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RARE BIRD

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Rare Bird biography
RARE BIRD is a quartet that relied heavily on keyboards as both Kafinetti and Field played together, the former on piano and synthesizers and the latter on organ - much like PROCOL HARUM and later on GREENSLADE. They had a hit with "Sympathy" in the UK but were more successful in Continental Europe where they became quite popular, their sound often reminding us of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST. This double keyboard attack held no place for a guitarist until Field left along with the drummer Ashton and another keyboard player Lamb. This change occurred as they switched to Polydor label and they took on a guitar player, and played a harder rock with some funky lines. Nic Potter of VDGG played on two albums of the second line-up and John Wetton guested on one.

Most progheads will appreciate their first two albums and will also want to check out FIELDS, Field's new group at that time.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Rare BirdRare Bird
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2007
Audio CD$8.73
$8.78 (used)
Born AgainBorn Again
Import
Esoteric 2009
Audio CD$9.23
$9.28 (used)
Epic ForestEpic Forest
Extra tracks · Import
El Records 2007
Audio CD$6.84
$6.83 (used)
Somebody's WatchingSomebody's Watching
Import
Esoteric 2009
Audio CD$8.98
$8.99 (used)
As Your Mind Flies ByAs Your Mind Flies By
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2007
Audio CD$9.05
$9.05 (used)
SympathySympathy
Import
EMI Europe Generic 1990
Audio CD$2.98
$1.67 (used)
1st//Somebody's Watching1st//Somebody's Watching
Import · Remastered
Red Fox 1997
Audio CD$14.99
$13.99 (used)
Third Time Around: An IntroductionThird Time Around: An Introduction
Import
Universal Import 2004
Audio CD$24.88
$3.93 (used)
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RARE BIRD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RARE BIRD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.73 | 86 ratings
Rare Bird
1969
3.98 | 148 ratings
As Your Mind Flies By
1970
3.16 | 55 ratings
Epic Forest
1972
2.49 | 50 ratings
Somebody's Watching
1973
2.63 | 42 ratings
Born Again
1974

RARE BIRD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

RARE BIRD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

RARE BIRD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 4 ratings
Rare Bird '75
1975
3.40 | 23 ratings
Sympathy
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Rare Bird: Polydor Special
1977
3.30 | 8 ratings
Rare Bird / Somebody Is Watching
1990
2.52 | 7 ratings
Third Time Around: An Introduction to Rare Bird
2004
4.29 | 7 ratings
1st/Somebody's Watching/Born Again/As Your Mind Flies By
2005

RARE BIRD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.64 | 6 ratings
Sympathy/Devil's High Concern
1970
3.00 | 2 ratings
Diamonds flexi 7''
1974

RARE BIRD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sympathy/Devil's High Concern by RARE BIRD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.64 | 6 ratings

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Sympathy/Devil's High Concern
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I am not a big collector of singles, but I knew I needed this one. Anyways, this is Rare Bird's first single, which came after the release of their debut album. "Sympathy" because something of a hit in certain parts of the woods, but not in my neck of the woods. For a song dating from 1969 I'm a bit surprised at the relevance of the lyrics, although of course this written during the Vietnam War-era. But what makes the purchase of this single essential is the non-album B-side "Devil's High Concern". I own the LP of their debut, looked like there was enough room to cram this song on, so why didn't they? A great organ-driven piece that's high paced, sounding like, well, classic Rare Bird. I especially dig those organ solos from Graham Field. Really it's too bad many never got to hear this, although Esoteric includes this great song as a bonus cut, so you don't have to search for a single.
 Rare Bird by RARE BIRD album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.73 | 86 ratings

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Rare Bird
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle

4 stars Rare Bird's self-titled debut is an excellent example of proto-prog in its final form. Despite a shorter song format, the band could very well be classified as symphonic prog. Their material is highly influenced by classical music with their own style of heaviness. Inspiration from their contemporaries is also very much present, namely Procol Harum and even a bit of Caravan. The psychedelic piquancy is nearly gone, appearing seldom on various jams and instrumental parts.

Rare Bird is literally a rare bird - not all that many bands at the time had the versatility of two keyboard instruments. One being Hammond organ, other electric piano. I feel like this is where this group really shines. They definitely use two keyboards to their advantage. Electric piano is used when more percussive parts are needed, while Hammond delivers lush tones we all know and love.

