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Crabs (Germany): Wheel Of Fate (Penner CD 023, CD, 1997)
Lea Bayer (lead vocals)
With their new wave-ish hard acid-rock style, Crabs are in many ways spiritual successors to their countrymen Arktis. Their sound is similarly muscular and powerful, but their songwriting never equals Arktis at their peak and Lea Bayer’s punkish vocals are sometimes rather tuneless. As a footnote, the band had previously issued a couple of cassettes with all-male line-ups, and the material here was recorded in 1994 but remained unreleased for three years due to their break-up. GRADE: C+.

Crack (Spain): Si Todo Hiciera Crack (Chapa-Discos HS-35.021, 1979)
This is one of the best symphonic progressive albums of the late seventies, and among the finest such releases from Spain. With a soft yet varied and dynamic keyboard and flute-led sound, the music recalls everyone from Genesis to Jethro Tull across eight lush, melodic and inventive pieces. A female singer (oddly uncredited) provides duet and prominent backing vocals on a few cuts. GRADE: B.

Crannog (UK): Crannog (No label CR1, 1979?)
Maureen Carter (joint lead vocals, guitar, whistle)Folk/rock with the emphasis on the rock, this enjoyable album sounds like Fairport Convention on steroids on the better tracks, with muscular guitars and powerful drums revitalising the traditional material. The numbers sung by Maureen Carter are softer and more reflective, however, and also quite effective. In particular, she does turn in a magnificently ethereal acid-folk rendition of ‘Copshawholme Fair’. As a footnote, this is one of the best-recorded private pressings I have encountered. GRADE: C+. 

Crash (Poland): Every Day A Trial (Ja&Ro 005, West Germany, 1982)
Grazyna Lobaszewska (lead vocals)
Whilst this Polish jazz-fusion album is overly slick and often rather clichéd, it does feature good musicianship, some complexity and an excellent recording. Most of the album is instrumental, but Grazyna Lobaszewska adds her soul-inflected voice to two of the seven cuts. For better and worse, their biggest influence was very likely Michal Urbaniak. GRADE: C+.

Crawling Walls (USA): Inner Limits (Voxx VXS-200.030, 1985)
Nancy Martinez (bass, backing vocals)
Typically for the Voxx label, this is sixties-influenced garage rock, with lots of trebly organ, a nice trippy feel and a cover to match. Lead vocalist and organist Bob Fountain provides an excellent set of songs with a few progressive and experimental moments, making it a shame that the band split up immediately after the LP’s release. In particular, the extended title track and the instrumental ‘Go-Go ’85’ are outstanding, demonstrating the band’s fine musicianship to great effect. As a footnote, the French pressing from the same year (Lolita 5043) features a completely different but equally psychedelic sleeve. GRADE: B–.

Crazy Canary (Denmark): Crazy Canary (Mercury 6344 227, with booklet, 1980)
Ida Klemann (joint lead vocals)
For some reason, Bifrost chose to issue their fourth album under the alter egos of Crazy Canary. There are three differences from Bifrost: everything is in English rather than Danish, everything is written by Tom Lundén, and Ida Klemann handles the bulk of the lead vocals. Musically, this is business as usual, with the best cut ‘I Can’t See You’ being both the shortest and the hardest rocking. GRADE: C+.
See also Bifrost, Ida Klemann

Jody & The Creams (UK): Jody And The Creams (Cordelia ERICAT 026(C), cassette, 1988)
Ariadne Metal-Cream Pie, Blodwyn P Teabag
Alan Jenkins’s new band, following hot on the heels of the Deep Freeze Mice and Chrysanthemums, offers all-instrumental basement prog that’s filled with unexpected twists and turns but somewhat undermined by the programmed percussion and mediocre sound quality. Nonetheless, these playful jams, with plenty of synthesisers adding a modernistic ambience, contain plenty of enjoyable moments. If you listen closely, you can hear the beginnings of the surf music style that Jenkins et al would explore more fully as the Thurston Lava Tube. GRADE: C+.

Jody & The Creams (UK): A Big Dog.n (Cordelia CD 029, CD, 1990)
Ruth Miller (lead vocals), Ariadne Metal-Cream Pie (guitar, viola), Blodwyn P Teabag (keyboards, oboe), Geraldine Minou-Sullivan (drums)
The second Jody & The Creams album (on which the band is credited as a duo of Ariadne Metal-Cream Pie and Blodwyn P Teabag, plus guests) is very different from their debut cassette. This is a surreal mixture of wispy pop songs, pseudo-classical instrumental diversions and surreal conversations between the two women – all lo-fi, all drenched in echo, all pleasingly quirky and all utterly inconsequential. 

Jody & The Creams (UK): Lords Of The Grommet Canning Factory (Cordelia, cassette, 1991)
Ariadne Metal-Cream Pie, Blodwyn P Teabag, Sherree Lawrence
Limited to 25 copies, this cassette contains reworkings of material from Ruth’s Refrigerator’s Suddenly A Disfigured Head Parachuted, indicating the high level of cross-fertilisation between Alan Jenkins’s various projects. Musically, it’s slightly different from earlier Creams albums, with more of a low-budget symphonic feel, often taking it closely to the chintzy bric-à-brac music of French acts like Look De Bouk. Although fragmentary and lightweight, it contains some fascinating moments, and is the Creams’ best release to date. The CD reissue (Pink Lemon PINK 005, Germany, 1998) adds numerous excellent bonus tracks. GRADE: B–.
Alan Jenkins & The Creams (UK): ie (Raffmond/Cordelia 20106, double, Germany, 1994)
Ariadne Metal-Cream Pie (joint lead vocals), Sherree Lawrence (joint lead vocals), Alison Mackinder (joint lead vocals), Blodwyn P Teabag (keyboards)
The Creams’ magnum opus is a surreal rock opera mixing an oddball narrative, spoken word sections and songs. Such efforts can be overly pretentious or can become tiresome, with the dialogue distracting from the music, but in this case it all comes together perfectly, and the songs are some of the best Alan Jenkins has written. As a footnote, the vinyl version includes a whole side of additional material. GRADE: B–.

Creams (UK): The Creams And Nico (Raffmond RAFF008 2, CD, Germany, 1994)
Alison Mackinder (joint lead vocals, keyboards, violin, brass), Blodwyn P Teabag (keyboards, percussion, brass)
This is more pop-oriented than its predecessor, though only once does it directly channel the Velvet Underground & Nico. Nonetheless, there are plenty of experimental moments too, including some jazzy and experimental instrumentals, adding up to a constantly changing tapestry of music that’s consistently charming and engaging. GRADE: B–.
Creams (UK): Malcolm (Jarmusic JAR 016-CD, double 3" CD, with gatefold minisleeve, Germany, 1997)
Blodwyn P Teabag, Dawn Larder
This odd little package – which runs for just over half an hour – focuses on the pop end of the Creams’ repertoire. It’s lovely, melodic stuff, but I do find myself missing the sheer eclecticism of their last couple of releases. GRADE: C+.

