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Curved Air

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Curved Air Second Album album cover
3.61 | 253 ratings | 28 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Young Mother (5:55)
2. Back Street Luv (3:38)
3. Jumbo (4:11)
4. You Know (4:11)
5. Puppets (5:26)
6. Everdance (3:08)
7. Bright Summer's Day 68 (2:54)
8. Piece of Mind (12:52)

Total Time 42:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Sonja Kristina / lead vocals
- Francis Monkman / lead guitar, keyboards, VCS3 synthesizer
- Darryl Way / electric violin, piano (5), vocals
- Ian Eyre / bass
- Florian Pilkington-Miksa / drums

Releases information

Artwork: John Kosh

LP Warner Bros. Records ‎- K 46092 (1971, UK)

CD Warner Music Japan Inc. ‎- WPCP-4223 (1991, Japan)
CD Warner Bros. Records ‎- 7599-26434-2 (1997, Europe)
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REPUK 1141 (2011, UK) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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CURVED AIR Second Album ratings distribution

(253 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CURVED AIR Second Album reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars As I am no big fan of the band, this only get 3 stars but this is one of their better albums . Start with this one and the the next one. Sonja's voice is among the best with Haslam, Jane Relf, Celia Humphries (Trees) or Jacqui McShee(Pentangle).

I am one proghead only partly appreciating the Classical composer reworks with rock influences, and CA is one of the groups I always found a bit too close for comfort to ripping off the masters. The musos present are all talented, Way with his violin and monkman is a good instrumentalist, but the problem lies elsewhere IMHO: do these guys have that much to say, to have made so many albums.

Anyway, This album and the next (Phatasmagoria) are Curved Air at the top of their game, but will simply never break the major leagues: for some evident reasons! At least to my eyes. I still find that most albums from Curved Air ARE worth the odd spin , once in a while, but IMHO, they were never essential listening.

Review by Proghead
4 stars My first dip in to CURVED AIR, a band I totally regretted not trying way earlier, after all I've been aware of this band for around 10 years now. Sonja Kristina has quickly became one of my favorite female vocalists, the opening cut, "Young Mother" was all it needed to prove my opinion. Here Francis Monkman provides some nice synth solos to go with this song. "Back Street Luv" was a UK hit, and was released as a single prior to the album's release. Unbelievably catchy song, with electric piano dominating, I'm sure Sonja's voice threw off Americans as it was never a hit here. "Jumbo" is an orchestrated ballad, while "You Know" is much in the same vein as "Back Street Luv", but with Monkman providing some nice guitar work as well. "Puppets" is yet another nice ballad, but it sounds like instead of real strings, Francis Monkman used a Mellotron here. All these represents side one of the LP, and were written by various members of the band, side two (the last three) were all written exclusively by Monkman.

The first two are short little ditties with that "cuteness" factor with "Everdance" and "Bright Summer's Day '68" that has tons of charm, no doubt helped by Sonja herself, someone else singing those songs would just fall on their face. The last is the 12 minute "Piece of Mind", an orchestrated prog epic, with Darryl Way providing some nice violin work as well. I was really surprised, given this was released on Warner Bros., a very highly corporate label that's also highly unreliable. The US LP, by the way features a different cover from the UK version, it just has a normal gatefold. A totally wonderful album from a band truly deserving more recognition that their better known contemporaries (YES, ELP, TULL, etc.) received.

My rating: 4 1/2 stars

Review by Man Erg
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the dramatic debut of Air Conditioning,Curved Air really got into their stride on this album.The whole album has an quirky atmosphere.Playful yet brooding. The musicianship is exquisite and Sonja Kristina's vocals at times otherworldly. Track one,Young Mother fades in with a bubbling VCS3 synth reminicent to Pink Floyd's On the Run then bursts into a tango with mellotron strings and a 'gypsy' violin with the VCS3 bubbling away until it too counterpoints the violin in a similar 'gypsy'-style. Quite wonderful. The next and probably most famous Curved Air track is next.Back Street Love. Jumbo (Track 3) is a beautiful ballad with Sonja Kristina accompanied by strings,not unlike Renaissance. Up next is You Know. A funky clavinet(?) tune with some excellent sustained guitar playing by Francis Monkman. Track 5 is Puppets.A beautiful,brooding tune with a clockwork beat Everdance is next up. a driving,violin led piece,going back to the 'gypsy'-style as described on Young Mother. Bright Summer's Day is an odd tune who's style Cockney Rebel would adopt a couple of years later. The last track is the 12 minute epic ,PIECE OF MIND.It starts it's journey with an almost Cecille B DeMille overture of tribal drumming,heavy piano ,synth-brass and eerie violin. Then their comes a total shift in tempo.The music builds and builds,runs spiraling away then rebuilds to a false crescendo and then it's all quiet. The rush gives way to a beautiful piano and strings interlude.We are soon on the build again.Getting ever more frantic.Then,you guessed it,another beautiful interlude,but this time Sonja has a trick up her sleeve.Over rolling piano and drums that makes me think of rolling waves,she reads a passage from T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland.All Change. The music takes yet another turn.Now we visit Morroco via the Who's Baba O'Reilly but in this case the violin is replaced by synth. And finally were back on the waves.The storm dissapearing into the distance and all is peaceful. Phew.Fantastic
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The one after their first album (but before their third album).

