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Curved Air

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars A hard to find diamond

A real hidden gem this one, which is generally much more progressive than Curved Air's previous albums.

With Daryl Way and Francis Monkman no longer in the band, Sonja Kristina, whose distinctive voice is one of the band's strongest trademarks, was the only original member left. She continued however to surround herself with highly competent musicians, including the multi-talented Eddie Jobson. The other Curved Air trademark, the violin of Way was mainly replaced by keyboards, with Jobson only reverting to violin on a couple of tracks.

"Purple speed queen" is a storming opener, with a great synthesiser solo in the Rick Wakeman vein. "Elfin Boy" follows on much more softly, Kristina's voice never sounded more haunting than it does here. The track is a real weepy, with beautifully sympathetic violin accompaniment. "Graceful his fingers, they waltz on the strings, gentle the song that he sings", as the lyrics go.

The third track "Metamorphosis", is in my opinion Curved Air's best ever track. Starting with almost classical piano, the track builds and softens, quickens and slows. Sonja's vocals vary from the almost child like, to seductive temptress. They combine with some really infectious themes and great instrumental work for over 10 minutes, to make for a real prog classic.

Kristina takes something of a back seat on side 2, with an instrumental track, and a rare (for Curved Air) male vocal lead on "Two three two". The feature track on side 2 is however the longer final song, "Easy". For want of a better description, this is a prog power ballad. Once again, the track has superb keyboards including an excellent instrumental break, and Kristina on top form vocally.

If all Curved Air means to you is the full frontal nudity of the cover of their first album, plus variations on "Vivaldi", this album will open up a whole new dimension for you.

Undoubtedly their best, but criminally very difficult to track down on CD. Nice painting of the then current line up on the rear cover too.

2006 update - The album has finally been released on CD. The remastering is superb, bringing out the full majesty of this wonderful album.

Report this review (#28111)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This great album finally reissued as CD in Korea. As LP miniature style with 1 poster. Before I heard this release I couldn't feel the real taste of "Metamorphosis". You can ask the detail information through : m2urec (at) chollian (dot) net

The hidden treasure and 'A Must' item. Of course I like Darryl Way more but Eddie Jobson showed his full strength even his young age.

Report this review (#28112)
Posted Thursday, October 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a progressive sophisticated hard rock record and it has a very surprising powerful sound for the year! The bass is VERY bottom, and the distorted & aggressive organ and electric guitars give one of the most powerful sound of the 70's. It is sometimes very loud and heavy! Obviously, the louder the volume is, the better it is! With the presence of the wonderful Eddie Jobson on keyboards and violin, one has to expect subtle refinements: it is really the case here, and Jobson produces smooth and emotional textures, especially with the help of his poignant, nostalgic & sophisticated piano and his electric violin: what a GREAT musician! The female lead vocals are very good, and the compositions are rather complex. There are lots of acoustic guitars too. The drums are very noisy and well played. You often pass from aggressive bits to smoother ones, and vice versa.
Report this review (#28114)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The fourth work of CURVED AIR released in 1973 "Air Cut". It is a work that passes the re- formation of the group. There is a strange tasting the band with vigorous omnivorous named CURVED AIR. However, the former work wins the sound. The most much praise it in this work is a guitar play of Kirby Gregory where the sense overflows. True ability as the rock band of CURVED AIR was demonstrated by acquiring Jim Russell with him.

Report this review (#54453)
Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#82112)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Actually, it's 3,5 stars!

It seems that "Air Cut" is generally considered the best one by CURVED AIR. For me, it is much less inspired work than say, "The Second Album". It is still very good effort, however, and is surely to be recommended, especially given the totally undeserved obscurity of this fine band. But, as I say, this album doesn't deliver as strong as previous. Perhaps exactly some of the "stronger" harder-rocking moments are the reason that I much less appreciate it. These are close to mainstream rock. I would easily skip "Purple Speed Queen", "World" and "2-3-2" which mean nothing to me.

On the other hand, there are plenty of brilliant moments, above all an epic "Metamorphosis". In the first part it contains a marching rhythm section with "delayed" guitar solo, which sounds extremely like CAMEL's "Dunkirk" theme from the celebrated "Snowgoose". To avoid confusion, the latter was recorded some two years later, in 1975! Overall, this is still very good album that should be highly regarded in spite of my criticism. CURVED AIR are surely deserving to be ranked in the top league of "classic" prog rock, and why they had not been marked in that way, remains to be investigated. (What comes to my mind is that a lead female vocalist, especially so good looking as Kristina, was not taken too seriously in those still male-dominating era, when gender-awareness was in its roots! Male chauvinism?!)

