[Review] Curved Air: Live (1975)

The inevitability of death and taxes and rebirth collides with Curved Air on this outstanding live album.

Kronomyth 5.0: Do it like you owe me some money.

As the story goes, the original Curved Air had a bit of a tax problem, so they decided to go on the road to make some quick cash. The concerts, which occurred in November and December of 1974, were apparently enjoyable for all, and the band decided to go on a full tour of England in 1975. In order to drum up interest in the tour, they released Curved Air Live a week into the expanded tour. Based on what’s here, it must have been one helluva show.

Curved Air Live reunites Sonja Kristina with original members Darryl Way, Francis Monkman and Florian Pilkington-Miska plus a new bass guitarist, Philip Koch. [Strangely, when Koch inevitably left the group soon after (following a long-standing tradition of exploding bass guitarists), the group (with tongue firmly in cheek) cited his Semitic interests as the cause of his departure.] Despite a gap of two years since the four last played together, the original Curved Air doesn’t miss a beat. The band picks the choicest fruits from their first three albums and infuses them with new energy. Kristina in particular channels a raw energy that astonished me.

Although the studio versions were hardly dull affairs, I may actually prefer the live versions presented here. The recording quality is good (even if the mix is mixed together), the crowd noise minimal, and the performances uniformly inspired. Darryl Way shines on Vivaldi and Young Mother, and the entire group generates at least as much music per square inch as Jethro Tull. If you’re new to Curved Air, you could do worse than start here. Curved Air Live is an effective primer with an extra dose of energy that taxes the band’s abilities in more ways than one.

Original elpee version

A1. It Happened Today (Francis Monkman/Sonja Kristina) (5:25)
A2. Marie Antoinette (Darryl Way/Sonja Kristina) (6:45)
A3. Back Street Luv (Ian Eyre/Darryl Way/Sonja Kristina) (3:43)
A4. Propositions (Francis Monkman) (7:42)
B1. Young Mother (Darryl Way/Sonja Kristina) (8:56)
B2. Vivaldi (Darryl Way) (9:00)
B3. Everdance (Francis Monkman) (5:36)

The Players

Philip Kohn (bass guitar), Sonja Kristina (vocals), Francis Monkman (lead guitar, organ, synthesizers), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (percussion), Darryl Way (violin, keyboards, vocals). Produced by David Hitchcock; recording and remix engineered by Django Johnny Punter.

The Pictures

Design and artwork by Liz Gilmore. Photography by Michael Allard.

The Plastic

Released on elpee on February 28, 1975* in the UK (Deram, SML 1119) and the US (BTM, BTM 5001). (*Release date cited in 2/1/75 issue of Record Mirror.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1976 in Japan (Deram, K16P-9077).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in Germany (Deram, 820 522-2).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1995 in the UK (Repertoire, REP 4514-WY).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *