Curved Air - Alive 1990

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Mystic Records
Catalog Number: MYS CD 141
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:56:00

From a marketing point of view every record company surely has to know that the first song on any CD (or vinyl for that matter) has to be a stunner as it is the first song people hear when they are interested in purchasing the album. In case of Alive 1990, a rare recording of Curved Air live in concert on 23rd September at the Town and Country 2 Club in London, the first song is, quality speaking, the worst of the bunch. Indeed, "Twenty Years On" was especially written for the occasion by Darryl Way and Francis Monkman, and only made it onto a cheap mono cassette recorder way back in the audience. Because of it's rarity value, the band and record company thought it would be OK to put it onto this release, and as it was the opening track that special evening, of course it is featured right at the very beginning. Copies of the album have a sticker referring to the poor quality of this song, which indeed sounds worse than those crappy TKRL vinyl bootlegs in the seventies.

A couple of seconds into "It Happened Today" you clearly hear one recording being mixed into the other, thus from now on you get a good live mix of an older yet dynamic edition of Curved Air. These are all the original members such as singer Sonja Kristina, guitarist/keyboard player Francis Monkman (once also a member of Sky!), violin player Darryl Way and Florian Pilkington-Miksa on percussive duties. The sound of the drums sounds rather synthetic, so I would have liked Stewart Copeland to step in, but sadly the wealth amassed by The Police probably was the main reason why he wasn?t interested to join his "old" colleagues. In fact, the main reason for the band getting together again was because they were asked by the BBC for a televized special. Prior to the filming they played two gigs just to "warm up" before the actual filming. As it happens so often in this business, the filming never happened but the gigs did and this is one of them. Because of the TV special the band had only rehearsed classic material from their first three albums (6 tracks from Air Conditioning, four tracks from Second Album and two songs lifted from Phantasmagoria). A trademark of the band certainly has to be the rock/bluesy approach drenched with violin interventions, turning them into a prog version of Jefferson Airplane, whilst Sonja Kristina sounds like a progrock version of Elkie Brooks during her Vinegar Joe period.

One of my favourites on this disc has to be the acoustic simplicity of ?Melinda (More Or Less)? which has Sonja?s bluesy voice backed by great violin sounds courtesy of Darryl "Wolf" Way. "Young Mother" clearly illustrates how the band can swim between accessible sounds and more adventurous sidesteps all in one song. Whilst the funky bass and drums (irritating synth sounds!) continue their "loops," Monkman really goes wild on his ivories. There are some dropouts noticeable during "You Know." Spontaneous applause takes place when Way hits the first chords of "Vivaldi," a song which he also performed during his stint with Sky. Once again the drum sound is very annoying (if only someone told him before the recording took place!). The album closes with a poor rendition of their all-time classic "Back Street Luv." Pity Eddie Jobson didn?t step in to give it an extra dimension!

All by all an album which will only be of interest to Curved Air diehards as I believe the studio albums are what fans of this website should go for.

Twenty Years On (4:11) / It Happened Today (5:31) / Stretch (4:20) / Hide And Seek (7:02) / Marie Antoinette (7:05) / Melinda (4:14) / Situations (5:43) / Young Mother (7:09) / You Know (3:34) / Propositions (5:15) / Vivaldi (10:) / Everdance (4:16) / Back Street Luv (4:26)

Sonja Kristina - vocals, acoustic guitar
Francis Monkman - electric guitar, keyboards, bass
Florian Pilkington-Miksa - percussion
Darryl Way - electric violin, keyboards, vocals

Air Conditioning (1970)
Second Album (1971)
Phantasmagoria (1972)
Air Cut (1973)
Live (1975)
Midnight Wire (1975)
Airbourne (1976)
Best Of Curved Air (1976) Love Child (1990)
Live At The BBC (1995)
Alive 1990 (2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1022
Language: english


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