Curved Air's name comes from Terry Riley album 'A rainbow In Curved Air', although it must be emphasised that their music bears no resemblance to that of Riley. Their debut album, "Air conditioning" was released in 1970, to be followed in 1971 by this release. In between the albums, they toured the USA supporting Jethro Tull and Free. The many line up changes which plagued the band between their formation in 1970, and their final recordings in 1976 started almost immediately, with bassist Ian Eire replacing original member Robin Martin. Eire was then himself replaced by Mick Wedgwood after recording this album.

"Second album" (what an imaginative title!) is best known for the huge hit single it contains in "Back Street Luv". It certainly helped to increase sales of the album enormously while opening the band up to a whole new audience, and propelling them towards stardom. It is actually a pretty good track too, and while not particularly representative of their sound, was by no means a sell out.

As a whole, the album is lighter and more pop orientated than "Air conditioning" although it does contain the 13 minute "Piece of mind". This is a rather elongated piece, based around what might otherwise have been a good 5-6 minute song. Kristina certainly gives a fine vocal performance, the tumbling fast singing sections being particularly striking. The track moves through rather jazzy piano and some distinctive brass (vaguely reminiscent of Uriah Heep's use of brass on "Salisbury"). There is some goods synth too, but the overall impression is of a track being stretched beyond its natural length.

Of the other tracks, "Jumbo" is a lovely violin dominated ballad which might have made for a successful single. The title is perhaps a bit unfortunate, conjuring images of elephants rather than the intended aeroplanes and their romantic "flying me home" connotation. "Puppets" is another ballad, with a sparse backing to high delicate vocals.

"Young mother" has an almost early Genesis like sound at times, but the sharing of the main melody by vocals and violin gives the track an intriguingly different feel. On the down side, "You know" is an average pop track on the lines of "Stretch" from their first album. "Bright summer's day '68" is a short throwaway song with strange, shouted and distorted vocals.

In all, a decent "second" album by the band, which relies less on the violin and more on the keyboards. Not their best album (I'd recommend "Air conditioning" or the wonderful but hard to find "Air cut"), but worthy of investigation.

The LP sleeve was rather attractive consisting of several fold out sections with cut- outs and rainbow sections.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars CURVED AIR are one of those bands from classic period of prog development that I missed checking while being a crazy fan of record buying in my teens. I had only heard of their fame and occasionally read a few articles in magazines but never had I stumbled upon any of their albums. Especially in time when THE POLICE were popular during New Wave, I occasionally found their name connected with drummer S. Copeland and I was like "hmmmm, what's this?"

Thanks to PA (:-)) I got a sample listening to "Back Street Luv" and it immediately caught my attention. But when I listened to the whole "Second Album" I could not help but wondering - how is possible this music never got much popularity like other bands from the era? To be sure, this is 1971, the year when classic prog acts like YES or GENESIS just released their first fully developed albums. "Second Album" is surely not worse than "Nursery" or "Yes Album", and in some respect it is even equally interesting. Female vocal and electric violin gives unique listening experience that was not often found at that time. Sonja Kristina is perhaps not so elaborated or skilled vocalist like Sandy Denny or Annie Haslam but she is firm, energetic, emotional and delivers excellent songs. "Young Mother", "Backstreet Luv", "Puppets" and "Pieace of Mind" are prog masterpieces with very good of combination between violin, organ, synths and guitars, all arranged in largely vivid, rhythmic songs. "You Know" with its combination of male/female vocals, hints at JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, with excellent guitar solo. Mellotron-filled "Puppets" is one of the best prog ballads I heard.

I don't know whether I would the same opinon, had I heard this long time back but now I can only say - wow! This is an unjustly forgotten gem of British progressive rock of early 1970s and should be given a second chance. Now or never!

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When concerning quality, this album was sadly much less than I expected. I couldn't still give it the two stars it nearly deserves, as there are some very good musical moments here too. But the worst personal nightmare here for me was the fact that in excess of a one solitary track which ends abruptly in a middle of a bar, all other tracks end to a fade out. This solution caused unbelievably strong reactions in me, I contemplated that either the material has been produced so fast, that there was no time to finish the compositions, or more likely this solution had been seen as an ideal goal, which I disagreed quite much.

