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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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Tapestry of PropositionsTapestry of Propositions
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$8.99
$9.21 (used)
North StarNorth Star
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$9.83
$7.48 (used)
Best of Curved AirBest of Curved Air
Import
Repertoire 2008
Audio CD$7.56
$7.76 (used)
Second AlbumSecond Album
Import
Wea Int'l 2008
Audio CD$3.90
$4.32 (used)
PhantasmagoriaPhantasmagoria
Import
REPERTOIRE 2011
Audio CD$7.37
$5.68 (used)
Live AtmosphereLive Atmosphere
Import
Ais 2012
Audio CD$12.99
$74.99 (used)
AirWaves - Live At The BBC Remastered / Live At The Paris TheatreAirWaves - Live At The BBC Remastered / Live At The Paris Theatre
Cleopatra 2012
Audio CD$9.99
$10.66 (used)
Live 1990Live 1990
Import
Membran/Noble Price 2005
Audio CD$4.49
$3.22 (used)
Midnight WireMidnight Wire
Import
REPERTOIRE 2011
Audio CD$6.18
$9.35 (used)
AirconditioningAirconditioning
Import
Repertoire 2012
Audio CD$5.88
$5.49 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
CURVED AIR Live CD 2011 (7 Tracks) NEW & SEALED USD $6.80 Buy It Now 2h 26m
Curved Air: Curved Air Live [SHM-CD] (Japan) USD $35.52 Buy It Now 2h 31m
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CURVED AIR Lovechild 2000 German 8-track CD album picture sleeve SMMCD609 USD $16.19 Buy It Now 1 day
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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)

3.31 | 140 ratings
Airconditioning
1970
3.59 | 166 ratings
Second Album
1971
3.84 | 190 ratings
Phantasmagoria
1972
3.69 | 119 ratings
Air Cut
1973
2.38 | 51 ratings
Midnight Wire
1975
2.52 | 42 ratings
Airborne
1976
3.00 | 8 ratings
Reborn
2008
3.34 | 45 ratings
North Star
2014

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

3.65 | 58 ratings
Curved Air Live
1975
3.36 | 20 ratings
On Air - Live at the BBC
1995
3.48 | 11 ratings
Alive 1990
2000
4.87 | 4 ratings
Live Atmosphere
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
Tapestry of Propositions: The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 1
2016

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

2.97 | 13 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
2.60 | 31 ratings
Lovechild
1990
3.67 | 3 ratings
Retrospective - Anthology 1970-2009
2010

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

4.00 | 1 ratings
Vivaldi
1971
3.00 | 2 ratings
It Happened Today
1971
3.00 | 1 ratings
Back Street Luv
1971
3.00 | 2 ratings
Sarah's Concern
1972

CURVED AIR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tapestry of Propositions: The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 1 by CURVED AIR album cover Live, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Tapestry of Propositions: The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 1
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Curved Air has been going strong since their comeback in 2008. Sonja Kristina (vocals) and Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), got themselves new musicians (nowadays: Kirby Gregory on guitar, Chris Harris on bass, Robert Norton on keyboards and Paul Sax on violin) and they keep touring and releasing material.

Their last studio album was North Star (2014) and from that tour comes this new Live album: Tapestry of Propositions.

But a warning must be given about this record: it's not your normal Curved Air record. Tapestry Of Propositions is the first volume of the Curved Air Rarities Series and brings to the listener an hour long version of the song 'Propositions' (from the band's debut album Air Conditioning) with over a dozen of the improvisations which usually happen in their concerts. But here you have them edited together to flow naturally. And it kinda works!

Sonja Kristina vocals are present only on the opening and ending tracks so what you have here is an album for fans of the band and improvisational music, really. And as it is, it's a very good rarity for Curved Air's fans!

Interesting idea, let's see what the band will bring us for the next albums of the series!

