The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rare Bird

Rare Bird

Rare Bird (Charisma UK CAS 1005) 1969

As Your Mind Flies By (Charisma UK CAS 1011) 1970

Epic Forest (Polydor UK 2442 101) 1972

Somebody's Watching (Polydor UK 2383 211) 1973

Born Again (Polydor UK2383 274) 1974

Rare Bird were a British late 60’s/early 70’s band that were initially signed to Charisma Records. They were managed by the owner of Charisma Records, Tony Stratton-Smith. They were among the first British rock groups to use a ‘dual keyboard’ format (Procol Harum also comes to mind). At the time of their debut album, they even managed a well-thought-of single, “Sympathy” that charted in England. The song was even covered by another Charisma act, Capability Brown.

I am only aware of legit CD’s for the first 3 albums. The first two were done in Japan in the late 80’s (and they sound great!). Epic Forest” just got a British CD release via the famous “El” label (via Cherry Red). I do not think the last two albums have legit CD issues. All 5 Rare Bird LP’s got issued internationally (yes, even in the U.S.!). Both Charisma LP’s had their LP covers changed for the U.S. market (the first being on ABC’s Probe Records, the second on ABC Records proper). Apparently, Universal England has made a compilation from the 3 x Polydor LP’s as a CD.

Rare Bird member David Kaffenetti later renamed himself David Kaff and was the keyboard player in the fictitious rock band Spinal Tap. Organist Graham Field formed a band called Fields, who made one (self-titled) LP. Drummer Mark Ashton managed a few solo album, in the singer / songwriter style. Bassist / vocalist Steve Gould sounds like Arthur Brown at times – which is a great compliment (check out “Hammerhead” on “As Your Mind Flies By”).

While Rare Bird may be an easily recognized name in Great Britain, they are not all that well-known in the U.S. – having never had a ‘hit single’ here. Did they tour here? I think so, but I am too young to have been aware of them having ever come. I am also not aware if they have ever re-formed, as so many of the 70’s British bands seem to do.


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