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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Curved Air

The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 3: The Second British Rock Meeting 1972

Review by Gary Hill

This live disc from Curved Air features some cool performances. There is an extended instrumental piece at the end. While the songs with vocals are cool, for me that epic number is worth the price of admission all by itself. The recording quality on this isn't perfect, but beyond a couple points, it's quite good. Of these rarities, this might be my favorite so far.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
No-Guitar Blues
With some extended talking and crowd noise, this moves out to a cool jam after a bit. It's mostly percussive, but the violin brings something special to it. It's an instrumental that's more of a warm-up. The bass enters later and brings a bit of a country music edge to it.
Everdance / Cheetah / Vivaldi
This powers in with a fast paced prog rock jam. The vocals come in over the top and we're in trademark Curved Air territory. There is plenty of psychedelia here, and the violin is on fire. Around the three-minute mark there is a shift to an almost Deep Purple like sound before the violin takes it in a different direction. The recording is a bit distorted here. There are some short drum solos as this jam moves forward. There is also a cool drum solo bit. Different instruments get their chance to shine as it continues. As you might guess from the titles of the various pieces in this medley, it makes its way to their treatment of the works of Vivaldi in a fast paced prog jam before they eventually take it to its closing in dramatic fashion.
Phantasmagoria
This powers out into a killer prog rock jam. Kristina's vocals come in over the top, and the cut reminds me just a bit of the band Renaissance in some ways. This has some great changes and some infectious hooks. It's one of the highlights of the set.
Melinda (More or Less)
A mellower number with an acoustic guitar and vocal arrangement (for the most part), this has a lot of folk music built into it. It's also quite psychedelic and makes me think of The Jefferson Airplane. It's a cool tune, that's another standout.
Over and Above
Fast paced and quickly shifting jazz infused jamming starts this, and the cut really soars outward from there is a powerhouse, fast paced arrangement. This thing shifts and turns and works around all kinds of cool corners as they wind their way through. There are some soaring moments around the three-and-a-half minute mark that again make me think of Renaissance to a large degree. Fast paced and crazed shifts and turns take control after that movement, bringing the killer prog to bear in style. They really work this through some impressive jamming with some deftly executed shifts and turns. There are some intriguing sounds showcased by the different instruments on their varied excursions. The vocals return as they approach the nine-minute mark, but the sound seems to drop off just a bit at that point (recording quality wise). I really dig some of the guitar work as this grinds forward.
The Germersheim Jam / Vivaldi
This piece is of epic proportions, weighing in at close to 32 minutes. It comes in with a cool prog jam that has elements of space rock and jazz merged within it. I really dig some of the spacey keyboard jamming that joins further down the musical road. By around the six-minute mark they've dropped it back to a Doorsish jazzy jam that's very cool and tasty. They bring this out into some killer psychedelic territory as they continue this instrumental journey. Different instruments take command at different times. There are some decidedly classical elements that emerge later, particularly as they work back out into "Vivaldi," with some world music and more along the road. We get a full-on violin solo around the 18-minute mark. That solo covers a lot of ground, getting rather spacey at times, and holds the piece for quite a while. It even turns almost percussive in it's trippiness around the 24-minute mark. It's past the 25-minute mark before the rest of the instruments join and take the piece forward. They power to a jam that peaks before they work into chirpy spacey weirdness. Noisy keyboard textures are the order of business for a while. That peaks and gives way to a reprise of Vivaldi.

 

 

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