Curved Air — Live at the BBC
(Band of Joy BOJCD 014 , 1976/1995, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01
Something I hear often regarding Curved Air is complaints about the band's lack of focus and the unevenness of many of their studio recordings. This may be due to the fact that the only recordings that are currently available are the generally substandard Curved Air Live, Lovechild (consisting of leftovers and out-takes by the second lineup), and their final two studio albums, Midnight Wire and Airborne, which show the band moving into a more mainstream rock / pop direction. The first three albums, available only as costly Japanese imports, and probably out of print to boot, are from the band's most inspired period; and while these are excellent albums, the studio performances always sounded a bit restrained.
For those not in the know, Curved Air was one of Britain’s premier prog supergroups, featuring violin, VCS3 synthesizer (yikes!), guitar, bass, drums, and the unique voice of Sonja Kristina. Their style was rooted in rock and experimentalism, and incorporated elements of classical, jazz, folk, and proto-electronics. Darryl Way, Francis Monkman, Eddie Jobson, and Stewart Copeland all got their start here, in one of the three basic lineups during the band's seven year career. Most of the material on Live at the BBC was recorded by the first lineup, which existed from 1970-72, and corresponds to the band's first three studio albums. The performances are full-throttle, the band is in top form; so much for the restraint — these versions absolutely kick ass, and in several cases the arrangements presented in these sessions are wildly different than their studio counterparts. Selections include a wealth of material from the first album, including "Stretch," "Situations," "Propositions," "Blind Man," and the ever-popular "Vivaldi." There are two unreleased tracks here also, "Thinking on the Floor" by the early lineup and the instrumental "Stark Naked" from the '76 sessions by the third lineup. Four additional tunes by that lineup round out the disc, including the classic "Midnight Wire." My only complaint has nothing to do with the performance: I've been through two copies of this disc and both have the exact same glitch on track seven at precisely the same place, tested on five different CD players to be sure. It's not a biggie, but a minor annoyance, and one that will hopefully be corrected. Notwithstanding, this is one that gets the highest recommendation for longtime fan and newbie alike.
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more