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Curved Air - Curved Air Live CD (album) cover


Curved Air


Eclectic Prog

3.66 | 65 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Thanks to the taxman

Curved Air were well past their purple patch when this album was recorded in 1974. They had been through a number of line up changes and had released some fine albums along the way, including the 1973 classic "Air cut". After that album though, the band split up and it looked like Curved Air was no more.

According to the sleeve notes for "Curved Air live", the original line up, except bass player Robert Martin who was replaced by Phil Kohn, had problems with an unpaid tax bill, leading to them reforming for a three week tour of the UK, during which this album was recorded. The reunion was short lived though, with Francis Monkman and Florian Pilkington Miska leaving again immediately afterwards. Kohn left in 1975, but Daryl Way stayed on, with Sonja's partner Stewart Copeland (of the Police) John Perry, and Mick Jacques joining the line up for the 1975 album "Midnight wire".

With all this turmoil, it would be forgivable if the performances on this album were less than perfect. In fact "Curved Air live" stands as a worthy testimony to their unquestionable talents, with many fine moments.

The selections are taken from their early albums, "Air conditioning", "Second album" and "Phantasmagoria", with "Air cut" being ignored completely, presumably since it was recorded by an almost completely different line up. The opening tracks, "It happened today" and "Marie Antoinette" are pretty faithful to the originals, although Sonja does seem somewhat over-excited, replacing the smooth multi-tracked vocals of the latter with a far more aggressive performance. "Back street luv" is..., well it's "Back street luv" the band's only hit single.

The latter part of the album is more improvisational, with both "Propositions" and "Young mother" being enhanced by lengthy instrumental workouts. Way and Monkman both enjoy considerable freedom on these tracks to let loose with extended performances. The wonderful Darryl Way epic "Vivaldi" is taken for a nine minute romp which includes the "Sailor's hornpipe" (per "Tubular bells"), and some extended violin virtuosity. Kristina, who would otherwise be unemployed for this piece, misguidedly decides to add some vocal improvisation, but this is more than compensated for by the synthesiser and synthesised sounds.

The closing "Everdance" finds Kristina still rather over-doing the vocal pyrotechnics, the track otherwise being a faithful recreation of the original with a brief reprise of "Vivaldi" to close.

In terms of live albums, "Curved Air" live captures the essence of the band in that environment well. The reunion may have been short lived, but the talent on show is undeniable and the chemistry they create together palpable. The only minor criticism is that while the 47 minutes represented good value in the original LP format, it is a pity that room was not found during the transfer to CD for some of the tracks which must have been omitted.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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