Creams (UK): Pluto (Raffmond RAFF 019-2, CD, with poster booklet, Germany, 1996)
Alison Mackinder (joint lead vocals), Blodwyn P Teabag (keyboards)
Whilst this has some jazzy diversions, lots of electronics and plenty of the band’s trademark hour, it’s definitely at the straighter end of their repertoire. It’s a decent album by any measure, but how much you like it may depend on how whimsical you like your whimsy. GRADE: C+.
Creams (UK): The All Night Book Man (Jarmusic JAR 024, double CD, with digipak, Germany, 1998)
Blodwyn P Teabag (keyboards, Theremin)
The band’s final album is a double running for over two hours, with the second disc rather more eccentric and interesting than the first. That’s not to say the first is exactly conventional, though it is more pop-oriented: it says Alan Jenkins (as white a man as one can imagine) discovering his love of black music, with homages to both soul and dub reggae. GRADE: B–.

Creams (UK): Net Yangers For The Pizza Froy (Cordelia CD097, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2020, recorded 1997)
Blodwyn P Teabag (organ)
This retrospective live album, with excellent sound quality, focuses on the more straightforward, song-based end of the band’s repertoire. Its thoroughly enjoyable contents are probably best summed up by an anecdote recounted in the sleeve notes, in which another musician on the same bills asks Alan Jenkins whether the Creams are a ‘dreamy psychedelic band’ and Jenkins responds, ‘Dreamy? No,  I don’t think you could call us dreamy; trashy would be a better word.’ GRADE: C+.

Creamy (USA): Creamy (OR 10, some on cream vinyl, 1996)
Michele Menard (lead vocals, tambourine), Wendy Niles (clarinet)
With a style betwixt free jazz and borderline Krautrock, this one-off album offers one lengthy improvisation per side. With a fairly cacophonous sound, it’s interesting in parts, but also (like most LPs of its type) diffuse, rambling and inconsistent. GRADE: C+.

Creamy Jobe (UK): Greatest Hits II (Release details unknown, 2000)
Anne-Marie Helder (joint lead vocals, keyboards, flute)
Creamy Jobe was the first band to feature the well-travelled Anne-Marie Helder, and their brand of melodic retro rock – sometimes folky and sometimes robust and riff-driven – provides a pretty good pointer as to her future direction. The band subsequently mutated into the trio Tigerdragon, which released two CDs that I have never encountered. As a footnote, I’m not clear as to whether this 28-minute EP was actually released at the time: Wikipedia insists it was subtitled Voices On Vinyl, which suggests that it appeared in that format, but I’m only familiar with it as a retrospective download. GRADE: C+.
See also Anne-Marie Helder, Karnataka, Luna Rossa, Mostly Autumn, Panic Room, Parade

Credemus (West Germany): Auf Dem Weg… (Werola 1560/82, with insert, 1982)
Martina Brinkmann (joint lead vocals), Susanne Hess (joint lead vocals)
This Christian progressive album suffers a little from packing in lots of lyrics (virtually a given for the genre) but wisely eschews upbeat, happy-clappy praise material. Instead, it’s mostly downbeat and dreamy, with rich keyboard and guitar textures, peaking on the excellent sixteen-minute suite ‘Am Weiher’, which takes up most of side two. GRADE: C+.

Crest (Norway): Dark Rock Armada 1998-2000 (No label, CDR, 2000)
Nell Sigland (lead vocals), Tonie (keyboards)
The Crest are best remembered for launching the career of Nell Sigland, who went on to replace Liv Kristine Espenaes in Theatre Of Tragedy. However, they were a solid gothic metal band in their own right, as this 28-minute demo – limited to 250 numbered copies – makes clear. My own copy is an unnumbered promo, with a letter of introduction and a band flyer. GRADE: C+.
Crest (Norway): Letters From Fire (Season Of Mist SOM 059, CD, with digipak and booklet, France, 2002)
Nell Sigland (lead vocals, synthesiser)
Metal this certainly is, but heavy it isn’t: the massed electric guitars serve to create a lush wall of sound in exactly the same way that pedal steel guitar would have done had the Crest’s members been born thirty years earlier and in the USA. With all seven songs from the demo reworked here, there’s not much new in terms of material; and despite a few trip-hop touches not much new in terms of style either, though this is a very likeable and listenable record. GRADE: C+.

Crest (Norway): Vain City Chronicles (Season Of Mist SOM 106, CD, with digipak and booklet, France, 2005)
Nell Sigland (lead vocals)
I was initially convinced that this reprised songs from their earlier albums, but it doesn’t; it’s simply that they haven’t progressed in any way. Nonetheless, they’re undeniably very good at what they do, with their penchant for quasi-Oriental guitar lines adding distinctiveness to their otherwise generic sound and the glossy pop edges providing an unusual (but welcome) sheen. GRADE: C+.

See also Theatre Of Tragedy

Janie Cribbs (Ireland): No Illusion (No label, CD, USA, 1999)
Janie Cribbs (lead vocals)
Recorded in the USA, the former Midnight Well vocalist’s solo album is of that rootsy brand of American rock performed by Alannah Myles or Shania Twain (though this doesn’t have any country edges). It’s very well done too, with first-rate original songs and a superb production, so she was unlucky not to achieve commercial success with this. GRADE: C+.
See also Midnight Well

Crimson Altar (USA): Clairvoyance (No label, cassette, 2016)
Alexis Kralicek (lead vocals, flute)
Seventies-style doom band fronted by a female singer-cum-flautist? Reference to blood and occult practices in the name? We all know who I mean, don’t we? Well, actually no, though on the evidence of this four-track single-sided EP it’s probably fair to say that Blood Ceremony were the biggest influence on Crimson Altar. On this debut, they don’t have the majesty or the suppleness of Blood Ceremony – the drumming plods and the riffs are a little samey – but there’s definite promise here. GRADE: C+.
Crimson Altar (USA): MMXVII (No label, cassette, 2018)
Alexis Kralicek (lead vocals, flute)
A big step forward from their tentative debut, this second EP is vastly better recorded, giving their crushing, spacy riffs the space and majesty they deserve. Meanwhile, a couple of acoustic interludes add welcome variety, preventing the set from becoming one-dimensional. The drumming still plods occasionally and Alexis Kralicek sings flat in a couple of places, but at its best this is truly high-class doom. 


Crimson Altar (USA): The Dwelling (No label, CDR, 2019)
Alexis Kralicek (lead vocals, flute)
Stepping forward from their second cassette, this is an impressive set of seventies-style doom and a world away from their rather hesitant debut. Once again, there’s a strong resemblance to Blood Ceremony, both conceptually and musically, but then again doom isn’t a genre in which many bands have a truly distinctive sound. GRADE: B–.

