(4 / 5)
This set delivers all four of Curved Air’s albums recorded between 1970 and 1973. Four discs offering up a total of 38 cuts here, including three bonus tracks.
“The Albums” features newly remastered versions of “Air Conditioning”, “Second Album”, “Phantasmagoria” and “Air Cut”.
Plus the bonus tracks “It Happened Today” (single version), “What Happens When You Blow Yourself Up” and “Sarah’s Concern”, all originally issued as singles.
Originally issued on the Warner Bros. label in November 1970, “Air Conditioning” showcased the unique vocal talents of Sonja Kristina (vocals), ex-Royal College of Music student Darryl Way on violin, former Royal Academy of Music student Francis Monkman on electric guitar, piano, mellotron and VCS3 synthesiser, Rob Martin on bass and Florian Pilkington-Miksa on drums.
Taking their name from the album “A Rainbow in Curved Air” by American composer Terry Riley, Curved Air’s debut album demonstrated the band’s innovative musical approach, blending classical, electronic and folk music influences in their work.
Featuring their classic tracks such as “It Happened Today”, “Propositions”, “Vivaldi” and “Situations”, “Air Conditioning” was a UK top 10 hit, establishing Curved Air as one of Britain’s foremost progressive bands.
“Second Album”, released in 1971, featured a line-up of Sonja Kristina (vocals, acoustic guitar), Darryl Way (violin, piano), Francis Monkman (guitar, keyboards, VCS3), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums) and new member Ian Eyre (bass).
The album included their hit single “Back Street Luv”, along with popular tracks such as “Young Mother”, “Jumbo”, “Puppets”, “Everdance” and “Piece of Mind”. It was an acclaimed hit album in the UK and in Europe.
The 1972 album “Phantasmagoria” saw another change of line-up, with Mike Wedgwood replacing Ian Eyre. It featured “Marie Antoinette”, the album title track and “Melinda (More or Less)”.
Curved Air’s final album for Warner Bros. was the 1973 release, “Air Cut”, which saw the departure of Darryl Way, Francis Monkman and Florian Pilkington-Miksa.
Eddie Jobson joined on violin and keyboards, while Kirby Gregory was recruited on guitar and Jim Russell on drums.
Perhaps one of Curved Air’s most progressive albums, “Air Cut” featured some outstanding compositions such as “The Purple Speed Queen” and their ten-minute epic “Metamorphosis”.
“The Albums 1970 – 1973” has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and really is an essential listen if you are a fan of one Britain’s foremost pioneering progressive rock bands of the 1970s, or want to start to become one!
But most of all, if you have not discovered the delectable vocal talents of Ms Sonja Kristina, you are missing out. Doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.
Sonja Kristina was a croupier in the Playboy Club in London before her music career. She was later married to Police drummer Stewart Copeland and they had three sons together before splitting up.
Sonja was the only constant on all of Curved Air’s nine albums. She was in “Hair” the musical in London’s West End prior to and after Curved Air, and she sang on the musical’s original soundtrack album. She sang at one gig with The Strawbs, and was due to replace the late Sandy Denny, but that did not materialise in the end.
Still performing today, and a couple of years ago sang live on Jools Holland’s BBC Radio 2 show. Sonja is a respected vocal coach and gives one to one lessons.
By Graham Morrison
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’