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Curved Air

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Curved Air Airconditioning album cover
3.38 | 219 ratings | 25 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. It Happened Today (4:55)
2. Stretch (4:05)
3. Screw (4:03)
4. Blind Man (3:32)
5. Vivaldi (7:26)
6. Hide And Seek (6:15)
7. Propositions (3:04)
8. Rob One (3:22)
9. Situations (6:17)
10. Vivaldi With Cannons (1:35)

Total Time: 44:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Sonja Kristina / lead vocals
- Francis Monkman / lead guitar, organ, piano, Mellotron, electric harpsicord, VCS3 synthesizer, Fx
- Darryl Way / electric violin, vocals
- Robert Martin / bass guitar
- Florian Pilkington-Miksa / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Mark Hanau

LP Warner Bros. Records ‎- WSX 3012 (1970, UK)

CD Line Records ‎- LECD 9,01023 0 (1991, Europe)
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REPUK 1140 (2011, UK) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CURVED AIR Airconditioning ratings distribution

(219 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CURVED AIR Airconditioning reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Something went awfully wrong in the production of this album. At least on my copy (a Cd but reading up in reference books, this was already the case with the vinyl) this sound as it was all muffled up. Too bad as the music did seem interesting, and might just be CA's best album, but I was never a huge fan from them anyway.

Probably one album that would gain immeasurably from a proper remastering job. BTW, this album is one of thevery first picture disc ever produced. Maybe, this was part of the problem, also

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Full frontal nudity!

This, Curved Air's first album, achieved instant success due in no small part to the clever marketing of the initial copies. Although it has been done many times since, I believe this was the first commercially produced picture disc. Initial copies came in a clear plastic sleeve, with only the actual LP (complete with images of full frontally naked women), inside. This of course made it instantly desirable, no matter what the music was like. The problem was that after a number of plays, the paint started to be worn off by the stylus! (I apologise if this means little to the CD generation!).

As for the music, it is actually very good. The combining of Sonja Kristina's distinctive vocals with the instrumental prowess of Francis Monkman (keyboards) and Daryl Way (violin) making for some excellent tracks.

The opening song, "It happened today", sees Kristina sounding very assured, backed by some excellent violin, particularly on the slower instrumental ending. There's a good mix of soft tracks, where Kristina is given the opportunity to bring her unique voice to the fore ("Screw", "Situations"), and funkier or more upbeat pieces ("Stretch", Hide and seek").

It is however the two "Vivaldi" pieces which form the signature tracks of the album. "Vivaldi" is a 7 minute track featuring virtuoso multi-tracked electric violin by Daryl Way. While loosely influenced by the work of the namesake composer, this is an original composition. It was later covered on keyboards by SKY when Monkman joined that band. The theme is reprised at a more sedate pace but with exploding fireworks on the brief "Vivaldi with Cannons" to end the album.

The hype surrounding this album meant that it found an audience far quicker than it otherwise would have, but in truth, it is a mighty first album by any standard.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Curved Air is a generally viewed as a forgotten footnote in progressive rock, partly because latter day members Eddie Jobson and Stewart Copeland went on to acheive great fame elsewhere. But the truth is that the core nucleus of Francis Monkman (guitar/keyboards), Darryl Way (violin) and gorgeous vocalist Sonja Kristina put out a trio of exciting albums that were notable for a number of great songs and some daring classical/rock fusion attempts.

Curved Air had its roots in West Coast acid rock and that's never more obvious that on this fascinating, albeit patchy debut album. While the massed vocals that grace Strech are remiscent of Jefferson Airplane, the abundant Way violin flourishes call to mind the lesser known It's A Beautiful Day.

The album kicks off with It Happened Today, an urgent cut with some of Monkman's best lead guitar work, with a memorable chorus and a dramatic midway switch to a mellow Darryl Way violin solo. Kristina's deep Euro soft-core porn vocals also make a lasting impression.

However the two make-or-break songs here are Vivaldi and Hide And Seek which just happen to be my favourites. Vivadi sees Way execute a classical theme at break-neck speed, while the band thrash around behind him. This eventually leads into an extravagant unaccompanied violin solo, which takes a few twists and turns before coming home to roost. Hide And Seek is just brilliant ... Monkman shines on piano and acid-drenched guitar, Kristina's vocal performance is among her most intoxicating, the ascending melody of the verses in sheer brilliance and the free-from backing that bassist Rob Martin and drummer Florian Pilkington-Missa provide the eerie chorus is also excellent.