 Curved Air Live by CURVED AIR album cover Live, 1975
3.65 | 58 ratings

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Curved Air Live
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars To me the essential Curved Air albums are the first three albums, and I know most would agree on that. In December 1974, the classic lineup reunited (Sonja Kristina, Francis Monkman, Darryl Way, Florian Pilkington-Miksa), minus the bass player (as the original lineup always had trouble with keeping bassists, their first three albums featured a different bassist). The new bass player being American named Philip Kohn (I used to think Stewart Copeland was the first American in the band, but turns out it was Kohn). Apparently some of the original members were needing to pay back taxes, and despite the lack of sales, it still helped pay back their taxes.

As this album featured 4/5 of the original lineup, it should really come as no surprise that no material on Air Cut was featured, as they would require more rehearsing to get them familiar with the material, so it's all focused on their first three albums, and what a great performance this was. I was a bit put off by Sonja's singing, as she tends to scream, which she never did on the studio albums. It's as if she was taking after Janis Joplin, Ann Wilson, or Jenny Haan (Babe Ruth). It's like I was imagining her trying to steer Curved Air into heavy metal. OK, so the songs here take on a harder-edge approach, so they have a more rocking quality. Even Francis Monkman playing guitar like there's no tomorrow. "It Happened Today", except for Sonja's vocal performance sticks close to the original template, although in a more hard-edge fashion. "Marie Antoinette" really seems strange when Sonja does her screams here, as this is one of their more soft and gentle songs. "Propositions" really gets interesting because Francis throws in an organ solo that is actually him doing Terry Riley! It unsurprisingly bears more than a passing resemblance to A Rainbow in Curved Air, which makes perfect sense, as that album/composition is where the band got their name from. You could almost imagine Francis Monkman recording a solo album of Terry Riley-type minimalist music. No Curved Air with Darryl Way would be complete without "Vivaldi", a lot of it is the same as the original, although Sonja throws in a short vocal passage, and Darryl throws in "Sailor's Hornpipe" on his violin. The big reason to own this album is the songs are arranged a bit differently from the originals, but maybe not as drastic as Gentle Giant's Playing the Fool: The Official Live Album, as you still easily recognize these songs, but they given them a harder-edge approach and some nice jams not fount on the originals (and that neat Terry Riley reference on "Propositions"). I do find Sonja's vocal approach a bit over the top here, but that's probably because she's attempting to give these songs a harder edge, but doesn't quite work right. Other than that, a great live album, which surprisingly has quite a few surprises despite all the material came from their first three albums.

 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.34 | 45 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Pastmaster

4 stars Curved Air - North Star

"North Star" is the seventh (eighth if you count the re-recordings album "Reborn") studio album by progressive rock band Curved Air and their first studio album with new material since 1976. Curved Air is an often forgotten band of the 70's progressive rock scene, and like Renaissance they were one of the more classical-influenced bands. They make extensive use of violin and on their first album even had a song titled 'Vivaldi'.

On "North Star", we have seven new songs, three re-recorded songs, one re-recorded Sonja Kristina solo song, and three covers. Personally, I don't care for the covers and re-recordings but the new songs are excellent and some of the best songs the band has made.

Something I find amazing about a lot of the songs, is that the band rocks but at the sometime makes the music very calming and easy to listen to. Songs like 'Stay Human' and 'Time Games' both have some pretty rockin' guitar and bass work, but the peaceful keyboards and violin really add a different feel. Parts of the latter especially almost sound other-worldly, it's hard to explain, but the way all the instruments play together makes it rock and calm at the same time. 'Images and Signs' has a particularly great combining of violin and guitar, with the guitar supplying climbing riffs and sometimes getting menacing while the violin and keyboards bring a calming presence.

Now that I think about it, the band actually rocks quite a bit more than they used to. Now, this isn't hard rock or anything, but they really put the rock into 'progressive rock' with this album. While a lot of the new songs have great guitar work, the instrumental 'Spider' really has some awesome riffs. It combines more typical symphonic rock sections with really catchy riffs with a real jump to the guitar. There are also some space-y parts in the song that fit in really well.