Report this review (#86388)
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review by mrgd 'Curved Air' was a UK band plagued by personnel changes which never allowed them to realise their vast potential.Driving forces Monkman and Way left after the release of 'Phantasmagoria' and UK and US tours in 72.Sonja Kristina who proved to be the pillar of the band and new bassist Mike Wedgwood were then joined by the prodigious teenagers Kirby Gregory and Eddie Jobson ,with the drum stool being now warmed by Jim Russell.'Air Cut' was recorded with this line-up in 73, but alas,this incarnation lasted but a handful of short months before it self destructed, more's the pity. Now, with the re-release of this album on CD,there has been some rekindled interest in it- and justifiably so.I recommend that you read the excellent reviews of 'salmacis' and 'ghost rider' as well .They provide nice incites into the nuances of each track . It's true then that 'Air Cut' is not representative of the band's music established by the Monkman/Way eras, but make no mistake, this album lacks for nothing as a result- it's as exquisite as it is harder edged.The band is firing and the skills and chops of Russell,Kirby and Wedgwood are well forward in the mix for all to hear.They provide much of the harder and heavier edge to the band, moreso than their predecessors.However, the revelation is Jobson who comes to the fore with classically influenced piano,soaring synths and heavy organ sounds ,placing him on a par with the very best keyboard exponents of the era [and some may say,leaving them in his wake].Couple this with his violin skills and his song writing ,all of the highest quality, and you'd expect this young man's musical future to be absolutely assured.Of course, we all know he joined Roxy Music,Tull,Zappa and ultimately UK, but has he realised all that potenetial.....? Well,that's another story. 'Metamorphosis',his main contribution, is close to the complete progressive rock experience combining driving,heavier themes with almost lilting melodies [check out Jobson's piano/synth interlude ,about 3 mins. in,later punctuated by Kristina's haunting vocal before it inevitably re-establishes it's initial pace]. Other tracks to savour are Sonja's acid-folk laden and equally haunting 'Elfin Boy', the instrumental 'Armin', a Kirby contribution in 'UHF' and my two faves. 'Two,Three,Two' and 'Easy'. 'Two, Three,Two' is a Mike Wedgwood song which absolutely rocks, driven by Kirby's solos.Any self respecting rock guitarist wants to cook like this! But, 'Easy' is the most compelling of listens, with Sonja's vocals setting the power and pace.Yes, she can be stridenly powerful, but only in the context of the heavier moments of which there are many.But it's mainly her haunting softer moments that endure on this album.'Easy' though, takes off and finishes the album with such power that it leaves the listener thinking or even openly expleting ..."WOW". What's more ,it can still have this effect . Because it has stood the time test, it's 4.4999 stars for that WOW factor ,for mine.[I don't believe in 5s except in the most exceptional cases and this is as close as you can possibly get. Buy and listen in the knowledge that you're in for something special].

Report this review (#92430)
Posted Thursday, September 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is clearly a hidden gem. It has all the ingredients of a brilliant work:

- Creativity : 1973, Air Cut were already creating influences for bands like Rush and combining styles from Floydish bluesy guitars to Yes jazzy/psych. passages. - Technique : Great instrumental and vocal technique, effects and sounds rarely used at this time. Brilliant interpretation. - Progressiveness: The progressions are perfect, never too abruptly inserted, and never too long. Great alteration between odd and even time signatures - Musicality : Superb melodies, far from a pop style, great vocal lines and excellent solos. Guitars are specially amazing.

5 stars for me.

Report this review (#102549)
Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
1 stars 1.5 stars really!

Never a big fan of this band, this album is a dramatic cut from their early discography as almost all the musicians are gone from the original line-up. With only Sonja Christina remaining (and to a lesser extent Mike Wedgwood on bass), newcomer Jobson (a credible replacement of both Darryl Way and Francis Monkman) does help somewhat but ultimately cannot save the day. A rather ugly artwork (but that was never CA's forte anyway) and some very roughly cut tracks do not help this album.

As I said above I was never much a fan, but it is clear this album is not helping my opinion as on the first side of this vinyl only the 10-min+ Metamorphosis is really worth a hearing (but flawed as its middle piano section is simply too low level recorded), because both the horrible semi-hard rock opener and its uninventive acoustic follow-up do not have much going for them. But that third track does help Jobson pulling his stronger showing of his career (except for his UK work, this is as good as he ever got) and the group is almost credible as whole. The second side of the album is somewhat more even, but there are no highlights either, save the instrumental Armin. While both the hard-rocking UHF (the middle section) and Easy (but it sounds badly recorded) have their moments, but overall this album confirms Sonja's limits as a singer. In more than a few tracks she slips badly and is simply atrocious when not just passable when not blundering and her lyrics are ... so very very average. The two Wedgewood composition bring very few added value to the album.

Generally, this album is generally regarded by fans as CA's last worthy one, but this writer (I was never easy on this group) does not even consider this a real CA album for its strange line-up does not even resemble the group's usual history. And if not for Metamorphosis, this album would be among their worst. And even with that track, it remains of the lesser or at least a very average one, even compared with the band's weak standards.

Report this review (#102564)
Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "I'm tumbling like Alice, down the tunnels of my mind!"

By the time this album was in production, Sonja Kristina was the only original member of the band.

Eddie Jobson had been recruited from a local band playing in the same club as Curved Air, and Daryl Way was out. Jobson was only 17 at the time, but he displays such a amazing amount of maturity, and talent playing keys and violin, and his compositional skills are to me, quite incredible. I prefer him much to Daryl Way.

Sonja Kristina was one of the magnetic forces that attracted me to this band, I was interested in prog bands with female vocals, and I have to say I prefer her voice to Annie Haslam. It's clear, beautiful and she can sing in many different ways without being weak. Try the fast paced and rocky vocals of "Purple Speed Queen" change radically with the next song, the soft, pure and beautiful Elfin Boy. Then transform into a chanting mystical child in the vocal portion of 'Metamorphosis'. Country Folk your thing? Might want to try out the joyful whimsical singing in 'World'. More Drama? Maybe give 'Easy' a try.

The remaining instrumental members in the band aren't too shabby either, Kirby plays some excellent riffs, and contributes some good backing vocal work on the last two numbers. Who Could forget Russell's military march drumming in 'Metamorphosis'? Mike Wedgewood plays the bass role solidly, but doesn't really have any astounding performances.

Oh, the songs!? Heh! This album has a pretty wide range of musical styles, and they are generally executed exceptionally.