Aside from these two essential classics, Air Conditioning has a number of enjoyable cuts. Stretch is a violin-led boogie, that really sounds like a song that Jefferson Airplane wrote, even it is actually a Way/Monkman collaboration. Screw is a despondent violin dominated track, with some great vocals from Kristina and Monkman lending a hand on organ. Proposition rides on the back of propulsive rhythms and some passionate vocals by Kristina and Way, with a ringing hypnotic guitar freak-out dominating most of the piece. Situations is a dreamier, symphonic song piece with more ethereal vocals from Kristina and more piercing guitar leads from Monkman (this time on wah-wah).

It's not all fun though. Blind Man is one that I could live without. Rob One, an unexciting composition by bassist Robert Martin, is basically a reflective violin solo over some band backing, with lyrical piano from Monkman. I also feel that Vivaldi With Cannons, which is essentially just a repetition of the theme with some semi-comical sound effects, is totally unnecessary. It is thankfully brief.

Despite its many exciting moments, I'm of the opinion that Air Conditioning is a little too acidic for prog purists to start off with. I'd advise starting with Phantasmagoria and working your way backwards. ... 62% on the MPV scale

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The album starts with the menacing and erotic "It Happened Today", which is quite funny as a composition. I think that there is much better performance of this song available from the Beat Club films, where there the traditional rock'n'roll piano sections are played with much more sensual violin, and of course the band and it's front lady are fun to watch. "Stretch" is not very interesting track, being quite basic bluesy rock number with good but too short instrumental middle section. The two following tracks have more classical feeling in them with symphonically constructed segments, and also nice violin and piano tones. Especially "Screw" (?) has some quite deep and beautiful feelings loaded into it, and "Blind Man" is a bit more lighter song.

The first side of the original vinyl ends up to the band's classic track "Vivaldi", and this performance on this studio recording is yet best of which I have heard of it, being a real highlight. The filmed version of this song on "Masters from The Vaults" is ruined by in my opinion too far out experimentations, and the performance on the BBC live CD has some kind of Puss'n'Boots sail-past sequences, which didn't please me. There's also a short quotation of this tune in the end of the album, which is quite futile as a track but ties the album as a tighter record with causalities from the different bearings of its latitudes. Other goodies from the B-side of the album are "Hide and Seek" with quite powerful elements, the short but heavy instrumental "Rob One", and the melancholic contemplations on "Situations". "Propositions" is a powerful and hard track, but there are also much better version of it from the television recordings available, allowing the visual delights which no other group has yet maybe exceeded.

This opener of the little unbalanced but still very interesting and sympathetic career of Curved Air is surely worth of checking out. I think this band was nice entity as it had good and personal musicians in it, and though they sometimes went to banalities, they also managed to cook up nice art rock pies from lightly psychedelic, jazzy and folky rock elements for your dearest listening events. "When there are bold movements done, there are acceptable risks of overdoing it".

Review by The Whistler
4 stars Have you ever had the feeling like you'd heard an album somewhere before? No? Well, anyway, Curved Air's debut has that feel to it to be sure. And that album's name sounds a bit like "Stan Dup."

But, Curved Air, yeah. I think that Curved Air is a somewhat misunderstood band. That is, I don't know a lot about their work after Way's departure (read: "I have only heard this album"), but Curved Air is usually represented as being all airy and light. Not only can they rock (courtesy Misters Way and Monkman), but this album has a real mean streak to it. I don't mean it's depressing or anything, but it...has its moments.

Opener "It Happened Today" contains a good mix of guitar and piano lines, but the real star here is Sonja Kristina, delivering chilling, existential lyrics with chilling, ethereal vocals. But for some reason, it bleeds into a sorta sappy, violin led coda. Which might be okay, if it didn't go on for so damn long.

Oh well. The best number on this here thing is probably the next song (although, to be fair, the good stuff is kinda even), a driving, psychedelic flavored bloozy piece entitled "Stretch." The whole song is great, but I love that part in the middle where the violin climbs and Monkman's guitar goes crazy. You know what I mean. Yeah. Awesome, idn't it? "Screw" is a creepy little number that fades in and out. Probably longer than need be, but, it's okay. Cool guitar noises.