The production is very organic and natural sounding, and it has a real warmth to it. I think this production works perfectly with the sound of the music, as I said the music feels very relaxed and if it wasn't for the filler of re- recordings and covers, the album would flow perfectly. A good idea of the feeling the music and sound gives, is a feeling of sitting by a fireplace calm and content but also tapping your foot to a catchy riff and rhythm.

Overall, it's rare for a classic 70's band's best work to be their most recent after being split-up for many years. However, I think this is the case with Curved Air, and this would get an easy five stars if it wasn't for the filler. I'll have to settle for 4.5, but I can't wait for anything else new that Curved Air has up their sleeves. I highly recommend this album for any fans of symphonic rock that want something both rocking and relaxing. 4.5 rounded down to 4.

 Phantasmagoria by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.84 | 190 ratings

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Phantasmagoria
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Deferred Defect

4 stars In technology, the Uncanny Valley is an expression used to describe something that approaches realism, be it a computer generated image, voice, or physical object.

When something trying to be "natural" is ever-so-slightly skewed away from what we perceive as "real", our brains have tremendous difficulty dealing with it, something that causes unease and adverse reactions in most people. We want to tell ourselves that the technically flawless CGI in modern films is as real as the actors, but people can spot the difference with almost no difficulty.

I was initially going to start this review with a comparison to the uncanny valley, but I'm still unsure if it's fair or not.

Going into Curved Air's Phantasmagoria, it ticks all the "right" boxes - We have a 1970s English progressive rock band, symphonic elements, psychedelic overtones, interesting song topics, and extremely tight, if not incredibly complicated, musicianship.

It's got some extremely catchy songs and themes that make it a fascinating listen, and yet the first time I listened to it, I'm fairly certain it ended without my taking much notice.

It's also got some very unconventional moments, mixing heavy synth experimentation with brass, funky time signatures, and lots and lots of violin, but even then something always made me feel that this was a heavily commercial album.

Maybe it's the production, the pop/ typographic style cover, or even Sonja Kristina's airy (but nice) vocals singing "La LaLaLa La La" on the title track, but there's elements here that make me feel like it's an elaborate ruse by a record label to cash in on this up-and-coming "progressive rock" fad.

Obviously that's not the case, but this is where we go back to the uncanny valley. Everything is there, but it just feels "off" somehow. Maybe it's just me.

Highlights for me are the incredibly good "Marie Antoinette", with Lorena McKennitt-esque lyrics and singing, leading into the calmer, and exceedingly pleasant "Melinda (More or Less)".

"Cheetah" is another highlight, with an extremely strong opening violin section and great bass. With the addition of a bit of guitar, this could fit very well into "Islands" era King Crimson.

"Who's Shoulder are You Looking Over" is an interesting improvisational piece that segues nicely into Over and Above, which might be my favourite track. There's some great vibraphone work and the song has excellent energy management. It ends in a very "Let it Be" era Beatles freakout, growling guitar solo ripping apart the chanting vocals in the background.

I'm usually paying attention by this point, unfortunately, because it leads right into my least favourite track, "Once a Ghost, Always a Ghost". Usually I love tropical influenced songs on prog albums (CAN's Bel Air especially), but this just doesn't do it for me. Believe me, it was not easy hitting play on the last track for this review.

Even considering the flaws, and my own inability to listen to it in my regular prog lineup (it usually ends up sandwiched along with the for-mentioned Beatles, Bowie, and ELO), it's got some really great moments. I think would be an album very suited as an entry to the genre; There's nothing too heavy, and it's genuinely fun.

3.5, but leaning towards a 4 for someone other than myself!

 Airconditioning by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.31 | 140 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.

 Second Album by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.59 | 166 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.

 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.34 | 45 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

 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

 It Happened Today by CURVED AIR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
3.00 | 2 ratings

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It Happened Today
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

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.

 Sarah's Concern by CURVED AIR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Sarah's Concern
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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