[Review] Rare Bird: Somebody’s Watching (1973)

The group was becoming progressively less proggy, despite the addition of VDGG’s Nic Potter on bass.

Kronomyth 4.0: …But nobody’s listening.

Somebody’s Watching asks the musical question: If Rare Bird dropped another album in the same vein as Epic Forest, would anyone hear it? By this stage, Rare Bird had completely morphed into a kind of cross between Steely Dan (the title track is a near ringer for “Do It Again”), Barclay James Harvest and whatever is funkier than those two bands and features a lot of clavinet playing (I have a limited lexicon of funk references, in case you hadn’t noticed). Now, if the idea of a Steely Harvest didn’t send you screaming in the other direction, good for you.

As much as I enjoyed their second album, I didn’t plan to carry a torch for it through eternity. The band shifted in a more mainstream direction under the leadership of Gould and Kaffinetti, but they didn’t stop making good music. Songs like “More And More” and “Turn Your Head,” for example, are well worth hearing.

The addition of VDGG’s Nic Potter on bass doesn’t alter what has always been a bit of a boring bottom end on Rare Bird recordings. And the band’s tepid version of “Hard Time” is a missed opportunity. But I honestly enjoy this album more than their last, even if neither are likely to become staples in my musical diet.

For the obstinate proggers who refused to let go of the past, the band includes an epic version of Ennio Morricone’s “A Few Dollars More” at the end. (Signs that you’re probably not a proper prog band: John Wetton guests on your album and you misspell his name.) The later CD release adds the nonalbum single “Virginia” b/w “Lonely Street” as a bonus.

Read more Rare Bird reviews

Original LP Version

A1. Somebody’s Watching (5:25)
A2. Third Time Around (4:55)
A3. Turn Your Head (4:38)
A4. More And More (4:05)
B1. Hard Time (Blondie Chaplin/Ricky Fataar) (3:06)
B2. Who Is The Hero (Kevin Lamb) (3:39)
B3. High In The Morning (Paul Korda) (3:30)
B4. Dollars* (8:38)

Tracks 1-8 written by Steve Gould/Fred Kelly/Dave Kaffinetti/Andy Curtis unless noted. *Incorporating extracts from “A Few Dollars More” by Ennio Morricone.

Bonus CD reissue tracks
9. Virginia
10. Lonely Street

The Players

Andy (a/k/a “Ced”) Curtis (guitar), Steve Gould (vocals, guitar, bass guitar on B2), Dave Kaffinetti (pianos, clavinette, organ), Fred Kelly (drums, Northern percussion), Nic Potter (bass guitar) with Sammi Abu (congas on B4), Paul Holland (congas on B4), Nicky James (vocals), Paul Korda (vocals), Kevin Lamb (vocals), Al Matthews (congas on B4), John Whetton (Wetton) (bass guitar on B4). Produced by Rare Bird; engineered by Andy Stephens, Andy Curtis, Brian Humphries, Ashley How; mix engineered by Paul Holland & Andy Curtis.

The Pictures

Photography by Chris Yates.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in 1973 in the UK (Polydor, 2383 211) and the US (Polydor, PD 6502) with gatefold cover (UK version only).

  1. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 2008 in Europe (Esoteric, ECLEC2091) with 2 bonus tracks.

Did You Know?

  • The song “Hard Times” was originally recorded by Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar during their work on the Beach Boys’ Holland sessions. I’m not sure how Rare Bird ended up with it, or what happened to the “s” at the end.

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