The last track here called "Piece of Mind" is really the best song here, lasting over twelve minutes, and being a fine psychedelia oriented and constructed epic. The song paints very dark, almost KING CRIMSON like shady visions pouring up from the inner world of the band. "Puppets" is also a funny though maybe too silly track, and I'm hearing some faint Mellotrons in the background too. The album starts with two good hit songs "Young Mother" and "Back Street Luv", which are both quite pop oriented and not very proggy songs (if this is a value). The second one has quite nice raw vintage electronics in it, and the version here is better than the live versions of it which I have heard. The vocals were mixed so quiet in the first song, that I couldn't hear the lyrics. Still despite these more conventional songs, the band could do very good jazzy rock stuff, and "Everdance" for example has an interesting old groovy touch in it.

If you like old music where the less dominant guitar gives space to a violin and keyboards, this could be a worthy album to check out. But the following "Phantasmagoria" album is in my opinion yet much better.

Review by micky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Curved Air's 'Second Album' which of course is.. hahhaha.. smart prog fans that you are.. their second album. Some fans call this album the highlite of the Monkman/Way incarnation of the band.. .others think that Phantasmagoria is. The best thing to do is get both and decide. I personally like this album best. The album was created by a band flush with new ideas and recorded between tours when they were on top of their respective games instrumentally and this group had some serious skill and talent going on.

The album of course is dominated by two elements the sensuous voice of Sonia Kristina and the classically trained Daryl Way and Francis Monkman on violin and keyboards respectively. If you have not really checked out Curved Air I strongly recommend you do.. similar to Renaissance musically yet with subtle differences. Curved Air had an aggression, a brashness that Renaissance lacked.Maybe in large part to the character of the different vocalists. Where Haslam had an angelic voice and seemed to excude purity. Kristina was the 'bad' girl your mothers warned you about. Can you imagine Haslam singing a song about having sex in the back of a car or in other places that passion drove you to. I can't that's for sure hahah. Well Kristina sang about it as if she had.. and considering she wrote the song hahha.. well. let's leave that alone and get on with the review before I blow a gasket here.

The album kicks off with 'Young Mother' with Kristina's impassioned vocals and Ways emotional violin. A great Monkman VCS 3 solo in the middle and is a great opening to album. The song according to Monkman predated Sonja's arrival in the band and was about Jackie Onassis. The next song up was a top 5 UK hit from the album ' Back Street Luv' Pretty much a pop song a nice electric piano playing by Monkman. According to Kristina the song was written for those who have made love in a dark alley or in the boot of an MG ( emoticion for ... how do you do that) Nice song. Next please....

Jumbo is a strings and piano piece that has a beautiful melody. A melancholy song about flying back home after a tour. Not bad.. but now.. the meat of the album for me starts. 'You know' has a jaunty rhythm that just inspires me to pick up the bass and play along. The obvious highlites are Monkmans two fabulous guitar solos. Love Kristina's singing on this one. The mellotron and piano driven 'Puppets' is next. What a lovely melody. One of my favorites from the album. 'Everdance' kicks off with a satanic wail from Way's violin and drops into a furious rhythm driven by Miksa. The highlite is the duelling violin and synthesizesrs of Way and Monkman and Miksa's drumming.. though I will give bonus points to the gentleman who wrote the liner notes to the album who called his drumming on this 'one of the most stunning rock drumming performances ever recorded' hahhaha. It's good guy.. but come on. Great track.. all misplaced enthusiam aside.

The harpsicord driven 'Bright Summers Day 1968' follows with another excellent Monkman guitar solo to close the track. Love the vocal harmony bits in that one. The album closes with the nearly 13 minute epic 'Piece of Mind'. A Monkman composition full of sythnthesizers and .. to be honest.. a little of everything. Cellos, horns, and others I'm sure I lost in the mix hahah. A rather dramatic piece of music that Since I feel bad for flaming the guy who wrote the liner notes.. I have to given him a shout out I wouldn't have recognized it otherwise being the uncultured (literature that is haha) swine that I am but there is an wonderful section where Kristina sings a section of T.S. Elliots 'The Wasteland' over a Monkman piano solo that is out of this world. He may have dropped the ball on the drumming.. but nailed it on that hahha. Great track.

The album for me had a bit of slow start but really picked up steam heading to the finish. Highly recommended if you want to try to Monkman/Way era of Curved Air. No Jobson on this.. try Air Cut if looking for him. Monkman might be one of the more underappreciated talents out of England during this period. This album shows him off quite well. Really enjoy this album.

For me and the site... 3 stars..

Michael (aka micky)

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The music of CURVED AIR Second album could be described as poppy psychedelia with some darkish, almost industrial (krautrock?) atmosphere, folksy bits and occasional prog. I mean 1971 prog. The music is often based around a simple, hypnotic, either mellow or chromatic pattern on violin or electric piano. It's stripped down to the bones without much ornaments. It's not shallow, but it's hollow.

