Essential: A masterpiece of progressive rock music
Back in 1970, whilst browsing in my favorite used record store, i came across this album. Despite the ghastly sleeve art (not the cover pictured above), i turned it over and noticed “Sympathy” included in the track listings, a song i had heard many times on the radio in the office but had never really taken much notice of, despite it being a huge hit single. The photo of the band clinched it – in those days any strange album i found depicting “four hippies in a field / park / wood” was worth investigating as part of my “scene”.
A young boy learns a grownup's lesson in survival in this dramatic adventure. Alex (Jordan Kiziuk) is an 11-year-old boy who is living with his father Stefan (Patrick Bergin) and Uncle Boruch (Jack Warden) in a Jewish ghetto in Poland during WWII. While Alex has been able to hold onto some shards of his childhood innocence, he's all too aware of the dangers all around him, and his father has gone so far as to teach him how to use a gun for his own protection once the inevitable tragedy occurs. When Nazi troops begin clearing the Poles from the ghetto, Stefan tells his son to hide, and leaves him with the words, "No matter what happens, I will come back for you." Alex follows his fathers instruction to the letter; he makes a hiding place for himself in the loft of an old building, which he's able to furnish and can access with a rope ladder, while keeping a pet mouse who not only keeps him company but helps him find precious caches of food. With his favorite book, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, as his guide, Alex tries to outrun and outmaneuver the Nazi soldiers as he patiently waits for his father to make good on his promise. The Island on Bird Street was a multiple award-winner in its screenings at the 1997 Berlin International Film Festival.
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music.
Rare Bird's fab four Graham Field, Dave Kaffinetti, Steve Gould and Mark Ashton had created their own distinct sound using keyboards, bass and drums but without, unusually for the time, electric guitars. "As Your Mind Flies By" found them at the peak of their creative powers, especially on the mini-masterpiece "Flight", a four part Suite utilising their keyboard wizardry to the full. This Suite covering the whole of side 2 is a true Prog classic, unfortunately after this album the band underwent personnel changes and a change in musical direction also saw they were never to recover their previous creative form in Prog music.