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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Curved Air

Air Cut

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new re-mastered edition of a classic Curved Air disc. The music on this is a great mix of folk prog, psychedelia and more hard driving prog. Interestingly enough, this lineup of the band included an 18-year old Eddie Jobson. The booklet that comes with the restores the original album art and has some new material, too. All in all, this is a classy set that sounds great and is well worth having.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Purple Speed Queen
Coming in with a mainstream rock meets psychedelic vibe, this is a killer number. It's pretty catchy and has some interesting shifts and changes. I love both the keyboard and guitar solos.
Elfin Boy
Starting acapella, after a time acoustic guitar joins to carry the folk music stylings that the voice brought into being. As it works forward from there some psychedelic elements are heard over the top of this structure, but only subtly. The psychedelia rises later to a more prominent position as the cut works forward.
Metamorphosis
A classical piano solo leads this track into being. After a time other instruments join, and the cut begins to drive forward in a more standard prog rock way. This has some seriously rocking stuff built into it. At over ten and a half minutes of music, this is the epic of the disc. It's about two minutes in before the vocals join. As they do the cut feels a bit like Renaissance. This cut continues to shift and turn as it makes its way forward. After the three minute mark it drops to another piano solo. The turn works to more of a mellow psychedelic prog arrangement from there. The vocals return in a dreamy kind of way. After the vocals drop away, they start to gradually turn this to more rocking territory, building steadily upward. It shifts directions a bit later to a dramatic building section to carry it forward. It explodes into another fast paced jam, eventually make it back to the Renaissance like section. A cool prog jam takes it to the end.
World
Bouncy folk meets world and psychedelia sounds are at the heart of this number. It's a definite change and a lot of fun. The violin adds a lot to it.
Armin
A dramatic synthesizer texture starts this. It fires out from there to a killer jam with some smoking hot violin. A cool guitar riff joins to move things forward. There is definitely a Celtic angle to this, but it's a hard rocking jam. The rhythm section brings a bit of fusion. This is a hard rocking, frantically driving piece that just plain rocks. This instrumental is just so cool.
U.H.F.
Much more of a straight-ahead rocker, this still has some cool shifts and twists. There are definitely hints of Led Zeppelin on this, but the cut also works more into pure psychedelia and fusion at times. It's a powerhouse with some exceptional instrumental work. As it approaches the minute and half mark the sound fades away, leaving just the piano to continue. It works out from there into more rocking sounds again, this time with more of a melodic vibe. Eventually it shifts to a dramatic prog building mode to continue. They finally make their way back to the first section of the track for the next vocals.
Two Three Two
This is an oddity in that it has male vocals from Mike Wedgwood, who also wrote the piece. It's a bit more of a straightforward rocker, but there are enough prog elements to keep things interesting. I love the bass work on this, but then again Wedgwood is the bass player, so one might expect a prominent bass line on his contribution. This thing is a real powerhouse.
Easy
Mixing a real hard rocking crunch with a powerful psychedelic rock vibe and some prog changes, this is another killer tune. I really love the instrumental section and guitar solo that is built into it later. The whole tune is high energy and so cool. The mellower dropped back instrumental section later is a cool touch, too. It brings the real progressive rock changes and jamming.
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