CURVED AIR is full of air indeed. Their songs are certainly not dense or greasy; if there's anything to be appreciated it's structure and melody, but in my opinion the album lack in both (at least good ones), and that's why it fails to amuse me. I don't mind raw music, and there are some good moments, but in general, it's nothing special.

That's the biggest sin of this album: it's nothing special. Why? Well, look at my first sentence. Pay attention to the difficult-to-pin-down style. Their style was quite unique: what a pity they didn't manage to develop it further - such an eclectic mix of styles could be a goldmine for exceptional songs and an album to remember. Ironically, it's NOT lost in dozen directions, actually it's quite focused. Just..the songs are nothing to die for. It's difficult to describe why, but here's a tiny example: noodlings. It contains synth noodlings, but don't except Close To The Edge here; it's like giving a VCS3 synthesizer to VELVET UNDERGROUND. Not a bad idea, but...not what I consider a full-blown progressive rock act. However, it's a decent record and worth a spin. Highlights are performed on violin and electric piano, and Sonja's vocals could be quite enjoyable too.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Second Album is the second release from female led british symphonic rock atc Curved Air. Second Album is an album Iīve had for about 10 years, but itīs only now that Iīve listened closely to the album to make this review. Many people compare Curved Air with Renaissance and most of them comes out calling Curved Air a second rate version of Renaissance. IMO there are lots of similarities between the music of those two bands. Most notably the classical music influences and the female singing. As for the suggestion that Curved Air is a second rate version of Renaissance I only partially agree, but on the other hand I do agree that Renaissance is the better band of those two.

The music on second hand is a bit more interesting than it was on the debut and itīs mostly due to Young Mother, Puppets and the ending almost 13 minute long epic Piece of Mind. Most of the other songs are still rooted firmly in the sixties and I recall a band like Jefferson Airplane while the three mentioned songs are more symphonic seventies inspired ( well Puppets is just a more exciting song than the rest, It really isnīt symphonic. I like the more symphonic songs on the album the best. Some parts remind me a bit about Genesis.

Sonja Kristina has a good voice, but she does become a bit annoying at times because of the way she delivers her lines. Itīs hard to explain as I donīt know much about vocal techniques but she just isnīt my favorite female singer. Francis Monkman plays some great piano and VCS3 synthesizer parts that really adds to the music while Darryl Way also needs to be mentioned for his violin playing which is great. The rhythm section is pretty good too.

The production is very good for the time and itīs easy to hear everything thatīs being played in the mix.

The cover artwork isnīt very interesting and surely wonīt win them any awards.

Curved Air will always stand in the shadow of the much better Renaissance but this album is definitely worth purchasing if youīre a fan of that particular band or just curious about female led symphonic prog rock. 3 stars is my rating for Second Album.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars This was the first Curved Air album I ever owned and I loved it! Some people compares CA with Renaissance, something I always found ridiculous. Their sound and style were too different, the only striking similarity was the fact that they both had female singers. Granted, female singers in prog outfits were a bit rare by then, but still they had different voices and those bands had different approaches to music. Curved Air was always more electronic and experimental than Renaissance.

Second Album is my favorite Curved Air album also. Here they sound much more focused and interesting then their debut and even more so than this LPīs follow up, Phantasmagoria. At least three tracks are absolute prog classics: Young Mother, Everdance and the wonderful 12 minute epic Piece of Mind. Back Street Luv and Puppets are also highlights while You Know is a bit weak and Bright Summerīs Day 68 is too whimisical for my taste (great violin licks, though). The production is ok and the cover is only average. Sonja Kristina had a wonderful voice and a strong personality that worked well with the way she delivered her interpretations.

It was obvious that the the chemistry worked but the balance between such talented and ambitious musicians was always shifting. I think they never really reached the full potential such strong combination could have had. Which is quite unfortunate for everyone involved. Darryl Way and Francis Monkman were some of the best players around and their songwriting skills were outstanding. The band had it all, but somehow they couldnīt work together for too long.

Nevertheless they did left a good string of fine prog albums. This Cd is a good starting point for this interesting and underrated UK band that could have been much more well known, since they were one of the great prog acts of the 70īs. Four stars.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Facing some lack of inventiveness to name their second album, ''Curved Air'' won't be short of inspiration in terms of music (and I guess that this is the most important). At least for two great songs;

The best known track from this album sounds fully psychedelic and is quite catchy(''Back Street Luv''). It was a minor hit (the band was never used to the charts) and holds all the childishness of the era. It is amazing to how close both Sonja and Jerney (''Earth & Fire'') sound like. Needless to say that I am in love with both of their voices.

