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Thread: FEATURED CD: Rare Bird - Epic Forest

  1. #1
    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    FEATURED CD: Rare Bird - Epic Forest



    Today's featured album suggestion comes from time captain. This was my introduction to Rare Bird. Like the first two, but still come back to this one of 'lesser stature'. Fits nicely in the Yes/Wishbone Ash vibe.


    Review from ProgArchives (mystic fred)
    An Epic change.

    "Epic Forest" shows a change in label to Polydor and a complete change in musical direction for the band - a more some say up-to- date sound for 1973; slightly pop/jazz-funk but retaining their clever song writing and classic Rare Bird keyboard sounds and signatures, and the familiar Steve Gould vocals. The album also saw a change in personnel with Graham Field and Mark Ashton gone, and bringing in Fred Kelly on drums, Paul Holland and Paul Karas on bass/percussion/vocals and Ced Curtis on lead guitar. The album also shows an improvement in sound quality from the Charisma albums.

    The songs are very good but there is little here to interest the hard core Prog fan, though there are some interesting moments as on the rather gloomy, atmospheric "Her Darkest Hour". My original LP came with a bonus record, a 7" EP containing the songs "Roadside Welcome", "Four Grey Walls" and "You're Lost", these tracks are still to be found on the reissued CD on Red Fox Records which also contains "Devil's High Concern", a non-LP 'B' side of "Sympathy" from 1970, "Sympathy single version" and "What You Want to Know" from the LP "As Your Mind Flies By".

    The first song "Baby Listen" is a funk-style groove with a very heavy bass line, an acoustic guitar softly introducing "Hey Man" which contains a very catchy chorus, the lead guitar fitting in well with the familiar Rare Bird keyboard phrases. "House in the City" is a slower number, the title track "Epic Forest" featuring a catchy guitar riff and familiar Rare Bird signature keyboard solos and phrases. Side 2 kicks in with "Turning the Lights Out" , an excellent rocker with a strong bass line and some catchy riffs, about the ending of a relationship, "you're turning the lights out on me.." ...which brings back memories for me as I was going through a similar situation in 1973....being dumped from a very great height! The next song "Her Darkest Hour" is a beautifully gloomy ballad, laden with acoustic guitars, one of the best tracks on the album about guilt - very atmospheric, the mood continues with "Fears of the Night", a very slow moody song followed by "Turn It All Around", a slow intro builds to a very strong riff in the chorus. "Title No.1 Again (Birdman)" , a jazzy American funk-style jam. The bonus tracks may have been out-takes left over from the main group of songs included on the main album, are good but unremarkable, "Four Grey Walls" being the best of these.

    Though the band had strayed from the Prog path somewhat on this album, the songs remain excellent pop/rock songs and the musicianship and sound quality of the recording is stunning, remains one of my all time favourite albums and would recommend it for those reasons, but would not really satisfy the hard core Prog fan.

    Music rating 5, Prog rating 3.5.







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  2. #2
    Love the title track. Not much else on this one does anything for me.

    By the way, on the title track, can anyone make out what the backing vocals are singing at around the 7 minute mark? It sounds like "oooh Ferrari land".

  3. #3
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    A significant change of style, but I quite like this LP, particularly Steve Gould's singing. I have the original vinyl, which came with a 7" EP, including this hip little killer:

    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

  4. #4
    I suggested this one in the suggestion thread and even posted a video for it. This was a great album when it came out in the 70's. It even had a small 33rpm packaged inside the album cover.
    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF STUPID PEOPLE IN LARGE GROUPS!

  5. #5
    Member bill g's Avatar
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    A friend of mine liked Rare Bird when we were in high school. I never got around to ever hearing them, until these clips. They definitely scratch an itch for me for when I'm in the mood for it. The guitar heavy instrumental intros to 'Title No. 1 Again' and 'Turning The Lights Out' remind me a whole lot of Swedish band Lotus (also from 1973 I think). I do think Lotus is better, more proggy and complex. (in fact I think Lotus are fantastic) but this is definitely good and worth buying. Thanks for posting it.

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    LOVE this album. I've had it since I was like 14. I've got it on vinyl and CD and play it a few times a year. I like some of their other albums, but this one really hits a spot for me.