There are three rock/pop songs, 'The Purple Speed Queen', a very nice solid rocker with a great chorus. 'Two-Three-Two' is the peice in which Mike Wedgewood does vocals, and I really enjoy some of the vocal melodies in the song. It's probably the bottom of the barrel for this album, but I don't skip it. UHF is a bit more on the proggier side, and it has a great solid riff, good instrumental and vocal performances all around.

'Elfin Boy' is a beautiful vocal folk track, and Sonja shines here. The begnning starts a little slow, but develops into a flowing melodic vocal section I can't help but turn to a labotomized state. It does contain a short instrumental keyboard bit, and the atmosphere is terrific.

'World' is really in a class of its own here, and some reviewers state that it's a clunker, but it is, without a doubt, my favourite -2:00 track. It's very upbeat and happy, and Jobson's violin and Sonja's vocals work beautifully together. It's really a great track. Misunderstood!?

Now, the three numbers that a proghead would find most enjoyable.. ARMIN is the most well rounded, excellently astounding mind blowing song of Curved Air's discography! From the beginning, the smashing speed and prescision of that violin I love so much, to the eargasmic guitar riffs, it's structured beautifully and is an essential song. METAMORPHOSIS is equally incredible, one of the top 10 minute suites in prog rock. This was written by Jobson, and it features some very tasteful piano work, both in the intro and mid section. between those, is the intimidating military snare march. Well written mystical lyrics, about the "Children of the Midnight". Sonja sings like a devil child quite well. 'Easy' is a song I had to get to know a bit more before accepting it, but it's a really endearing track that seems to have a story behind it. The lyrics are some of my favourite, reference the first sentence of this review. It has equal greatness in structure, vocals and instrumental arrangements.

A neglected prog masterpiece indeed, it need not be anymore. The CD has been released in a awesome remastered digipack, from Repitoire Records. (The same guys who recently remastered GG's Acquiring the Taste which I own and highly recommend, and Octopus on Dec 22). It comes with a extended booklet, lyrics, pictures, and a Chris Welch overview of the band and the record. Overall a great package and worth the -$20 it will cost you when you go to after reading these reviews. Buy it!!

Report this review (#103032)
Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album by this great band, certainly a contender for the best one they've done. After an ever changing line-up, vocalist Sonja Kristina was now the only original member. One might expect imitation or too much change from the original band, but the sound remains very close and faithfull. They have adopted a much heavier sound and slightly less of the acoustic/folky material that was evident on the earlier LP's. Before this, Darryl Way used frequent violin and occasional keyboard, however his replacement here Eddie Jobson is the other way round. He does a fine job as well. Just listen to the intro piano section on Metamorphosis. This was (as far as I know) the first album he ever played on, before joining ROXY MUSIC, FRANK ZAPPA, etc. Its hard to believe he was only around 17 when he played this, marvelous stuff indeed. All band members contributing to the compositions give this a nice varied album as well. Well worth getting hold of. (4.5 stars)
Report this review (#107102)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is Curved Air at their absolute creative peak, and that's really something unexpected after a very impressive effort such as "Phantasmagoria" and a major breakdown produced by the departures of Way and Monkman. Unexpected as it may have been at the time, it was true and real: the newcomers managed to bring new refreshing energy and effective musical ideas to the refurbished Curved Air, and you can tell that Sonja Kristina's enthusiasm at her singing is a clear proof of a permanent sense of purpose and faith within the band's ranks despite the uncertainty of the moment. The opening track, a catchy rocker with artsy flavours, pretty much reflects the frontal spirit of undeterred optimism that seems to inspire the band all the time. In contrast, 'Elfin Boy' shows the acoustic side that Sonjia Kristina is so much fond of: in comparison to 'Melinda' from the previous album, 'Elfin Boy' bears a more mysterious vibe, due in no small degree to the distant, almost whispering Sonja's chanting, but also to teh surreal violin textures provided by Jobson. Now that we have just mentioned him... Among the newcomers, a very young Eddie Jobson is heavily featured in the strong presence of his synth solos, keyboard layers and orchestrations, Baroque- inspired pian otouches and impressive violin performances. He also provides the music to what many Curved Air experts declare as the band's best song ever: 'Metamorphosis'. All the way from the majestic piano intro, the intervention of organ and synth for the rockier passages and the reappearance of the piano for the eerie interlude, there is a consistent lesson in the clever use of the various cadences of diverse keyboards in order to create different moods cohesively coordinated with each other in a continuum. The rhythm section feels particularly tight in this track, and the guitar leads keep a coherent symphonic feel, complementing the moods led by the keyboards. The powerful instrumental 'Armin' is another strong progressive item in which Jobson again assumes a leading role, this time on his electric violin (together with some mellotron washes during the climax). The fluid convergence among the musicians is so solid that it is unbelievable that the line-up came to fruition in a moment of crisis for the band. 'U.H.F.' is a typical CA rocker with an added soft interlude that serves as a vehicle for some symphonic ornaments. The symphonic feel dominates the spirit of the beautiful, majestic ballad 'Easy', which closes the album in a very solmen manner. On the other hand, 'World' and 'Two-Three-Two' are trivial, not bad nor unpleasant, but definitely they don't bring anything special to the album's repertoire. All in all, the greater moments are predominant: with this album, Curved Air managed to enhance both their rocky and artsy sides, building a perfect equilibrium between them. "Air Cut" is a real excellent gem.
Report this review (#107533)
Posted Monday, January 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I can't beleve i'm giving this 4 stars.The reason for my surprise is that after a couple of listens I was thinking it was barely a 3 star record. The more I lstened to it the better it became, that isn't unusual of course, but lets put it this way, this one came from a long way back. It's still probably closer to 3.5 than 4 though. When I saw the pictures of Eddy Jobson in the liner notes I thought it was a girl at first. He looks like he's 14 years old with long straight hair. He was actually 17 years old believe it or not when he joined CURVED AIR for this recording. Francis Monkman the keyboard player, and Daryl Way the violinist had left the band so Jobson took over for both guys. Sonja of course was the one constant for the band, and her voice was their signature.

