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Rare Bird

Crossover Prog

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Rare Bird Epic Forest album cover
3.41 | 88 ratings | 9 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Baby Listen (3:20)
2. Hey Man (5:47)
3. House in the City (4:20)
4. Epic Forest (9:08)
5. Turning the Lights Out (4:33)
6. Her Darkest Hour (3:30)
7. Fears of the Night (3:14)
8. Turn It All Around (4:38)
9. Title No. 1 Again (Birdman) (6:01)

Total Time 44:31

Bonus tracks on 7" (1972) & 2007 CD reissue:
10. Roadside Welcome (4:23)
11. Four Grey Walls (3:51)
12. You're Lost (10:00)

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Gould / lead & harmony vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, percussion
- Andrew "Ced" Curtis / harmony vocals, lead electric & acoustic guitars, percussion
- Dave Kaffinetti / piano, electric piano, Farfisa, Hammond, percussion
- Paul Karas / bass, shaker, percussion, harmony vocals
- Fred Kelly / drums, congas

- Nic Potter / percussion (5)
- Paul Korda / percussion (5)
- Paul Holland / percussion (8,9), co-producer
- Chris Kelly / percussion (9)
- Ashley Howe / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Alex Marshall

LP Polydor ‎- 2442 101 (1972, UK)
LP + 7" Polydor ‎- 2442 101 (1972, UK) With a bonus disc including 3 tracks

CD Cherry Red ‎- ACMEM99CD (2007, UK) With 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy RARE BIRD Epic Forest Music

RARE BIRD Epic Forest ratings distribution

(88 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RARE BIRD Epic Forest reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
3 stars Late 60's/ 70's British Progressive rock band RARE BIRD released a few great albums over their career with "Epic Forest" representing one of their milestones. Although RARE BIRD are best known for their organ-driven progressive sounds, "Epic Forest" reduced the emphasis of the keys here and added a wider jazz prog feel with a slightly more contemporary 70's soft rock vibe. The musicianship is very strong with some great vocal harmonies and instrumentation. As in all early RARE BIRD albums the songs are very well written and are very memorable with Dave Kaffinetti as the helm of the song writing department (later in his career would co-write with Big House, MARILLION). On this album we saw the departure of Graham Field and Mark Ashton who were replaced by Fred Kelly (drums) and Ced Curtis on guitar. Instrumentally these guys were excellent with very much an original develop sound and approach.
Review by hdfisch
3 stars "Epic Forest" had been RB's third album and the first one after Field and Ashton left the band. Actually its title was promising more than this record could finally deliver. Gone were the Hammond-drenched sound from their first two releases reminding much of Procol Harum making place for a more guitar-based singer/songwriter style with the inclusion of some groovy and funky rhythms at times. Though being quite nice to listen to most of the songs on here cannot really fascinate me any longer I've to say. Far from being original let alone to be considered really progressive in the real sense since during those days numerous bands played stuff similar to that they sounded here at times a bit like Grand Funk or at others like a more rocking CSNY, especially in the first three songs. Nonetheless even if this album wasn't that much "real Prog" anymore compared to the two previous one it was an excellent one if considered more a standard pop/rock one with a couple of fine songs like the title track, "Turning The Lights Out", "Her darkest hours" , "Turn It All Around" or the great long-track "You're Lost". Overall this one could be still a nice addition for a Prog collection but not really an essential one what I doubt to be for this band in general I'm afraid to say. IMHO Rare Bird can be rather considered like Procol and Wishbone another quite fine group more in the Prog-Related or Proto-Prog mold.

Not really rare, but very good rock music in a slightly progressive vein and worth 3,5 stars I would say!

Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An Epic change.

"Epic Forest" shows a change in label to Polydor and a complete change in musical direction for the band - a more some say up-to- date sound for 1973; slightly pop/jazz-funk but retaining their clever song writing and classic Rare Bird keyboard sounds and signatures, and the familiar Steve Gould vocals. The album also saw a change in personnel with Graham Field and Mark Ashton gone, and bringing in Fred Kelly on drums, Paul Holland and Paul Karas on bass/percussion/vocals and Ced Curtis on lead guitar. The album also shows an improvement in sound quality from the Charisma albums.

The songs are very good but there is little here to interest the hard core Prog fan, though there are some interesting moments as on the rather gloomy, atmospheric "Her Darkest Hour". My original LP came with a bonus record, a 7" EP containing the songs "Roadside Welcome", "Four Grey Walls" and "You're Lost", these tracks are still to be found on the reissued CD on Red Fox Records which also contains "Devil's High Concern", a non-LP 'B' side of "Sympathy" from 1970, "Sympathy single version" and "What You Want to Know" from the LP "As Your Mind Flies By".

