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CURVED AIR

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Curved Air biography
CURVED AIR were formed in 1970 by Sonja Kristina (vocals), Darryl Way (violin), Francis Monkman (keyboards), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums). The group decided the name using a shortened version of Terry Riley's composition "A rainbow in curved air". In their first album "Air Conditioning", a prominent role was given to vocals and violin; the album reached number 8 in the British charts. Then, in 1971, they released "Second Album", highly recommended example of CURVED AIR sound (a mix of acoustic folk and progressive rock).

1972 was the year of "Phantasmagoria", with Mike Wedgwood as bass guitarist. After a long tourney the band fell apart and Way formed the WOLF, while CURVED AIR showed a new line-up with Eddy Jobson as violinist, but they will never reach the performance level of the early two albums. In 1973, after "Air Cut" (with a sound hard oriented), Wedgwood joined with CARAVAN and Jobson with ROXY MUSIC. The four members of the original project made the first reunion in 1975 for a tourney (album "Curved Air Live"). Afterwards Kristina and Way carried on with drummer Stewart Copeland, bassist Tony Reeves, guitarist Mick Jacques and released "Midnight Wire". Their last album was "Airborne", published in 1976. The second reunion of the four former members was in 1990 for a concert in London (album "Alive 1990"). In the same year was released an album of previously unissued tracks recorded in 1973 ("Lovechild"). Finally, in 1995, an album of BBC sessions, called "Live at BBC".

: : : Silvio Chiarioni, ITALY : : :

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Air CutAir Cut
Limited Edition · Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$22.99
Second AlbumSecond Album
Import
Wea Int'l 2008
Audio CD$3.79
$3.95 (used)
Air ConditioningAir Conditioning
Import
Wea Int'l 2008
Audio CD$4.04
$2.83 (used)
PhantasmagoriaPhantasmagoria
Import
REPERTOIRE 2011
Audio CD$7.20
$7.19 (used)
Best of Curved AirBest of Curved Air
Import
Repertoire 2008
Audio CD$7.91
$7.93 (used)
LiveLive
Import
Repertoire 1999
Audio CD$6.01
$4.50 (used)
Midnight WireMidnight Wire
Import
Repertoire 1999
Audio CD$5.79
$2.97 (used)
AirborneAirborne
Import
Repertoire 1999
Audio CD$5.62
$5.13 (used)
PhantasmagoriaPhantasmagoria
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$12.44
$15.99 (used)
Second AlbumSecond Album
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$12.36
$115.97 (used)
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CURVED AIR shows & tickets


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CURVED AIR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CURVED AIR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.28 | 126 ratings
Airconditioning
1970
3.58 | 150 ratings
Second Album
1971
3.83 | 172 ratings
Phantasmagoria
1972
3.68 | 109 ratings
Air Cut
1973
2.35 | 43 ratings
Midnight Wire
1975
2.49 | 36 ratings
Airborne
1976
3.08 | 6 ratings
Reborn
2008
3.29 | 42 ratings
North Star
2014

CURVED AIR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 53 ratings
Curved Air Live
1975
3.36 | 20 ratings
On Air - Live at the BBC
1995
3.48 | 11 ratings
Alive 1990
2000
4.91 | 3 ratings
Live Atmosphere
2012

CURVED AIR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.95 | 11 ratings
Masters From The Vaults: Curved Air
2002

CURVED AIR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 11 ratings
The Best of Curved Air
1976
2.59 | 30 ratings
Lovechild
1990
3.50 | 2 ratings
Retrospective - Anthology 1970-2009
2010

CURVED AIR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Vivaldi
1971
3.00 | 1 ratings
It Happened Today
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Back Street Luv
1971
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sarah's Concern
1972

CURVED AIR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Airconditioning by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.28 | 126 ratings

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Airconditioning
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by GKR

4 stars Curved Air' first album is a great voyage encountering classic music, something of psychdelia, one of the greatest female vocals in progressive rock history, nice melodies and introspective lyrics.

The first track is already an anthem in progressive rock history, a real good song combining every element of what was, is and I believed will be Curved Air. Well sang, well played. Really suberb. The other highlights are, from my point of view, "Blind Man" - beautiful and melodic song - and the "Vivaldi" section - showing the quality of Darryl Way (that all Tull fans remeber for his participation in "Heavy Horses").

Great work, a good adition to anyones music library.

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 Second Album by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.58 | 150 ratings

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Second Album
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Wikipedia describes Curved Air as a band with a sound that was "a mixture of progressive rock, folk rock, and electronic sound". Indeed all these elements are present on their second album, imaginatively entitled, "Second Album". Additionally, we find the band having already reached a crossroads in their career. The album features mostly shorter songs with one epic piece. Though this in itself is nothing unusual, it is significant because the shorter songs were written mostly by Francis Monkman and the longer composition plus two short songs by Darryl Way. In fact, Monkman wrote side one and Way side two, delineating a clear split in their desire to express themselves independently of one another through the same band. Monkman enjoyed improvisation while Way was a perfectionist who wanted to create a real "epic". This was the writing approach that would at last disintegrate the core line-up of the band after the third album.

As one can expect by the Wikipedia description above, the music is quite diverse. There is some fairly standard early seventies rock with a bit of fuzz-tone guitar, the standard bass / drum set up and a lot of piano and organ plus harpsichord and some electronics provided by E.M.S. London. "Young Mother" features a violin solo and a synthesizer solo which I think sounds really great at times but is also a little shy of imagination in that it establishes an arrangement of notes, then repeats that arrangement, then comes a new set, repeat, another new set, repeat and so on. Still, it is my favourite of the shorter tracks on the album and I really enjoy the synthesizer sound. It works very well in the song. The presence of the violin and also a fairly strong piano presence give the music a classical feel. The 12:52-long "Piece of Mind" includes other strings as well, and some of the piano passages in this song as well as a couple of others bring the band close to the sound of Renaissance. You'll also hear some brass on the album, and I am sure I caught a bassoon in there as well.

Songs like "Young Mother", "Back Street Luv" (the band's bit hit single), "You Know" and "Everydance" show Curved Air's rock side with rock guitar and a more standard pop song format, "Young Mother" stretching the boundaries with its violin and synth solos and a bit of brass, too, and "Everydance" featuring more violin and some very active drumming.

"Jumbo" sounds more like something from a musical, a slow piece for piano and violin. And "Puppets" follows a similar style with more piano and either strings or a Mellotron and percussion provided without the standard rock drum kit. Neither of these songs do much for me, I admit, though I give the band credit for working outside a standard rock music format. "Bright Summer's Day" is a jaunty piece that borders between a pop song and another track from a musical. It shows the band's humorous side with some light-hearted lyrics about a break- up, and listeners will note that the bright summer's day in question occurred "in the middle of May".

Had the album been entirely comprised of these shorter tracks it would have been a fairly standard early seventies album as many bands experimented with instrumentation and new approaches to the pop rock song. The twelve-minute plus "epic" track "Piece of Mind" takes the band into prog territory not with tentative steps but a big bold stride. Essentially a long song with some strong classically-influenced music (piano, harpsichord, strings, and brass providing much of the drama), "Piece of Mind" also includes some great piano and violin solos and two short mini-instrumental parts at the end. The first part is a lively piece with a synthesizer solo and (what spoils it for me somewhat) silly duck quacks; the second is a more subdued piece with a different synthesizer sound and a more cosmic feel. Though these two additional sections extend the song and add to the breadth of the musical landscape, they are so different from the rest of the song that they do sound like separate ideas that were tacked on because they were too good to waste but not enough time was granted to develop them into complete songs of their own.

Sonja Kristina provides a solid vocal performance of course. I don't find her voice to be as broadly reaching as her Renaissance counterpart, Annie Haslam; however Sonja's voice lends itself more to the rock sound of the band, having a hint of an edge to it at times.

As this album shows the band attempting to stretch into broader territory, I give it a favourable review and a strong three-star rating. It doesn't quite reach four stars for me. I could do without the musical-type music and replace them with another mini-epic, but that's just my preference. This is my first and only Curved Air album so far and I think it is a great first purchase to acquire of that band.

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 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.29 | 42 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

2 stars Not sure why, but I had high hopes on this album. Hopes that came to be thrown into the ground in the very beginning of North Star (2014).

Truth is, from the old 70's bands very few bands achieved great comeback albums in the 2010's. I can name less than a hand full like Museo Rosenbach's Barbarica, Alphataurus' AttosecondO are two that comes to mind.

That being said, Curved Air's 8th studio album it's a GIGANTIC mixed bag! There are seven new songs, three re- recorded tracks of their old material, one track from a Sonja Kristina solo album and also two covers... Cover The Police and Beatles was completely NOT needed.

To begin with the album clocks terrible 76 minutes. As if the band didn't even try to filter the material, `we have 80 minutes let's put everything we have'. This is terrible. The reason why we have classic albums in Prog history is because we have bands with a `no filler only killer` philosophy, not this.

The original new material is not bad, even though sometimes they put the whole band on the very back of the sound and push Sonja's vocals to the very front.

This album is very weird for me because I cannot spot precisely where Curved Air want to go with this. For the old fans I don't think they'll say it's their best albums, for new fans... I don't think they'll get many, not with this one.

They had YEARS to prepare 40/45 minutes of killer material, instead they came out with 76 minutes, half of which, unnecessary. Sad.