Still, it is the instrumental parts of the great opener ''Young Mother'' that I prefer. But this might be related to some production problems. What annoys me with this recording is that after these two opening numbers there are hardly great things to expect here. Some good guitar break at the end of ''You Know'' is indeed very pleasant but this is rather a shortcut.

Don't get me wrong: none of the tracks are bad, but there are very few exciting moments featured on this ''Second Album''. Some complex and jazzy beats in ''Everdance'' can't really thrill me and their interpretation of some ''Bright Summer' Of 68'' is too hectic to be catchy. So far, there are not so many reasons to shout out for masterpiece to say the least.

This album is highly saved by the epic and closing number: ''Piece Of Mind''. Almost thirteen minutes of an enjoyable trip on a curved boat. This is maybe the song that justifies some links with ''Renaissance'' (other than the fact that both bands have a female vocalist).

Lots of classical influences are superbly rendered with both the piano and the great violin of course. The fast vocal delivery is just astounding and worth the detour (like in the Michelin guide). This long track is the most complex of the whole, and it isn't easy to apprehend. I can't say that it is melodic, but it is hypnotic and once you get hooked, there is no way out: you'll be conquered as I was.

If I do the math correctly, half of this album is very good while the other half is just average. Conclusion for rating isn't too difficult: three stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album shows a step up in the production quality over the first Curved Air album (yes, I have the LPs). The songs are much better recorded and mixed, and the band seems to have developed a bit more cohesiveness in their songwriting Even the laid back Jumbo is a nice tune.

I particularly like Everdance and Back Street Luv both of which I came to know first on their excellent live album. And Piece of Mind, at almost thirteen minutes, is a wonderfully dark prog epic, possible the best song by this band.

My only complaint is the cheesy photo on the inside of the gatefold sleeve, with the band depicted shirtless (with Sonja Kristina - billed as Sonja Linwood - dropped down, so nothing good shows).

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Here is an album I can dig. The influences are all over the place to the point where they've basically developed a pretty unique sound of their own. The band has never been any better (or retro-cooler) than in Second Album, with their basis of prog rock morphed with some brit-pop and a bit of french-pop chic to make this one of the few full fledged (non proto-) prog rock albums that would inspire Austin Powers to shag himself senseless with joy.

In fact the shagadelicness kicks in pretty much right away with Young Mother, a jazzy prog rock number with a sort of majestic adventurous vibe. Pretty and melodic as hell, yet full of undanceable time signatures and unorthodox chord progressions, this is how to start off an album. Sonja's voice may be a bit high in the mix during this number, but it adds a bit of 60s charm to the tune, and her wistful delivery has a sort of Francoise Hardy charm to it (without the French accent). Back Street Luv follows, and I'm feelin' the LUV here baby. It's catchy brit-pop rock with a sweet vocal melody and technical flair not usually on display in poppy numbers. More pop songs should be like this. The album then steers us in different directions from ethereal folk to funky grooves with some cool guitar soloing, most of it being pretty much essential. Puppets, in particular, has such a psychedelic cool as a cuke chorus about marionettes.

The latter portions of the album have even more of a jazzy tone, with some of it working just fine (Everdance is damn fun), and other moments going overboard into corny and rather obnoxious territory...which would be the song Bright summer's day 68. In the middle of May. Oh man that bugs me...

The last track is a pretty wild showcase for the whole band to show off their chops from all the groovy violin solos to keyboards to the spy-rock music to the speedy lyric delivery to you name it...this is Curved Air at their best, and of course the perfect way to end the album, even if it could have been shortened a bit.

It's too bad this incarnation of the band couldn't stick can argue that they embraced their progginess a bit more on the next two efforts...but in this particular case that was at the expense of the FUN. This is Curved Air.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars For many CURVED AIR fans this is their favourite. I still much prefer "Air Cut" but maybe it's because that's their most mellotron laden album plus it was the first record I heard from them. "Second Album" would change the lives of everyone in this band when "Back Street Luv" became a hit in the UK. Suddenly they were getting TV appearances and their concerts became full of screaming fans. Monkman with his VCS3 synth is quite inventive here while Way on his violin always impresses. Sonja though is the focus with her fantastic vocals.The album is fairly low key overall but they always keep it interesting to their credit.

"Young Mother" is a top three for me that was written by Darryl Way about Jackie Onassis the wife of President Kennedy. It opens in an impressive manner with swirling synths and prominant drums. Vocals and violin after a minute. Some "out there" synths and piano too when the vocals and violin stop. Great section as the drums pound.Vocals and violin are back late to end it. "Back Street Luv" just sounds really good especially the tone of the electric piano. Crisp drumming and reserved vocals too.