The first song "Baby Listen" is a funk-style groove with a very heavy bass line, an acoustic guitar softly introducing "Hey Man" which contains a very catchy chorus, the lead guitar fitting in well with the familiar Rare Bird keyboard phrases. "House in the City" is a slower number, the title track "Epic Forest" featuring a catchy guitar riff and familiar Rare Bird signature keyboard solos and phrases. Side 2 kicks in with "Turning the Lights Out" , an excellent rocker with a strong bass line and some catchy riffs, about the ending of a relationship, "you're turning the lights out on me.." ...which brings back memories for me as I was going through a similar situation in 1973....being dumped from a very great height! The next song "Her Darkest Hour" is a beautifully gloomy ballad, laden with acoustic guitars, one of the best tracks on the album about guilt - very atmospheric, the mood continues with "Fears of the Night", a very slow moody song followed by "Turn It All Around", a slow intro builds to a very strong riff in the chorus. "Title No.1 Again (Birdman)" , a jazzy American funk-style jam. The bonus tracks may have been out-takes left over from the main group of songs included on the main album, are good but unremarkable, "Four Grey Walls" being the best of these.

Though the band had strayed from the Prog path somewhat on this album, the songs remain excellent pop/rock songs and the musicianship and sound quality of the recording is stunning, remains one of my all time favourite albums and would recommend it for those reasons, but would not really satisfy the hard core Prog fan.

Music rating 5, Prog rating 3.5.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This was really a deception after the very good "As Your Mind Files".

The prog sound has left. Still, the title track shows some great beat but the music is more soul/funk oriented (maybe a bit too much to be honest). Compositions as "Hey man" are solid, : great vocals (but sweeter than before), good beat and catchy melody. One of the most pop-oriented of the band so far.

The first "Press Next" T type of song is the syrupy and useless "House In City". Some sort of a poor soul ballad. But with no soul at all if you see what I mean.

It is immediately followed by the best number and epic song."Epic Forest" of course. Not "Epping." but still an excellent song. Great beat, theme changes, rocking guitar sounds, strong and powerful vocals. In one word : the best one out here. Somewhat different from the average mood of this album, and therefore very much welcome of course. The first highlight (and the last one as well, unfortunately).

Unless you are into funky ("Turning The Lights Out"), which is absolutely not my case, you won't digest this one (especially the prog fans). While prolonging your experience, you really should fear "Fear Of The Night" which is the poorest song from this album.

To be honest, a song as "Turn it all around", while totally out of their style is quite good. A solid rocking beat, far from their great prog work but still good. The closing "Title No. 1 again" ends up on an excellent guitar work which is totally opposite from their original sound, but really great during the secong half.

This album was a true deception. I wouldn't rate it more than two stars because it holds two (or three) songs above average.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars This underrated album is so different from previous albums by the band, that a name change would have been appropriate. Then maybe the fans and other listeners would have been a lot more forgiving concerning the radical change of direction. Such changes are always bound to make some fans into detractors.

While the previous albums by Rare Bird where closer to Emerson Lake & Palmer in spirit, Epic Forrest is closer to Wishbone Ash! Indeed, I would strongly recommend this album to fans of Wishbone Ash. Epic Forrest is about as progressive (and about as good!) as Wishbone Ash's Argus. While similar to Argus in some respects, Epic Forrest has a fuller sound with piano (both electric and regular) and organ (Hammond and Farfisa). The keyboard work is hardly very flashy, but the pianos and organs really make the sound a bit richer and fuller.

The song writing, however, takes on a distinct American feel on most of the tracks. Sometimes they are close to Crosby, Stills & Nash! This is especially apparent on the song Hey Man which is pure American Folk rock. So from keyboard driven Prog to American style Folk rock is quite a step! But the first three songs can be deceptive. The nine minute title track offers some nice progressive touches in terms of tempo changes and instrumental work out. This might not be too impressive, but they somehow manage to keep even the longer tracks interesting throughout. It is a quite unique blend of styles; guitar driven Hard rock, some slight Blues and Jazz influences, American Folk and Psychedelic rock! The melodies are really sweet and the vocal harmonies are lovely.

The album is varied, with softer acoustic ballads sitting side by side with the longer more Psychedelic rockers. The ballad Her Darkest Hour is really good. Another favourite is the Title No. 1 again (Birdman). (The three bonus tracks are also nice).

