Rare Bird were an English progressive rock band, formed in 1969. They had more success in other European countries. They released five studio albums between 1969 and 1974. In the UK, they never charted with an album but charted with one single, the organ-based track “Sympathy”, which peaked at number 27. It sold one million copies globally.
The band’s initial line-up was as below, although there would be changes by the time they came to work on their third album. The first two members listed were a constant throughout the lifetime of the band.
Steve Gould (b. Stephen Burt Gould, 25 March 1950, Battersea, South London) – lead vocals & bass, rhythm guitar
David Kaffinetti (b. David Franklyn Ewer, 17 April 1946, Folkestone, Kent) – pianos & assorted keyboards
Graham Field (b. Graham Stansfield, 3 May 1940, Beaminster, West Dorset; d. 13 April 2018) – organ & assorted keyboards
Mark Ashton (b. Mark McVey, 23 June 1949, Bridge, Kent) – drums & backing vocals
The history of Rare Bird began when Graham Field placed an advertisement for a pianist in a musical periodical. He got thirty replies and formed a group called “Lunch”. He met Dave Kaffinetti in November 1968, and together they formulated the basic ideas for Rare Bird. In August 1969, they finally found the ideal rhythm section in Steve Gould, Chris Randall and Mark Ashton. Field and Kaffinetti had originally envisaged that the band would be a four-piece and were looking for a singer/bass player. Gould and Randall, who had both previously been members of the Pop-Psych band “Fruit Machine”, applied to the advert as vocals/guitar and bass respectively and were taken on. Lunch played a few gigs; one notable one was at the Tilbury Working Mens Club for the princely sum of five pounds. The band had no van and they managed to get amps, drums, guitars and Hammond organ into their cars. The gig was marred by Randall receiving a bad electric shock whilst on stage. It later turned out that the founders of the band were more interested in Steve Gould and convinced him to play bass. Randall was now high and dry and was kicked out of the band.
Two weeks later, they had signed management and agency contracts, and three weeks later, were in the studio recording their debut album. Before joining Lunch, Randall and Gould had previously written a song called “To the Memory of Two Brave Dogs”. Rare Bird included this song in their debut album, renaming it “Iceberg” but Randall received no credit on the L.P. Along with Van der Graaf Generator and The Nice, they were one of the first bands that signed to Charisma Records, the record label that Tony Stratton-Smith had founded.
Their late 1969 release “Sympathy” reached No. 1 in Italy and in France, sold 500,000 copies in France and over one million globally. It became their only UK hit single, reaching No. 27 and staying on the chart for 8 weeks. A 1970 cover version of the track by The Family Dogg reached number two in the Netherlands. The song returned to the UK chart in 1992 when a version by Marillion reached No. 17. In 2001, the track was sampled by Faithless in their song “Not Enuff Love”, named after a chorus line in “Sympathy”. The first album released by “Lunch” in 1969 was called “Rare Bird”, which now also became the band’s new name.
In early 1971, Graham Field left Rare Bird to form a short-lived solo project, Fields.
Later members included Fred Kelly (drums), Nic Potter (bass), Andy “Ced” Curtis (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Holland , and Paul Karas (bass, vocals) on the Epic Forest album with Andy Curtis and Fred Kelly appearing on the album Somebody’s Watching. The band finally split up in 1975.
Dave Kaffinetti (credited as David Kaff) played the part of Viv Savage in This Is Spinal Tap (1984). He also played keyboards for the band Spinal Tap in the film and on the soundtrack, and was seen in Spinal Tap’s live appearances in 1984/85.
Chris Randall went on to play with Martin Murray and The Honeycombs, the group of the mid 1960s with their worldwide hits, “Have I the Right”, “Love In Tokyo” and “Thats the Way!”.
Paul Holland had previously been a recording engineer at Southern Music’s studio in Denmark Street, London during the time that Fruit Machine recorded songs for release on the Spark Label under the direction of Barry Kingston. He died of cancer in 2010.
The song “Beautiful Scarlet” from their first album was sampled in the 2004 song “Summer’s Gonna Hurt You” by electronic music producer/DJ Diplo. (wikipedia)
Born Again is a great ROCK album, but there really isn’t much ‘progressive’ about it – Graeme Field took the prog idealism along with him when he left Rare Bird after the exciting album ‘As Your Mind Flies By’. That said, the songs here are very tight, undeniably well arranged, performed, and sound fantastic. Funky elements exist in many songs, though the main focus is definately on producing quality rock music of a high standard. Steve Gould has a superb voice, and, now with guitar (not a bass, unfortunately) in hand, manages a solo here and there, Dave Kaffinetti is a very strong keyboardist, and always tries to incorporate a brief solo wherever a song allows him to, whether it be on clavinet, e-piano, organ or Korg synth, and the rhythm section of Fred Kelly and Andy Rae (drums and bass, respectively) form a solid foundation which drive the songs along in a flawless fashion.
Listening through to this LP, I struggle to find any weak spots, with the strong moments (IMO) being the driving, funky ‘Live For Each Other’, ‘All That I Need’, the beautiful ‘Peace of Mind’ (with lovely harmonies), the blissful and mellow ‘Lonely Street’ (actually capturing the ‘feel’ of a lonely street, whether it be legitimate or metaphorically – a very touching track) and, though it may be a little overlong, ‘Last Tango in Beulah’ with its excellent keyboard arrangement. (by Tom Ozric)
Steve Gould (vocals, guitar, bass, piano on 10.)
Dave Kaffinetti (keyboards, synthesizer, background vocals)
Fred Kelly (drums)
Andy Rae (bass)
Kevin Lamb (background vocals on 07. + 09.)
01. Body And Soul (Camm/Gould) 3.08
02. Live For Each Other (Ashton) 2.54
03. Diamonds (Kaffinetti/Kelly/Gould) 4.05
04. Reaching You (Kaffinetti/Kelly/Gould) 3.29
05. All That I Need (Redman) (Kaffinetti/Kelly/Gould) 3.55
06. Redman (Hall/Curtis/Kaffinetti/Kelly/Gould) 3.40
07. Peace Of Mind (Kaffinetti/Kelly/Gould) 5.23
08. Harlem (Curtis/Kaffinetti/Kelly/Camm/Gould) 3.22
09. Lonely Street (Kaffinetti/Kelly/Gould) 3.11
10. Last Tango In Beulah (Kaffinetti/Kelly/Gould) 6.23
11. Don’t Be Afraid (Single 1975, A-side) (Gould/Kaffinetti) 3.35
12. Passin Through (Single 1975, B-side) (Gould/Kaffinetti) 4.25
My album was signed by Steve Gould (I met him at a concert with Alvin Lee):