Reviews Zone

Rare Bird: Beautiful Scarlet: The Recordings (1969-1975) Out Now (Esoteric Recordings)




5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)




A stunning six-disc set of 59 tracks from the legendary UK progressive rock band Rare Bird, covering the period of 1969 to 1975.

It includes their albums “Rare Bird”, “As Your Mind Flies By”, “Epic Forest”, “Somebody’s Watching” and “Born Again”,  along with a previously unreleased disc recorded live at the Theatre Royal, Drury lane in London in 1974, plus a further 12 bonus tracks drawn from rare singles, an EP and a studio out-take.

All newly remastered, and it comes with a poster and a fabulous ‘book’ with extensive essays and interviews with Steve Gould and Mark Ashton.

So this set offers up all of the band’s albums and singles released on both the Charisma and Polydor labels between 1969 and 1975.

The band formed in 1969 – the first act to be released on Tony Stratton Smith’s eclectic label Charisma records (also the home of Genesis, The Nice and Van Der Graaf Generator, among others).

They won praise straight out of the gate for their self-titled debut album released in late 1969 and for their 1970 international hit single, “Sympathy”. Despite selling a million copies worldwide, neither their debut album, or the follow-up, “As Your Mind Flies By” enjoyed the sales of their debut single.

This lack of commercial success saw the departure of Graham Field and Mark Ashton, leaving Gould and Kaffinetti to form a new line-up in 1971.

Signing to Polydor Records in late 1971, Rare Bird recorded the album “Epic Forest”  the following year. The album was lavishly packaged with early copies featuring a poster and a bonus 7-inch EP with three additional tracks.

In 1973 the band changed line-ups once more with departure of Paul Karas. He was replaced by Nic Potter from Van Der Graaf Generator, and they recorded the album “Somebody’s Watching” the same year, which featured guest John Wetton on bass for the track “Dollars”.

In 1974 Andy Rare replaced Nic Potter on bass and Rare Bird recorded their final album, Born Again. The release of the album led to touring activity, including a memorable spot opening for label mates Barclay James Harvest at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in June 1974. But the following year, Rare Bird called it a day and disbanded.

This new anthology features newly “Epic Forest” having been being re-mastered from recently discovered first generation master tapes for the first time.


By Christopher Weston




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