Rare Bird were discovered by Tony Stratton-Smith and signed to his fledgling Charisma label alongside such progressive luminaries as The Nice, Van Der Graaf Generator and Genesis. Their eponymous debut showcased the band’s unique lineup (organ, electric piano, bass & drums) and spawned a worldwide hit in the stately “Sympathy.” The followup, As Your Mind Flies By, was even more overtly progressive and featured one track, “Flight,” that took up the entire second side. Creative tensions, coupled with a lack of commercial success, led to a split that resulted in founding organist Graham Field forming Fields and drummer Mark Ashton resurfacing under Headstone.
Under the direction of Steve Gould (vocals/bass/guitar) and Dave Kaffinetti (keyboards), Rare Bird was a bird of a different feather. The music of Epic Forest, Somebody’s Watching and Born Again favored contemporary rock/funk songs over progressive flights of fancy, although the band never completely cut the cord from their progressive past, as evidenced by the occasional eight- or nine-minute epic. Despite major-label support and a stint as the opening act for the similarly star-crossed Barclay James Harvest in 1974, the new Rare Bird never really took off and they finally folded after a single that prophetically featured a song called “Passing Through”—as fitting an epitaph as any for the band.
RARE BIRD (1969)
Iceberg / Times / You Went Away / Melanie // Beautiful Scarlet / Sympathy / Natures Fruit / Bird On A Wing / God of War. Released on elpee in 1969 in the UK (Charisma, CAS 1005) and Germany (Philips, 6369, 900). Also released on elpee in 1969 in the US (ABC Probe, CPLP-4514-S) with unique gatefold cover and sides 1 and 2 reversed. Also released as Sympathy on elpee in Israel (Phonodor, 13058). Also released as Sympathy on elpee and cassette in 1970 in Italy (Philips, 6369 900/7164 001) with sides 1 and 2 reversed. Re-released on CD in 2007 in the US (Esoteric) with European cover.
b/w Devil’s High Concern. Released on 7-inch on February 6, 1970 in the UK (Charisma, CB 120), France, Italy, Portugal and Spain (Philips, 6077 900), Israel (Phonodor, 72012), Japan (Philips, SFL-1270) and Yugoslavia (Philips, S 53 595) with regional picture sleeves; reached #27 on the UK charts (charted on February 14, 1970 for 8 weeks). Also released on 7-inch in February 1970 in the US ( ABC Probe, CP-477) with “Beautiful Scarlet” on the B side and in Peru (Philips, 6073 301) with “Bird On A Wing” on the B side. Re-released with their next single (WYWTK b/w Hammerhead) on 7-inch EP on April 28, 1972 in the UK (Charisma, CB 179). Re-released on three-track 7-inch EP in 1974 in France (Philips, 6228 200) with “Natures Fruit.” Re-issued on 7-inch in 1976 in France (Charisma, 6073 368) with unique picture sleeve. Re-issued on 7-inch in July 1975 in the UK (Charisma, CB 262) and on September 7, 1979 in the UK (Old Gold, OG 9040) with “Beautiful Scarlet” on the B side.
AS YOUR MIND FLIES BY (1970)
What You Want To Know / Down On The Floor / Hammerhead / I’m Thinking // Flight: Part 1. As Your Mind Flies By / Part 2. Vacuum / Part 3. New York / Part 4. Central Park. Released on elpee in 1970 in the UK (Charisma, CAS 1011) and the US (ABC, ABCS-716). UK and US versions feature different covers. Re-released on expanded, remastered CD on September 10, 2007 in the US (Esoteric) with four bonus tracks.
What You Want To Know (1970)
b/w Hammerhead. Released on 7-inch on November 27, 1970 in the UK (Charisma, CB 138), the US (ABC, 11284), France, Germany and Italy (Philips, 6073 302) and Spain (Philips, 60 73 302) with regional picture sleeves.
Sympathy / You Went Away / Nature’s Fruit / Bird On A Wing / What You Want To Know // Beautiful Scarlet / Hammerhead / I’m Thinking / As Your Mind Flies By. Compilation released on elpee in 1970 in the UK (Charisma, CHC 6).
EPIC FOREST (1972)
Baby Listen / Hey Man / House In The City / Epic Forest // Turning The Lights Out / Her Darkest Hour / Fears of the Night / Turn It All Around / Title No. 1 Again (Birdman). Released on elpee in 1972 in the US (Polydor, PD-5530) and in the UK (Polydor, 2442 101) with bonus 7-inch record feat. “Roadside Welcome,” “Four Grey Walls” and “You’re Lost.” Re-issued on 12-track CD in 2007 in the UK (Esoteric).
Birdman – Part One (Title No. 1 Again) (1972)
Released on promotional 7-inch in 1972 in the US (Polydor, PD-15079) feat. A stereo & mono.
Hey Man (1972)
Released on promotional 7-inch in 1972 in the US (Polydor, PD-15081) feat. A stereo & mono.
SOMEBODY’S WATCHING (1973)
Somebody’s Watching / Third Time Around / Turn Your Head / More And More // Hard Time / Who Is The Hero / High In The Morning / Dollars. Released on elpee in 1973 in the UK (Polydor, 2383 211) and the US (Polydor, PD 6502). Re-released on CD in 2008 in the US (Esoteric, ECLEC 2091) with three bonus tracks: “A Few Dollars More,” “Virginia,” “Lonely Street.”
Somebody’s Watching – Part I (1973)
b/w Somebody’s Watching – Part II. Released on promotional mono 7-inch in 1973 in the US (Polydor, PD 15087).
b/w Lonely Street. Released on 7-inch on September 21, 1973 in the UK (Polydor, 2058 402).
BORN AGAIN (1974)
Body And Soul / Live For Each Other / Diamonds / Reaching You / All That I Need // Redman / Peace of Mind / Harlem / Lonely Street / Last Tango In Beulah. Released on elpee and 8-track in 1974 in the UK (Polydor, 2383 274) and the US (Polydor, PD/8F 6506). Re-issued on CD in 2002 in France (Red Fox, RF 625). Re-released on expanded, remastered CD in the EU in 2008 (Esoteric, ECLEC2092) with two bonus tracks: “Don’t Be Afraid” and “Passin’ Through.”
Body And Soul (1974)
b/w Redman. Released on 7-inch on May 10, 1974 in the UK (Polydor, 2058 471).
Nature Fruits (1975)
b/w Bird On A Wing. Released on 7-inch in 1975 in Poland (Muzu, S-594).
Don’t Be Afraid (1975)
b/w Passing Through. Released on 7-inch on May 30, 1975 in the UK (Polydor, 2058 591).
RARE BIRD (1977)
Body And Soul / Epic Forest / Passing Through / Diamonds / Turn Your Head / Virginia // Don’t Be Afraid / Hey Man / Reaching You / Hard Time / Redman / Somebody’s Watching. Compilation released on elpee in 1977 in the UK (Polydor, 2384 078).