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4.4 out of 5 stars
37
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 28 June 2017
Superb Double CD
VIVA PROG FOREVER!

Not one of THE BIG BEASTS of the genre and of the Era, I guess that they would have been up there if only they had released this very same double album in the early 70's. As a fan who always liked them I might be a bit biased in recommending you to buy all their discographry, but I feel honest and true in giving the full seal of approval to this purchase, that is RETROSPECTIVE-ANTHOLOGY 1970-2009. In my view an absolute MUST BUY and one that you will appreciate buying!
GREAT PROG!
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on 4 August 2017
GOOD MEMORIES
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on 7 March 2017
Prog don't get much better than this.
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on 3 March 2017
Good cd
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on 19 September 2017
Curved Air are a band from my youth. I relived it in memory.
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on 15 April 2017
well satisfied!
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on 26 April 2017
5 Stars Great
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on 13 September 2010
I was only really familiar with a handful of tracks by Curved Air (It Happened Today, Back Street Luv, Vivaldi, etc.) and thought it was about time to explore this highly underrated band a little further. Deciding to plug a gap in my music collection, I thought this anthology would be a good place to start. When it arrived I pored over the sumptuous packaging and glanced through the booklet at the in-depth biography. So far, so good. It was when I popped the first disc into my CD player that I really sat up and paid attention. The sound is great - crisp, deep and fresh. And the music... What a revelation. Every single track is impressive, running the gamut between hook-laden rock to sophisticated classical-influenced prog. Now, for some, the word PROG is anathema, but don't be put off. The tracks on this collection show great inventiveness (due largely to the presence of Darryl Way's fantastic violin virtuosity), with original arrangements and fine musicianship throughout. And then there's Sonja's voice - wow! Coming across like a happier, more emotional Nico, she lifts every track to new heights. Sonja Christina is one of the truly great unsung voices of rock music and should be heard, savoured and praised without delay. And all this was after playing only the first disc.

Disc two is even better. As this anthology unfurls chronologically, we hear the band grow in confidence and compositional grandeur. Simply put, the more we hear, the better they get. The disc rounds off with a few tracks from a much more recent Sonja solo project, but she proves the passing years have done little to degrade he wonderful voice.

To fans of Curverd Air, this review is simply stating the obvious but, if like me, you are curious about a band you have little experince of, I urge you to give this collection a go. For the price of a couple of pints you can have over two hours of some of the best music from the Golden Age of progressive rock. Just buy it!
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on 5 January 2011
Curved Air - Retrospective Anthology 1970 - 2009 (Repertoire)
Before the review starts proper, let's make one thing clear. This two-disc anthology release from Repertoire sounds a hell of a lot better than the band's previous CD releases - the stuff I've heard, anyway. I don't know whether it's been radically remastered or the source material is simply better, but it sounds razor sharp and alive compared to earlier reissues.

I can't say I was overly familiar with the complete Curved Air canon. I knew their earlier material fairly well and a few other tracks from various sources, and I was eager to find out more. This was definitely the place to start. The packaging is spot on. They seem to have captured the early `70s just right and the booklet is informative and well written. Put the first CD in the player and the fun really starts. The early albums are well represented, and "It Happened Today" provides the perfect launch track - rather than the `hit' "Back Street Luv". Their style, classical influenced progressive rock with electric violin and a vocalist in Sonja Kristina who was distinctive, to say the least, may not sit well with 21st century tastes, but frankly that's the 21st century's loss. Disc two is equally impressive, and ends with a trio of tracks from Kristina's recordings with Mask, a recent solo project.