"The Purple Speed Queen" sounds like early RUSH to me. Sonja is letting it rip and sounding almost like Geddy on this rocking tune. I like the section 1 1/2 minutes in as an organ solo is followed by a guitar solo. "Elfin Boy" opens with a vocal solo as acoustic guitar comes gently in. Violin and keys follow.There is a 60's feel to this one. "Metamorphosis" is the stand out track at over 10 minutes in length. A strong piano intro is replaced by a full sound a minute in. Vocals 2 minutes in. I like this one. The organ after 2 1/2 minutes reminds me of the Canterbury sound, it's great. Beautiful piano melodies go on and on before the full sound returns 6 minutes in. The organ and guitar absolutely shine ! Violin follows and vocals 8 1/2 minutes in another terrific section. The first three songs are amazing !

"World" reminds me of some of the songs on QUEEN's "A Night At The Opera". It's ok, with lots of violin. "Armin" is another great track with vioin leading the way until the guitar comes in 2 minutes in. Nice. "U.H.F." sounds a little dated and is heavier. I like when the violin comes screaming in after a minute. Piano ends up being all you can hear though before the vocals arrive. The original melody returns 3 1/2 minutes in. "Two-Three-Two" features male vocals and sounds like it could have been a single. Quite catchy with some aggressive guitar. "Easy" is pretty good with piano and guitar leading off. Love the guitar 3 minutes in.

Some great tracks on this one, with excellent guitar, vocals and violin.

Report this review (#154666)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
5 stars Exit Francis Monkman and Darryl Way, enter Eddie Jobson. This is Curved Air's 4th album, and one I consider a true masterpiece. 'Air Cut' sports a crisp and lively production, the compositions are tighter, and the addition of the talented Jobson (on Electric Violin and Keyboards) adds multi-coloured textures and vibrance to the music. Jobson's selection of Keyboards is that of Monkman's - Hammond, Mellotron, VCS 3 Synth, Harpsichord, Piano, Electric-Piano and he utilises them thoughtfully to breathe ever more life into the songs on this album, not to mention that his violin playing is extraordinary - whilst Way played with strong classical leanings, EJ was more 'rock', which is one possible reason why this album is so appealing and entertaining. Sonja Kristina's vocals are superb (almost a cross between the beautifully trained voice of Annie Haslam with the hard-rockin' spirit of Suzi Quatro) and future CARAVAN bassist Mike Wedgewood sounding more confident with his instrument. Two unknowns ; Kirby on Guitars and Jim Russell on Drums complete this version of the band. Of the 8 tracks, what I think are 'lesser' ones - an acoustic, folky little ditty by the name of 'World', and a stripped-down hard-rock tune 'Two-Three-Two', whilst not as engaging as the remaining 6 pieces, they serve as a light refreshment after (or before, depending on how you look at it) the elaborate and dynamic Prog arrangements around them. Fellow reviewer 'Salmacis' has previously submitted a masterful track-by-track analysis of this album, and nailed it, spot on. I still insist on this being a 5 star record.
Report this review (#162786)
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Charming, but quite uncharacteristic Curved Air album. After the break up of the original band, founding member Sonja Kristina and bassist Mike Wedgood (who played on Phantasmagoria), put together a new line up that included two outstading teenage musicians: 19 year old Kirby Gregory on guitar and 17 year old Eddie Jobson on Keyboards and violin, plus drummer Jim Russel. Most fans did not believed in the band without Darryl Way and Francis Monkman. So Air Cut was not that welcomed by critics and public at the time.

Right, the songs were maybe too different from the original Curved Air, but it did contain some inspired and powerful tunes. More rocking and less experimental than earlier works, Air Cut had its share of prog moments anyway, specially with the wonderful Jobson's penned Metamorphosis and the great instrumental track Armin (absolute fantastic violin, guitar and bass interplay). Also of notice is the folky Elfin Boy and the powerful prog-ballad Easy (one of Kristina's best songs ever) The opener is a simple hard rocker, but Jobson's daring VCS synthesizer solo actually saves The Purple Speed Queen to be a mediocre track. The others are well below that but are actually not that bad, World being the only real throwaway song.

Maybe with time this line up could cut a better, more focused album, but this was not meant to be. Jobson soon left for Roxy Music (and later to Jethro Tull and UK), while Kirby joined the bogus 'Fleetwood Mac' band and Mike Wedgood would find his way to Caravan. The production was ok, and the cover was very well done (specially the back, with a beautiful paimting of the band members in a fairy scene. When I had the original LP it was really stricking).

A bit overlooked at the time, it was nevertheless a very fine release by this underrated british group. I liked it very much, but I don't think it is Curved Air's best (Second Album is my pick). However, it has some remarkable songs and it is the debut work of the now legendary Jobson. Even at that young age his playing is totally awesome. I rate this album between 3,5 to 4 stars.

Report this review (#184511)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The great Daryll is gone and these splendid violin notes have almost disappear from Curved Air's music. Almost because Eddie Jobson will take this role scarcely.

The crystal clear and close to perfection vocals from Sonja are still there of course, but when one has listened to the opening song from ''Air Cut'', one has some difficulties to imagine that it is played by ''Curved Air''. A basic hard-rocker!