Maybe my second favorite song is the little ethnic, folksy bit called "Blind Man." It's just undeniably catchy, and the hushed lyrics are great, with a sweet lil' descending violin line in the middle. Of course, the best showcase of Darly Way's instrument is "Vivaldi," an album favorite. Everyone's instruments come together beautifully, but Way is always impressive (it's really his song after all). It does get a little slow in the midsection, but the harder parts at the start and end are fantastic.

"Hide and Seek" starts out with another floaty intro, but it turns sharply into another dense, dark psycho rocker. Spooky lyrics, and probably the best guitar solo on the album. But "Propositions" lets me down a little. It follows a pattern similar to "Hide and Seek," except on crack! Unfortunately it quickly dissolves into a bunch guitar noise (which I usually love!), and it doesn't really do too much.

The instrumental "Rob One" is piano and violin based. It's pretty, but it's a little tuneless. "Situations" is an interesting number, with interesting sound effects, and an interesting guitar solo. It's nice when it's atmospheric, but it takes a few too many turns for its own good. Oh well, at least it's interesting.

Despite a little running down by the end of the album, Air Conditioning pretty much earned a four. But "Vivaldi with Cannons" guarantees it. I know it's only a minute long, but just listen to it dude! It's the same tune of the first "Vivaldi," only in the middle of all these explosions, and it's way HARDER! It sounds like the room is blowing up, and Darly's going down with it! Metal hands! In truth, I'm not sure which version of "Vivaldi" I like more; awesome album closer, one of favorite closers ever.

So now that I've talked a lot about Air Conditioning, I know what you REALLY want to hear about is Stand Up. And let's face it, this record is a big ole copy of that one. Just take a fuzzy guitarist, a "classical" instrument, and then do a buncha numbers with eerie undertones, some psycho blooz, some folk-related, some classical/rock fusion...they just retitled "Fat Man" "Blind Man" fer goshsakes! Someone owes Ian some money.

Oh well. We're talking about Curved Air here. At least, you are. And this record is not as good as Stand Up (few are of course), but it is real darn good for a young prog band that ain't done very much.

The lineup is good, albeit not fantastic. The drummer is kinda cool from time to time ("Blind Man," "Vivaldi"), but the bass hardly impresses me. Monkman is a pretty decent guitarist though, and he bangs the respective 'boards pretty good (when he does). Wonder how live shows worked...

But Sonja and Darly are the ones you want to grab onto; Way is one of my favorite prog violinists, I love the buzzy, echoey, almost metallic tricks he plays with the thing ((fellow) lovers of Larks Tongues in Aspic, take note!). And I don't seem to listen to a lot of bands with a chick singer (excuse me, a "female vocalist"), but Sonja makes it work. Sometimes.

My main problem is that it comes off as a little muddled from time to time. I mean, are these guys trying to be floaty and ethereal, or hard and dark? Or both? That would be cool, moody AND fun. Which this record is! Anyway, time will tell, but in the meantime, this is a very enjoyable progressive album, with a very progressive album cover concept that is sadly lost on the compact disc-ing public (and don't even get me started on MP3s).

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Curved Air are one of those bands that the passage of time hasn't been kind too. Their name hasn't bridged the decades in the way that many Prog bands on an equal footing in the seventies have. They seem to be now largely forgotten and if their name comes up the usual reaction is "wasn't that the band Stewart Copeland was in before The Police?" It was but not on this album by the way.

Air Conditioning is their debut album released in 1970 and there's no doubting the talent in the band. The music is tastefully played with particularly good use of electric violin by Darryl Way and the rest of the band play their parts well. Their trump card is the melancholy tones of vocalist Sonya Kristina.

The problem here lies in the song writing. Whilst adequate little stands out as outstanding thus leaving an album that you're not likely to return to very often. Musically a difficult band to categorise; an eclectic mix of Progressive Rock with classical overtones on the track Vivaldi which is Violin dominated throughout. Though no doubt quite original at the time it finds this listener losing interest quickly longing for the next track. The theme resurfaces on closing track Vivaldi With Cannons, thankfully short at one and a half minutes.

There are a few moments where it works though. Album opener It Happened Today is a promising start with Piano and Guitar to the fore on this mid tempo piece which drops for a lovely Violin led ending. Following track Stretch is a decent Blues based shuffle and Blind Man has a bit of a Jethro Tull vibe to it as is largely acoustic, perhaps my favourite track on the album. The short Propositions has some enjoyable dual Guitar playing and has a Psychedelic feel to it, the type of track that would lend itself well to live instrumental jamming.

