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CURVED AIR LIVE

Curved Air

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars On its early studio LPs this major group seldom wanted for top-notch material. Its problem rather was weak production and consequently a lack of energy in the sound. All forgiven and forgotten here as the listener is blown against the wall from the opening bar onwards by these sonically pristine and butt-kicking performances from the '74 reunion tour. This was obviously more than just a cash-in exercise as they all quite simply play like there's no tomorrow. The Way/Monkman front line dazzles in its virtuosity and attack while Kristina's vocal transformation from fey to feral is possibly the biggest surprise of all. Like 'Genesis Live' the epics are passed over due to time constraint but previously anaemic-sounding gems such as 'Young Mother' and 'Propositions' are given extended, aggressive and mesmerizing new life. These are for me the definitive versions.

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Send comments to playitstrange (BETA) | Report this review (#28115)
Posted Sunday, August 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is one of those solid live albums that acts almost as a 'best of' compilation.The sound is excellent considering it was recorded in 1974 and the band are well on top their game.I can't really see how you can go wrong with this.The muscianship is if of the highest order and Sonka Kristina has a passionate folksy voice that goes well with Darryl Way's violin high jinks.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#28116)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars CURVED AIR fits better in the "art rock" category, blending late '60s typical sounds with excellent progressive hints.

In this live stuff, there are lots of wonderful violin and keyboards, nice melodies... but the annoying Sonja Kristina's voice is a huge point against the album. Perhaps, she tried to give a power sense to the live performance, but her screams were out of place.

"Propositions", "Young Mother" and the classically inspired "Vivaldi" extended versions are musically beautiful and really well played, and Way/Monkman couple (the future SKY line- up) demonstrates virtuosity along the whole opus, but beauty is ruined by the vocal parts.

Instrumental sections deserves four stars. So, if you don't matter about singing "excesses", it will be an interesting album.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#28117)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sonja Kristina full power ahead!!! She's totaly amazing in her fiery interpretation. Maybe she was stoned at that show, but I really apreciate that remake of "Proposition" and "It happened Today". It's nothing like the weak and narcoleptic studio version. Oh yes, she screams! And it's all vibrant, wild... and you have to listen to it in high volumes to get the emotion involves you. Great Album!

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Send comments to superdooka (BETA) | Report this review (#28118)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This live album originally from 1975 features the original five members of the band, Francis Monkman, Darryl Way, Sonja Kristina, Florian Pilkington-Miksa and Philip Kohn. The liner notes recount the story of the group's split then reformation only to split again. There are some really good tracks on this album all presented with extended instrumental workouts. Marie Antionette and Propositions showcase Monkman's ability on the guitar the former has a slow burning quality while latter has him harmonising with himself through the use of delay, stunning. Young Mother allows all the members a chance to shine with some suberb interplay. Vivaldi was a showcase for Way's violin and although its still good it's not quite up to the standard of the other longer tracks. It Happenned Today and Everdance are also very good.

The production is top notch. The CD re-release is excellent also. For the CD re-release why didn't they include some of the other tracks form the performances as bonus material?

A very underrated album.

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Send comments to jimpetrie2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#37084)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars In excess of the bassist Philip Kohn, this album has the classic lineup of this band which pleased me the most. Introducer reveals that this is the comeback gig after two years silence, and this has probably affected the formation of the set list and the frantic mood of Sonja Kristina, who's enthusiasm goes in some parts a bit too far to please my tastes. The hit tunes of the band work nicely on instrumental level, but none of the performances are very exceptional, and many interesting compositions of the studio tracks didn't get on this concert repertoire. In addition of this document, sadly I have not found much live documents from the classic heyday era of this band. I wouldn't still recommend this album without caution, unless you are a huge fan. If one has a change to loan the recordings of this band from a friend or a library, a great artistic gold vein can be traced to run through all of their releases, but still containing some lesser interesting rock music along with them. I'm looking forward to find some decent official lives of this band's tours from early 1970's, hopefully a lovely elf would bring them as present some Christmas. Most stoned sequences can be encountered by skipping directly to the opening of the last track.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#90201)
Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#93954)
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Curved Air Live was my first entry into this fine underrated british prog band. It was recorded when four of the original members reunited for a short come back tour (according to legend, because of unpaid back taxes), which ended up delivering this album. Whatever the reasons for the reunion, it would be a short lived one, since only Kristina and Way stayed on for the next studio release, Midnight Wire. Still, this is a fine display of how good this group were on stage. All band members are in top form and new bassist Philip Khon fits in very nicely.

The album starts with a powerful, better then the studio version, rendition of It Happened Today (fantastic violin and wah wah guitar duet at the beginning, with a wonderful violin solo by the second part). Then comes one of their most celebrated songs, Marie Antoinette. Kristina´s voice is a bit too aggressive on this album, for she used to be more soft and warm on the original recordings, but nothing that spoils her fine perfomance anyway. She was one of prog´s great female singers. Back Stree Luv works very well live while then on the band starts to jam more, as it clear by the nest tune Prepositions (a bit overdone and self indulgent I must admit, but still good). Side two of the vinyl started with Young Mother, another of their classics. Then comes Darryl Way´s tour the force, a 9 minute version of Vivaldi. Way always impressed me, he is one of the most skilled violinists I ever heard in rock format and this track was always a favorite. It includes the traditional ´A Sailor´s Hornpipe´ in the middle, that works just fine (you can hear the audience loving it! And pay atention to Kohn´s great bass countermelody in this segment). Then comes what I think it is the best moment of all, the great Everdance (that includes the Vivaldi theme at the end). Fantastic!