Some more intimacy for the intriguing acoustic ''Elfin Boy'' which is a fine hors d'oeuvres for ''Metamorphosis''. It opens on some sort of march, like ''Epping Forrest'' from whom you should know. As soon as the vocals enter the scene, a definite feeling of ''Earth & fire'' prevails (but I have made this comparison already). It is of course combined by the usual ''Renaissance'' suspect (piano) during the instrumental part. It is THE highlight from this work.

At last some great violin during the excellent instrumental ''Armin''. It is more than welcome. This sound is so related with their music that I feel almost an orphan when it is played so parsimoniously.

The heavy-rock ''UHF'' is a curiosity which could have been avoided IMO, and the plain rock ''Two Three Two'' confirms that the band did the right choice while opting for Sonja on the lead vocals. But since Jobson was recently on board he got the occasion to sing; which was maybe not the best idea. Things go back to normal with the excellent closing number: ''Easy''. Again, this song is on the harder edge even if it features some fine piano parts. It is a good piece music which solidly rock at times: heavy bass and organ combined with aerial vocals: a pleasant combination by all means. A very pleasant way to close this good album of which ''Metamorphosis'' is by far the best moment.

Three stars.

Report this review (#190796)
Posted Saturday, November 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 01. The Purple Speed Queen A clever guitar gives beginning to the work, a strong footprint of bass and keyboard, a delicious melody, with the vocal most sensational still of Sonja Kristina. A ground of animal synthesizer, with a too angry sound and next it is the time of the guitar of Kirby Gregory to set fire, I bring into line that this track has a much heavier footprint, but even so it is indefinitely very good.

02. Elfin Boy Elfin Boy, begins it only with the impressionable vocal thing of Sonja, a melodic guitar, the quite serious bass of Mike Wedgwood and the most impressive thing of all when they were keyed gloomily and melodically gently of Eddie Jobson. A calm and pretty song, with a foot in the back yard of the Jethro Tull alone more psychedelic what.

03. Metamorphosis What a piano! It is the school of Keith Emerson and his Escapes, sensationally! This I would say to be to more progressive of the disc, Hammonds spread by the sound, a serious and outstanding bass, martial battery in tone pulsante, orchestral guitars and intricate passages. The longest track of the disc has many passages and all interesting ones. The vocal subject is duplicated by Sonja itself and it has whose tone counts a history, good to the style Renaissance, including the piano also. Another legal part there are the vocal ones what it comes to follow with the fold of the vocal masculine. The sequence is more stuck of organ, in a quite progressive subject contemplation. In the sequence a part which I remembered (I do not know because) of Rick Wakeman a little, but it remembers Yes also. The final part is almost dancing and with 3 different keyboards, you key all around a few different ones from others, up to collapsing in an infernal, very good honky tonky himself!

04. World A small song to French wool, with violins and everything. Vocal pretty and perfect melody. A ground of very legal violin. A short song to be appreciated. And it reminded of me very also a music d'Os Lobos.

05. Armin Devastating beginning! Eating I set the violin free lovely. A few brilliant riffs and a fantastic footprint. Bass here is another distinction. Many grounds of guitar also, good quick passages of battery. The only instrumental one of the disc, but it costs the name that overdoes, The instrumental thing.

06. U.H.F. Vocal melody totally rock/pop and delicious, of that what you are going to hear very often, can be sure. Between a verse and another very good and somewhat gloomy riff, after a good violin (that to it seems to me to have taken of robbery the side two of the LP) a part totally different from the first one, from the lovely rock/pop, we have a gloomier and introspective subject. It has a very good instrumental subject, but it is only a madness so that we return with the delicious initial subject. The bass of the final part was deserving a prize. Haughty!

07. Three three Three Two-Three-Two That one has the vocal ones of Mike Wedgwood, and very good by the way, melodically perfectly, still more when they marry with those of Sonja. Jim Russel has a work in the quite great battery in this track. Good grounds of guitar, and a piano 'hammered' equally well. Total impromptu in the end.

08. Easy Classic piano! Next the synthesizers doing to melody on top of the piano, vocal (Sonja is a relief to the ears, and an eyewash advantages eyes) with a serious insignia (for a woman). The vocalizations of the refrain it is another distinction. You leave well rockers from the way for aim, but the biggest distinction is for synthesizers before the vocal final part, simply Holy Ghost!

I confess that the disc is not 10, and that is difficult to say since the disc is of 1973 and this is the year where completely of it better happened, but also it is far from being only a good disc. He is very good!

Report this review (#194187)
Posted Thursday, December 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars I'm quite impressed by this album, which is by far the best one I've heard from Curved Air. I have never been a big fan of their earlier albums, but this I find very enjoyable indeed.

Different parts of the album remind me of many other bands. Babe Ruth (on Purple Speed Queen), Steeleye Span (on Elfin Boy), Renaissance (on some parts of Metamorphosis), Camel (very much so on some other parts of Metamorphosis, particularly the Mirage album), Kansas (on Armin and U.H.F.), Black Sabbath (also on Armin and U.H.F.), The Who (on Two-Three-Two, which is the only song here with male vocals), and a bit of Renaissance again (on Easy), or rather, like Renaissance should have sounded - a much more powerful and hard rocking Renaissance, that is! World is a jazz-vaudeville-camp song a bit like Seaside Rendezvous or Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon from Queen's A Night At The Opera.

Incorporating all these disparate musical directions into one and the same coherent album is quite a task. But, in my opinion, they really pulled it off! It really sounds like an album rather than as a random collection of songs; varied yet consistent.