I find much to like here, and as it turns out, even though there is no question about the earlier albums being more Prog as we know it, this album has more lasting impact on me than the earlier albums. This is hardly anything that will blow the Proghead away, but if you come into this with a clear mind, and don't dislike the idea of mixing American Folk and Psychedelic flavoured rock, you might enjoy this one too. But if you expect another As Your Mind Flies By, you better stay away!

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars After As Your Mind Flies By, it was apparent the band broke up, looked like creative difference between Graham Field and David Kaffinetti. Graham Field ended up in a group called Fields that released an album in 1971 on CBS and seemed to have disappeared from the music business. At least he didn't mind Kaffinetti and Steve Gould using the Rare Bird name with a new band. While the original band featured two keyboardists and no guitars, this lineup featured only one keyboardist (Kaffinetti) and two guitarists, one of them newcomer Ced Curtis, with Steve Gould switching from bass to guitar. For those with an aversion to prog seem to take more kindly to this version of the band. The bands takes on a more easy rock approach, with a West Coast influence, a bit in the vein of Crosby, Stills & Nash in places. It's basically a totally different band so don't expect As Your Mind Flies By Part II. Steve Gould's vocals tend to be much more low key, although on the title track he uses that unmistakable voice that I loved so much with the first two albums. Speaking of the title track, it's easily the most progressive thing on the album, and a great highlight. "Her Darkest Hour' is a nice acoustic piece, while "Turning the Lights Out" and "Title No. 1 Again (Birdman)" shows they can rock too. If you're luck to own the original British LP, you should have a 7" EP that came with it (it plays at 33, not 45), on there are three songs, "Roadside Welcome", "Four Grey Walls" and "You're Welcome". I really thought these were nice additions. One gets the impression they were trying to go for a double album, but either didn't have enough material and just cram the rest on a 7", or it was a gimmick, or the record company didn't think it was a good idea for them to record a double album (especially since it was their debut for Polydor). Of the three albums they did for Polydor, this is by far the best album. Just don't expect As Your Mind Flies By.
Review by Warthur
4 stars Rare Bird's third album finds the band going through a heap of changes. Graham Field is out, and the old "two keyboardists, no lead guitar" approach of the band is no more - indeed, this time they have two lead guitarists.

This would prompt a shift in their sound, even if they had otherwise stayed the course stylistically, but there's more changes involved; having produced an early prog masterpiece in the form of As Your Mind Flies By, the group seem to have decided that the side-long Flight from that album was about as far into symphonic prog as they wanted to go, prompting them to dial back this time around. The songs are shorter, there's more influence from the sort of bluesy hard rock which was then-current, and in general the whole package seems much more conventional.

Whilst I can't say this hits the heights of its predecessor, I have to admit the band are quite good at this new sound. There's just enough progressive and power pop ingredients in the mix to stop affairs descending into tedious Led Zeppelin posturing, it's clearly a notch more thoughtful than much of the hard rock/blues rock at the time, there's an interresting dose of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-esque harmony vocals and folk-rock influence on the title track, and on the whole it's an interesting new sound for the band. It's not the direction I'd have chosen for them in an idea world, but they make it work and more or less win me over.

The production values on this are notably tighter than on their preceding two albums; their debut was the first release from Charisma, and so was recorded on a tight budget and in a hurry because the fledgling company simply didn't have the resources to offer more. Their second album saw the band themselves try to take on the production process, and in later years they've admitted that they were a bit in over their head. By comparison, the album sounds remarkably good, the band certainly not wasting the opportunity presented by virtue of being on a major label.

The first issue of the album included a bonus 7" single with three extra songs on it; these have been appended to recent CD editions. Whilst "bonus tracks" are more of a product of the CD era, these songs very much fall into that category - in other words, they're inferior material which didn't make the cut for the main album. Setting them aside, though, Epic Forest provides a solid basis for a new beginning for what you could think of as Rare Bird Mk. II - there's no going back to the approach of the first two albums, but the fresh approach here is interesting in its own right.

Latest members reviews

2 stars After Rare Bird's 'As Your Mind Flies By', this album is a disapointment. AYMFB was a masterpiece of prog but 'Epic Forest' is not an epic at all; I don't even consider it being progressive. It's more like Crosby Stills & Nash. Nice melodies sung OK but that's it. The only track that reminds o ... (read more)

Report this review (#63689) | Posted by pirkka | Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For me it was a great surprise, that Rare Bird's musicians were able to product so great piece of prog-rock after "As your mind flies by"! That album is a proof that progressive rock songs could be interesting even if they are short... "Epic forest" is very beautiful album, with a lot of org ... (read more)

Report this review (#30463) | Posted by | Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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