2.5 stars

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 Alive 1990  by CURVED AIR album cover Live, 2000
3.48 | 11 ratings

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Alive 1990
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Twenty years on...

This live album was recorded in 1990 when Curved Air briefly reunited. The line-up included original members Francis Monkman, Darryl Way, Florian Pilkington-Miksa and Sonja Kristina, and the set list draws (with only one exception) exclusively from the band's three first studio albums. No less than six songs from the 1970 debut album Air-Conditioning are performed, four songs from 1971's Second Album, and two from 1972's Phantasmagoria. Hence, there is a heavy focus on the earliest days of the band's career. This decision was natural given the people involved since from 1973's Air Cut onwards there were major personnel changes in the band.

The sole exception mentioned above is the opening track Twenty Years On which I can only assume was written around the time of this live recording and is to my knowledge not available in a studio version. Sadly, the sound quality on this one track is far below the rest of the tracks! So, when you hear this live album for the first time don't be fooled into thinking that it all sounds as rough as this first track. The other tracks mostly have an acceptable sound, although there are some problems in a few places most notably at the very beginning of the second track. The show itself is of very high quality and had the recording been perfect no doubt I would give this live album a higher rating. As it stands, Alive 1990 is an enjoyable but somewhat rough live document by a great band.

The more recent Live Atmosphere offers many of the same songs in better versions, but Alive 1990 is a good addition in its own right despite some minor technical flaws

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 It Happened Today by CURVED AIR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
3.00 | 1 ratings

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It Happened Today
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars It happened in 1971

This single was Curved Air's first and the a-side - It Happened Today - was taken from their debut full-length album Air- conditioning which was released the previous year. This well-known track has since gone on to become a real classic and a mainstay in the band's live repertoire till the present day. It is however the single's b-side, What Happens When You Blow Yourself Up?, that carries the real interest here since it was not included on any of the band's albums. This catchy, Gentle Giant-like song driven by violin and keyboards is a worthy companion to It Happened Today and is of the same high quality as the songs that made it onto Air-conditioning. Any fan of Curved Air's first four albums will definitely enjoy this strong non-album b-side.

I've seen versions of this single (for example as listed on the band's official website) containing a third track not listed above, namely Vivaldi. I don't personally own a copy of it and I do not know if the single existed in several different versions or not.

Like the non-album a-side single Sarah's Concern, What Happens When You Blow Yourself Up? is a good song that is a good addition to any Curved Air collection.

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 Sarah's Concern by CURVED AIR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Sarah's Concern
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars A single from the peak years

I'm surprised to see that nobody has yet reviewed this non-album a-side single from Curved Air. This shows how underappreciated this band is. The single was released in 1972, the same year as the Phantasmagoria album, and the b-side is the title track from that album. The a-side is called Sarah's Concern, a song which to my knowledge is not available anywhere else appart from this 7" single release. The song is an up-temp melodic affair packed with keyboards. It reminds me of the 'bouncy' style of Gentle Giant! Even if it is perhaps not up there with the best song from Phantasmagoria like Marie Antoinette or Melinda (More Or Less), Sarah's Concern is every bit as good as the other tracks from that album and would have fitted nicely on that album.

A nice addition to the studio albums.

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 Reborn by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.08 | 6 ratings

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Reborn
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Pregnant with potential, but the true rebirth of the band was still a few years in the future

In my review of Curved Air's latest studio album North Star, released this year (2014), I criticized their decision to include a few re-makes of older songs (and a couple of covers as well) in amongst the brand new, original material. The new songs on that album were all of very high quality and the album as a whole would definitely have been better had they excluded the re-makes (and covers) and concentrated exclusively on new, original material. This is especially true in light of the fact that they had already made an album of re-recorded versions of classic songs a few years earlier in Reborn. This 2008 album featured newly recorded versions of 11 songs that originally appeared on the band's first five studio albums plus two brand new songs (as well as a Dance Remix that is best regarded as a "bonus" track, or perhaps as a "penalty" track if that makes sense). Note that all of these are new recordings and Reborn contains no previously released material, hence this is not a compilation.

Normally I don't much like albums of re-makes, but Reborn is a good one of its kind. The new recordings of old songs are not bad at all, and frankly the original recordings were far from perfect. The sound quality on the original 70's albums was not very good and these songs deserved to be re-recorded. The end result presented on Reborn is fine but also far from perfect. The drum sounds used are especially problematic and make these versions very 90's-sounding despite being created in 2008 (and the aforementioned final track which is a Dance Remix of Back Street Luv is best avoided really).

The two brand new songs are Coming Home and The Fury both of which are good songs and constitute the first new songs by Curved Air for many a year. Daryl Way takes the lead on The Fury with his ultra violins which are in good shape. In hindsight it would probably had been better to save these new songs for inclusion on North Star and let Reborn be an album of strictly re-makes of old songs (and North Star an album of exclusively new songs), but as it stands these new songs are worthy additions to the Curved Air catalogue.

