(All Album Reviews by Phil Jackson)
Imagine the scene. Working shifts in a hotel in the Scottish Highlands, living in a caravan with only a handful of hippy LPs to keep me company and one of these is Rare Bird’s Somebody’s Watching.
In consequence, I don’t really know just how good it is, having played it so many times and memorised every word, every nuance and explored every ‘nook and cranny’ as we say in Scotland!
Not as progressive as earlier recordings for Charisma, SW is a mixture of funky rock and sensitive ballads with a lengthy rousing instrumental featuring a percussion section and John Whetton (sic) on bass thrown in for good measure- this is of course (A Fistful of) “Dollars” (Yes, Morricone!) Here and elsewhere on the album, the interplay between Dave Kafinetti’s keyboards and Andy Curtis’ guitar is measured and carefully constructed (Singer Steve Gould, surely one of rock’s great neglected heroes also plays guitar).
These were not the greatest musicians around at the time but a stunning symbiosis of styles is the net result and Rare Bird, as a unit, was one of the tightest, most visceral acts around. Nic Potter, of VDGG fame and Fred Kelly lay down a firm backbeat and another secret of the album’s success is in its repetitive choruses and multi-part harmonies.
There are two bonus tracks: the forgettable single “Virginia” and its superior b-side, the relaxed ballad “Lonely Street”, later to appear on Born Again.
The CD sounds great and at last I can put my vinyl copy into retirement. Black marks to Esoteric though for not providing sleeve notes.