"Jumbo" is an interesting ballad with strings. Again written by Darryl about how homesick he was for the UK when they were touring over in America.They even cut a tour short because he was so distressed. "You Know" is catchy and fairly uptempo with vocals. Some guitar solos on this one too.

"Puppets" is a great tune that opens with laughter and percussion before the vocals,piano and mellotron take over.This is the only mellotron track. Some nice bass before 1 1/2 minutes. Cool song. "Everdance" is fairly intense with Darryl's violin and Sonja's urgent vocals.

"Bright Summer's Day" is an upbeat track with vocals, violin, organ and drums standing out. "Piece Of Mind" is the final and longest song on the album at almost 13 minutes. A top three for me as well.This one is about being incarcerated at a mental hospital and it is quite dark. Native-like drumming with violin and organ early.Very cool sound here.Vocals after a minute. Piano 2 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up. Guitar after 3 minutes. It settles with piano after 3 1/2 minutes.Violin joins in. It picks up with vocals 5 1/2 minutes in. Spoken vocals 8 minutes in as uptempo drums, violin and bass play on. It settles back before 11 minutes. Spacey synths come in to end it.

An enjoybale listen.3.5 stars.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Curved Air was in early '70s one of the promissing prog bands from Britain, but with all that they run out of ideas pretty quikly and after 3 good albums they optain for some more commercial aproach in total contrast with fans desire to come with another albums as good as thir second release from 1971 named simply second album. This one is among their better works where the voice of Sonja Christina is all the place, but aswell the instrumental sections are more then ok. To me Curved Air music is something between dutch Earth and Fire early albums and belgian Mad Curry, both female fronted prog bands and similar in style. The forte pieces from here are the opening Young Mother, Back street luv and maybe You know, the rest are ok but nothing really special. The violin parts are good aswell. So a pleasent album, but noting really exciting like other prog albums from that period. 3 stars for sure.
Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After a rough but promising debut, the follow-up album by British female-fronted rockers Curved Air called `Second Album' (not the most inspiring album title, or cover artwork for that matter) displayed the band attempting many styles, succeeding with all of them and slowly inching forwards to proper progressive rock in many moments throughout. In addition to leading lady Sonja Kristina's seductive voice, the stars of this line-up were later prog notables Darryl Way (on electric violin and piano) and Francis Monkman (guitar/keyboards), with each composing one side of the LP, the result an eclectic yet always accessible assortment of pieces and a hugely impressive prog-rock blowout at the end.

Opener `Young Mother' is a blur of Sonja's treated siren croons, swirling violin, 60's flavoured trumpet, loopy electronics, Florian Pilkington Miksa's rattling drumming and somber piano. Monkman's spiraling VCS 3 solo in the middle and some nice dank bass from Ian Eyre lurking in the background are real highlights. For a poppier track, hit single (and well-deserved too) `Back-Street Luv' has a nice dark undercurrent, perhaps it's the creeping relentless electric piano or the driving drumming, maybe the gothic organ or confronting lyric perfectly conveyed by Sonja's sympathetic vocal. Next up, Sonja's voice has never sounded so controlled, confident and more impressive than on the curiously titled `Jumbo', a name that holds no clues to the extravagant and lush theatrical orchestrated ballad it actually is, full of shadowy drama and glorious rises. `You Know' is a slightly repetitive dirty groover, but the fuzzy riffs and fiery jazzy guitar soloing gets it through. Most impressive of all is the experimental `Puppets', eerie Mellotron, gloomy piano and a thoughtful lyric set to a maddening metronome beat, creating a somewhat suffocating and nightmarish mood with moments of fragile beauty.

The manic and energetic `Everdance' kicks off side B with blasting Bolero rythms worked through with furious rollicking jazzy drumming, and Darryl Way's scratchy violin alongside Sonja's line `Go the the Devil and dance forever...' makes me think of that sinister Pied Piper-esque demonic minstral on the cover of Goblin's `Roller'! The brief and slightly grating `Bright Summer's Day '68 is fuelled by harpsichord and a frantic vocal, it's fun but drifts a little too close to being a cute throwaway, but I could almost imagine Roxy Music having made more of it. Then the band really flexes their prog strengths on the 13 minute `Piece of Mind' that really gives fellow female fronted prog band Renaissance a run for their money! It's overloaded with big dramatic instrumental builds, a brooding unease, stark narration, sweeping and dark classical refinement, jazzy instrumental runs and drifting spacerock. Gleeful ghostly violin, lonely piano, a malevolent and commanding vocal from Sonja conveying all sorts of wounded and breathless chanteuse charm, far away electric guitar soloing crying, and there's an eerie Van der Graaf Generator-style delirous imperial suffocating tension throughout. Phew!