Crimson Bridge (USA): The Crimson Bridge (Myrrh MST-6503-LP, 1972)
Trish Rattan (joint lead vocals), Carolyn Shafer (occasional vocals, keyboards), Carol Healy (occasional vocals, flute)
A sort of Christian answer to brass-rock bands like Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago, Crimson Bridge offered five shorter songs on the first side and a lengthy suite on the second. The short songs sound extremely dated nowadays, with their syncopated horns, impassioned call-and-response vocals, funky rhythms and louche, sensual slow passages, calling to mind images of hip seventies bachelor pads, but they’re thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. The suite, meanwhile, is beautifully crafted and much more varied, with some almost liturgical passages of great beauty. Overall, this is one of the most interesting and adventurous records released by the generally rather undistinguished Myrrh label. GRADE: B–.

Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): A Love Of Shared Disasters (Invada INV-035, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007)
Charlotte Nicholls (cello)
Crippled Black Phoenix’s style is rather odd and difficult to describe: essentially a mix of lo-fi folky songs, post-rock, dark prog and sound effects, with a cinematic yet low-key quality. It’s not all good, and the mastering is so compressed it will make your ears bleed, but there’s plenty of fine music here so this is a promising debut indeed. In 2020, the band issued the unmastered instrumental demos for the album as a download entitled A Love Of Instrumental Disasters, noting that it is ‘even more soundtrack sounding’. That description is right on the money: it may be even better than the original album, whilst not quite as diverse, and has superb dynamics. GRADE: B–.
Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): The Resurrectionists & Night Raider (Invada INV075, double CD, with minisleeves, booklet and box, 2009)
Charlotte Nicholls (occasional vocals, cello)
Compiling the band’s recordings between 2007 and 2009, these features two separate albums with a total running time of 120 minutes. The Resurrectionists is the longer and straighter of the two, offering mellow melodic prog and folky rock, whilst on Night Raider they channel everyone from Tom Waits to Pink Floyd and even take a diversion into circus music. Like their debut, it’s fascinatingly odd, intermittently brilliant, sometimes baffling and mostly very enjoyable. GRADE: B–.
Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): I, Vigilante (Invada INV95, CD, with digipak, 2010)
Daisy Chapman (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Charlotte Nicholls (occasional vocals, cello)
Notwithstanding the unexpected sixties-styled closer, this is straighter (and at 48 minutes, rather more concise) than their previous work, moving Crippled Black Phoenix closer to metal and classic rock. That’s not to say it’s a step down: the music here is frequently majestic and very impressive, whilst new keyboardist Daisy Chapman has a lovely voice that she uses to great effect on the last couple of tracks.


Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): (Mankind) The Crafty Ape (Cool Green Recordings CGR 7360 2, double CD, with digipak and booklet, Holland, 2012)
Daisy Chapman (occasional vocals, piano), Belinda Kordic (occasional vocals)
On this garguantuan 86-minute set, the band’s Pink Floyd influence becomes more obvious, though the music here is darker, doomier and more assertive. Along the way they flirt with glam-rock, include quite a few horns and weave all kinds of influence into a constantly changing tapestry of fascinating, powerful, dynamic music. GRADE: B–.
Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): Poznan 2011 AD (Clearview CRVW-59, triple LP, clear vinyl, with postcard, USA, 2012)
Miriam Wolf
The band's first live album (also available as an even more limited set of six single-sided orange vinyl LPs in a box and canvas bag, and released the following year as a double CD) features a two-hour running time and a good cross-section of their material. However – whilst there’s nothing exactly wrong with them – I don’t find these versions have the heft of the originals, and the album as a whole lacks the derring-do of their studio albums. GRADE: C+.

Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): (Mankind) Live In Bern 2012 AD (No label, download, 2012)
Miriam Wolf (occasional vocals, piano)
I still prefer Crippled Black Phoenix in the studio, but this time the difference is marginal – this live set (all two-and-a-half-hours-plus of it) is better all round than its predecessor. A superb recording has something to do with it, as does the band concentrating on the more progressive and exploratory end of its repertoire, but ultimately they simply sound more engaged and hence more engaging. GRADE: B–.
Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): White Light Generator (Cool Green Recordings CGR 7430 1, double plus 7", one LP on white vinyl, with inners, 2014)
Daisy Chapman (piano, backing vocals)
Whilst this is perhaps less surprising than their earlier studio albums, it wins out on sheer consistency – this is truly majestic music that’s melodic, heavy and portentous in all the right ways. GRADE: B–.

Crippled Black Phoenix & Se Delan (UK): Oh’Ech-oes (Clearview CRVW-65, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and poster, USA, 2015)
Belinda Kordic, Daisy Chapman
Jointly credited to Crippled Black Phoenix and side-project Se Delan, this consists entirely of an album-length cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’ (with ‘Childhood’s End’ and, more improbably, ‘Telstar’ interpolated into the second part). It’s wonderful stuff, with the band bringing their own style to bear on Floyd’s already exceptional composition, and is a superb and unusual addition to their discography. GRADE: B–.
Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): Destroy Freak Valley (Rock Freaks RFR 007, double, black and white marbled vinyl, Germany, 2016)
Daisy Chapman (piano, backing vocals), Belinda Kordic (backing vocals)
This is certainly one of their better live recordings, with excellent sound quality, a well-chosen setlist and powerful, assertive performances. In fact, it’s so good that it’s little wonder that every physical version released thus far has become a major collectible. GRADE: B–.

Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): Bronze (Season Of Mist SOM 399LP, double plus 7", gold or silver vinyl, with insert, France, 2016)
Daisy Chapman, Belinda Kordic
Another excellent album from Crippled Black Phoenix, who at this juncture appear incapable of releasing poor or even mediocre music. Richly melodic, powerful and atmospheric, this is truly modern progressive rock, owing little to the seventies in terms of structure or execution but plenty in terms of its pioneering spirit. GRADE: B–.

Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): Great Escape (Season Of Mist SOM 491B, double CD, with digibook, France, 2018)
Belinda Kordic (occasional vocals), Helen Stanley (keyboards, trumpet, backing vocals)
Crippled Black Phoenix are a thoroughly modern prog band – of that post-Anekdoten kind of outfit that uses texture rather tempo as a contrast. But that’s not to say they don’t sometimes wear their seventies hearts on their sleeves, and this is a case in point, with a stronger-than-usual Pink Floyd influence. There are plenty more influences thrown into the mix, however, resulting in a sonic stew that’s rich, tasting, nourishing and genuinely majestic. GRADE: B–.
Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): Ellengaest (Season Of Mist SOM 574, CD, with digipak and booklet, France, 2020)
Belinda Kordic (joint lead vocals), Helen Stanley (keyboards, trumpet)
As usual, ‘majestic’ is the operative adjective for the band’s music, though ‘Floydian’ regularly springs to mind. The stately tempos, metal-influenced riffs and wall-of-sound production deliver sonic heft in industrial quantities, and if there isn’t any obvious artistic progression from one Crippled Black Phoenix album to another, they’re sufficiently varied that they’re all worth owning yet all sufficiently homogenous that nobody is likely to end up disappointed. More importantly, they’re all consistently excellent, showcasing a band that really knows its audience and has truly mastered its style. GRADE: B–.

Crippled Black Phoenix (UK): Banefyre (Season of Mist SOM 646B, digipak, with box, patch and pin, 2022)
Belinda Kordic (joint lead vocals), Helen Stanley (keyboards, trumpet)
Crippled Black Phoenix’s distinctive sound is genuinely difficult to describe. Anathema-meets-shoegaze, maybe? Early seventies Pink Floyd-goes-metal, perhaps? A much heavier Pure Reason Revolution without the dainty harmonies, at a push? But whatever you’d call it, I’d call them one of the most remarkable bands working today. GRADE: B–.

Geoff Cripps & Louisa Rugg (UK): Icarus (Steam Pie SPR 1003 S, 1985)
Louisa Rugg (principal vocals)
This unusual folk duo consisted of singer Louisa Rugg and singer and multi-instrumentalist Geoff Cripps, who plays guitars, basses, keyboards and psaltery. Whilst acoustic guitar is the main accompaniment, Cripps also adds swirling synthesisers on most cuts, perfectly complementing Rugg’s beautiful voice, especially on the elegiac ‘Since You Asked’. None of the material is self-penned, with a mixture of covers and traditional songs, including a version of Maddy Prior’s ‘Anthem To Failure’. GRADE: C+.

Crisálida (Chile): Crisálida (Mylodon MyloCD045, CD, 2006)
Cinthia Santibáñez
Although marketed as progressive, this is fairly straightforward metal with solid musicianship but little in the way of ambition. Whilst basic, it’s listenable enough, with a few decent riffs and solos. GRADE: C+.
Crisálida (Chile): Raco (Mylodon MyloCD073, CD, 2009)
Cinthia Santibáñez (lead vocals)
Quite different from their first, this is more a symphonic progressive album with strong metal edges than the other way round. The end result is an interesting and sometimes quite ambitious LP that shows them taking a significant leap forward. GRADE: C+.
Crisálida (Chile): Solar (Muséa FGBG 4901, CD, with digipak and booklet, France, 2012)
Cinthia Santibáñez (principal vocals)
Album number three again offers atmospheric, mid-paced music with some powerful, dramatic riffing used to excellent effect. Sometimes this is stunning, and if everything were at the same level as the best moments, it would be a minor classic. GRADE: C+.

Crisálida (Chile): Terra Ancestral (Mechanix MCHX 1006-1, LP plus CD, with inner, UK, 2015)
Cinthia Santibáñez (lead vocals)
This concept album about the plight of Patagonian natives doesn’t equal the best moments of its predecessor, but it’s a solid set of symphonic hard rock and metal. However, like a lot of the band’s work, its all very understated and very much of a piece; when they stretch out a little on the longest cut ‘Kawesqar’, the contrast to the remainder of the LP is remarkable. Oddly, the vinyl and CD have different running orders. GRADE: C+.

Cromwell (Germany): Burning Banners (Angular SKAN 8204.AR, CD, France, 1997)
Anke Taeffner (lead vocals)
This above-average neoprogressive set appears to be a concept album of some sort, mixing hard rock-influenced songs with more symphonic instrumentals and a few folky touches. The ten-minute ‘Tunnel’ is pretty turgid and mediocre, but almost everything else works well. GRADE: C+.

Croque-Mitaine (France): La Chanson Du Fou (MU 87321, 1977?)
Giselle Vigneron (joint lead vocals, percussion, dulcimer, psaltery, épinette des Vosges)
With intricate acoustic arrangements and strong mediaeval influences, this is an excellent album of traditional folk. At times, the music resembles an unplugged Malicorne, whilst at others it recalls a trad Stone Angel without the psychedelic elements. GRADE: C+.

Crosswind (Japan): Soshite Yume No Kuni E (Kitty 28MS 0008, with booklet, 1982)
Megumi Maruo (occasional vocals)
With a rather cheesy, good-time feel and definite hard rock leanings, this is a pleasant album of instrumental jazzy rock by an all-male quartet. Guest Megumi Maruo adds occasional wordless vocals to two cuts. GRADE: C+.

Crowhurst Theatre Of The Spirit (UK): Into Resurrection Land (Divine Healing Mission DHM 001, 1976?)
Sue Tee
The aim of the Crowhurst Theatre Of The Spirit was to practise “transcendental meditation, not in order to attain expanded consciousness, but to find the existential moment of meeting with the Risen Lord here present with us now”. Their album offers a succession of instrumental pieces, with a dreamy mood and a faint Pink Floyd influence, interspersed with the odd song and quite a few spoken word passages by a slightly supercilious and querulous older man. It’s an unusual mix, with a distinctive sound and a genuinely dreamy mood, adding up to an intriguing little curio. No musicians are credited, but all the music was composed by Sue Tee, who may also be the female vocalist. GRADE: C+.

Trevor Crozier’s Broken Consort (UK): A Parcel Of Old Crams (Argo ZFB 80, 1972)
Annie Crozier (concertina, recorder, psaltery)
This basically operates in three veins: competent but utterly uninteresting traditional folk, reasonably good (but no better) mediaeval pieces, and truly appalling music hall-style numbers with ‘comedy’ yokel singing (the Wurzels unsurprisingly recorded several Crozier songs). It’s the worst sought-after LP on Argo by a country mile, which makes it all the more curious that Crozier later formed the excellent Breton folk/rock band Lyonesse. GRADE: D+.
See also Giles Farnaby’s Dream Band

Cruachan (Ireland): Celtica (No label, cassette, 1994)
Collette Ryan (keyboards)
Sooner or later somebody was going to cross symphonic black metal (complete with death growls) and Irish folk (complete with lyrics about Celtic mythology), and Cruachan was the band that got there first. Their demo has predictably muted sound quality, making the death vocals sound ridiculous rather than threatening, though the instrumentals are better. They’d evolve into an interesting though quirky band, but this demo represents a rather tentative beginning. GRADE: C.
Cruachan (Ireland): Tuatha Na Gael (Nazgul’s Eyrie Productions, CD, Germany, 1995)
Collette Ryan (keyboards)
This much more impressive second album is far better recorded (though the guitars are still quite subdued compared to the folk instrumentation) and integrates the different elements of their sound a touch more successfully. The death growls are still a bit silly and it’s odd to hear uileann pipes and whistles used so extensively in this kind of music, but they certainly have a distinctive sound. The 1997 reissue (Karmageddon Media Karma 024) adds three considerably superior bonus tracks by an interim line-up including the excellent female singer Aisling Hanrahan. GRADE: C+.
Cruachan (Ireland): The Middle Kingdom (Hammerheart 7202000132, CD, USA, 2000)
Karen Gilligan (principal vocals, percussion)
It all came together for Cruachan on their excellent third album. Unlike its predecessors, this is very well-produced and it effectively integrates the metal, folk, progressive and slight neoclassical edges, with both the songs and instrumentals impressing. As a final bonus, death vocals are used in only one short section of one song, making for a much more mature sound. GRADE: B–.

Cruachan (Ireland): Folk-Lore (Hammerheart HH080, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2002)
Karen Gilligan (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This is decidedly their folkiest and most Celtic album, including a duet with Shane Mac Gowan (‘Ride On’), who also co-produced, two traditional songs (‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ and ‘Spancill Hill’), lyrics about Bloody Sunday and the children of Lir, and male vocals with a distinctively Irish brogue. The death vocals have a slightly higher profile here but work well enough in context and this is a confident, consistent and accomplished fusion of radically differing styles. GRADE: B–.
Cruachan (Ireland): Pagan (Karmageddon Media Karma 026, CD, Holland, 2004)
Karen Gilligan (joint lead vocals, percussion)
Once again, their juxtaposition of styles can be startling: Karen Gilligan’s pure vocals against death growls; Irish traditional songs and a piece about Michael Collins against more traditional metal concerns like Tolkien mythology (‘The Fall Of Gondolin’) and hatred of Christianity (the title track). Nonetheless, it’s a consistently fine album with some genuinely daring and progressive moments, and a strong contender for their best release. GRADE: B–.
Cruachan (Ireland): The Morrigan’s Call (AFM 139-2, CD, Germany, 2006)
Karen Gilligan (joint lead vocals)
By now they were starting to repeat themselves, though the addition of harp (including a long tranquil passage to close the album) works very effectively. The result is another good album, but the death growls are frequently annoying and the lack of musical progression is obvious. This was the band’s last album with a female vocalist, and they returned to a heavier and more mainstream metal sound afterwards. GRADE: C+

Crumbling Ghost (UK): II (Withered Hand WHR011, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
Katie Harnett (lead vocals, percussion), Ruth Atkins (bass, synthesiser)
The band (and indeed label) name might make you expect something gothic, but this is actually a mixture of doom metal (mainly on the instrumentals) and traditional folk (mainly on the songs). It’s an unusual mixture and very well done, even if the folk parts never quite equal their influences (they cite the Albion Country Band, Shirley Collins, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span among others) and the metal parts sometimes overdo the basic and repetitive riffing. Although this was their second album, it was their first with a partly female line-up. GRADE: B–.
Crumbling Ghost (UK): Five Songs (Withered Hand WHR012, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2016)
Katie Harnett (lead vocals), Ruth Atkins (bass)
The title is something of a misnomer – this short album features four songs (three traditional numbers and the self-penned ‘Lose And Get Something Good’) plus Davey Graham’s seminal instrumental ‘Maajun’. They don’t bring much to ‘Are You Going To Leave Me?’ or ‘Swansea Town’, but ‘Omie Wise’ is excellent, as are the self-penned number and the instrumental. GRADE: B–.

Crying Lion (UK): The Golden Boat (Honest Jons HJRLP110, 2015)
Lavinia Blackwall (joint lead vocals, organ, glockenspiel, autoharp), Katy Cooper (joint lead vocals, violin)
This offshoot of Trembling Bells focuses on four-part harmonies and is sometimes described as acapella. However, most songs have instrumental backing, which unsurprisingly resembles an unplugged Trembling Bells, with particular emphasis on the Salvation Army or Christmas-style brass characterising their arrangements. With the psychedelic elements absent and the two female members barely taking any solo vocals, this isn’t as good as the parent band but it certainly has its moments. GRADE: C+.

See also Directing Hand, Trembling Bells

Crystal Image (USA): Crystal Image (Dream LRS-RT-6070, 1974)
Dusty Rhoads (joint lead vocals)
This obscure local band’s career actually lasted from 1968 until 1982 and yielded 25 singles, but they only cut three albums, all in the mid-seventies. Musically this is a mixture of supple, lightweight hard rock and less distinctive barroom rock, peaking on the melodic and poignant ‘Red Badge’. With good musicianship and songwriting throughout, it’s mostly a very enjoyable LP. GRADE: C+.
Crystal Image (USA): Crystal Image II – Rock And Roll (Dream LRS-RT-6149, 1975)
Dusty Rhoads (joint lead vocals)
Despite the title, this isn’t rock and roll at all, but well-played melodic guitar rock in the same vein as their first. Whilst there’s nothing here as good as ‘Red Badge’, it’s a solid and accomplished LP all through. GRADE: C+.
Crystal Image (USA): Sure Feelin’ Loose (Dream LRS-RT-6257, 1976)
Dusty Rhoads (backing vocals)
The band’s final album, and their hardest to find, sees Dusty Rhoads restricted to backing vocals and reduced to the status of an associate member. From a musical standpoint, this is probably their best LP: the opening jam is superb, with some virtuosic bass playing, and the subsequent songs are no slouches either, sometimes putting me in mind of Led Zeppelin. GRADE: C+.

Crystal Phoenix (Italy): Myriam (Video Star VS 000 176, 1988)
Myriam Sagenwells Saglimbeni (lead vocals, guitar, strings)
The opening instrumental ‘Damned Warrior’ is frenetic speed-metal, but the remainder of side one offers delicate folk/rock with symphonic and mediaeval edges; the two longer cuts on the second side blend the two approaches and fall firmly into the progressive metal camp. Whilst the album is a little slight, running for under half an hour, the material is beautifully composed and delicately played; the only downside is that, typically for a modern Italian prog album, the lyrics are in English and, typically for a modern Italian prog vocalist, Myriam Sagenwells Saglimbeni cannot speak English to save her life. Nonetheless, this is something of a gem if you can ignore a few amateurish moments and Saglimbeni’s pronunciation. GRADE: B–.

Crystal Phoenix (Italy): Twa Jørg-J-Draak Saga (The Legend Of The Two Stonedragons) (Black Widow BWRCD 063-2, CD, 2000)
Myriam Sagenwells Saglimbeni (lead vocals, guitar, bass, harp)
The band’s belated second album is broadly similar to their first, though the sense of naïveté that made their debut so special is largely missing here. What’s more, Saglimbeni is more inclined to unleash her inner diva, and a few moments of quasi-operatic singing don’t work well at all, reminding me of fellow Italians Novà Mala Strana. GRADE: C+.

Crystal Thoughts (Greece): Toxic Phenomena In Kosmic Fields (Missing Vinyl MVPD003, 2011)
Lilian Tsatsaroni (joint lead vocals)
This project was the brainchild of talented multi-instrumentalist Spiros Rouchotas, who recorded this at home and provides all the backing. Avoiding all the usual pitfalls of one-man-band projects and home recordings, this has superb sound quality and beautifully layered instrumentation, giving his spacious folky psychedelic songs and jams the room they need to breathe. The results are frequently nothing short of stunning. GRADE: B–.

