Archive for the ‘Curved Air’ Category


Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Listen: Northern Lights (Edit) / Renaissance

I went through a prog rock stage like every kid, but secretly never had the patience for all those long songs in private. I was playing The Kinks and The Marmalade to be honest. Even the bands exclusively part of that genre won me with their attempts at more traditional songs or singles, as they are ultimately best described.

Camel, Caravan, Curved Air, they all had great 7′s, and that’s just a few of the C’s. The likes of Yes, The Nice, Genesis, King Crimson or even Van Der Graaf Generator, when their full album sided epics got edited down for a single, probably discovered they’d essentially written a pop song. I’m guessing a few, like possibly Robert Fripp, are still shivering from the prospect.

I stumbled on a most fascinating Facebook post yesterday from a friend Bruce Garfield. He’s now managing Renaissance, a band who I would classify as prog, and remember from college. In fact, I booked them at my school and a few members came back to our apartment after the show, to buy drugs from my then girlfriend. His post centered around their new album, and how they’re raising money to record it via Kickstarter. Really impressive plan and I truly wish them well.

During the presentation, when snippets of their various songs were used, I caught a passage from ‘Northern Lights’. Blimey, I hadn’t heard it for the longest time, and so headed downstairs for a listen. A bit overlooked here at home when current in ’78, lost time is being made up for presently. If this got played once, it easily got twenty spins. Really good song, and am now planning on seeing their show in June as a result.

The band deserve a lot of respect, and they deserve a break. Turns out their label partners from those lucrative years all shut their doors and draw the blinds when they come knocking, tossing a mere dribble of royalties their way. Having worked for the majors a solid two plus decades, I know how true their claims must be.

Curved Air

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Listen: Back Street Luv (US 7″ Edit) / Curved Air CurvedAirBackStreetUSEdit.mp3

Does being attracted to Moog synthesizers count towards becoming an early techno fan? Seems logical. Don’t recall which band incorporating said device caught my ear initially. Most likely Silver Apples or The Nice, with Curved Air on the list not far behind. ‘Back Street Luv’, that was the first song I managed to hear by them. And believe me, with it hitting #4 in the British charts, I was on the hunt for an airing.

Harry Fagenbaum, the Warner Brothers college radio rep on the Syracuse University campus, gave me a copy. It was part of a 45′s handful, the only other two I can recall were Deep Purple ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ and Fleetwood Mac ‘Oh Well’. And the Ron Nagle BAD RICE album, which I no longer have. I’m kicking myself to this day for dumping that one.

Boy, did that little care package make my week, but it was not to continue. Harry was very stingy and cut me off. Never got another record from him. Which was really rather mean, and unwise considering the piles of promos I could have returned his way for years to come. Whatever….

Can I tell you how my eyes lit up the Sunday I opened a Syracuse Herald Journal to find an ad for the Emerson, Lake & Palmer / Curved Air concert in spring ’72. Countdown to the day began that very moment.

Even in the 70′s, it was still kind of exotic for a couple of English bands to make their way upstate. Curved Air pulled into town, still clothed in lavender and lime silk trousers, tight blouses, complete with shag hairdos, absolutely genius. In hindsight, the archaic Moog blurting away was rather funny, who knew at the time. We were in awe. Their musical trip through clumsily played classical bits, and singer Sonya Kristina basically barking her way up and down lyrics got a little much, but all was forgiven when ‘Back Street Luv’ closed the set. Some records can transcend you right back to a magical memory, and this is one.

Mellow Candle

Friday, April 30th, 2010

MellowCandle, Mellow Candle, David Hitchcock, Deram

Listen: Dan The Wing / Mellow Candle MellowCandle.mp3

Howard, Chris and I went to see the Ian Dury movie the other day. It was pretty great – the end bit got a touch depressing but the film certainly brought me right back to how absolutely stunning he and The Blockheads were on stage during their moments in the sun. Never realized Chaz Jankel was such a vital part of the band and songwriting until the credits rolled.

We had Indian lunch prior, and as usual, started digging into a whole lotta obscure record trivia. I was always a fan of UK Decca’s various production deals. One such was with Gruggy Woof. The company included both Neil Slaven and David Hitchcock. Slaven’s production’s seemed to lean more towards the bluesy side (Savoy Brown, Miller Anderson, The Keef Hartley Band, Chicken Shack) whereas Hitchcock tipped more progressive (Caravan, Camel, Cured Air, Genesis). By the way, I don’t have a clue where that rather bad name originated from, but I liked most of the records these guys/their production company were involed with.

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what single I had in my hands literally earlier that very day, with it’s unlikely David Hitchcock production credit. Given that Howard mastered a slew of these during his apprentice years at Trident, we racked our collective brains to no result.

Well tonight I suddenly remembered: Mellow Candle. Their sole album is insanely valuable, and this single is not far behind. Quite why I’m not sure. I always thought ‘Dan The Wing’ was rather watered down Steeleye Span, sonically more in line with what B & C were releasing: folky prog stuff.

Look deeply into the Decca/Deram release history and you will find many an obscure, highly collectable and hence, steeply priced prog rock array of every flavor. I picked this up for pennies in the dj copy heavy outdoor vendor racks at Cheap Cheap on Soho’s Rupert Street during that summer ’73 spent in London. In fact, this copy sat there unsold for literally months until finally having been humiliatingly relegated to the 5p row – I just couldn’t pass up the Deram A label – I mean seriously, 5p?

At first it indeed sounded lightweight and weedy, but I eventually got addicted to it’s weaknesses. They are charmingly innocent, now I play it often.