Albums you should know, Part 2: Rare Bird - Epic Forest
Song: Title No. 1 Again (Birdman) (1972)
Following the departure of Graham Field, Rare Bird , now signed to Polydor, shifted musical focus to a very guitar-centric sound. Steve Gould switched to guitar and guitarist Andy “Ced” Curtis was recruited, while Fred Kelly joined on drums and Paul Karas added bass and additional lead vocals. The lead off track “Baby Listen” immediately reveals the difference: a funky groove, driving bass and dual-lead guitars are about as far from their previous work as one could imagine. But change is good, especially with the caliber of Rare Bird’s songwriting. “Hey Man” and “Turning The Lights Out” reveals more of their great harmony vocals, while the title track “Epic Forest” is indeed epic, and, not to be forgotten, features some tasty electric piano from Kaffinetti. “Her Darkest Hour” and “Turn It All Around” fill the hauntingly beautiful acoustic number bill, but the latter includes an explosively heavy middle section, to great effect. The duelling lead guitars (ala Wishbone Ash) and vocal harmonies are back in full force for the driving “Title No. 1 Again (Birdland)”, another potent rocker. The UK pressing included a bonus three-song 7” with initial copies, again filled with more-than-album-worthy tracks. All in all, the new musical direction couldn’t be more than welcome, but unfortunately record sales weren’t forthcoming. With various new members (including Nic Potter), Kaffinetti and Gould continued on, releasing a few more albums until 1976. But unfortunately they’re of lesser interest to the progressive listener, the promise of Epic Forest somewhat lost. Kaffinetti would famously appear in This Is Spinal Tap, playing the part of drummer Viv Savage, while Gould would play bass for decades in Alvin Lee’s band. Ced Curtis would take part in the first Long Hello, featuring ex-VDGG members.