Crystalized Movements (USA): Dog… Tree… Satellite Seers (Twisted Village TW-1002, 1987)
Teri Morris (drums)
Stripped-down, dynamic and powerful, this isn’t the world’s most varied or creative album, but it’s as good an LP of eighties garage punk as anyone could hope for. Side one is song-based and pretty straightforward, but side two heads into weirder waters, with some freaked-out jamming and some almost avant-garde touches; future Twisted Village stalwart Kate Biggar helps out on one cut. Like all early Twisted Village releases, this was a very limited edition: some sources suggest 130 copies were pressed whilst others indicate a more generous 300. My own copy was pressed off-centre on side one, and this defect may have affected some or all of the run. GRADE: C+.
Crystalized Movements (USA): This Wideness Comes (Twisted Village TW-1003, 1989)
Kate Biggar (guitar), Teri Morris (drums)
Even more limited than its predecessor (106 numbered copies), This Wideness Comes sees Kate Biggar joining the band as rhythm guitarist. Musically, it’s a solid step forward from its predecessor, with the centrepiece being the excellent nine-minute jam ‘Third Half’, anchored by a simple yet highly effective riff; there’s also a nice semi-acoustic ballad ‘If Ever It Appears’. GRADE: C+.
Crystalized Movements (USA): Revelations From Pandemonium (Twisted Village TW-1019, CD, 1992)
Kate Biggar (guitar), Teri Morris (drums)
Despite the ‘Pandemonium’ in the title, the third and final Crystalized Movements album is far less chaotic than Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar’s offshoot projects as Vermonster and BORB. It’s also slightly different from the first two Crystalized Movements LPs, with more of a nineties shoegaze ambience, though it’s also recognisably the work of the same band. GRADE: C+.
See also BORB, Heathen Shame, Magic Hour, Major Stars, Tizzy, Various ‘Deep Funnels Of Entry – A Twisted Village Compilation’, Various ‘Marvelous Sound Forms’, Vermonster, Kate Village & Wayne Rogers, Wormdoom

Cuarteto Cabrakán (Argentina): Folklore De Rascacielo (Dial DEM-77003, 1970)
Susana Lago (principal vocals, piano, percussion), Beatriz Aragor (guitar, percussion, pinkullo, aikori)
This unusual jazzy folk album has spare, mainly acoustic arrangements and notable influences from world, classical and even lounge music. Overall it has a distinctly South American feel, and whilst it may be too gentle for some ears (there are no rock elements and not even a hint of energy or drama) it’s certainly well put together. Susana Lago left the band after this album for a long-term career with Anacrusa.

Cabrakán (Argentina): Cabrakán (Nivel NF 5002, 1975)
Paqui Balaguer (joint lead vocals, piano), Beatriz Aragor (guitar, moxeño, backing vocals)
Much more adventurous and progressive than its predecessor, this again incorporates influences from everything from mediaeval to ethnic and lounge music. Most of the cuts are short, except for the eponymous ten-minute jazz improvisation, which works surprisingly well. Oddly, the beautiful sleeve lists a different label and catalogue number (ND DFN 5002) to the labels. GRADE: C+.
See also Anacrusa

Cuatro Brujas (Chile): El Retorno De Las Brujas (Demon LPD-013, 1965)
María Paz Undurraga (principal vocals), María Cristina Navarro (occasional vocals, guitar), María Elena Infante (occasional vocals, guitar), María Edith Casanova (occasional vocals), María Teresa Maino (occasional vocals)
Despite their gothic name, the ‘four witches’ offered pleasant traditional folk with pop, ethnic and baroque touches and simple backing from acoustic guitar. The result is a delicate and pleasant period piece, containing some lovely songs. As a footnote, they lived up to their name by being a quartet: due to line-up changes, María Edith Casanova appears only on side one and María Teresa Maino only on side two.


Cuatro Brujas (Chile): Las 4 Brujas Y Los 4 Cuartos Cantan (Arena LPD-016, 1965)
María Paz Undurraga (principal vocals), María Cristina Navarro (occasional vocals, guitar), María Elena Infante (occasional vocals, guitar), María Edith Casanova (occasional vocals), María Teresa Maino (occasional vocals)
This isn’t actually their second album: it’s a repackage of half the tracks from El Retorno along with several numbers from male vocal outfit Los 4 Cuartos. After the band’s break-up, María Paz Undurraga went on to Los Bric A Brac. GRADE: C+.
See also Bric A Brac

Cult Of Herodias (USA): Cult Of Herodias (No label, download, 2014)
Kristina Rocco
The duo formerly known as Herodias return with a new name, but this is broadly in their former style. A few minutes at a time, their music – mixing doom riffs, soprano vocals, classical piano and electronic effects – is rather impressive, though the thin sound undercuts its majesty. However, this is a long, unfocused album on which they repeat the same tricks ad infinitum, so once again one is left feeling that they’re a potentially great outfit that isn’t likely to realise its potential. GRADE: C+.
Cult Of Herodias (USA): Greyvein (New Frame I616783, CD, 2015)
Kristina Rocco
Whilst suffering from the same issues as their previous albums – I wish they’d get a full band and record in a higher-end studio – this is their best by some margin. Kristina Rocco’s vocals are nothing short of stunning, and this has much more memorable hooks than their earlier work, with the fine piano work making up for riffs that often continue to plod. GRADE: B–.

See also Herodias

Johnny Cunningham (USA): Peter And Wendy (Alula ALU-1006, CD, with booklet and box, 2007)
Susan McKeown (principal vocals), Karen Kandel (occasional vocals)
This project by the prolific fiddler Johnny Cunningham adapts his music for a stage production of ‘Peter Pan’, thankfully losing almost all the narration and rock opera elements. What remains is a lovely, gentle album of Celtic folk songs and instrumentals: perhaps a little overly sweet and occasionally a bit too arch (the songs about the pirates and crocodile, unsurprisingly) but overall enjoyable and satisfying and refreshingly unpretentious. GRADE: C+.

Rosalie Cunningham (UK): Rosalie Cunningham (Esoteric Antenna EANTCD1075, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2019)
Rosalie Cunningham (principal vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion)
‘The stunning new album from Rosalie Cunningham’ proclaims the hype sticker, but I thought the first Purson album hugely overrated, though everybody seemed to love it. I share many of the same sentiments here. There’s no doubt that Cunningham’s solo debut is a very good album indeed – ‘Ride On My Bike’ opens dramatically with its sludgy fuzzed riffs and the progressive epic ‘A Yarn From The Wheel’ provides a great closer. Along the way, there are plenty of hooks, lots of folky diversions and a nice late sixties or early seventies ambience. Yet for all that, I find myself admiring this more than I love it. That may be because the hooks, frequent as they are, don’t really stick in the mind, or it could be the mildly whimsical, theatrical edge to Cunningham’s writing and rhythms that makes everything sound slightly arch. For many people, I suspect this will be a B– (if not a B), but to these ears it falls just on the wrong side of the divide. GRADE: C+.