The keyboard work of young Eddie Jobson is quite impressive and the guitar work is also quite good. The best part of the whole album for me is the short keyboard solo at the end of the last track and the passages building up to it, leading into the solo and then the repeat of the chorus that follows. What an ending to the album! But there are many similarly great parts, notably on the longer tracks Metamorphosis and U.H.F.

Highly recommended, even for those who (like this writer) don't like the Curved Air of earlier albums very much!

Report this review (#196076)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Curved Air changed quite a bit after the previous album Phantasmagoria (which happens to be my favorite of theirs). Only Sonja Kristina and Mike Wedgwood remain from that album, but they did manage to score with the addition of a young Eddie Jobson on violin and keyboards.

The album starts with The Purple Speed Queen, a poppy tune, that may make you think that the band has taken a step away from prog rock. But by the third track, the ten minute Metamorphosis you will realize that this is just not so. With Jobson leading the way on keyboards, this track is more traditional symphonic prog than anything from the previous albums.

Armin is reminiscent of Darryl Way's Vivaldi, and shows that Jobson is no slouch in violin, either. U.H.F. is a heavy rocker, with some cool guitar phrasing until it takes a strange turn into an out of place, but not bad, interlude.

I might have to go find the CD version of this one.

By the way, I'm glad for this site, as my LP has absolutely no notes, except the song listing on the record label.

Report this review (#299541)
Posted Friday, September 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Basically, everyone from Curved Air's original line-up, save the lovely Sonja, had left by the time of this recording. Enter Eddie Jobson and Kirby Gregory into the Air line-up, two uber- talented, hotshot teenage virtuosos who play their instruments with a great unbridled youthful flair not present on some of their previous albums. 17-year old Jobson, in particular, was like the Mozart of prog rock, penning a whole 10-minute progressive rock symphony entitled "Metamorphosis", where he emulates the keyboarding chops of everybody from Rick Wakemen, to Pete Bardens, to general classical composers. It's quite a feat to write something of this caliber at such an age and despite the fact that it hardly has anything original going for it, (especially if one has heard any contemporary albums by Camel; I mentioned Mr. Bardens for a reason y'know) it's definitely a minor masterpiece in the Prog Hierarchy.

The rest of the album is handled with an approach that only a bunch of young, budding virtuosos would ever attempt. Virtually, they have a desire to try out every workable genre of music that pops into their heads. "The Purple Speed Queen" for instance, could be mistaken for a Rush rocker. Except imagine a catchier, more inventive Rush composition with superior synth and guitar solos and screechy, high pitched vocals that actually sound attractive and cool. In contrast, the Kirby Gregory penned rocker, "U.H.F." has a hard rocking riff that sounds like an outtake from Led Zeppelin II but with seductive Kristina vocals and a nice relaxing grand piano and mellotron filled mid-section. "Armin" is staggeringly brilliant, Middle Eastern influenced instrumental that showcases some great interplay between the bass, violin and guitar with each instrument laying down the same haunting theme at different points in the song.

Speaking of Ms. Kristina, I can't really say I'm a big aficionado of the two compositions she wrote for "Air Cut", however, which mainly try to get by on her outstanding vocal charms alone. The lush, celtic ballad thing, "Elfin Boy" is probably a big wet dream for those with a hobbit fetish but I can't say I'm partial to it as it has absolutely no melody or substance at all. The dark, ballad/rocker hybrid, "Easy", on the other hand, despite being a little bereft of hooks, really grew on me after a while. Sonja's powerfully sensual and soulful vocals can really bowl one over if one will let them and Gregory rips out an emotional guitar for some compensation too.

We also have the infamous Mike Wedgewood, of Caravan er? fame pushing the album's diversity even further for better or for worse. He writes a silly countrified "rock n' roll" song, "Two-Three-Two" and a goofy stab at vaudeville called "World". Both are certainly dumb and rather out-of-place for Curved Air but I find both decent, lighthearted fun with a few redeeming factors like suberb instrumentation and great vocals. (Wedgewood sings on "Two-Three-Two" and I find his choirboy voice rather pleasant and tolerable.)

"Air Cut" is an album that showcases all of the qualities of an adolescent creation. It's occasionally sloppy, unoriginal, dopey, and chest puffingly arrogant but in return displays unbelievably great musicianship and packs a youthful exuberance to match it. The best part is that no two compositions on this album sound alike and there's never a dull moment with this added element of diversity. Let's give three cheers for progressive eclecticism!

Grade: B

Report this review (#300921)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Why do I think of gaseous bowel expulsions when I see the words "air cut"?

As for the contents of the album labeled that name, it's not an easy collection to dive into, mainly because I find a lot of the songs just so derivative of better bands, including a prog group with the same singer and same band name. With an almost completely new lineup, Curved Air doesn't really sound much like Curved Air except for the vocals, which, to be honest, don't necessarily excel in this reconfiguration of group members. The album feels like some characters from different organizations and musical leanings just came together and decided to bust out a prog album. The music is skillfully played, and there are certain sections of songs that are memorable and interesting, but as a whole this LP comes across as merely a hodgepodge of various prog influences without any identity of its own. It's eclectic, but nothing close to original.

Opening with The Purple Speed Queen, a blatant homage to Deep Purple I guess, the album starts off on a hard rock note, but a very generic one. Sonja's vocals don't work at all here, with a particularly grating chorus that almost sounds off key. The keyboard solo was pretty groovy, I'll admit. Eddie Jobson certainly was a talented teen, but his creative sense needed work. The genre bouncing is apparent with the following number being a slight folksy (and too long) ditty called Elfin Boy.