While mostly not quite there yet (their next one `Phantasmagoria' was the first full signs of real greatness, with their fourth album `Air Cut' a long held personal favourite of mine), `Second Album' showed Curved Air maturing, experimenting and growing in sophistication. It's a strong little collection of varied pieces from a talented band, with some moments of incredible emerging progressive musicality that makes it a charming and confident work overall. It seems to be a little ignored by some fans due to the total prog-rock immersion that their next few albums would offer, but that's no reason to let it pass you by. What a great album!

Three and a half stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ''Air Conditioning'' reached no.8 in the UK albums chart in December 70', but bassist Rob Martin decided to quit before the album was cut and published.His replacement was Ian Eyre and he actually contributed a few session plays in ''Air conditioning''.But his main contribution appeared in ''Second album'' as well as in his impessive live performances.The album was recorded at Island and Morgan Studios, originally released in 1971 in UK, USA and Germany by Warner Bros with the band and Colin Caldwell being responsible for the production.The rainbow on the cover refes to Terry Riley's album ''A rainbow in curved air'', from which the band derived its name.

First coulds within the band appear for the first time, Darryl Way composed the whole first side and Francis Monkman, who wanted Curved Air to follow the fashion of long, progressive tracks, was the writer of the flipside.The five tracks on the opening side show Curved Air slowly getting way from the Classical adaptions of the debut to create more original but always ethereal music with big psychedelic and orchestral moments, dominated by Way's dreamy violin parts and Monkman's sweet piano lines.The bulk here is characterized by nice keyboard parts on synthesizers, electric and acoustic piano and melodic singing lines by Sonja Kristina, featuring also Way's irritating violin textures and obtaining a slight RENNAISANCE feel due to the tension towards ethereal and keyboard-driven arrangements.There are still some poppy moments, but there are also some grandiose orchestral moves with piano and Mellotron in the process.The flipside is a bit more adventurous with ''Everdance'' containing very dense music with scratching violin parts and a fiery rhythm section and ''Bright summer's day '68'' sounding a bit like BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and PROCOL HARUM with the combination of Classical keyboards, psychedelic guitars and emotional singing.Finally the will of Monkman passes in the 13-min. ''Piece Of mind'', which sounds more dramatic and atmospheric than anything the band produced so far, led by dual keyboard lines, full of harsichord, organ and acoustic piano, some complex twists with Classical vibrations and powerful orchestrations with Way's violin in the forefront.RENAISSANCE's comparisons are even more obvious in a track, which could be characterized as intense and cinematic.

A bit more consistent than Curved Air's debut.Orchestral Prog Rock with emphasis on keyboards, piano and violin, fronted by a talented female singer.In fashion with other groups of the time, recommended to lovers of British Progressive Rock and Classical Prog.

Review by FragileKings
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I had forgotten to review this album for some strange reason even though I've owned it for decades but here it is; Curved Air's second album called the Second Album because it was their second album and it was the follow-up to the great debut Air Conditioning. Once again it boasts one of the great collaborations with Monkman and Way who is outstanding on Violin as usual that most fans will remember until they dissolved their involvement a few albums later.

This second release has some great tracks such as Piece of Mind which was their effort to produce a mini prog epic. The classical influences are evident of course but the whole album is subjugated by and dominated by the one huge track that became a live staple in the set list Back Street Luv. It was this single alone that was enough to make the album a top seller and of course it was the groups biggest hit without a doubt but by no means their best track.

The main drawcard for most listeners including me was the beautiful Crystaline vocals of Sonja Kristina who is simply an outstanding performer. Overall the album is nowhere near as prog as subsequent releases such as Phantasmagoria, but it still has some nice moments. Some of the tracks are quite mediocre but the band was still yet to reduce their best work. The album finds the band in the early phase of its career, so this is generally a prog curio for all who dare to venture in.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars If one was to ask 100 CURVED AIR fans and interested critics to name their favourite album by this early 1970s art rock band, the numbers would probably be split more or less equally between their first 4, which implies that the band was commendably dependable but also that they never managed to attain the peaks of most of their contemporaries. And, while "Second Album" lacks a "Vivaldi", "Melinda More or Less" and "Metamorphosis", my conclusion is that it is neither better nor worse than any of the others, just perhaps slightly more consistent.

It's hard to pick out highlights but I enjoy the hook laden "Back Street Luv" (which reached UK #4) and "You Know", as well as the ballads "Jumbo" and "Puppets". Way's violin technique really elevates the upbeat "Everdance". If the epic closer "Piece of Mind" achieves more girth than emotional resonance, it's still worthwhile just for its avant garde vocal and piano runs.

