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North Star

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (17 Mar. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Curved Air Records
  • ASIN: B00I4581OU
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,105 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Curved Air features original members SONJA KRISTINA and FLORIAN PILKINGTON-MIKSA with classic era guitarist KIRBY GREGORY. They are joined by violinist Paul Sax, keyboardist Robert Norton and bass player Chris Harris. The full length CD features a mixture of re-recordings, cover songs and seven new original songs, all housed in a lavish digi-pack.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's probably fair to surmise that few would have seen this one coming, after a hiatus of almost 40 years. One of the pioneers of prog rock, Curved Air only ever achieved one (unrepresentative) hit way back in 1971 and despite critical acclaim never enjoyed the widespread success that their distinctive talent undoubtedly deserved.

Of the original band only singer Sonja Kristina and drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa remain on board, along with original-era guitarist Kirby Gregory. The new line-up delivers seven new songs alongside re-interpretations of three old ones, a re-working of "Colder Than A Rose In Snow" from Kristina's first solo album and covers of songs by The Police, Snow Patrol and the Beatles.

Complex, varied, satisfying and often exhilarating, 'North Star' marks a successful if wholly unexpected return. Kristina's once sensational voice still holds up pretty well after all this time, the increased vibrato now making her sound, at times, uncannily like Joni Mitchell.

"Time Games", "Images and Signs", "Old Town News" and the jazz-fusion instrumental "Spider" are particularly memorable. Of the covers, "Spirits In The Material World" and "Across The Universe" are surprisingly effective with only Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" failing to fully ignite.

An album that is in danger of giving prog rock a good name.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
WITHOUT ANY DOUBT THIS IS THE ALBUM FANS HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR, without any real expectation of our wishes ever coming true, since, ...well, since Midnight Wire at the very least, and probably for many more of us, since Air Cut, or even Phantasmagoria. Yes, it is that good; utterly fantastic in fact! ...And yet still I have to say, "but..."

To re-cap; their swan-song '70s album Airborne was something of a disappointment to the vast majority of fans. Despite having a few 'nice' songs and some good playing on it, it was generally well below par, under far too much pressure from both the industry and the era, to be something more commercial than Curved Air were ever intended, designed or equipped to be. Those pressures had already been evident on Midnight Wire, and possibly even earlier, alongside the loss of original or core members. However, for me, both Air Cut & Midnight Wire managed to retain strong identities of their own, albeit with something of an evolving sound each time. They retained sufficient artistic links to the original band's first three classic albums, rather than making too many concessions to the changes or the times.

The late '70s were not good for progressive rock, progressive thinking, skilled musicianship, or music that could be appreciated as art. Many bands bowed to the commercial pressures to dumb-down, and thus went under, proving that the 'suits' applying the pressure didn't actually have a clue. (No surprises there!) They steered, even forced, many previously successful bands away from their existing fan base without any genuine hope of their picking up a new one. A very sorry state of affairs, in which the 'industry' crushed art in it's stranglehold, only now counteracted in part via the freedom offered by the internet. But I digress...
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When one of your favourite bands from the '70s suddenly produces a new album out of the blue it is very difficult not to judge it in terms of the old "soundtrack of my youth" favourites and I can see that previous reviewers of this album are naturally and understandably struggling with this prejudice, it is well nigh impossible to manage ones expectations and be objective about the new material.

I never knew Curved Air way back when, I remember seeing their LPs in record shops and adverts in the music press but aside from the obvious hit single I somehow never got round to listening to any of their music, so when I bought North Star I had no expectations whatsoever and was able to listen to it as a stand-alone work in it's own right, not feeling that it had to "live up" to any former glory.

The first time I listened to this album I was instantly and totally smitten, this is a pure delight from start to finish. I couldn't criticise the reworking of old CA material as some have done because I have the advantage of not having known the original versions and consider these tracks to be very good and just as fresh as the new material. The cover versions of Beatles, Snow Patrol and Police numbers (I DO know the originals of these!) are worked very differently from the the original versions and work for me, although I would say that I would have prefered more new materials rather than covers, and if there is a weak track on the album it would be the Chasing Cars cover.

This album is prog (I hate that word) at it's best. The compostions and arrangements are complex and satisfying, and the musicianship is just sublime.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm really very very impressed with this. It's far too good to be a last hurrah from a long-forgotten band, and is genuinely exciting and creative. Sonja and Florian are still there, with some absolutely ace playing from all the band. Paul Sax has a pretty frightening job following Darryl Way and Eddie Jobson, but he stands up loud and proud. Paul's a terrific player, also known for his busking and for other projects with Sonja. Kirby from the Air Cut incarnation easily maintains his fluid rocky style and Chris Harris and Robert Norton on bass and kit are both accomplished in the extreme. This is also a mix of music with some intriguing covers, and Soja gets the notes as well as ever.

Florian deserves a page on his own: he's a truly original and powerful drummer. He's also a deadly timekeeper and he is here.

As somebody else said in another review, this really is in danger of giving prog. a good name.

Seeing them live on Saturday 26th April and can't wait.
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