Overall, an excellent introduction to Curved Air, and given the lack of decent CDs, fans should invest promptly. It'll definitely tide them over until the proper albums are given the reissue treatment they deserve. 9/10.
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2010
It's hardly surprising that music was the most important thing in the world for us when I was at secondary school, as not only did I attend an all boys' grammar school, but my period there covered the years 1969 - 1974, virtually the exact era of the beginning and end of classic rock / progressive rock. If you weren't seen carrying an album under your arm (the more obscure the better!) you weren't part of the crowd. Just think of all the classic rock and prog rock albums that were released during those five years. I didn't really get into it until the second half of the period when the weekly discovery of bands, both new and by then already established, seemed an endless activity. In truth there were probably far less bands than there are these days. Maybe a dozen real superstars, a couple of dozen second division bands and forty / fifty who were usually making up the numbers at the era's many festivals. Curved Air were probably somewhere towards the bottom of the second division.
In many ways however the band epitomised the era for me. They were already established when I first heard of them having released their first four albums, the first of which was the first ever picture disc, apart from the hit single 'Back Street Luv' I never really heard much by them although a friend had bought Phantasmagoria and swore by it, several times offering to lend it to me, but I never took him up on the offer.
There was actually something faintly exotic about such bands that your mates loved, but you never saw on TV and rarely heard on the radio; and of course to make them even more exotic and unusual Curved Air had an electric violin - and Sonja Kristina. Like nearly all bands of the era CA went through a series of line up changes as the 70's progressed, lost momentum and audience interest (including mine as I left school and punk was dominant) and finally broke up before the end of the decade.

It was only as an adult many years later that I actually purchased Curved Air's first three albums on cd and it was some time before I managed to add the fourth album, Air Cut, as that was extremely difficult to find. Feeling I now had all the essential material by the band I didn't really have the inclination to seek out the subsequent couple of mid seventies releases or the live album. I must say that the first three albums were amongst the worst sounding cds in my entire collection. When nearly every band from this era has had their albums re-mastered and re-released often with bonus tracks CA appeared to have been forgotten, as for years we only had the poor sounding original recordings, nor were there any bonus tracks and the packaging, apart from the inclusion of the lyrics, was very basic indeed.

So I was extremely interested when I saw that this anthology was going to be released. I wondered whether it would be worth making valuable room on my cd shelves by trading my four albums in and replacing them with this compilation.

The first thing was to see what had been included and what hadn't, always a major concern on anthologies, especially with bands like CA who had few obvious `hits.' Undoubtedly as with many progressive rock bands of this era, each album had some experimental stuff that was often little more than filler and a good compilation would filter out some of this. By and large this compilation does a good job featuring excellent tracks from those first four albums such as 'It Happened Today,' 'The Purple Speed Queen,' 'Easy' and of course 'Back Street Luv.' There are also the prog rock epics 'Piece of Mind', 'Metamorphosis' and the instumental 'Vivaldi' (the latter for some reason placed out of chronological sequence). However I was concerned when I saw that the studio version of 'Marie Antoinette,' my favourite song by the band, had been omitted in favour of the version from the later live album. On first hearing I wasn't sure as the track was a lot more `robust' than the studio version, with Sonja's vocals being noticeably harsher compared to her ealier smoother delivery; however after a few listens I think it was a good choice. 'Marie A' is actually a really great example of a superb rock / prog track with its changing tempos, a slow eerie beginning and the explosion to the faster martial rhythm of `the rabble have gone insane section.' The live version of this transformation section beats the studio version into a cocked hat, and is one of the finest examples of light and shade (essential to most great rock music) anywhere in rock.
I would however have replaced 'Whose Shoulder Are You Looking Over Anyway?,' one of those experimental tracks which just features Sonja's processed voice and a synthesiser, and is in my view a waste of three minutes, with something else; either 'Stretch,' 'Situations' (from Air Conditioning), 'Everdance,' 'Bright Summer's Day 68,' (from Second Album), 'Not Quite the Same,' 'Phantasmagoria,' (Phantasmagoria), 'UHF,' 'Two Three Four' (Air Cut) or even the studio version of 'Marie Antoinette,' any of which would have been much more worthwhile. This I feel is quite a flaw on the first disc.
The four tracks from two of the albums I hadn't bothered with before, 1975's Midnight Wire and the 1973 recorded but 1990 released, Love Child are all good and stand comparison with the earlier material, but by the two tracks from the 1976 Airborne it is clear the band were running out of steam, neither song being particularly memorable. There are also three Sonja Kristina / Mask tracks, and whilst these are presumably included for the sake of a comprehensive overview, I would have sacrificed all three for any of those earlier listed omissions.

So all in all a very good, but as far this listener is concerned, not a perfect compilation. However unlike the original album releases it does come with excellent photos and liner notes, although we have now lost the lyrics! Perhaps most importantly, the sound on the tracks from those first three albums is far, far better, and one of the few examples where the much vaunted re-mastering we are constantly lured into purchasing makes a real audible difference.
I now wonder if they are going to re-master the orginal albums.
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