Thirteen songs mine Curved Air'
s BBC archive, chasing the band from its debut session in April 1970 through a brace of visits in 1971 and then leaping ahead to a live broadcast in 1976. And it's safe to say that anybody hoping to catch Curved Air
in all of their guises, from pop to prog to folk to fury, is going to have all their questions answered here. The three studio sessions between them highlight most of the best of the band's first two albums, Air Conditioning
and Second Album
. Sadly there is no airing for "Back Street Luv," their 1971 hit single, but its B-side, "It Happened Today," is here, together with the raucous "Propositions," the thoughtful "Blind Man," the Airplane
-esque "Stretch," and, of course, "Vivaldi," the neo-classical madness that, for many listeners, captures everything that was wonderful about this band. It is certainly one of the most energetic classical collisions in the entire prog canon, and opens this disc with breathtaking élan. The five live cuts that close the set were recorded by an almost entirely different lineup of the band; only vocalist Sonja Kristina
remains from the earlier band, and the rockier pastures into which the band delved have little more in common with all that has gone before. Anybody wishing to sample this lineup of the band is better directed towards the full live album they released around this same time; but the studio sessions that open the disc are more than worth the price of admission.