The album opens with "Beautiful Scarlet", which features strong vocals, great drumming and incredible keyboard parts I mentioned. The track has a rather classical feel to it with a heavy rhythm. My definite favorite from Rare Bird's debut. "Sympathy" is the song that brought fame to Rare Bird (temporary fame, that is). Again, great vocals supported by light organ touches, immensly classical-inspired. "Nature's Fruit" moves into a more rock-orientated territory. An especially interesting sound is that electric organ diffuse is followed by a smooth organ tail. This gives a very enjoyable effect. "God Of War" and "Iceberg" are kept in a very dark mood, albeit with little variety from previous tracks. "Times" is a faster tune with an up-beat tempo. Nothing really special. "You Went Away" and "Melanie" are quasi-romantic tracks, that close the album.

Overall, I think this is a pretty solid release with quite a distinct sound. This debut is very important to further development of the band. And for its times (November 1969) it is in all respects a very brave and innovative release.However, a giant amount of monotony lets it down in my opinion. Most tracks (besides one or two) are not really memorable and have not aged very well. This is especially recommended to fans of proto-prog and early stages of progressive rock (in particular symphonic prog). From me, it gets well deserved four stars!

 As Your Mind Flies By by RARE BIRD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.98 | 148 ratings

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As Your Mind Flies By
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars After the debut album Rare Bird's future looked brighter than ever.The single ''Sympathy'' became a major hit, it sold 500,000 copies in France along and over a million worldwide.The band rehearsed new material for a second album on Charisma, which was released in 1970 with the title ''As your mind flies by''.

With this work Rare Bird reached their progressive pinnacle and the major reason why was the presence of the massive epic ''Flight'' on the flipside.The opening one contains four shorter tunes of organ-based British Proto Prog mixed with Psychedelia in a typical period offering, based on harsh vocals, huge organ waves and lighter deliveries on piano and harsichord with a bit of ATOMIC ROOSTER punchy grooves and discreet Classical influences in some instrumental parts.They had captured the essence of the emerging Prog Rock movement, sounding a bit melodramatic and theatrical at moments. but the roots of the pieces are still on British organ-smashed Psychedelic Rock, lacking guitars, but delivering very powerful musicianship with the two keyboardists.''Flight'' is another story, this one sounds somewhere between QUATERMASS and THE NICE/E.L.P., featuring more than evident Classical orientations.Best comparison would be actually BEGGARS OPERA's first album, here the music is more melodic and certainly quite pompous with marching organ lines and multi-vocal parts and choirs.Atmospherically speaking the band took a huge step forward from the standard vibes of organ-driven Rock music, this opus contains great dramatic passages, some very dark instrumental segments and then going for more melodious/sentimental moments, the guys made a great job on tighten these links and ''Flight'' should be considered as a great attempt on early-70's Prog Rock excess.

Unfortunately the band didn't remain in the waters, especially after Graham Field left to form Fields.Three more albums with changing members followed, ''Epic forest'' showed the addition of funky rhythms within the Proto Prog content, while ''Somebody's watching'' (1973) and ''Born again'' (1974) had nothing to do with the old Rare Bird sound.Nic Potter of Van der Graaf Generator played both in ''Epic forest'' and ''Somebody's watching''.

The greatest work of Rare Bird, basically because of ''Flight'', a haunting example of keyboard-driven British Prog from the early-70's.Cool attempt on lyrical Psych/Proto-Symphonic Rock with some great keyboard parts.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Sympathy/Devil's High Concern by RARE BIRD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.64 | 6 ratings

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Sympathy/Devil's High Concern
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars RARE BIRD maybe was a "One Hit Wonder" band in some places like in my country, "Sympathy" was played a lot in some of the radio stations in my city. One of my brothers had it in an EP released here in the Philips Records label (not in the Charisma Records label) with other three songs which I can`t remember now. The EP was lost a long time ago, and curiously, my brother can`t remember the song now, even when I played it on youtube to him once sometime ago!

