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Als Curved Air im Jahr 1975 zusammen kamen, um ihr neues Album Airbourne aufzunehmen war dies bereits ihr siebtes, seit der Bandgründung 1970. Und dieses Album war etwas besonderes, vereinte es nicht nur die Gründungsmitglieder, dem Geiger Darryl Way und Sängerin Sonja Kristina wieder, sondern holte man sich mit Stewart Copeland einen Schlagzeuger mit Power an Bord.
Die Songs auf Airbourne sind allesamt fesselnd, melodisch und haben einen hohen Standard, was schon der erste Titel Desiree zeigt, der auch als Single veröffentlicht wurde, gefolgt von dem schlüpfrigen Kids To Blame .
Sonja s starker Gesang prägt dieses 1976 veröffentlichte abwechslungsreiche Album mit seinem schwungvollen Pop-Rock-Gefühl, daß bei vielen Tracks durch die Präsenz Gitarrist Mick Jacques geprägt wird, Darryl Way's Geige jedoch ist immer im Vordergrund steht. Auf dem Bonus-Track, "Baby Please Don't Go", Curved Air entfesseln auf einem rauhen R & B und Stewart Copeland's tobt sich hier mit treibenden Drums aus.
Hier ist ein hervorragendes Beispiel für eine seit langem etablierte Band, die mit frischem Blut ans Werk ging und klasse Tracks abgeliefert hat.
Im CD-Booklet wird die wechselhafte Geschichte von Curved Air erzählt und zusätzlich befindet sich hier auch ein neues Interview mit Sonja, in der die charismatische Singer / Songwriter und über die Entstehung des Albums mit seinen neun Titeln berichtet.
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Das vorliegende "Airborne" (1976) ist das letzte Studioalbum, auf dem sich bereits Zerfallserscheinungen andeuten. So wirken einige der kurzen Popstücke beliebig, doch können die schönen Harmonien von "Touch of Tequila" oder dem Opener "Desiree" einigen Boden gutmachen. Die 12-Minuten-Suite "Moonshine" ist nicht nur ein bißchen beeinflußt von Pink Floyds "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" und steht im Mittelpunkt einer leicht melancholischen Popreise, die jedoch auch rockigere Töne nicht scheut, etwa bei "Kids to Blame".
Alles in allem ein sympathischer Schlußakkord einer sympathischen Band, deren Platten Lust machen auf weitere Erkundungen im Prog-Rock-Universum, etwa GENTLE GIANT oder CARAVAN.
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"Moonshine" opens with eerie outerspace sounds before a really heavy guitar riff comes in, and a guitar solo soon follows. The bass work sort of reminds me of Hall & Oates "She's Gone" but it's brief. Sonja Kristina sings a sweeping elegant melody. She's singing more theatrically than usual. The melody's kind of slow but solid enough. A really funky guitar solo comes in after. Really awesome! "Floating in space, drifting through the stars, waiting and waiting for you to appear, gracing the sun, playing in the moonshine would be a pleasure if you were here too, come up and join me, come up and see me, leave all behind you, start something new, oooh".
Let's talk about my favorite part. "There will be good times, like the time before, when the earth was new and all was me and you" is a VERY uplifting and familiar melody. Pretty sure I heard this song before, or perhaps another Curved Air song resembles this part. I actually wonder if Curved Air borrowed this melody from a song they released prior. The way Sonja sings "We'll fly together from Jupiter to Mars, return old friends as we pass through the stars, so much to see so much to do, nothing to lose just me and you, oooh" sounds really dreamy. The violin sounds like it's aching afterwards, and a remarkable cool effect with the synths creating a steamy feel in the background.
Whoa! I LOVE the subtle funky groove that comes in after this. The impresssive drumming, and the violin riff gives the song a jazz/fusion vibe which is beyond amazing... but the TRULY amazing part is when the violin jams. Now I'm hooked! Ah, and the guitar solo. This is why prog rock is so amazing! Can you feel the variety! Okay forget the opening paragraph I wrote! The awesome "There will be good times, like the times before, when the earth was new and all was me and you" repeats again, and it's just as uplifting as ever. AWESOME song!
