30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2006
In the early 1970s my favourite band was Curved Air, so it just about killed me when they split after the magnificent `Phantasmagoria' in 1972. A year later, Sonja Kristina and Mike Wedgwood formed a new Curved Air to include Eddie Jobson on keyboards and violin to replace both Daryl Way and Francis Monkman at a stroke - pretentious or what?
I approached the new incarnation with caution, but `Air Cut' turned out to be very good indeed and here it is, new on CD - and about time too, my scratched vinyl copy needed replacing years ago. This is progrock at its best, complete with classical motifs, blistering guitar, shifting rhythms and genuine musical dynamics. In other words, real music. Of particular note is Jobson's `Metamorphosis', which runs to just over 10 minutes of sheer perfection. Classical piano, haunting melodies and powerful guitar themes intertwine to produce one of rock's finest outings. There are weaker moments, like `World' which could have been left off, but hey, who's counting when you have the power of Jobson's violin on `Armin' and Kirby's guitar on `UHF' to follow?
As usual, Sonja chips in with some of her best vocal performances and even writes a couple of songs. This line up only lasted for one (official) album before disbanding so now is your chance to pick up a lost classic from those years when music was fresh and inventive. Highly recommended.
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2006
The story of Curved Air is important to Air Cut, and it started with budding classical musicians Francis Monkman (keys, guitar) and Darryl Way (violin, keys) teaming up with Sonja Kristina (vocals) and ace drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa of the glass family fame, plus Ian Eyre on bass, to form one of the first classical rock bands. And in the face of a lot of scepticism, they were actually pretty good, both on record and live. The first LP, a picture disc called Air Conditioning sold well and was followed by CA Two, also a top seller and full of fabulous tunes. The third, Phantasmagoria, was met by very mixed reviews and indiffrent sales (for the time) and introduced Mike Wedgwood on bass, fresh from The Overlanders and The Nicky James Band. Apart from bass, though, Wedgwood, a relation of Josiah Wedgwood, the potter, Charles Darwin and Ralph Vaughan Williams, had a perfect-pitch voice, could play guitar, sax, clarinet, drums and keyboards very well and could also score for a full orchestra if needed.
However, after citing musical diffrences and the usual, Darryl, Francis and Florian all left after Phantasmagoria leaving ..... Sonja and Mike. Surprisingly, they decided to soldier and and went recruiting, and what they recruited was this: Eddie Jobson, aged 17, ex-Fat Grapple, on keyboards and violin, Kirby (Gregory), ex Armada, on guitar, and Jim Russell on kit. This bought the average age of the band to about 21. What nobody quite twigged, even then, was that Eddie was actually a genuine fully signed-up musical genius. And off they went to record the fourth album for Warners, Air Cut. And it was and is an absolute cracker.
Much punchier than its predecessors, it nonetheless had their extraordinary musicality and flair. There are some fantastic highlights, but I have to mention Eddie's epic "Metamorphosis", starting with a lovely piano solo, seguing into bass, drums, volume control guitar and then into a killer riff and a lovely song. It goes on for about three and a half days and is absolutely brilliant. All the band play like folk possesed and Eddie's musicianship and playing skills at that age are just, well, unbelievable, actually. Mike's "2 - 3 - 2" is a powerhouse rocker with a massive solo from Kirby on his Dan Armstrong perspex guitar, "Easy" is a bitter-sweet but frightening ballad rocker with Mike and Sonja sharing vocals, "Elfin Boy" is a soft and sad tribute to her son from Sonja, "Armin" is a blazer with cracking violin and guitar from Eddie and Kirby, and the whole brew powered by Jim Russell's power drumming, which, just very occasionally, is not quite in synch, but this is nit-picking. Other tracks display all these qualities and the playing throughout is superb. This is a lost masterpiece, and it is rumoured that WB lost the masters.
Equally important is that they were just mind-blowingly good on stage. This bunch of kids, basically, used to blow concert halls apart and I saw one performance at the old Finsbury Park Rainbow that still sticks in my mind as one of the best rock shows I ever saw. Eddie had to play Darryl's classic cod violin piece "Vivaldi" but he did it without five minutes of arpeggio screeching, Praise Be. What a performer, equally at ease on silver/perspex violins, grand and electric pianos and also the pretty primitive synthesizers of the day.
Sonja is still on the road, Mike plays and works in Denmark after a productive spell with Caravan, Kirby works in rehabilitation, Jim, I know not, and Eddie went on to add spine and quality to Roxy music, and on to Zappa, Jethro Tull, UK, and later musical director for Nash Bridges.
This CD release should be trumpeted from the hilltops. It is a one-off from an incredibly talented and musical ensemble and thank goodness they stayed together long enough to produce this fantastic fresh-as-new recording. Indispensible proof of the quality of some of this decade.
The great news is that Kirby has reformed Stretch and will be supporting Jeff Healey later in the year (posted 24/3/7).
Mike Wedgwood has recorded a great new album, Thrive, with his exemplary band, and has also produced and played bass and keys on a fantastic new five track CD, Keeping On, by Isobel Thatcher. Look up Isobel on Google, Reverbnation or Facebook, Isobel Thatcher Music
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2006
At long last the unjustly neglected Air Cut is available on CD. And not before time. By the time of this, the bands fourth album on Warner Bros, only Sonja Kristina remained of the original line up. The super musicians Francis Monkman and Darryl Way had departed for pastures new. So, what to do, what to do.
Sonja decided to carry in and bought in some excellent new, young talent. Among these were Kirby and, soon to be recognised worldwide, Eddie Jobson, a wunderkind on both violin and keyboards.
After the lightness of the band's previous album Phantasmagoria, Air Cut is a heavier album that kicks of with Purple Speed Queen, a rocker that explores a theme that Sonja would return to on her solo work of a woman on the road to destruction.
All the cuts on this album have something to recommend them with the highlights being for me, the instrumental Armin and Easy. For those who like the gentler side of Curved Air there is Elfin Boy.
The album has been remastered and its appearance is more than welcome. If you liked Curved Air's work, you'll like this with its inventiveness and high musucianship. There is nothing sterile about this recording which captures some of the power of a Curved Air live performance despite being a studio album.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2012
Having revisited this album again after nearly 40 years, I can only say time hasn't improved it. Lets say at the off the I am/was a big Curved Air fan seeing them many times in the 70's and still play the first 3 albums regularly. The problem with Air Cut is down to the departure of Francis Monkman and Daryl Way, unfortunately dear sweet deluded songstress that Sonja is, lost her quality control, resulting in appalling lyrics and overblown instrumentation, having said that you cant fault the musicianship on the album, which is excellent. I remember 'Sounds' reviewing it at the time and describing it as (I was appalled at the time 'not My Curved Air') "banal and naive"....I couldn't agree more. Stick to 2nd album!