Five of the re-recorded songs featured here originally appeared on the 1970 debut album Air Conditioning (Stretch, It Happened Today, Screw, Hide And Seek, and Vivaldi), two songs each originally came from 1971's Second Album (Back Street Luv and Young Mother) and 1972's Phantasmagoria (Marie Antoinette and Melinda (More Or Less)), and one song each originally featured on 1973's Air Cut (Elfin Boy) and 1975's Midnight Wire (the title track). The band's final album from the 70's, Airborn, is not represented by any re-make. Young Mother was re-recorded once again in 2014 for the aforementioned North Star, and I must say that the latter version is better than the one presented here.

Reborn is definitely worth having if you are a fan of Curved Air and a good album of its kind, but the real rebirth of the band had to wait until 2014 when North Star was released. Also a better place to hear newly recorded versions of many of the songs featured on Reborn is on the excellent live album Live Atmosphere released in 2012.

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 Midnight Wire by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.35 | 43 ratings

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Midnight Wire
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars A pipe dream

Midnight Wire was a definite disappointment after the excellent Air Cut from two years before. At this point the band had gone through considerable problems and you can tell that the inspiration is not what it was. With Midnight Wire Curved Air moved very markedly towards generic Rock 'N' Roll and Blues Rock territory with little or no residue of their progressive Rock origins. Personally, I prefer also the follow-up Airborne over this despite the latter being more of a streamlined Pop Rock album although with more progressive touches than can be found here. Pipe Of Dreams is a decent instrumental but nothing too special. The only track that stands up over repeated listens is the closing title track, but even that does not live up to the quality of earlier album favourites and is much inferior compared to Airborne's magnificent Moonshine.

This is easily Curved Air's weakest and least exciting studio album. Proceed with caution.

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 Airborne  by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.49 | 36 ratings

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Airborne
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A touch of moonshine!

Airborne was the final studio album that Curved Air released in the 1970's, and until last year's return with North Star almost 40 years later it was their latest. I have long been familiar with the band's first four albums, but I hadn't dug any deeper into their discography until recently. Airborne is an album very much of its time, a time as we all know that saw the first wave of progressive Rock in a gradual decline. There was an almost universal move in the genre towards more streamlined and commercial songs while still holding on to the core characteristics of classic Prog. Most of the tracks on Airborne are indeed more commercially oriented that what had gone before, but I must say that I enjoy most of them! Perhaps this is a bit of a guilty pleasure(?). And then there is Moonshine - an 11 minute plus epic that is a real gem and which alone makes the album worthwhile. In this respect it is a bit like Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman from Emerson, Lake & Palmer's notorious Love Beach album.

When listening to Airborne I am reminded of late 70's/early 80's Renaissance injected with a Babe Ruth-like energy at times as Curved Air is as always more rocking than Renaissance ever was. Even though the folky side of the band is reduced here perhaps a bit of Steeleye Span can nonetheless also be detected in the latter's more Pop Rock moods.

Overall, I find this a decent album that - even though one track stands above all the others - keeps to a fair standard most of the time. There are a couple of weak, somewhat embarrassing moments, but these are outweighed by the better moments which just barely pushes this album into three star territory.

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 Live Atmosphere by CURVED AIR album cover Live, 2012
4.91 | 3 ratings

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Live Atmosphere
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars Atmospheric brilliance

Recorded during the band's 2010/2011 tour, Live Atmosphere features a set list full of Curved Air classics all of them originally from their first four studio albums. As such it plays a bit like a live "greatest hits" album. Representing the 1970 debut album Air-Conditioning are Propositions, Hide And Seek, Screw, Stretch, and It Happened Today, all of which sound fantastic here and indeed better than they ever did! 1971's Second Album is represented by the ghost story Everdance and the mega hit Back Street Luv. From 1972's Phantasmagoria comes the rocking Marie Antoinette, the title track and the mellower Melinda (More Or Less). Finally, Easy has been chosen to represent 1973's Air Cut. The live album is bookended by two brand new instrumentals which respectively sets the mood and leaves a good final impression. Overall, this is simply a great set and the performances are full of energy and passion. The band sounds as good as ever.

The line-up on the occasion consists of Sonja Kristina on lead vocals, Florian Pilkington-Miksa on drums, Chris Harris on bass, Kit Morgan on guitar, Robert Norton on keyboards, and Paul Sax on violin. Together they recreate the classic songs very well indeed and given that the recording quality wasn't always the best on the band's early 70's albums, many of these songs sound better than ever before here.

Live Atmosphere is a live masterpiece and my favourite Curved Air album

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