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Rare Bird - As Your Mind Flies By CD (album) cover


Rare Bird


Crossover Prog

3.98 | 183 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A Bird spotter's paradise

Rare Bird enjoyed some critical acclaim with the release of their debut album in 1969, the first album to appear on the Charisma label. They also secured a surprise hit single in 1970 with the song "Sympathy" (covered by Marillion among others) from that album. An unchanged line up returned to the studio to record this their second album.

If the eponymous debut had offered strong signals that Rare Bird were a band to be watched, "As your mind flies by" saw them mature with astonishing rapidity. The opening "What you want to know" is a stately power prog ballad featuring the distinctive vocals of Steve Gould backed by the wonderful organ playing of Graham Field. While the album is (deliberately) devoid of lead guitar, some of the supplementary keyboard sounds of David Kaffinetti could at times be mistaken for guitar. The track has a great outro section where the keyboards come to the fore.

"Down on the floor" is the shortest track on the album at under three minutes. The song is primarily a vehicle for Gould's vocal talents, accompanied only by what sounds like a harpsichord. The following "Hammerhead" is the first track to rock, the fantasy lyrics and spooky keyboards being reminiscent of Arthur Brown. Heard today for the first time it probably sounds quite dated, but in 1970 it was highly progressive. For me, it retains all the magic and appeal that it had way back then. The first side of the original LP closes with "I'm thinking", a song whose intro alone features all the Hammond you could ever want. Once again, the song has a pleasingly progressive arrangement and a strong vocal.

The feature track of the album is the 20 minute "Flight", a suite in four parts. This really is without exaggeration one of the lost masterpieces of prog. The four parts of the suite merge to form a magnificent whole. The first of the four Movements, which gives the album its name, accounts for about half of the track length. The two keyboard players play off each other as we are taken on a fantastic trip through dramatics, theatrics and operatics. The second part, "Vacuum" is a brief exercise in spaced out, unstructured sounds, while "New Yorker" suddenly finds the piece entering a hard rock phase. In fine prog tradition, the final section "Central Park" includes an extract from the Ravel's "Bolero" leading to further operatic choir vocals. It's all so wonderfully over the top and excessive!

Those who enjoy the classic prog of Genesis, Wakeman, ELP, etc., plus the more modern prog of Arena, IQ, Pendragon etc. should discover this suite without delay.

Despite being heaped with praise on both sides of the Atlantic, the album failed to enjoy commercial success, perhaps in part due to its lack of a hit single. Seen in retrospect almost 40 years later, "As your mind flies by" stands as a milestone prog album and a terrific example of the pioneering sounds and compositions which made the early 1970's such a unique period in the history of music. Essential.

The 2007 remaster includes 3 bonus tracks. Two of these are simply single edits of tracks on the album. The third "Red man" was recorded by the band in 1971 without Graham Field or Drummer Mark Ashton, but with guitarist Andy Curtis (who produced the band's debut album) and new drummer Fred Kelly. The song was clearly written as a potential single, but it is appealing nonetheless.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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