Overall then not a bad album but lacking a few killer tracks. No doubt it will be now put back on my shelf and not resurface for a few more years. 2 ― stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Following in the wake of Renaissance Curved Air released their debut album Air Conditioning in 1970. Itīs a typical early seventies symphonic prog rock album just with a female singer. There are definitely also traces of sixties rock in some of the songs. It actually reminds me a bit about Jefferson Airplane sometimes. Curved Air has lots of violin in the songs though and it gives Air Conditioning a folky touch even though the violin mostly plays classical notes. Songs like It Happened Today and Vivaldi were later live favorites at concerts.

The musicians are pretty good but Iīm not that impressed with Sonja Christinaīs voice. She is ok technically with a good vibrato but she sings too much in the same register and it gets trivial IMO. Francis Monkman has to be mentioned as he is the one to look out for in this band with his different keyboards, pianos, organs and synths. John Hawken didnīt live for nothing as Monkman obviously is very inspired by his style.

The sound quality is good for the time, but nothing special.

This is a 3 star album for me as I can hear some exciting things here but the pieces just donīt fit together to make this a special album in my ears. Itīs pretty good though but Iīll listen to Renaissance any time before Curved Air if Iīm in the mood for some female led symphonic prog.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars At the time of release of this debut album, I was too young (eleven) to have discovered it and I missed ''Curved Air'' in their early days and afterwards as well since when I got really into prog ('73) , I mostly concentrated on the ''giants''.

When I listen to the great opening ''It Happened Today'', I have some regret. The psyche flavour, the female vocals.did I say ''Airplane''? A real gem of a song. The infectious chorus is easy to memorize and the fine violin break is just like a wonderful add on. I like this song very much.

The landing to earth is quite hard with the bluesy-rock'' Stretch'' which sounds rather flat; but since the psychedelic and melodic ''Screw'' follows, there aren't too many damages so far. The work from Darryl Way on the violin is again excellent. He and Sonja are really the best ingredients so far. The band is instantly recognizable thanks to them.

The second highlight is ''Vivaldi''. It is THE showcase for Darryl and his wonderful violin. Furious as some wild guitar solo, emotional like an Hungarian violin player: he is just amazing. The sublime closing section with the whole band playing loudly and frenetically is truly superb. A great instrumental track, for sure.

This album holds a lot of very good song. Of course, several of them embrace the psychedelic genre, but remember that this album was released in '70. Even if the peak of this style was already behind, it still remained popular for a little while. ''Hide & Seak'' is a wonderful example.

This album ends up on three extremely short tracks of which ''Vivaldi With Canons'' is by far the best one. Some sort of recap for ''Vivaldi''.

I have appreciated this good debut album. Three stars, mainly due to some weaknesses here and there.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a very enjoyable debut album. Air Conditioning is by no means masterpiece of rock music but Curved Air did managed to maintain enough momentum here to please both the fans of folk and progressive rock.

The music and particularly the production of this album sounds exactly as it should for a 1970-release with a slightly higher emphasis on great songwriting. These compositions are the sole reason that make me want to revisit this album time and time again. It all starts with the wonderful album opener It Happened Today with its rock-oriented guitar intro which eventually settles in a much cozier folk rock territory during the verse-section.

I remember that I listened to a lot of Pavlov's Dog material at the time so when I first heard the vocals on this first track I immediately thought of David Surkamp! This error had to do with me not reading up on Curved Air before listening to their music. Sonja Kristina has a lovely voice that fits perfectly with the tone of the music and I especially enjoy it during the more subtle moments. Blind Man is a great example of that type of composition.

Vivaldi is this album's most apparent connection to the realm of progressive rock and Darryl Way's violin work is captivating to say the least. It's a pity that his work wasn't incorporated even more into the overall sound of the band. If it wasn't for the electric violin and sight touches of Mellotron here and there I'm sure that this music would even be classified as eclectic. Then again, if that was the case then I probably wouldn't even have heard of this band, so there is definitely no criticism on my part.

Air Conditioning is a nice little record that is well worth seeking out for fans '70s rock music.

***** star songs: It Happened Today (4:55) Vivaldi (7:26)

**** star songs: Stretch (4:05) Screw (4:03) Blind Man (3:32) Hide And Seek (6:15) Propositions (3:04) Rob One (3:22)

*** star songs: Situations (6:17) Vivaldi With Cannons (1:35)

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I have the LP of this, but luckily not the pcture disc, so my record is still playable. Thankfully.