I was a little disappointed that the CD version of this album did not include any bonus tracks, for they might have played more songs during the show. It is still good, but surely it could be improved and Curved Air fans deserved something extra. It would be even greater, because it was very well produced and, for the time it was recorded, has an excellent sound. Curved Air´s music was quite unique and this live CD captures a very nice perfomance. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#184685)
Posted Saturday, October 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good technique of all the musicians, correct performance but...

This but means that in Curved Air's music there was always something missing to me. When I started to think about it I realised that it is all about melodies and moment. Even if You listen to the best CA songs it is not that easy to catch that memorable moments. It is not that kind of music which stucks in one of the corners of your mind after the first listening. You need a big focus to catch the spirit of this music.

Anyway for me this live album is one of the best in their career. Probably the best songs, fantastic solo parts: especially Francis Monkman's in Propostion and Darryl Way's in everlasting Vivaldi. For me Sonja's vocal parts are too often in front in this records; I'd like to hear more instrumental solos.

Anyway it is a CLASSIC PROG!!! Even if you're not a CA fan, you should listen to it because in now days there are not too many original bands like this.

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Send comments to Patiquee (BETA) | Report this review (#186619)
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After two years of a premature stop, the band reunited almost in his original form to produce a tour which will lead to their first live album.

The track list is digging in their early repertoire and there is no appearance of the excellent ''Metamorphosis'' which was available on their last studio album which is a real pity but the line up for ''Air Cut'' was quite different, so. The most noticeable and annoying feature of this live album, are that the vocal parts from Sonja Kristina.

I have always liked her voice and she was a real asset for the band during their studio albums, but on this one I really don't understand what was going on! She is screaming most of the time. Almost a nightmare. She is really screwing up great songs as ''It Happened Today'' and ''Marie Antoinette''.

This live set is also the occasion for the band to jam a little while (''Propositions'', ''Young Mother'') and the great ''Vivaldi'' is of course the showcase for Darryl Way: he can show all his talent on the violin. It is by far my favourite track.

This album could have been much better IMO, as such three stars seem a reasonable rating.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#192477)
Posted Tuesday, December 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars An amazing live album when Sonja Kristina left the melodious voice to sing in Janins Joplin vein. Great stuff and I love this albun. I put this music in a Bar and in 2 minuts people go away but is they first audition because in the next auditions, Curved Air live is one of the more audictions albuns in that bar. Is pure Rock with guitar, bass, keiboard's and drum's in action. Sonja Kristina voice in action to. Great electric violin in Vivaldi and the bass don't now how play in the improvisation in the midle of this song. For me, this way of play is different of studio albuns of this band, and much better. I like very much this live album and one of the best live albuns that I heard. Much more hard Curved Air and for me, a masterpiece of this band. If you listen this album, you don't whant listen the other albuns of this band. Great players and stuff and because that I give 5 stars.

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Send comments to João Paulo (BETA) | Report this review (#200529)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Among all prog live albums I had in my hands, this one is certainly one of the finest. For all who don't know Curved Air yet, let's say this was one of the most innovative prog bands from the 70's. Often compared to Renaissance because of a female singer and strong classical influences, Curved Air was craziest in the arrangements and approach. More psychedelic influenced too. Comparisons to Syd Barrett's and Gilmour's Floyd for instance can be made. The band released several unequal records before that public album (1975) and their career turned to mere melodic rock afterwards. Thus this CD is a good collection of Curved Air's best moments. A good visiting card. This reissue was remastered but no bonus tracks were added. You'll find a gorgeous selection of the main tracks by this seminal band (Eddie Jobson, Stewart Copeland, played in Curved Air): 'Propositions', 'It Happened Today', the curious 'Marie-Antoinette' (on a French point of view), 'Vivaldi' with a crazy/iconoclast reprise of the Italian maestro's most popular themes? More than a nostalgic snapshot from the past (the band is back for a gig in UK and a new album), this CD is a milestone of British prog rock history.

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Send comments to Thierry (BETA) | Report this review (#266478)
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars The story of the reunion of Curved Air is well told in other reviews of this album, so just let it suffice to say that this is the original lineup, minus Robert Martin, the bass player. But since the bass player changed on each of the first three albums, I suppose that it's fitting that the position here is filled by another new member, Philip Kohn (who does an excellent job, by the way).

The songs are all from the first three albums, and benefit from better production (at least than the first two), and spectacular performances. Francis Monkman has a great keyboard solo on Propositions, and Darryl Way's violin shines on Young Mother and Vivaldi. And I happen to really enjoy Sonja Kristina's exuberant performance throughout the record. I like her voice much better without the over-emphasized tremolo she used on many of the studio recordings.

I would recommend this album as the place to start when exploring Curved Air.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#300140)
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favorite live albums from the early 70's and one of the best female vocalists other than who's initials are JJ. Some of the more critical reviews seem to characterize Sonja's performance as screaming. I on the other hand appreciate the way Sonja belts out these tracks in much the same way a Jim Morrison or Janice Joplin might be guilty of doing in one of their live performances. Curved Air was certainly one of the most underrated bands of their time prog or otherwise and Curved Air Live is great place to start in getting to know the greatness of this short lived but brilliant group. This is an easy 9.5/10 album so 5 stars is appropriate.

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Send comments to By--Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#397185)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Review Permalink

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