Exposé Online banner

Curved Air — Live at the BBC
(Band of Joy BOJCD 014 , 1976/1995, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01

Live at the BBC Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 11, 1995 releases, 1976 recordings

Related artist(s): Curved Air, Sonja Kristina Linwood, Darryl Way / Wolf, Francis Monkman

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kurgan's Bane - The Future Lies Broken – If you ever wondered what Rush might have sounded like with a female vocalist, wonder no more. Baltimore-based four-piece Kurgan's Bane is a band that obviously idolizes Rush, especially the Moving...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues