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Curved Air - Airconditioning CD (album) cover


Curved Air


Eclectic Prog

3.33 | 190 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars CURVED AIR's debut firmly established the band's identifiable mix of classical, folk, rock and psychedelia which would persist throughout their initial run. This was by far their most commercially successful long player in the UK both in terms of peak position (#8) and weeks on the chart (21). How much of this had to do with its being issued as one of the first picture disks and the photogenicity of Sonja Kristina is unclear, but what was apparent from the start was that CURVED AIR managed to be unique rather than special. Today they are regarded as influential but somehow fall short of legendary. Very few if any of their numbers have been acknowledged as classics, possibly because they just aren't very memorable, the ambitious opuses lacking fluidity and the more "traditional" songs somehow failing to ignite beyond their initial promise.

On the flip side, I'm not sure CURVED AIR knew how to spell "sell out" let alone attempt it, and they could sure play, which helped compensate for generally mundane lyrical content. They even stumbled on a few ear worms, the very first being album opener "It Happened Today", the first and by far the best of their radio ready tracks which culminated commercially in "Back Street Luv" off the next album. The transition from rocker to neo classical in the middle is a harbinger of their eclectic attitude. Unfortunately, the toe-tapping is brutalized by "Stretch", a shambles of a boogie- blues that sounds more like a lesser JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. The album reaches its apex on "Vivaldi", a Darryl Way ode to the Italian baroque master that is equal parts classical rock and sonic experimentation, and "Hide and Seek", an eerie slice of heavy stoner prog with superb guitar from Monkman and even some impressive harmony vocals. Most of the rest is distinctly average for the reasons already mentioned.

"Air Conditioning" may have established CURVED AIR as a fleeting sensation and, like all their albums, has enough highlights to steer clear of redundancy, but somehow they were never cool or hot enough to fulfill their potential.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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