"Dazed" sounds really dramatic and dreamy. "Well here I got again, get ready to start the machine and remove all trace of blue with a smile as I leave the dressing room". Love how it picks up for the next line ( "Dazed by the lights of fame, go on and begin my reign"). You know I almost detect a Cyndi Lauper style in Sonja's singing voice, or am I crazy? I mean when I think of Cyndi Lauper I think of someone with an original voice, so it's strange someone before Cyndi sort of resembles her. I'm probably overthinking this one though.
Anyway the melody is dreamy and satisfying, and the guitar solo is another highlight. "Well now we're all alone, entertaining each other this way, I'll sing you a new love song while you sew me a veil of nothing wrong" and "And now it's time to go, get ready to pack the machine, and when I'm away from here all that's left are empty cans of beer" are both excellent melodies. Will you remember me? I know I'll remember you" is sung *very* beautifully. The ending reminds me of Abba (the part "Give it all, give it all to you, and I'll give even more, even more to you"). Either way I LOVE it!
"A Touch of Tequila" has a solid happy vocal melody. The verse melody is pretty awesome. Oooo, lying in the sun getting down getting brown, and I'm loving you, pictures in the sky, shadows dance eagles cry, and I'm loving you, honeysuckle haste, even sands easy breeze, and I'm loving you, my oh my it's summertime, never caught the stones, silver sea shining foam, and I'm loving you, always melt away, lazy waves dripping days, and I'm loving you, lying in the sun, getting down getting brown, and I'm loving you". This is an example of a tightly written song. Is tightly even a word? It is now, lol. Love the "Ooooh ooh ooh" and the lines "Love to be in love in summertime, touch of tequila sunshine" is a funnily sung part of the tune, and feels sillier when the synths come in.
"Juno" makes instantly happy with a fast violin part. That's how you win me over! Storyteller lyrics while maintaining the speedy violin part and fast rhythm work. "Juno was a star, everyone loved how he sang, they would follow him like the pied piper of Hamlin, with a song he'd make them cry, then he'd take them, make them laugh, when he sang it felt like magic, he was the king of them all, some who heard him sing, thought he was touched by the devil, Juno didn't care, he'd seen this before, they would still be there to see him, watching every move he made them, loving every note he sang them, he was the king of them all". Love the chorus ("Juno what's your secret? Are you human? Juno how'd you do it? Is it magic?") Hey what a cool vibraphone and violin solo at the end!
"Kids to Blame" (kids these days!) is a bit of a letdown. A typical midtempo rocker. "What's that fussing little Lane? Aw they hear you've gone insane, calling kids and pushing blame, police got numbers but no name" and "Hold it man, it ain't done, he knows who's right and who is wrong, but kids are wrong they ain't got no rights, they get the fulls of being on strong" Then again Sonja reminds me of early Geddy Lee (perhaps the proof I need that Geddy always sounded a little girl-ish- all due respect!) The chorus at the end is a bit weak to repeat so many times, I think ("Stop this chain stop this same, kids to blame kids to blame").
"Desiree" is enhanced by the female vocals. The song's between dreamy and rock-ish. The rhythm work is pretty good but this song is very straightforward. I sort of expect Curved Air to be... curvy! By curvy I mean prog rock-ish. This is too normal for them. The guitar solo is okay at least. Love the line about California dreamin' sweeping your love away.
The actual lyrics are this- "Desiree in the shadow of the dawn he's turning to you, your restless eyes haunted by the feeling of the night, he turns around to touch you but he knows you've gone, you've been traveling Desiree, since you were grown enough not to cry, you've been traveling Desire,e since you were grown enough not to cry, Desiree you first met your love in southern Italy, the Mediterranean winds have blown your love away, you're flying off to summer but you know he's gone, Desiree, on sunset cliffs you watched the end of yesterday, the Californian dream has swept your love away, you're trying to remember but you know he's gone". Lyrics must be about a relationship that never worked out. I can picture a woman taking a vacation, falling in love with a man... but they lose contact and he can't be found so the woman becomes distraught.