This album falls somewhere between folk rock and symphonic prog, and, for a debut album, is pretty good. The album begins with the more rocky (for this band) It Happened Today, and then proceeds to get folky for a while, peaking with the quirky Blind Man. I don't usually go for this type of song, but for some unknown reason, this one always grabs my attention. The side closes with darryl way's bombastic Vivaldi, a song he must like, since they recorded it so often.

Hide And Seek starts the second side with some classic psychedelia. Propositions is a Francis Monkman guitar fest, one of the few times his guitar wins over Way's violin. Rob One is a slow instrumental ballad, and therefore not my type of song, but it does have it's charm. Situations is a song of changing dynamics, and very good, probably the most prog on the album. Then there's another Vivaldi.

A good start, but in my opinion, this band got better in the next few years.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Curved Air's first album showcases a sound achieved by combining early prog bombast (complete with classical covers in the form of two Vivaldi reworkings) with classic 60s pop - most evident in the chanteuse style that lead singer Sonja Kristina sings in. Not as full-on experimental as many contemporaries, but still an interesting experiment with a pleasant sound - or at least, it would be if the sound quality on many editions of the album wasn't terrible - murky, fuzzy, and altogether poor.

Apparently this was due to the marketing gimmick of making this album one of the very first picture disc LPs - only picture disc technology being in its infancy, the sound quality was necessarily scaled down. Still, if you can get through the sound quality there's some good material on here - but the band would put out albums with a far better sound later in their career. The recent remaster from Esoteric (also available in a boxed set with the rest of their first four albums) is a notable improvement over most CD issues.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Curved Air's "Air Conditioning" is a stellar debut for the band that arguably boasts some of the finest musicians of the 70s prog era. The incomparable violin prowess of Darryl Way on electric violin is unmistakeable on the outro of 'It Happened Today' or the intro jig of 'Stretch'. Francis Monkman is a marvel multi instrumentalist playing scorching lead guitar, organ, piano, Mellotron, electric Harpsicord, and VCS3 synthesizer. On bass is Robert Martin and the drummer is Florian Pilkington-Miksa. One cannot write a review about a Curved Air album without mentioning the gorgeous vocals of Sonja Kristina. On this debut she makes her presence known with some excellent singing injecting just the right amount of inflection and intonation into each song.

There are nice harmonies on 'Stretch' with the catchy chorus, "this was meant for you, that was meant for me." This track is followed by 'Screw', with creative violin motifs and a brooding atmosphere backed by intense lyrics; "see the screw slowly turn around, see it sink without a sound, feel your head slip with every turn, feel the steel knob begin to burn, all is lost now it seems that way." The Hammond shimmers and distorts the sound in places which is poor quality mixing but one has to forgive this given the year this was made in 1970. Though my CD is not a remaster version. The booklet is very poor too containing just white pages and lyrics and not even any info on the band or production credits. They are all on the album cover that incidentally spells 'Mellatron' wrong. The CD cover is the same as the vinyl picture disk there is no sign of the original cover gatefold which was banned for its nude picture of the band.

There are some dull moments on this including 'Blind Man', with Sonja warbling unnecessarily, but it picks up with the memorable vivacious 'Vivaldi', the 7 and a half minute version. Of course 'Vivaldi' was a smash single for the band and rightly so with Way dazzling on violin, including a mind bending solo section. The instrumental stayed with the band throughout their chequered career and, along with 'Back Street Love' on their next album, it became a live staple. Sky did make a million recreating the track when Monkman joined that band. This original version though is incredible and the scintillating guitar of Monkman is as good as the Sky version.

Side two of the album originally began with the rocking 'Hide and Seek', featuring a heavy guitar riff and quick time sig changes. Kristina is exceptional on this and Monkman shines on the lead breaks. The many changes in feel and virtuoso musicianship make this a highlight of the band's career.

'Propositions' is ok with some great guitar playing but I could have done without the silly lyrics. 'Rob One' is a short instrumental that feels like filler, or a B side though of course Way is a marvel on violin. 'Situations' is a slow song with a more reflective Kristina, "life is not as simple as it seems, and night's the only place to keep a dream." I like the way it changes with bright keyboards and Kristina on her highest octave. The wah-wah psychedelic guitar is a welcome embellishment, along with the stirring mellotron swells.

