Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rare Bird - 1972 - Epic Forest

Rare Bird 
Epic Forest

01. Baby listen
02. Hey man
03. House in the city
04. Epic forest
05. Turning the lights out
06. Her darkest hour
07. Fears of the night
08. Turn it all around
09. Title No. 1 again (Birdman)

- Andy "Ced" Curtis / guitars, piano, percussion, vocals
- Steve Gould / guitars, percussion, vocals
- Paul Holland / percussion, producer
- Dave Kaffinetti / Hammond & Farfisa organs, electric piano, percussion
- Paul Karas / bass, percussion, backing vocals
- Fred Kelly / drums, percussion, congas
- Nic Potter / percussion

This underrated album is so different from previous albums by the band, that a name change would have been appropriate. Then maybe the fans and other listeners would have been a lot more forgiving concerning the radical change of direction. Such changes are always bound to make some fans into detractors.
While the previous albums by Rare Bird where closer to Emerson Lake & Palmer in spirit, Epic Forrest is closer to Wishbone Ash! Indeed, I would strongly recommend this album to fans of Wishbone Ash. Epic Forrest is about as progressive (and about as good!) as Wishbone Ash's Argus. While similar to Argus in some respects, Epic Forrest has a fuller sound with piano (both electric and regular) and organ (Hammond and Farfisa). The keyboard work is hardly very flashy, but the pianos and organs really make the sound a bit richer and fuller.

The song writing, however, takes on a distinct American feel on most of the tracks. Sometimes they are close to Crosby, Stills & Nash! This is especially apparent on the song Hey Man which is pure American Folk rock. So from keyboard driven Prog to American style Folk rock is quite a step! But the first three songs can be deceptive. The nine minute title track offers some nice progressive touches in terms of tempo changes and instrumental work out. This might not be too impressive, but they somehow manage to keep even the longer tracks interesting throughout. It is a quite unique blend of styles; guitar driven Hard rock, some slight Blues and Jazz influences, American Folk and Psychedelic rock! The melodies are really sweet and the vocal harmonies are lovely.

The album is varied, with softer acoustic ballads sitting side by side with the longer more Psychedelic rockers. The ballad Her Darkest Hour is really good. Another favourite is the Title No. 1 again (Birdman). (The three bonus tracks are also nice).

I find much to like here, and as it turns out, even though there is no question about the earlier albums being more Prog as we know it, this album has more lasting impact on me than the earlier albums. This is hardly anything that will blow the Proghead away, but if you come into this with a clear mind, and don't dislike the idea of mixing American Folk and Psychedelic flavoured rock, you might enjoy this one too. But if you expect another As Your Mind Flies By, you better stay away!

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