"Heaven (Never Seemed So Far Away)" is semi uplifting but mostly flat. It's a nice rocker, but I have to question some of the vocals such as the "For a dog snarling in a corner heaven never seemed so far away" part. Sonja sounds bored singing this line. There's a moment of potential when the violin comes in and a guitar solo follows, but the song soon reverts back to being standard affair. I guess the guitar solo at the end is pretty solid. Oh well the lyrics are "Good friends and I'm a stranger, so hard to circulate, crowded streets I see no faces, no place for a changing soul, like a ship on an angry ocean, ferris wheel that spins too fast, for a dog snarling in a corner, heaven never seemed so far away, maybe the game is someone else's, too tired to play along, go on your way taking chances, your way is yours alone, for an artist in a hungry basement, or a rain on a lonely man, or a kid fighting with his father heaven never seemed so far away". I can't put the pieces together and figure out the meaning behind this song. Too many different subjects such as ferris wheels, dogs, family fights, etc.
"Hot and Bothered" opens with a splendid funky groove. I love this! I must be in a funk mood today, haha. I seem to be leaning towards funkiness! The vocal melody is unique in that it's theatrical mixed in with that groove. Cool stuff. Sonja sings sexily too! The violin in the middle is SO cool the way it plays along with that tight groove. Too bad it's a short song. "I don't want no top bunch, love how your lips go, whispering kisses love me come close to me, I'm hot and bothered, just want to hold you tonight, guy in stargaze, start up my lovin', hot and you're lovin' me now, my collector over the top now, straight up it's hands down, straight up the land of love, hot and bothered, hot and bothered, just want to hold you tonight,
"Broken Lady" is devastating theatrics slowed down. This means we get to hear the tender side of Sonja's voice... and I love it a lot! The piano, tender vocals, violin played really beautifully... whoa this is quite the moving song. The accordion is used nicely (I think that's an accordion anyway). The melody itself is written well enough to leave me happy. "Broken lady tears run dry, you lie there easy grown wise through it all, tearing your soul they watched you fall, lady just lately your song has grown sour, who'll weep for the withered rose? Who'll mourn the sparrow? Who'll cry for tomorrow? Broken lady they sing your song, clinging to shadows of lovers long gone, children sing loud children draw near, lady just lately your song has grown sour".
The bonus track "Baby Please Don't Go"... AH! Stop it everybody! Ted Nugent, Cactus, AC/DC... everyone stop playing this song! Alright I'm kidding... well no, I really am tired of every artist you can imagine performing this song at least once (at least it seems like everyone does- usually live). This version's very short and focuses on the vocal melody... which is probably the way I prefer it, unless someone can turn the guitar jam into something full-fledged and awesome. Curved Air probably could have done it truth to told, but they kept it short. Still a pretty good song, but perhaps AC/DC holds the crown for the best version.
Overall, wow! This is another solid Curved Air album. Just like their prior album it's different from the more early 70's prog rock stuff, but Airborne is still really impressive because the vocal melodies are written well, and the violin is a nice addition in this case. I think this was the bands last 70's album but reunited in the 90's for another one. I'm still amazed Stewart Copeland was the drummer for these guys. It's so weird because I associate him with the reggae pop of the Police (and the Spyro the Dragon soundtrack which is awesome) but a prog rock band? Hard to believe but true! Anyway yeah, besides one track, the rest isn't really progressive rock.
The album is consistently strong, starting off with "Deseree" an upbeat song about romantic impermanence. Sonja's voice is multi-tracked here (as it is throughout) to very good effect. "A Touch of Tequila" is a perfect summer song with evokes a sunny Caribbean afternoon. The eleven-minute "Moonshine" is the album's centerpiece, which has some very delicate moments, some nicely jazzy ones, and truly rocks at other times. And the original vinyl LP's closer "Dazed" is a melancholy look at life on the road.
The playing is top rate, and Sonja's voice has never been better--one complaint I had with the early Curved Air albums was how unnecessarily restrained her voice was. On Airborne she shines, her warm alto voice showing its full emotional depth. And finally there's the drummer, this Stewart Copeland fellow. Airborne displays all the greatness he was to win accolades for with his next band.