Finally 'Vivaldi with cannons' returns to the Vivaldi tune but this time adds spiralling electronic whistles and thunderous cannon blasts for good measure. The debut for Curved Air is a real hit and miss affair, with some poor production, but it does demonstrate the virtuoso dexterity of the band and Kristina's well executed vocals. It was a beginning but better was yet to come in the next years, cementing the reputation of the band as vital to the prog scene.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars London-based UK act Curved Air evolved from the late-60's band Sisyphus, formed by violin player Darryl Way and guitarist Francis Monkman, involving also pianist Nick Simon, drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and bassist Rob Martin.The band's manager Mark Hanau suggested to hire Sonja Kristina Linwood as their lead singer and so it became.After Sonja Kristina arrived, Simon parted ways with the band, which was now renamed to Curved Air.They were the first British band to sign with Warner Bros and their debut ''Air Conditioning'' was released in November 70'.

Although the album is far from a masterpiece, it definitely shows the (right) direction rock music was heading to around the time and additionally Curved Air were among the first British Rock bands to perform the violin as a basic instrument.Their sound was a mix of British Psych Rock with Folk Rock and strong Classical overtones coming out of Way's violin due to his classical education.While the tracks are not particularly complex, the constant use of violins, the discreet Mellotron parts and the psych guitars definitely complete an attractive Art Rock combination.The atmosphere changes from fiery and intense rockin' moments to romantic Classical-influenced instrumentals and Sonja Kristina's voice is certainly a welcome addition, having a voice that sounds both sensitive and passionate.Some tracks even contain sort of a bucolic British Folk mood due to the use of acoustic guitars and, no surprise, Darryl Way's rural performances.The long instrumental ''Vivaldi'' sounds a lot like NEW TROLLS' early works, an attempt by the group to fully capture the Classical Music aesthetics into full-blown rock music, but the result sounds a bit dated.

''Air Conditioning'' was definitely a great debut back at the time and some of its material sounds great even today.It lacks though this special touch to label it as a really astonishing work.Still this comes recommended, especially if you love the early-70's British Prog atmosphere.

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars I own the original picture disc and I've played this disc plenty of times and the paint never faded off. That's because the artwork was actually embedded in between the vinyl, not on top. Regardless, as everyone ever commented, it's not exactly audiophile quality. I also own an American green Warner black vinyl copy of this in which the sound quality wasn't that great either, despite it being on standard vinyl. Regardless, Curved Air is one of the great prog bands that been forgotten in time. While I run across older folks (older than me) who know of Curved Air, the younger generation hadn't discovered them, perhaps they didn't have "hipster" cred, I don't know.

It seems at this phase in their career, they were having trouble keeping bass players, but the rest remained fairly intact until about 1972, with Sonja Kristina, Francis Monkman, Darryl Way, and Florian Pilkington-Miksa. If you wondered what a British take on It's a Beautiful Day or Jefferson Airplane would be like, look no further than here. The It's a Beautiful Day comparison mainly for the violon, and Airplane for the female vocals (although Sonja sounds nothing like Grace Slick). "It Happened Today" was a song in my younger years I thought was a tad repetitive, but I've really grown to love it, especially Darry Way's violin solo. "Stretch" bears more than a passing resemblance to Jefferson Airplane, perhaps because of the combination female and male vocals, the male vocals reminding me of Paul Kantner. "Screw" features some low-key Mellotron and nice violin passages, while Way's "Vivaldi" is not only the album's highlight but a highlight in their live performance. A clear Vivaldi influence in obviously heard in the violin, but he really gets noisy as this piece progresses to the point you can tell Vivaldi would be turning in his grave. "Hide and Seek", "Propositions" and "Situations" are more great pieces that I have a hard time describing, but "Vivaldi With Cannon" is as described. The same "Vivaldi" piece with VCS-3 synth simulated sound of cannon fire. It seems as if Francis Monkman just bought a VCS-3 while recording this and likely just as the sessions were winding down ready for release, as he uses the VCS-3 nowhere else (luckily he totally remedied that on their next two albums).