Metamorphosis is probably the album's highlight, chock full of progginess and a long running time with various transitions of dynamics and passages. The piano solo was well done technically, but the mixing job or the decision to have it fade in volume to almost nothing for an unhealthy length of time was either a poor choice or a mishap.

The album just goes on from there, tumbling around with half baked ideas involving straight rock, some folk and classical influences. Mike Wedgwood gets to show off his vocal chops in Two-Three-Two, as if I needed another reason to bash the album, but at least it was different. Armin wasn't such a bad instrumental either, probably the only one from this album I would put within a "prog shuffle" on an MP3 player or whatnot.

I'm not sure why I didn't get any sense of adventure in this recording. Like the album's cover, it's actually kind of dismal, like each group member wanted to do different things, including not being in Curved Air.

Report this review (#472748)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The classic Curved Air lineup disintegrated after releasing their masterpiece, Phantasmagoria, with the result that this album was recorded with an entirely new lineup. Although Sonja Kristina and Mike Wedgewood remain, and whilst Eddie Jobson is just as good an electric violinist as Darryl Way was, the sound of the album is very different from their previous work.

The album is split between comparatively straight-ahead hard rockers, like The Purple Speed Queen and Two-Three-Four, which though fun haven't dated brilliantly, to more progressive (and more interesting) works like Metamorphosis and UHF, which sound a lot like Genesis from the same period - partially because Eddie Jobson's keyboard work puts me in mind of Tony Banks, partly because Kirby Gregory's guitar sound seems modelled on Steve Hackett's at points. Sonja Kristina gets to show a bit more of her vocal range, with the chanteuse-like vocals she applied to the earlier albums scaled back and - as with the music - a bit more of a hard rock approach added; her performance on The Purple Speed Queen is probably the best aspect of that song, and bizarrely enough ends up sounding a lot like a female Geddy Lee. (Or maybe, since Rush hadn't put out their debut yet, it'd be better to say that Geddy Lee sounds a lot like a male Sonja Kristina...)

The album certainly isn't bad, but the shift in sound will certainly prove a stumbling block to anyone who fell in love with the sound of the group's first three albums. If you were hoping for a further development of Airconditioning or Phantasmagoria, you'll probably find yourself disappointed. They are still presenting a mixture of proggier numbers and more commercial-leaning pieces, but when it comes to the latter they have very much shifted into the era of hard rock rather than the psychedelic pop which influenced their early work. (A notable difference is found on Elfin Boy, which is an acoustic, folky number which could be a Steeleye Span off-cut.)

There's no doubt that this is an oddity in the Curved Air discography by any account; it was the only album this line-up made, and though the group would reform in subsequent years, things were never quite the same afterwards; much of the original lineup would come back for a live album prompted by an awkward tax situation, and subsequent would would appear only intermittently. Hardline listeners might only regard the first three albums as the "true" Curved Air, and subsequent releases being either Curved Air in name only or professional obligation knock-offs, but I can imagine a different timeline where this lineup of the band persisted and we'd remember Air Cut as a transitional album which laid the groundwork for better things to come - and there's much to like on here if you are able to make your peace with it not really sounding like the original band.

Report this review (#504658)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Curved Air's "Air Cut" is another very solid album featuring the musicianship of Kirby Gregory's guitars and Eddie Jobson's violins, replacing Monkman and Way, though not as dextrous or ambitious as the former maestros. Of course there is no ignoring the cool, crystalline voice of Sonja Kristina who is hailed as one of the queens of prog.

The band make their presence known early with the wonderful 'The Purple Speed Queen'. Kristina is a dynamic vocalist who shines here on double tracked vocals with some potent lyrics about a girl who is warned to watch her speed taking habits or she will be in the grave; "Emlee Jane was the girl who never had time to explain, Lived her life in a whirlpool, cried if it happened to rain. She had run away from home, only thinking of herself, Mother's sick and so upset, they say she may never be well. Slow down Emlee Jane." The tragedy of the song's content is veiled within a blinding rock rhythm and some great lead guitars.

'Elfin Boy' is replete with quiet solitude with peace love hippy vibes. Beautiful dreamy vocals are mystical and peaceful. 'Metamorphosis' is a lengthy 10 minute mini epic, with gorgeous grand piano flourishes in the intro, the marching percussion and grinding organ change the feel and then augmented with Jim Russell's percussion and Mike Wedgwood's very loud bassline pumps along on a strong beat. The breaks of guitar are terrific, and time changes are excellent.

Sonja's vocals are multi layered with harmonies on 'Metamorphosis'. Lyrical images are poetic peaceful and almost feel like the feelings of Wiccan followers; "We are the children of the midnight, marching high in an icy mercury sky, We sing and our breath turns to frost, we watch and the frost melts, We hear the crazy winds that weep, we don't sleep where the minds meet, In icy mercury seas we dream and we picture the same, We dance and the worlds melt away." The piano features prominently and it is a beautiful atmosphere, very ethereal and dreamy. The Hammond that comes in strongly mid way through lifts the song up emotionally and the guitar solo is wonderful. It also takes off into a rollicking tempo towards the end and the piano ends things well.

'World' has a rockabilly feel with violin and lots of staccato piano pounding. It is fun but without the mystical dreamy feel not as good as the rest of the album.

Side 2 begins with 'Armin' with a low ominous drone that builds in intensity until an outbreak of Jobson's crazy fast violin to Gregory's great guitar riff. The music changes to an ascending and descending riff that is a fantastic sound, and the violin really takes off into a freak out solo that is absolutely wonderful to hear. The musicianship is excellent on this instrumental, one of the best uses of violin by the band showcasing Jobson's virtuosity.