RARE BIRD maybe was a somewhat "atypical" band for the Pop Rock record market, because (like PROCOL HARUM) they had two keyboard players, But "Sympathy" is a slow song, with a good melody sung by the singers and played at the same time with the organ. It really is a "serious" and "sad" song that was successful maybe more due to the content of the lyrics. Another very characteristic thing from this band was that they had two very good lead singers (drummer Mike Ashton and bassist-guitarist Steve Gould). This song is more Prog Rock influenced than the song which was destined for the "B" side, titled "Devil's High Concern", which is more a fast Rock song with a distorted electric piano playing a very good solo similar in sound to the one used by Jon Lord with DEEP PURPLE. It seems that this song was only originally released in the "B" side of this single and was not released in their first album.

Historical fact: RARE BIRD was the band which recommended GENESIS to Charisma Records`s boss, the late Tony Stratton-Smith, in 1970. RARE BIRD sometimes played at some of the same gigs with GENESIS in the same bill.

 As Your Mind Flies By by RARE BIRD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.98 | 148 ratings

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As Your Mind Flies By
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Rare Bird's second album is a major advance over their first, a sublime achievement achieved by the band focusing on the best material from their debut and polishing their songwriting until it shines, and then giving the performances of their lives in the studio itself. The interplay between Field and Kaffinetti's keyboards is never less than electrifying, and Steve Gould's lead vocals carry a drama and gravitas with them to rival labelmate Peter Hammill's.

Indeed, the group seem to have picked up a few tips from their pals in Van der Graaf Generator this time around, the material generally being darker and more foreboding than on the previous album, though the band retain their own personality throughout. The songs on the first side are all perfectly composed, the slow ballad What You Want to Know and the rocking Hammerhead being particular highlights, whilst the crown jewel of the album is the sidelong epic Flight. This seems to be an account of an astral projection experiment gone wrong, a cutting riposte to more unrealistic and idealistic lyrics peddled by other bands; far from soaring to heights of spiritual transcendence, the mystical narrator of the song instead ends up with a terrifying vision of some brutish mugger or rapist stalking human prey in Central Park.

In terms of sheer ambition, drama, and experimentation, this album easily outstrips its predecessor and lays stake to Rare Bird's claim as a vitally important band of the early prog scene, even if their later albums never quite managed to measure up to this one. I heartily recommend As Your Mind Flies By to any prog fan, particularly symphonic fans and those who enjoy Van der Graaf Generator; in particular, I'd say that if you're interested in exploring Rare Bird's music in the slightest there is simply no better place to start. In the infamous words of a certain future bandmate of Dave Kaffinetti, "this one goes to 11".

 As Your Mind Flies By by RARE BIRD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.98 | 148 ratings

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As Your Mind Flies By
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by progshachar

4 stars Wow what a disc. I have known Rare bird since childhood with their Sympathy song -a great song. I didn't know until lately what a great prog band they were. This disc is full of power mellotrons and great singing. The melodies are fantastic. The climax is the 20 minutes "As your mind flies by". It's astounding - full of great melodies, change of rhythm, strong vocals. A real wow. Not many bands did a 20 minutes song back then. what a change from Sympathy to a 20 minutes great song. The quality of the recording is good and the bonuses are ok, specially the last song - Red man.
 Rare Bird by RARE BIRD album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.73 | 86 ratings

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Rare Bird
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars NOTE: The version of the album I am familiar with has Iceberg, Times, You Went Away and Melanie at the start the other songs towards the end. Perhaps my CD has the LP sides in the wrong order, or perhaps the progarchives entry is wrong. (Either way, I think the running order placing Iceberg at the start and God of War at the end is superior, since it means the album is bookended by its two best and most progressive tracks.)

With two keyboardists and no lead guitar, Rare Bird's debut album takes them into territory much like that occupied by early Procol Harum (if you take the talented Mr Trower out of the picture). But it's evident from the first track on this album, Iceberg, that they're a somewhat different proposition. As dark and mysterious as Procol themselves could get, the track also brings to play a higher level of complexity and at points starts to sound similar to early Van der Graaf Generator.

If the whole album were up to this standard, the band would have a real treat on their hand, but there are a few numbers that are simpler, more commercial, and (if I'm being brutally honest) just plain less good. Times is, to be frank, kind of lousy to start off with, but the second half of the song improves once the singing stops and the keyboard soloing kicks in in earnest. You Went Away and Melanie are similarly conflicted; the love song parts are a bit less simplistic and clumsy, but then again the improvisation parts are briefer and more tightly contained, so on the whole they're both clunkers. (Melanie, in particular, is let down by an unconvincing vocal performance that lacks the impressive intonations of the more dramatic tracks on the album.)