To me a good album worth getting, but their next two album (Second Album, Phantasmagoria) are even better.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars CURVED AIR's debut firmly established the band's identifiable mix of classical, folk, rock and psychedelia which would persist throughout their initial run. This was by far their most commercially successful long player in the UK both in terms of peak position (#8) and weeks on the chart (21). How much of this had to do with its being issued as one of the first picture disks and the photogenicity of Sonja Kristina is unclear, but what was apparent from the start was that CURVED AIR managed to be unique rather than special. Today they are regarded as influential but somehow fall short of legendary. Very few if any of their numbers have been acknowledged as classics, possibly because they just aren't very memorable, the ambitious opuses lacking fluidity and the more "traditional" songs somehow failing to ignite beyond their initial promise.

On the flip side, I'm not sure CURVED AIR knew how to spell "sell out" let alone attempt it, and they could sure play, which helped compensate for generally mundane lyrical content. They even stumbled on a few ear worms, the very first being album opener "It Happened Today", the first and by far the best of their radio ready tracks which culminated commercially in "Back Street Luv" off the next album. The transition from rocker to neo classical in the middle is a harbinger of their eclectic attitude. Unfortunately, the toe-tapping is brutalized by "Stretch", a shambles of a boogie- blues that sounds more like a lesser JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. The album reaches its apex on "Vivaldi", a Darryl Way ode to the Italian baroque master that is equal parts classical rock and sonic experimentation, and "Hide and Seek", an eerie slice of heavy stoner prog with superb guitar from Monkman and even some impressive harmony vocals. Most of the rest is distinctly average for the reasons already mentioned.

"Air Conditioning" may have established CURVED AIR as a fleeting sensation and, like all their albums, has enough highlights to steer clear of redundancy, but somehow they were never cool or hot enough to fulfill their potential.

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3 stars A pioneer which couldn't keep up with its ideas: 7/10 CURVED AIR's debut indicates its belonging to the early progressive rock scene thanks to its crudeness. When I speak of crudeness, I do not refer to technical terms; instead, it's more of a conceptual one. AIRCONDITIONING is undoubtfully pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#1845061) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Saturday, December 23, 2017 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Curved Air, to be honest, was a band that I always viewed as "Daryl Way and Friends", in their first incarnation, and dismissed them as such. After 40 plus years, I've tried to put my long held feelings on a shelf and give the group another try, starting with their first album titled Airconditioni ... (read more)

Report this review (#1675742) | Posted by SteveG | Tuesday, January 3, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1387836) | Posted by GKR | Thursday, March 26, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 'Air Conditioning' is not only the debut of Curved Air but especially the first 'picture disc' entered in the charts. Certainly the merit is the voice and the beauty of Sonja Kristina. But, in truth, the merit is represented from one of the Prog evergreen: 'Vivaldi', a Venetian Romantic Baroque ... (read more)

Report this review (#164474) | Posted by timeprog | Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I actually acquired this album as a through away from my father, who as a fan of the progressive rock genre, did not rate it at all. However, I must disagree with him. "Air Conditioning" is the debut album of the female led progressive rock band Curved Air. the album all and is labeled as eclectic ... (read more)

Report this review (#152938) | Posted by cynthiasmallet | Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The original release had a great picture disc , which was certainly a first in the prog world. Trouble was the Picture disc wore out after a couple of plays. Of course in the days of expensive diamond styli an LP that damaged your equipment was a big error. This had the effect of pissing a lo ... (read more)

Report this review (#92041) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Air Conditioning is a good, solid album from an overlooked progressive band. The opening track, It Happened Today, is a good song, and I like the volin. The Stretch and Screw are both musically interesting, and the lyrics of Screw are nice and creepy if you like that sort of thing. I very muc ... (read more)

Report this review (#90191) | Posted by yesfan88 | Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Being their first album, it is a great start to the Curved Air catalog. There is a good variety between songs, and has some strong songwriting. The music overall is probably their most progressive. Sonja Kristina is wonderful on vocals, as always. The mix of sultry female vocals, violin, c ... (read more)

Report this review (#63130) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars In it's time this must have been an important album. Even ground breaking in some way. But... actually this is quite horrible music. The raw voice of Sonja Kristina is untolerable in the openin track "it happended todaaAaaAaay". And the backing music is mixed noise. The second song stays bette ... (read more)

Report this review (#63129) | Posted by pirkka | Wednesday, January 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hearing this band is such an experience... I knew this was progressive stuff and I bought, my god this girl has a good singing and somebody told me that one guy called Darryl Way was such a talented musician that made his violin sound like a storm...Vivaldi is a smash, don't ever miss that son ... (read more)

Report this review (#28096) | Posted by Carlos | Saturday, August 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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