upon a solid Hammond organ base, and the distinctive vocals of Mark Ashron. The music has a significant prog feel to it, while being very much of its time. Reference points include IRON BUTTERFLY, ATOMIC ROOSTER, THE PEDDLARS and ARTHUR BROWN. There are some hints of jazz, accentuated by Ashron's vocals, but this is essentially a good rock collection.

Tracks such as "Beautiful scarlet" have slightly more complex structures, but it is the last track, "As your mind flies by" which is the highlight. This song, which is vaguely reminiscent of Genesis "The knife", is Rare Bird's finest piece of work. Unfortunately, on this compilation it is criminally faded out after about 6 minutes, despite the fact that it actually lasts for about 10 minutes (and even then is only the first part of a four part suite). I don't know whether this still happens on the CD edition (I have the cassette), but it is simply inexcusable.

A minor point of note. It has been stated in reviews of the band's early work that they did not have a lead guitarist. Listening to this compilation however there are tracks which feature what sounds like lead guitar, and Steve Gould is certainly credited with "guitar".

A fine summary of Rare Bird's early days, but my advice would be don't buy any version of it unless you can be sure "As your mind flies by" is included in full.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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