Like other CURVED AIR releases, "Second Album" falls short of being the complete package, like a delivery that was opened and adulterated before it ever got to your front door. Sure it's mostly functional but it suffers a bit from a lack of this and a excess of that.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars My mixed feeling for this creation. The "Second Album" released in 1971 by CURVED AIR, an iconic unit in the British Progressive Rock Scene, features kinda mysterious combination of pop, folk, classic, and progressive rock. The overall atmosphere is defined mainly by Sojna's fascinating voices and Darryl's sharp-edged but smooth violin plays, and we can hear through the atmosphere that they might have created a diverse sound collective along with colourful musical backgrounds laid behind the combo. Possibly plenty of elements would amuse and entertain the audience.

On the other hand, we could mention this album is not very unified nor sophisticated, due to their musical polarity like a jack-in-the-box. They stood at the dawn of progressive rock scene around 1970 so, in a good sense, their strategy worldwide would be great really. Sounds like they might produce one of their 'key' songs "Back Street Luv" with catchy melody lines and sensitive lyrics for promoting themselves to the 70s pop scene. "You Know" is jazzy bluesy stuff full of refined percussive rhythms and acceptable melodic texture. The shortest track "Bright Summer's Day 68" is pretty cute and charming chanson-y folk. Such flavour could not be called progressive actually but honest to say they should create to eat, not eat to create.

Anyway the last suite "Piece Of Mind", blended with mystic voices and repetitive, impressive violin sounds, has two appearances - sort of deep, heavy, depressive moment, and dramatic, delightful, theatrical movements seasoned with Baroque spices in the main stage. Lots of symphonic progressive rock fans call this perfect creation as their masterpiece. It's not wrong at all, but let me say, their real progressiveness can be heard via the first enthusiastic blaster "Young Mother" stuffed with various elements that are completely unified and harmonized. And surprisingly this song is definitely dignified with listener-friendly pop essence. We progressive rock fans can be easily knocked out by such a fantastic gem.

Totally, above mentioned, "Second Album" would not be polished enough for progressive rock reviewers to get ultimately satisfied, but we can obviously hear 'their innovative development' through the creation. Therefore, this album is, and will be alive eternally.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Curved Air's debut album sat right on the borderline of early prog and late psychedelic pop; for their second album, imaginatively entitled Second Album, they turned the prog dial up a little, with Francis Monkman's keyboards and Darryl Way's violin intertwining in memorable fashion on songs like opening track Young Mother.

Back Street Luv, the second song, was a surprise commercial hit for the band; the title suggests some sort of dirty blues-rock number more than it does a psych-prog mashup, but the slightly harder edge the band adopt on the song is an interesting development of their sound, even if it isn't very characteristic of them. On the album it's followed up with Jumbo, which has them embracing their classical ambitions once again, and listening to both songs back to back really conveys the span that Curved Air are capable of.

The most psych-poppy of the album's material, Bright Summer Day '68, is the briefest and serves as a palette-cleanser before Piece of Mind, the 12 minute number which is the proggiest item here. None of this pushes the album into the realm of an absolute classic, but all of the compositions here have something to like about them, and in general helps cement Curved Air as a reliable second-tier band from the early prog years.

Latest members reviews

4 stars At the start Curved air were treated with suspicion due in part to their first LP being one of the very first picture discs and their massive signing advance of Ģ100,000 an eye watering sum at the time, they were seen as a hyped band, unfairly maybe but that feeling persistent up until 2nd Albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1937384) | Posted by RossJWarren | Wednesday, June 6, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Curved Air's unimaginatively titled Second Album, for all it's dour melancholy, is an album of full-blown classically influenced prog that features standout ensemble playing, along with much improved vocals from Sonja Kristina. Francis Monkman expands his role on the the VCS-3 synthesizer alo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1679583) | Posted by SteveG | Friday, January 13, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.5 Stars Really..... This is an enjoyable lighter album....the songs are all pretty interesting and the singer has a nice voice......The keyboards in the background of most of the songs are pretty mellow.....There is nothing really negative to say about this except maybe that it could use a li ... (read more)

Report this review (#169657) | Posted by digdug | Saturday, May 3, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second work of CURVED AIR released in 1971 "Second Album". The overall soft fantasy color became a strong album. It is a good work that multiuses the keyboard and strings and colored a melodious folk-rock. It is music near RENAISSANCE. However, here is a more wild sound. Excellent additi ... (read more)

Report this review (#54341) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, November 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I consider this second effort from Curved Air a perfect example of music that stands the test of time; a true gem of progressive music, the album is different more personal and mature than their first and definitively their best work to date. The typical violin sound and Sonja Christina' amazing ... (read more)

Report this review (#28102) | Posted by | Sunday, January 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Whatever they may lack, Curved air compensate for with one of the best voices in music. Sonja Kristina could make flowers burst into bloom by singing to them.The least interesting track is probably their best known 'back street luv'. the words don't always make a lot of sense in the songs but thats ... (read more)

Report this review (#28098) | Posted by | Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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