Rare Bird were part of Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma Records stable of artists. Formed in 1969, the original lineup was built around two keyboardists, Graham Field (born Stansfield) and Dave Kaffinetti, who added Steve Gould on bass and vocals and Mark Ashton on drums. Their self-titled first album was released in late 1969 and featured classically-inspired organ rock, best demonstrated with the track "God of War." Yet it was the "Sympathy" b/w "Devils High Concern" that rose to No. 27 on the UK charts and sold a million copies worldwide.
Pink Floyd's fifth album, Atom Heart Mother, appeared a full year after the disappointing studio half of Ummagumma. Originally titled "The Amazing Pudding," the album's side-long title suite was an amalgam of work the Floyd had been kicking around at the time. Of course, 1970 turned out to be the year for adding orchestras to rock music, something to which even the Floyd would succumb. Composer Ron Geesin was called in to score the already-recorded backing track.
Organist Vincent Crane and drummer Carl Palmer were first paired in The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. They split off during a US tour in 1969, and returned to England and formed Atomic Rooster (1969 was the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac). According to legend, it was during a psychedelic experience that Crane first envisioned the "rooster," and after which his subsequent psychiatric problems began to surface. Crane was a huge fan of James Brown, while Palmer was into Buddy Rich; bringing both influences to Atomic Rooster imbued the band with its unique character.
Originally from Oldham, Lancashire, guitarist John Lees, keyboardist Stuart "Wooly" Wolstenholme, bassist Les Holroyd and drummer Melvin Pritchard first turned professional together in 1967, drawing the names Barclay, James and Harvest out of a hat. Often described as "the poor man's Moody Blues," BJH did draw some similarities to their namesake, particularly that 60s vibe to their music.
Hailing from Hammersmith, London, Brian Auger was a jazz pianist and session man, most notable for playing the harpsichord on The Yardbirds' single "For Your Love" b/w "Got to Hurry" in March 1965. Later, Auger became a member of Steampacket with singers Julie Driscoll, Long John Baldry and Rod Stewart, where he shined on the Hammond organ. The band, however, produced no real recordings (apart from some demos); so along with Driscoll and Victor Briggs, they next formed The Trinity, scoring a No.
Ekseption's history goes back to the mid-60s in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Trumpeter Rein van den Broek's high school band The Jokers morphed into The Incrowd, gaining keyboardist Rick van der Linden in 1966; subsequently they renamed themselves Ekseption. Both classically-trained musicians, driven on by The Nice's fusion of rock and classics, made a name for themselves-playing rocked-up versions of classical themes!
Prior to the release of their third album, Jethro Tull scored another two Top 10 singles in the UK with "Sweet Dream" b/w "17" and "Witch's Promise" b/w "Teacher." The flip side of the latter single would become an FM radio staple in the US, where the band's success prompted their first headlining American tour. With Benefit, Jethro Tull puts the cap on their initial period, defined by their classic bluesy sound.
Following the breakup of The Nice earlier in the year, drummer Brian Davison assembled a band under the moniker Every Which Way and recorded an eponymous album for Charisma. A key member of the group was Graham Bell, previously the singer for English psych act Skip Bifferty. Not only did Bell contribute vocals, guitar and keyboards, but he also wrote most of of the material for the album. The opening track, “All in Time,” credited to Maria Niforos (Davison’s then-wife), cops a Traffic-esque vibe; like Lee Jackson’s contemporaneous work, Every Which Way is also a mellow affair.