  7. #7
    It’s amazing how they changed almost overnight from an entirely keyboard-based band to a largely guitar-based band. Of course, part of the reason for that is the replacement of Graham Field with Steve Gould’s old bandmate from the Fruit Machine, Andy “Ced” Curtis. Clearly, they had been listening to Santana at the time (listen to “Title No. 1 Again”), but overall the album has more of a pastoral English feel. Steve Gould’s voice is, typically, fantastic but I also like the co-leads and harmonies from new bassist Paul Karas. I thought their voices complemented each other well, and it’s a shame he did not last longer with the band.

    Everyone always talks about the bonus EP, which I think was only available with the original UK edition. It may have been thrown in with the WLP on the US edition but my copy is the plain, old red-label Polydor copy, and there are definitely no bonuses, just the regular nine tracks.

    Actually, it’s my opinion that there are no bad Rare Bird albums, though Somebody’s Watching is disappointingly mediocre.

    Quote Originally Posted by flowerking View Post
    By the way, on the title track, can anyone make out what the backing vocals are singing at around the 7 minute mark? It sounds like "oooh Ferrari land".
    I always heard it as “Ooo, Veronica,” though I know that’s not right.

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    Last edited by Progbear; 09-29-2013 at 05:14 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I always heard it as “Ooo, Veronica,” though I know that’s not right.
    I've heard it as "Oo-ooh, for warrior", and that most certainly isn't it!

    Whatever it says, "Epic Forest" is a beautiful track and to me the highlight of what is a bit uneven album (in that my attention tends to wander during the funkier, jammier stuff).

  9. #9
    Thanks for taking this suggestion by SHADOW & me.
    My friend Terry turned me onto this album, Jade Warrior & Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come lp "Journey" all in one very stoned afternoon, cutting school back in 1975.
    The above review by Prog Archives IMHO is correct in identifying this album's reception when viewed as a prog album. Also, this was the first music by Rare Bird I ever heard: so I was not having to weigh how I felt about them changing.
    This is one of my favorite albums. I love the cover. Many of us Tolkien readers hung out in the forest preserves, getting high & communing with nature: and so I also love the album's title. In fact the title helped me define the forests as "epic", just as the works of Maxfield Parrish, Monet & Roger Dean help to refocus one's eyes when looking at nature.
    For me this album goes well with the music of CSN&Y, and I think sits better in that company than with the Prog label. Also as mentioned above - Wishbone Ash.
    Harmony. This is harmony laden rock 'n roll with great twin harmony guitars.
    Always thought they were singing something along the lines of:" OOh OOH for Lorien".


    It's almost 6:30 of a Sunday morn, so I am off for quiet church time to the forest: pipe & staff in hand [ before a day of Bears football & Breaking Bad finale ]
    Last edited by time captain; 09-29-2013 at 08:25 AM.

  10. #10
    Missed this, one of my fav albums of the era, and even more so, one of the most underrated. Were Rare Bird better as a guitar than a keyboard band???
    "Always ready with the ray of sunshine"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by strawberrybrick View Post
    Missed this, one of my fav albums of the era, and even more so, one of the most underrated. Were Rare Bird better as a guitar than a keyboard band???
    No. But this one, at least, was quite good.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by flowerking View Post
    By the way, on the title track, can anyone make out what the backing vocals are singing at around the 7 minute mark? It sounds like "oooh Ferrari land".
    Finally watched that “lyrics” video at the top of the page. The text under the video box claims it’s “florae.” I remain skeptical, but it’s as close to correct as we’re going to get short of Steve Gould butting in and setting the record straight once and for all.

    I think I like “Ferrari land” better.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  13. #13
    "Epic Forest" is my favorite Rare Bird album! The first track oddly enough is the worst, but the rest of the album, as well as the bonus EP, are all awesome.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    Finally watched that “lyrics” video at the top of the page. The text under the video box claims it’s “florae.” I remain skeptical, but it’s as close to correct as we’re going to get short of Steve Gould butting in and setting the record straight once and for all.