'U.H.F.' is a fun quick paced song with lots of creative heavy guitar riffs. Sonja gives a sense of urgency in her vocals. It changes into a slower song with some intricate time sig changes and very well executed guitars. The song is about a broken relationship and broken communication. The lyrics are based on if he had called her up on time, he would have been on better terms, and she states that it is too late for him to make amends even by letter.

'Two-Three-Two' begins with a steady guitar, the vocals by Mike Wedgwood are okay but I missed Sonja immediately. It grows into a rocker with very heavy piano and guitar sections.

'Easy' closes the album with about 7 minutes of innovative prog. Sonja sings solemnly about letting go of our emotions in times of trial. "I'll stay with you through the night", she assures. Wedgwood sings, "I won't see you again," and in response a terrific lead break ensues. The harmonies toward the end are incredible and the overall feel is emotional focussing on the content about a break up.

This is a very good album, as were all Curved Air's earlier releases. There is enough here to show the dexterity of the band and innovation. Along with "Second Album" and "Phantasmagoria", "Air Cut" is one of the best Curved Air albums.

Report this review (#608674)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Soulful entry from the Curved ones, and despite the shakeups to sound and body, is successful at what it is: a damn good rock album. The group was progressive mostly to the extent that in 1973 almost everyone in music worth their salt was progressive, progressing, or leering enviously at those who were. One may ask if the heavier approach here was a natural extension or a forced ingredient, and I suppose we'll never know. But then that was the beauty of the Prog Age, it didn't really matter as long as it was done well.

The band doesn't miss a beat picking up their new direction, and as always the vivacious Sonja Kristina adds her wit and musicality to the compositions with feeling. Emlee Jane is the girl our mom didn't want us to hang out with (or even meet) and there is little doubt this is gonna be trouble, helped by new members Kirby Gregory with his Jimmy Page riffs and a young Eddie Jobson's electric fiddle. Spectral folkie 'Elfin Boy' respites into Jobson's 'Metamorphosis' echoing The Who's majestic period but soon with plenty of deliberate tone and direction shifts, big requiem organs, Jim Russell's firing-squad snare, and is followed by Tiny Tim-like 'World' with Sonja's fey falsetto and Eddie's squeaky strings. Quirky, funny and very good 'U.H.F.' goes on a bit too long, hippie-pop group sounds in 'Two-Three-Two', and the record is caboosed by brilliant folkrock cautionary bit 'Easy' oozing with Kristina's smoldering gypsy sensuality and the smart arrangements of this fine team.

Earthy, sultry but sophisticated, Air Cut is a solid release by a group that could've thrown in the towel at the first sign of problems but didn't, and consequently added a winner to their catalog.

Report this review (#615925)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Air cut from 1973 finds Curved Air in some drastic times, almost all the line up from previous album is gone, only Sonya remains, enter famous later Eddie Jobson, who done a great job on violin but I prefer him later on on UK for example much more. This album , musicaly speaking is almost same as Second album. With highlight Metamorphosis to many listners, but to me to tell the truth while is a good track for sure,almost do nothing to me, is ok and nothing more. The voice is almost all that counts here, where Sonya shines on every pieces, ok some good instrumental parts but far from being original or excellent. A good relase that desearves 3 stars but nothing more. Fans of Earth and Fire, Mad Curry or Babe Ruth might take some spins but I prefere these later bands more then Curved Air.
Report this review (#862636)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Perhaps on the strength of their sultry female "frontman", their kickoff picture disk, and a top 5 single in the early going, CURVED AIR stormed out of the gate at the dawn of the 1970s. Unfortunately, being an archetypal super group assembled before the members solidified their reputations, they were cursed with steady attrition of those members who were clearly at war at least in a musical sense. By the time of "Air Cut", both Monkman and Way were out, 17 year old EDDIE JOBSON was in on both violin and keyboards and their profile hit the skids, at least in their homeland.

Speaking from my own experience, in Canada, where their early albums had, even cumulatively, barely eroded the cheapest stylus, "Air Cut" soared in relative terms, entirely on the strength of the 10 minute opus, "Metamorphosis". While it might not be quite as original as their earlier highlights, its warmth exposes the virtuosic iciness of most of their previous offerings, in case one hadn't noticed already. It's also a near perfect piece that combined angelic (!) vocals, cryptically resonating pagan lyrics, martial drumming, lofty lead guitar, and, most of all, astounding synthesizer, organ AND piano courtesy of Jobson. It's astonishing that the band never did anything else that remotely compares in style, composition, arrangements or achievement, and in fact it's one of the keynote prog epics of any era.

The rest is the uneven potpourri following its antecedents' precedence. By far the most exciting is "Armin", which showcases Jobson on the violin with which he would soon become inseparably associated. "Elfin Boy" highlight's Kristina's more maudlin side, but it can't hold a candle to "Melinda More or Less" from "Phantasmagoria" in case you were wondering. "Easy" is a worthy closer with Kirby Gregory conveying expert leads throughout, trading the spotlight with more Jobson jabs. Beyond this, we have a tepid attempt at another fluke hard rock hit in "Purple Speed Queen" and the ill advised and dire foray into male lead vocals in "Two Three Two". Even Sonja can't save the only marginally better "UHF".

Worth it for "Metamorphosis" alone - well, really off key ambulance sirens would be worth listening to if Metamorphosis was embedded in their somewhere - "Air Cut" is otherwise slightly inferior to, say "Phantasmagoria", which would have been CURVED AIR's closest approximation of unity even as the inevitable cuts loomed.

Report this review (#2302653)
Posted Monday, December 30, 2019 | Review Permalink

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