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Curved Air Curved Air
Album: Air Cut
Label: Esoteric
Tracks: 8
Website: http://www.curvedair.com

Fast-forwarding to 1974 now for the fourth album to be issued under the Curved Air name. This featured an almost completely new complement of personnel, of which only Sonja Kristina remained from the original lineup. The writing had been on the wall with Phantasmagoria, where a chasm of musical differences had opened up between the two founder members Darryl and Francis, resulting in both leaving the band followed closely by drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa. A two-for-one replacement was found in 17-year-old violinist and pianist Eddie Jobson (whose background included playing in Fat Grapple, a kind of Newcastle counterpart band). The new lineup was completed by guitarist Kirby Gregory and drummer Jim Russell. The resulting album was released in spring 1974, and benefitted from an excitingly direct Martin Rushent production. The material was strong, the performances solid, but the album met with virtually no commercial success and the band split shortly after its release. The instrumental Armin in particular encapsulated the Curved Air sound in just under four minutes, while Sonja’s continually excellent vocal prowess shone out on those tracks on which she had a compositional involvement (Easy, The Purple Speed Queen and the ten-minute Metamorphosis) and Kirby’s riff-heavy UHF. All told, Air Cut is a very creditable offering that was entirely of its time and representative of that year’s best. When the band split, Eddie joined Roxy Music and Kirby formed Stretch with Elmer Gantry – leading on to more rock history of course.

This latest reissue of Air Cut is the first to have been remastered from the original tapes (earlier CD editions having been taken from inferior vinyl sources). The accompanying booklet contains a helpful new essay too. There’s no bonus material – but sound and presentation-wise there’s no contest, for this is the edition to have.

David Kidman