What a relief when this was released last year, I played my vinyl copy to death back in the seventies, and had been patiently waiting to get it on cd. This keyboard driven art rock band never really received the recognition that their efforts on the debut album and this deserved, 1969/70 was still pretty much guitar driven, yet when Graham Field departed, guitars were added to the mix at a time when keyboards were becoming prominent. Steve Gould's vocals deserve a mention, his strong throaty, raw edged voice seems to be generated from deep within, and is perfect for this kind of music, plus on 'Down on the floor' he shows his lighter side. I rate him with Purple's Ian Gillan and Martin Griffiths of Beggars Opera as the best rock vocalists of the time. With the exception of the rocking 'Hammerhead' the tracks on side one of the original album are slow to mid tempo, melodic and well arranged. Side two (track 5) is home to 'Flight', a four part piece incorporating some experimental work recreating the sound of a vacuum alongside a choral section all nicely fitted in to some mid to uptempo rock. Bonus tracks are seven inch mono single versions, which are ok but not as good as the album versions plus a song called 'Red man' which sounds different, but believe me it grows on you. This album is a must have for anyone interested in early seventies rock!
From 1970, this is an excellent album from one of progressive rock's front-runner bands. The music is dominated by the two-keyboard player approach, making for a very full and rich sound. Despite the lack of a lead guitarist the band can produce a good rock sound as occasionally one of the keyboards players will "mimic" a rock guitar style of playing. There is plenty of pace at times too with the rhythm section laying down a good beat - add plenty of melody to these elements and you have the ingredients for an album that is still very enjoyable after all these years!
For newcomers to Rare Bird, bands emplying similar (but not identical!) soundscapes would be ones such as King Crimson, ELP, Doors etc.
A treat for fans of Hammonds, harpsichords and Mellotrons in the rock idiom, this follow-up to an acclaimed eponyomous debut ramped the quality stakes up more than a few notches. Compositionally poppier content was eschewed for the voguishly progressive and coupling this 'new' thinking to the band's classically-underpinned, keyboard-dominated sound delivered something altogether meatier. A suite of melodic rock songs with dramatic instrumental passages builds to a career tour-de-force in 'Flight'. A genre archetype, replete with choir, a spirited dip into Ravel's 'Bolero', it took up all of side 2 of the original LP release. The album packed wow factors to take Rare Bird to new heights but when contract hassles prompted mainman Graham Field to leave at the end of the year, the rest of the band brought in guitars in a bid for mainstream. More commercial perhaps, but rendered less rare, the act went the way of the dodo in 1975. This superior reissue adds single versions of the plangent 'What You Want To Know', the Van der Graaf-ish 'Hammerhead' and previously-unreleased ballad 'Red Man' and tells the Rare Bird story intelligently. 'Where are they nows?' on all but Fields, whose self-titled release on CBS remains his only further recorded output, lends a little enigma. Where is he now?
Bit of an oddity Rare Bird in that just like baroque n roll classmates, Procol Harum, they came to public prominence by virtue of the singles chart, rather than the album chart path much trodden by other prog-rock acts. The single in question 'Sympathy', which you will find on their first album, has stood the test of time thanks to a soulful vocal by Steve Gould and stunning Hammond playing by Graham Field/s. This album though is the classic and if a sample had been taken amongst me and my contemporaries around Dewsbury, West Yorks in the early seventies, this would probably have rated close to the favourite prog album of all time! Just about everyone I knew had a copy and listening to it again, I can see why.
Many albums from this period sound pretty dreadful forty years on, but this album still sounds great. Unfortunately I haven't got the expanded version but it rates five stars on the strength of the original issue.
Keyboard player Graham Field/s (credited in both singular and plural spellings)jumped ship soon after this was released and produced a brilliant album under the name 'Fields' on the CBS (now Sony) label. To the best of my knowledge this has never been available on cd, so someone please licence and release it, as vinyl copies are extremely rare. Rare Bird became more guitar based and signed to Polydor where they released two albums; 'Epic Forest' and 'Somebody's Watching'. Despite being very good records and despite being heavily promoted neither album made much impact and rare Bird sadly went the way of the Great Auk!
Won't attempt a track by track appraisal, as others have already done that quite adequately. Just whack this on your system, crank up the volume and wallow in some great music from better days.
I first heard this album in 1970 whilst listening to the much missed, and incomparable, 208 Radio Luxembourg. It was aired in its entirety, with masterly timing, at around midnight. This is an album that thrives on the atmosphere of a darkened room. As soon as I was back in the UK I secured a copy and played it, almost to destruction. Somewhere along the line it disappeared, possibly at the behest of an unsympathetic spouse, the tracks lived on, however, inside my mind until someone with sense and a fine musical appreciation decreed that it should be released, all hail to that fine mind. Of course this band, and its ilk, such as Focus, Black Widow, and other 'Prog Rock' bands are highly unfashionable and not likely to sell to those who worship at the altar of 'X Factor' or other modern musical degeneration ( I use the term musical in only its loosest term when mentioning such contemporary abominations), the more fools they.
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.
This second album from Rare Bird is an indication of what might have been, if this line up had stuck together. Sounding at times more like Van Der Graff Generator, than the band Rare Bird grew up to be. So what we have here is not an 'easy' album but one that definitely rewards careful listening. It's not the superb melodic rock that they went on to record with the excellent 'Somebodiy's Watching' and 'Epic Forest' albums, but is none the less a very good album and well worth getting.