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Rare Bird - Rare Bird [Aka: Sympathy] CD (album) cover

RARE BIRD [AKA: SYMPATHY]

Rare Bird

 

Crossover Prog

3.80 | 107 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars RARE BIRD were a London-based Prog-Rock quartet who released five albums between 1969 and 1974:- "Rare Bird" (1969); "As Your Mind Flies By" (1970); "Epic Forest" (1972); "Somebody's Watching" (1973); and finally, "Born Again" (1974). Rare Bird's best-known song, "Sympathy", featured on their first album and the single reached No. 27 in the U.K charts. Their music is a very keyboard-heavy sound, due to the fact that the four-piece line-up included two keyboard players. Rare Bird's original LP albums have now become "rare birds" too, as they're pretty hard to get hold of these days. Incidentally, the "Rare Bird" album reviewed here, was the first album to be issued on the Prog-Rock Charisma label. Two bonus tracks were added to the original nine songs on the album in the re-mastered 2007 CD edition.

The album opens powerfully and dramatically with "Iceberg", an imposing cliff of pristine white ice as tall as a building with the awesome latent power to sink ships. This imposing organ-powered piece of music has similar grandeur and magnificent majesty. The song begins as a delicate and atmospheric slow fugue, sounding like a church organ, before erupting into a wild keyboard jamboree in which the organist goes absolutely berserk in a roaring storm of sound. The golden-voiced singer emerges from the organ storm in full impassioned voice in this dramatic refrain. It's powerful and heavy, but also beautifully melodic at the same time. This is the kind of thunderous and unrestrained organ music they ought to play in a grand cathedral as the bishop glides diagonally down the aisle across the chequered floor. How can Rare Bird possibly follow that storming opening foray onto the music scene. They follow it with "Times", a fast-based barnstorming number with all the unstoppable power of Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf leading his army into battle. This powerful raw and raucous song features fantastic fugues and pounding percussion, so don't play it TOO loud or it might just give you a pounding headache. Onwards now to "You Went Away", a refined and sweet-sounding organ piece with the vocalist imploringly pouring his heart out over his lost love:- "You went away, And left me one that day, When we were much too close, Dreaming of a private piece, You went away." ..... This is no gentle ballad though, because the crazy organist and manic drummer are just waiting in the wings, so be prepared for a sonic onslaught in their wild moment of glory for the powerful grand finale. There's no let-up in the incredible pace and power of this album with "Melanie", a flamboyant and foot-stompingly good slice of funky fusion to close out Side One.

Opening Side Two comes "Beautiful Scarlet", an elevating and exuberant blitzkrieg of music which explodes into life with a dramatic chord sequence. This is energetic keyboard playing to die for, the like of which we don't hear any more. This is exhilarating and exuberant music designed to lift the spirits up into the stratosphere. The pianist and organist battle it out in unison to see who's the greatest keyboard player of them all. It's pompous and passionate and everything we could wish for in a powerful burst of Progressive Rock. And now for Rare Bird's BIG number, "Sympathy", their main claim to fame which was a massive hit across Europe but only made it to No. 27 in the British charts, so it looks like the good people of continental Europe knows a good song when they hear it. "Nature's Fruit" is another rollicking and rambunctious keyboard-driven song on an album full of outstanding songs where every song sounds like it's good enough to be released as a single. We're taking flight now with "Bird on a Wing", an emotionally-rich song featuring soaring vocals and the sound of that oh-so-beautiful organ in accompaniment. The dazzling guitarist deserves a mention too with his stirring power chords carrying the music along on a sonorous wave of sound. Just when you thought this album couldn't get any better comes "God of War" to close out the album in dramatically fine style. The music rumbles along like a powerful express train steaming down the tracks with the powerful voice of the singer sounding like he's ominously prophesising doom and gloom and catastrophe. It's a suitably dynamic and dramatic conclusion to a superb album.

You can't beat a good solid dose of boom and bombast in a Prog-Rock album and this passionate and powerful album has it in spades. This is spectacular organ-driven British Rock, going full speed ahead on full locomotive power from beginning to end. it's also melodic and occasionally melancholic, but it's ALWAYS great music. This first Rare Bird album deserves to be treasured and preserved like a magnificent golden eagle.

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |

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