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Curved Air - Air Cut CD (album) cover

AIR CUT

Curved Air

 

Eclectic Prog

3.67 | 102 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Raff
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I've only recently got into this band, which is mainly known because of its charismatic female vocalist, Sonja Kristina Linwood - together with Renaissance's Annie Haslam, one of the few women singers on the original prog scene. Though they are considered by many as mere second-league contenders, this is an unfair prejudice, because from what I've heard so far their best output is an excellent example of early Art Rock, rich with diverse influences - folk, psychedelia, classical and even harder-edged rock.

"Air Cut" (recently released on CD after a wait lasted several years) is widely recognised as their best effort, and with very good reason - the most important of which being the presence of an androgynously beautiful, 17-year-old keyboardist and violinist by the name of Edwin "Eddie" Jobson. Without any offence to his predecessors, violinist Darryl Way and keyboardist Francis Monkman - both outstanding musicians and composers - Jobson is the real ace in the hole of this record. His contribution on a compositional level is essential, his performance nothing short of spectacular, especially as regards the keyboard parts. His sophisticated playing complements Sonja's hauntingly wistful vocals to perfection, and one cannot help but wonder how he could be such an accomplished musician at such young age.

With the exception of the rather average, though mercifully short "World", all the tracks on this album are very strong, ranging from the out-and-out hard rock of opener "The Purple Speed Queen" (a fantastic, typically '70s title) and the equally hard-edged, though more complex "U.H.F.", to the acid-folk-influenced "Elfin Boy", featuring lovely accapella vocals at the beginning. The band show remarkable versatility, with Kirby's biting electric guitar injecting a supplementary dose of power in their sound, and bassist Mike Wedgwood (who would later join Caravan, stepping into the daunting shoes of one Mr Richard Sinclair) offering a strong vocal performance which provides a perfect foil to Kristina's sensual tones in the album's two closing tracks, powerful rockers "Two-Three-Two" and "Easy".

However, the real highlight of the album is the 10-minute-plus epic "Metamorphosis", which highly deserves to be included in the pantheon of the best-ever '70s prog tracks. It is a showcase for Eddie Jobson's astonishing talents, and undeniably one of his finest hours. His performance on the grand piano gives the likes of Emerson and Wakeman a run for their money; later, he switches effortlessly from piano to organ in order to match Kristina's commanding voice and the march-like rythm provided by the drums. Utterly mesmerising. Jobson's violin skills are instead best demonstrated by the stunning instrumental "Armin", which sees all the instruments interweave seamlessly to create a dynamic bravura piece.

After Jobson left the band, Curved Air would never again be able to match "Air Cut" 's extremely high standards - which was a pity, as this album shows they had the potential to become a major league band. Even though the latter was never to be, any self-respecting prog fan should get hold of this album to get an earful of really original, skillfully played and intriguing music. Four solid stars for this one.

Raff | 4/5 |

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