The first impression you get when spinning As Your Mind Flies By is
the purity of the vocals. It's a characteristic of 1970s English music that we
just don't hear any more. The crystaline voices, the clear enunciation, the
Queens English, the clean, pleasing timbre, and the intelligence that so often
shone through. Not quite the operatic style of the Italians, and there's a more
gritty tone to Rare Earth's singing that gives it a hard-edged character.
Once the voice has settled on you, along with the compelling melodies, you
realize that the instrumentals are pretty darned good on their own. And - hey -
where's the guitar? This is rock, isn't it? Where's the bloody guitar!
Well - like some of their peers - the conspicuous absence of guitars yields
interesting sounds, and a certain creative originality that - again - is rare
There's good variety from track to track. The baroque sounds of the hymnal
"Down On The Floor" has a plodding, deliberate rhythm, a strong simple melody,
and a deliberate melodic harpsichord, and with its pained vocals, it will be
appreciated by fans of ELP's "Jerusalem". Some sections of "I'm thinking" recall
early Nektar, and "Flight" is a restless 4-part 20-minute epic that includes a
rendition of Ravel's Bolero and features rich female choirs, experimental
sections, and wonderful Hammond lines from Graham Field that recall early Focus.
Unusual for progressive bands - although more common in the '70s than now -
Rare Bird managed to elevate several of their songs to international hit level,
and the anti-war/pro-love anthem "Sympathy" was a number one hit in France and
Italy. That track isn't on this CD - but the point is that Rare Bird's
hook-laden melodies have found wide appeal.
Not essential, but definitely worth having, As Your Mind Flies By is a
small part of the history of early progressive music. And the Esoteric
Recordings CD reviewed here, re-mastered from the original tapes, will go a long
way to enhancing the Rare Bird experience.
1. What you want to know (5:59)
2. Down on the floor (2:41)
3. Hammerhead (3:31)
4. I'm thinking (5:40)
5. Flight (19:39)
- Part 1 - As your mind flies by
- Part 2 - Vacuum
- Part 3 - New York
- Part 4 - Central Park