The second side puts things back on track as it opens with Beautiful Scarlet, that recaptures the dynamism and drama and foreboding of Iceberg. But the side lets itself down with Sympathy, apparently a hit for the band - which I can't understand, considering that it's a plodding, sappy mess of a song. I guess the "half the world hates the other half" message seemed more relevant during the Cold War. But actually, as a whole the second side holds up much better than the first: Nature's Fruit, the other short song on this side, is actually a bit more peppy and more musical interesting to boot, and I'm also personally quite fond of the pastorally-themed Bird On a Wing. And the side closer, God of War, is the first hint of the dark and Van der Graaf-haunted territory they would explore on their superior second album.

Rare Bird's debut is an extremely promising album with some dynamite tracks in the form of Iceberg and God of War, but it's badly let down by the filler material that seems to have been cooked up in a rush to get the thing finished - particularly on the first side. (After all, the band had barely formed when Tony Stratton-Smith signed them up and hustled them into the studio to lay this one down.) It's also suffered from a fairly cheap production job - perhaps not surprising considering that this was one of the very first albums Charisma put out - and, on at least the CD copy I have, a rather poor-quality transfer which sounds like it was taken directly from a vinyl copy rather than the master tapes. (That said, I've not heard the latest reissue from Esoteric so that might have superior sound quality - they've done a wonderful job on other reissues so I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't spruce this old Bird up a bit.) Still, when the band is up to scratch, they are a true delight for any proto-prog fan.

Three stars, but very, very close to being dragged down to two stars by that production job and those filler tracks.

 Sympathy by RARE BIRD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1976
3.40 | 23 ratings

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Sympathy
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by 1967/ 1976

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 only song that I know but the rest of the songs in this compilation was good as an example of early Prog, also if not fuly in Prog expression. The sound is a gat organ (hammond) sound but not in the vein of Atomic Rooster or Iron Butterfly, because the music is generally easy and sweet.

Rare Bird is a good band, an example of early Prog and, in my opinion, a band with music aged too well.

 Born Again by RARE BIRD album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.63 | 42 ratings

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Born Again
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by trackstoni

4 stars It's been really a long long time since i've lost this album in 1979 , due to civil war in Lebanon , all my vinyl archive was lost . ever since , this album was in my mind until 2008 , i've been able to get it from a friend ! this album is really underrated , and i believe that maybe only very few ( tens ! ) of proggers knew about this excellent album !! i don't have to give a technical view on this album , but as an opinion only , Rare Bird are simply amazing in their mid releases , and maybe the first two albums were great , but this one , and after 31 years of loss , gave me back the spirit of the 60's & 70's ( Moody Blues - Barclay James & Babe Ruth ) - so many beautiful songs , lovely & solid lyrics , and captivating simple music by all means , it's not progressive in all terms , but it's more than that , it's something we can hear anytime & anywhere ! Redman , Peace of Mind & Last Tango in Baulah are great songs ! Enjoy it , really worth your pennies !
 As Your Mind Flies By by RARE BIRD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.98 | 148 ratings

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As Your Mind Flies By
Rare Bird Crossover Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I grew up listening to the first part of "The Flight" - album title track 9 minutes section "As Your Mind Flies By", which was also presented on the compilation "Sympathy". This composition was amazing to my ears but I never managed to listen to the entire album, until recently. And after doing so, I could not say I stayed amazed.

The complete 19 minutes "Flight" is excellent for sure, even if some parts like psyche-ambient "Vacuum" are perhaps unnecessary. If you like heavy sound of keyboards, particularly Hammond organ, you simply must have this in your collection. Given the period when the album was released, I can describe it as a cross-reference between the dying THE NICE and emerging heavy organ riffs of DEEP PURPLE (imagined without Blackmore's guitar) or ELP . The whole suite is very dynamic with lots of changes in tempo and mood, containing borrowed section from Ravel's "Bolero" with furious ending. Good example of early prog.

Unfortunately the A-side of the album (with possible exception of a driving heavy rock of "Hammerhead") falls much below the high standard of the B-side magnum opus. Songs seem lame, unfinished or even without basic idea of what they wanted to achieve. They are listenable to be sure, but for "progressive" rock we ask for more, do we?

PERSONAL RATING: 3,5/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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