See also Purson

Curva Di Lesmo (Italy): La Curva Di Lesmo (Ams AMS 345 CD, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2015)
Jenny Sorrenti (occasional vocals), Beatrice Antolini (occasional vocals), Jutta Nienhaus (occasional vocals)
This collaboration between keyboardists Fabio Zuffanti (most recently of Höstsonaten) and Stefano Agnini features a fascinating cast of guests, including Laura Marsano and Sylvia Trabucco from Höstsonaten, plus Saint Just’s Jenni Sorrenti and Analogy’s Jutta Nienhaus. It consists of three long songs (of eight, 17 and 26 minutes) with rich keyboards (unsurprisingly), stately tempos and a typically majestic Italian feel. Consistently good, this could have been a great album with some longer instrumental passages and a little more adventure. GRADE: C+.

See also Analogy, Saint Just, Jenny Sorrenti, Arturo Stàlteri

Curved Air (UK): Air Conditioning (Warner Brothers WS 3012, some as picture disc, 1970)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
This album is usually remembered for being one of the very first rock picture discs – which is a pity, as the music is truly unforgettable. The double whammy of ‘It Happened Today’ and the astounding ‘Vivaldi’ is as stunning as opening as any album could wish for, but an exceptional standard is maintained throughout, with material ranging from the heavy post-Jefferson Airplane progressive rock of ‘Stretch’ to the weird, trippy ballad ‘Blind Man’. GRADE: A.
Curved Air (UK): Second Album (Warner Brothers K 46092, with die-cut foldout sleeve, 1971)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
Most progressive rock fans consider this a huge step forward from their début, but I’m not among them. It’s certainly more refined and more elegant, but the raw rock edges were what made Air Conditioning an instant classic. The hit single ‘Back Street Luv’ is a progressive pop masterpiece, but elsewhere truly memorable tunes are generally notable by their absence and they only stretch out once (on the thirteen-minute closer 'Piece Of Mind'). GRADE: C+.
Curved Air (UK): Phantasmagoria (Warner Brothers K 46158, with insert, 1972)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals, guitar)
With its witty, surreal lyrics, jazzy hooklines, quirky arrangements and weird electronic textures (with one track consisting of Sonja-Kristina Linwood’s vocals processed through a computer), Phantasmagoria is a clever and enormously original album. But once again, the lack of any rock edge is noticeable, as is a dearth of really powerful tunes. Even the best cut ‘Marie Antoinette’ is vastly superior in its live version, released two years later. GRADE: C+.
Curved Air (UK): Air Cut (Warner Brothers K 46224, 1973)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (principal vocals, guitar)
Their most conventional symphonic progressive rock album, Air Cut is generally considered their best. I’d say it’s their finest since their début, but it doesn’t threaten the supremacy of Air Conditioning, despite the extended masterpiece ‘Metamorphosis’, which sounds strongly influenced by early Renaissance. The instrumental ‘Armin’ also works very well, with the remainder being more song-based – everything from some effective hard rockers to the delicate ballad ‘Elfin Boy’ and the incongruous whimsy of the nostalgic ‘World’. Along the way, flashy new guitarist Kirby Gregory and 17-year old wunderkind Eddie Jobson weigh in with some powerful contributions. GRADE: B–.
Curved Air (UK): Lovechild (Castle Communications CLACD 342, CD, 1990, recorded 1973)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals, guitar)
Taped in July 1973 but not mixed until March 1990, this features the first set of recordings for what would have become Curved Air’s fifth studio album had the line-up not imploded. Whilst a bit piecemeal (four songs are full band demos, two are by Eddie Jobson, one is by Kirby Gregory, and the 45-second opener is a solo performance by one John O’ Hara), this contains some fine progressive rock. The performances are mostly excellent, whilst the recording quality is very good, if inevitably slightly subdued. Even though this runs little more than half an hour, it’s still vastly better than the two subsequent studio LPs the band produced in the mid-seventies. GRADE: B–.
Curved Air (UK): Curved Air Live (Deram SML 1119, 1975)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
Apparently this was recorded towards the end of a lengthy tour, hence the band sounds extremely ragged and Sonja-Kristina sounds like Janis Joplin rather than her usual crystalline self. I love it. Concentrating on the best material from the early albums, this features a stunning level of energy and superb musicianship throughout, peaking on savage interpretations of ‘Vivaldi’ and ‘It Happened Today’, plus a dynamic version of ‘Marie Antoinette’ that blows the mannered studio original to kingdom come. GRADE: A.
Curved Air (UK): Midnight Wire (BTM 1005, 1975)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
Whilst Linwood and Darryl Way remain from earlier line-ups, any resemblance to classic Curved Air is virtually non-existent. This is a straightforward bluesy rock album with a few minor progressive edges and nothing to set it apart from scores of similar LPs released during the seventies. GRADE: C+.
Curved Air (UK): Airborne (BTM 1008, 1976)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
After the surprisingly mediocre Midnight Wire, this is a modest return to form. The opening double whammy of ‘Desirée’ and ‘Kids To Blame’ show that the band had mastered catchy blues/rock, whilst ‘Moonshine’ (the only extended track, at eleven-and-a-half minutes) is a pretty good piece of prog. The other cuts vary from the pleasant to the very poor (notably the glam rock-tinged ‘Hot And Bothered’), but this at least suggests that had they stayed together they could have continued to make decent music. GRADE: C+.
Curved Air (UK): Reborn (No label, CD, 2008)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals, guitar)
Subtitled ‘classic Curved Air revisited’, the band’s reunion album (featuring Linwood, Way, Florian Pilkington-Miksa and a new guitarist, plus a few guests including Linwood’s Mask partner Marvin Ayres) sees them re-recording classics from their early career. What the point was, I have no idea, but it’s all very tastefully done, with a more pronounced neoclassical feel than the originals. The two new numbers ‘Coming Home’ and ‘The Fury’ aren’t bad either, but the less said about the ‘dance remix’ of ‘Back Street Luv’ the better. GRADE: B.

Curved Air (UK): North Star (Curved Air CRVE 002, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
Curved Air’s first album of (mainly) new material since 1976’s Airborne is an odd one indeed. Seven cuts are new compositions, four are re-recordings of material from earlier in their career and three are cover versions (including, bizarrely, versions of the Police’s ‘Spirits In The Material World’ and Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’). The new songs are a mixed bag (‘Stay Human’ and ‘Time Games’ are rather good, whilst ‘Magnetism’ and ‘Old Town News’ are anything but), the covers are decent but superfluous and the remakes seem pointless. Despite the presence of Sonja-Kristina Linwood, Florian Pilkington-Miksa and Kirby Gregory, this sounds nothing like classic Curved Air and should probably have been released under another name. GRADE: C+.