    I think I like “Ferrari land” better.
    I guess "florae" makes some sense given that the song is about a forest, an epic forest. Even some of the commenters for the video are debating whether it should be florae or not.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by yesstiles View Post
    "Epic Forest" is my favorite Rare Bird album! The first track oddly enough is the worst, but the rest of the album, as well as the bonus EP, are all awesome.
    Hey, I like “Baby Listen”! The guitar riffs and the call-and-response vocals between Steve Gould and Paul Karas make for a stunning opener!
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  16. #16
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yesstiles View Post
    the bonus EP
    Four Grey Walls!!
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by bill g View Post
    A friend of mine liked Rare Bird when we were in high school. I never got around to ever hearing them, until these clips. They definitely scratch an itch for me for when I'm in the mood for it. The guitar heavy instrumental intros to 'Title No. 1 Again' and 'Turning The Lights Out' remind me a whole lot of Swedish band Lotus (also from 1973 I think). I do think Lotus is better, more proggy and complex. (in fact I think Lotus are fantastic) but this is definitely good and worth buying. Thanks for posting it.

  18. #18
    Member Camelogue's Avatar
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    I was an early Rare Bird fan. I think Steve Gould has a great rock voice.

  19. #19
    It took me a few years to realize it, but this is my favourite Rare Bird album by far. Great songs, great vocals, great arrangements. I actually prefer the guitar version of the band to the keyboard version, though I am a fan of 'As Your Mind Flies By'. This may not be 'prog' in the narrow sense of the term, but it is quality rock.

  20. #20
    Phil Jackson Phil Jackson's Avatar
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    I agree this is their best album although there is some great stuff on the first two when they were an out and out prog band. I loved the free ep as well- took my record to a student party back in the day- big mistake! Also like Somebody's Watching. Great live band as well, great memories. Thanks for jogging them!

  21. #21
    There are good songs on each of Rare Bird's five albums, but Epic Forest has the greatest amount of good material. It's considerably more mature and sophisticated than the first two albums. The vocals, the guitars, the keyboards, the rhythm section, and the overall performance and production are all incredible.

    Side one is much stronger than side two; in fact, aside from the first song, all the songs on side one are very good: "Hey Man," "House in the City," and the epic "Epic Forest," the album's best and most progressive song, the last two and a half minutes of which are stunning. And no, I've never been able to figure out what's being sung repeatedly in the background either.

    Side two is weaker but nevertheless features the delicate and lovely "Her Darkest Hour." "Fears of the Night" is also decent.

    Only when I bought the CD did I discover the three additional songs, the best of which is "Roadside Welcome," whose final melody is the main melody of "Turn Your Head Around," the best song on Rare Bird's next album, Somebody's Watching.

    Here are the best songs:

    "Hey Man": https://invidio.us/watch?v=KChOd9GmZdY&listen=1
    "House in the City": https://invidio.us/watch?v=MR3LnHIzn84&listen=1
    "Epic Forest": https://invidio.us/watch?v=u4c7UA1h5h8&listen=1
    "Her Darkest Hour": https://invidio.us/watch?v=vwLWshRJFRk&listen=1
    "Roadside Welcome": https://invidio.us/watch?v=DLxMsDCMYlI&listen=1

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by mogrooves View Post
    A significant change of style, but I quite like this LP, particularly Steve Gould's singing. I have the original vinyl, which came with a 7" EP, including this hip little killer:

    I still have mine.
    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF STUPID PEOPLE IN LARGE GROUPS!

  23. #23
    Member TheH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowerking View Post
    Love the title track. Not much else on this one does anything for me.

    By the way, on the title track, can anyone make out what the backing vocals are singing at around the 7 minute mark? It sounds like "oooh Ferrari land".
    It's "Ohh Florida" by the way...

  24. #24
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    Esoteric box en route with all their output.

    https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/...5-6cd-box-set/

    Has an extra live disc from Drury Lane. This was a show they shared with Barclay James Harvest- their first live album was partially recorded (and filmed) at this gig.

  25. #25
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    Esoteric box en route with all their output.
    I suppose it's too much to hope for that the remaster of the first album will be free of the tape speed issues that afflicted the original UK pressing and all CD releases. To date, the only way to hear that album properly is the US vinyl.
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