This week’s music releases

Curved Air: North Star
Curved Air: North Star

Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.

Only two members of the original Curved Air remain in their current line-up – vocalist Sonja Kristina and grandiosely-named drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa – but the band are still mining the same rich vein of quirkily compelling violin led prog-rock which impressed so many discerning pundits during the group’s creative heyday in the early 1970s.

Their first new album since 1976’s Airborne serves up an appealing blend of new material, re-worked oldies and covers of songs made famous by the likes of Snow Patrol and The Police before closing with a surprisingly effective revamp of John Lennon’s Across The Universe.

This multi-talented New Yorker has worked with many of the rock greats over the years, including stints with influential 1960s outfits such as Blues Project and Blood, Sweat and Tears and session work with everyone from B B King to Bob Dylan, where he conjured up the memorable organ riff on the classic Like A Rolling Stone.

This three-CD collection draws on some of Al’s recordings from the mid 1990s, including a live package which reunites him with many of his former colleagues as he breathes new life into golden oldies such as Eric Andersen’s Violets of Dawn, Randy Newman’s Just One Smile and Donovan’s Season of the Witch.

1950s America continues to provide a rich source of subject matter for CD compilers around the world, and Fantastic Voyage’s latest splendid offering draws on a grand total of 90 tracks from that increasingly dim and distant era.

The contents showcase the talents of many female vocalists whose contributions to the early development of pop and r&b have long since been forgotten, including unjustly neglected performers such as Dolly Cooper, Camille Howard and soulful gospel contralto Marie Knight.

Guitarist Robin George was working with former Uriah Heep frontman David Byron’s band when he recorded these tracks at a studio called the Old Smithy in Worcester between 1979 and 1981, joining forces with rock luminaries such as Phil Lynott, Mel Collins and Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland to assemble a package which was quietly shelved at the time and has had to wait more than three decades for its first official release.

History supplies a tuneful vehicle for the Wolverhampton-born musician’s inventive brand of music-making, with Heartline and Go Down Fighting emerging as the cream of an undemanding crop.