Curved Air (UK): The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 1 / Tapestry Of Propositions (Curved Air CRVE RS 001, CD, 2016)
Sonja Kristina-Linwood (lead vocals)
For those who thought Curved Air would never do anything good again (a viewpoint reinforced by their dull studio comeback), this is quite a surprise. Actually, it’s a surprising release for them full stop. Presumably inspired by the Grateful Dead’s Grayfolded, this is an hour-long set of jams based around ‘Propositions’, recorded live at various gigs. Like the Dead’s own jamming, it trips out to the ether in style, though it’s heavy and dynamic where the Dead are relaxed and spacious. There’s clearly some life in the old band yet. GRADE: B–.
Curved Air (UK): Live At The BBC (Band Of Joy BOJCD 014, CD, 1995, recorded 1970, 1971 and 1976)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (principal vocals)
This interesting archive release features studio sessions from 1970 and 1971, plus several live tracks from 1976, and offers a good cross-section of the band’s styles. The disc opens with a bizarre version of ‘Vivaldi’ that bears little resemblance to the original, whilst the remainder of the cuts are less surprising but generally very effective. GRADE: B.
Curved Air (UK): BBC Live In Concert 1971 Plus… (On The Air AIR 17, CD, 2013, recorded 1971-1972)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
This grey market (I presume) release compiles four live songs from March 1971, six cuts from German TV broadcasts in March and September of the same year, two cuts from Belgian TV from April 1972, and the band’s two elusive non-album cuts (the single ‘Sarah’s Concern’ and the B-side ‘What Happens When You Blow Yourself Up?’). Whilst the results are a touch repetitious (‘It Happened Today’, ‘Vivaldi’, ‘Propositions’, ‘Back Street Luv’ and ‘What Happens…’ all appear twice), the sound quality is good and the performances are simply stunning throughout. GRADE: A–.
Curved Air (UK): Alive 1990 (Mystic MYS CD 141, CD, 2000, recorded 1990)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals, guitar)
This reunion concert by four original Curved Air members features lively performances and an excellent cross-section of material from the first three albums. On the downside, the lack of a dedicated bassist gives a thin sound, whilst Florian Pilkington-Miksa’s inexplicable decision to use an electric drum kit has dated the set badly. But if one can get over the latter hurdle, this is a genuinely excellent release. GRADE: B.
Curved Air (UK): Live Atmosphere (Curved Air CRVE 001, CD plus DVDM, with digipak and booklet, 2011)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
This live album, featuring a line-up centred around Linwood and Pilkington-Miksa plus three new musicians, features outstanding performances of a well-chosen selection of the band’s ‘greatest hits’. Perhaps surprisingly, the bonus DVD doesn’t replicate the CD, but merely features a live performance of an instrumental named ‘Armin’ (not on the CD) plus a short tour documentary. GRADE: B.

Curved Air (UK): Live Under The Bridge – The 45th Anniversary Concert (Curved Air CRVE004, double CD, 2019, recorded 2015)
Sonja-Kristina Linwood (lead vocals)
Recorded by a hybrid line-up including both Florian Pilkington-Miksa and Kirby Gregory (with Darryl Way and Ian Eyre putting in guest appearances), this mixes old classics (including the entire Air Conditioning album on disc two) with more recent material from North Star. On the plus side, the performances are lively and energetic and the material is well chosen, but I’d never choose these versions over the studio originals and the sound quality is adequate rather than great. GRADE: B–.
See also Mask, Sonja-Kristina

Jennifer Cutting’s Ocean Orchestra (USA): Songs For The Night Sea Journey (SunSign CD2004, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2004)
Grace Griffith (joint lead vocals), Polly Bolton (occasional vocals), Maddy Prior (occasional vocals), Lisa Moscatiello (occasional vocals),

Tatiana Sarbinska (occasional vocals), Jennifer Cutting (occasional vocals, keyboards, accordion, samples)
The list of participants here is astonishing – in addition to Polly Bolton and Maddy Prior, there’s Peter Knight, Troy Donockley, Dave Mattacks and Gabriel Yacoub. Musically, this is a concept piece about self-discovery, mixing electric folk and more ethereal ballads in the manner of Cutting’s previous project the New St George. It’s good stuff, probably peaking on ‘Forgiveness’, sung by the peerless Maddy Prior.

Jennifer Cutting’s Ocean Orchestra (USA): Songs Of Solstice (SunSign CD2010, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2010)
Lisa Moscatiello (joint lead vocals, guitar, whistle), Annie Haslam (occasional vocals), Christine Noyes (occasional vocals)
This Christmas album is good enough not to provoke any reactions of ‘Bah humbug!’ but it also marks a move away from progressive folk/rock to traditional folk, so, whilst delicate and beautiful, isn’t as good as its predecessor to these ears. Nonetheless, there are several cuts with electric backing, which are unsurprisingly my favourites, plus everything from neoclassical to mediaeval to acapella moments, so this is certainly an impressively bold LP. GRADE: C+.
See also Albion Country Band, Apostles, Polly Bolton, Dando Shaft, Akio Dobashi, Tim Hart & Maddy Prior, Annie Haslam, Ashley Hutchings, 

New St George, Mike Oldfield, Maddy Prior, Renaissance, Steeleye Span

CW Jørgensen (Denmark): Solgt Til Stanglakrids (Sonet SLP 3048, with inner, 1979)
Lotte Rømer (keyboards, percussion, violin, backing vocals)
Offering slick classic rock with bluesy and slight funky edges, this is a consistently accomplished LP without ever being very exciting. For no obvious reason, the lyrics namecheck Siouxsie & The Banshees at one point. GRADE: C+.
See also Hos Anna, Lotte Rømer

Cwmni Theatr Ieuenctid Yr Urdd (UK): Jiwdas (Sain 1174R, double, 1980)
Menna Tomos, Siân James, Jennie Vaughan Jones, Elen ap Robert, Bethan Williams, Pauline Williams, Rhiannon Rees, Anna Lindsey, Meredid Davies, Mari Emlyn, Elizabeth Scourfield, Catrin Haf, Dulais Rhys, Eirlys Gravelle, Deilwen Crump, Carol Ann Thomas, Heledd Ann Hall, Delyth Haf Rees, Linda Mills
Composed by Delwyn Siôn of the well-known Welsh rock band Hergest and performed by a youth theatre choir (including Siân James, later of Bwchadanas) and a band of professional musicians, this is unsurprisingly a religious rock opera about Jesus Christ and Judas. Musically, it’s a pleasant mixture of folk/rock and pop/rock, with some of the female-sung tracks resembling a slicker, updated Sidan. GRADE: C+.
See also Bwchadanas, Siân James, Various ‘Cwlwm Pedwar’

Cyclones (Southern Rhodesia): The Cyclones With Dyllis Stevenson And Errol Hickey (CBS ALD 6547, South Africa, 1964?)
Dyllis Stevenson (joint lead vocals)
According to the back cover, this was ‘the first rock record to be made in the Rhodesias’ and the Cyclones were big stars over there. Most of the album is instrumental, owing a heavy debt to the Shadows, but there are also six vocal cuts: four sung by Dyllis Stevenson and two by Errol Hickey. The result is a solid and enjoyable beat album, given distinction by the unusual origin of the musicians. GRADE: C+.

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