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Rare Bird

Crossover Prog

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Rare Bird Sympathy album cover
3.38 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sympathy (2:47)
2. You Went Away (4:41)
3. Nature's Fruit (2:36)
4. Bird on a Wing (4:19)
5. What You Want to Know (5:59)
6. Beautiful Scarlet (5:43)
7. Hammerhead (3:32)
8. I'm Thinking (5:37)
9. As Your Mind Flies By (5:50)

Total Time 41:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Ashton / drums, vocals
- Kevin Lamb / organ, vocals
- Graham Field / organ, keyboards
- Steve Gould / bass, guitar, saxophone, vocals
- Dave Kaffinetti / synthesizer, keyboards, electric piano

Releases information

LP Charisma CS 4 / LP Blue Plate / LP Charisma CHC 6 (1983) / CD Virgin CDOVD 280 (1990) / CD Blue Plate CAROL 1674 (1990)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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RARE BIRD Sympathy ratings distribution

(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

RARE BIRD Sympathy reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Proghead
4 stars What's the purpose of this album? Back in the 1970s, Charisma Records had a compilation division called Charisma Perspective, in which RARE BIRD's "Sympathy" was released on, back in 1976 (1990 was the year of Caroline CD reissue). There is nothing wrong with the music itself, but what's the purpose of compiling material from only their first two albums, "Rare Bird" (1969) and "As Your Mind Flies By" (1970)? I understand RARE BIRD moved to Polydor after those two albums (with a major linup change, with only keyboardist David Kaffinetti and vocalist/bassist Steve Gould staying), so Charisma couldn't possible compile material from Epic Forest, "Somebody's Watching" or "Born Again". It would be much easier to just buy those first two albums, as they are excellent demonstrations of keyboard-dominated prog (without guitars).

The material from their 1969 debut featured on "Sympathy" include "Sympathy", "Beautiful Scarlet", "Nature's Fruit", "Bird on a Wing", and "You Went Away". For the most part, they wanted to focus on the more pop-oriented side of that album (except for "Beautiful Scarlet", which is one of the more progressive and adventurous songs on that album), rather than stuff like "Iceberg" and "God of War" (which are more or less in the vein of "Beautiful Scarlet"). As for "As Your Mind Flies By", songs featured include part of "Flight", "What You Want To Know", the mindblowing, but short "Hammerhead", and "I'm Thinking", which shows RARE BIRD had quite matured since their debut, and you aren't faced with such idiotic songs as "Times" or "Melanie". I don't know why Charisma has the habit of giving us compilations focusing only two albums (they did that for Capability Brown, with their 1976 comp album Liar which also focused on only two albums - as that band only released two albums and broke up). While the music on "Sympathy" isn't bad (that's why I give it a four star rating), if you already have their first two albums, this really isn't necessary.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars My fellow reviewer Proghead's question can be answered easily. The label and line-up changes that occurred after the second album is mainly responsible for the division of their career most likely for contractual reasons and due to the fact that in 90, the original studio albums were not about to be released on Cd (I don't think that this has yet to be the case almost 15 years after the release of this compilation, to my knowledge anyway >>> 2008 in fact). And I, for one, think that maybe this division is for the better.

Never a great Rare Bird fan, I enjoyed somewhat the first line-up much better than the funkier second one. As Ashton and Field left they took some more than half of the whatever few spirit of that band had, but looking at what they did after leaving, they might have well stayed, because the group's Fields'sole and self-titled album is really no better than the first two Rare Bird albums. Contrary to my review of the second line-up's compilation (Polydor years), I think it is worth the hunt for the two original Charisma albums as they are the more worthy part of their discography. As for the newcomers to this band, this is a good start for investigation (on CD anyway), but this group was never first league stuff. Their music always reminded me of Barclay James Harvest (the poor man's Moody Blues as they were sadly called) or even some second league Procol Harum, due to the double KB (piano/organ) attack and Gould's tone/manner of singing

Review by 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.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This Charsima label's collection of songs from RARE BIRD's first two albums can serve as a solid introduction to their early period. If you are into a keyboard/organ-filled guitar-less prog rock, then RARE BIRD should be your choice. On "Sympathy" you can get a glimpse of what it all sounds like. I personally enjoyed this record, mostly due to popular songs "Sympathy" and "As Your Mind Flies By". But, having heard the rest of the material, I never wanted to buy their other studio albums.

Latest members reviews

4 stars If The Moody Blues, Barclay James harvest, Procol Harum, Nirvana (UK) or pre "666" Aphrodite's Child are your bands certainly Rare Bird is another band for you. In fact I have this impression when I listen to "Symphaty", a good compilation from first two albums of Rare Bird. "Symphaty" was the ... (read more)

Report this review (#417218) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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