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Beguiling and haunting
on 4 December 2005
A friend first played me this album in the mid-1970s and I was immediately hooked. I hadn't heard of Curved Air and, for some reason, I've always felt that there is no way they could have done anything else as good as this, so I've never sought any of their other work. The first side of the original LP was dominated by Darryl Way material, the second by Francis Monkman songs. Keyboards and electric violin seem to dominate behind Sonja Kristina's haunting vocals. Guitar is no more than an occasional rhythm instrument.
"Young Mother"'s circular opening draws you in from the beginning. This is followed by "Back Street Luv", a song which achieved a similar singles chart placing in 1971 to "Imagine" but which is now as obscure as Lennon's song is famous. "You Know", with its jarring rhythm, is one of the more robust performances. "Jumbo" bounces gently and beautifully along as if in slow motion and the disturbing "Puppets" generates a compelling atmosphere.
After two short but bright Monkman songs comes the album's most ambitious item, the epic "Piece Of Mind". Like the rest of the album it's an accomplished recording, but for me the shorter songs are better. Whatever your preference, this is an album of memorable melodies, ingenious textures and fine musicianship.