Chopper 1980 / Angel Air 2014
Back street luver springs out on a solo curve leading her away from CURVED AIR and into the future.
If on the cover of Sonja Kristina’s debut under her own name the singer looks like a Runaway, that’s because she was one, at large after the group she’d fronted broke up and the menial jobs she took up to support her partner Stewart Copeland, busy with taking POLICE off the ground, got the better of the artist. Yet yellow matter custard, despite its cover, the record wasn’t. Not for nothing Sonja called her new outfit, consisting on this album of three GILLAN members on most of the tracks, ESCAPE.
There’s steel will in action, the same that fueled Kristina’s banshee revolt on “Marie Antoinette” which throws a direct line to opener “Street Run” – close in its depiction of 1976’s events Notting Hill to THE CLASH’s “White Riot” – where punk energy, quite eagerly embraced by Sonja, is wrapped in cold tones with a ska undercurrent, while the cover of SPIRIT’s “Mr Skin” jitters with the riot grrrls’ anger. Those who expect wide-eyed “Melinda”-like balladry are in for a rebellious treat, then, until they get to the acoustic romanticism of “Colder Than A Rose In Snow” featuring Darryl Way’s folky violin and Lawrence Juber six-string lace, the song to be re-modeled for CURVED AIR’s “North Star”: out in 2014, it only goes to show the vitality of Kristina’s obscure oeuvre.
The funky “Roller Coaster” or “Breaking Out In Smiles” might sound dated, but the twang of Steve Byrd’s guitar and Alfie Agius’ bass carries Kristina’s bouncy voice with flying colors through the kaleidoscopic vocal harmonies of vaudeville-vaulting “Man He Colour” and “Full Time Woman” that channels “All The Young Dudes” panache via its slow boogie veins. They’re cut open once the skittering “The Comforter” comes on all slim and sharp, shifting time signatures and getting heavy and street smart before the riff of “St. Tropez” rides the juvenile delinquent effervescence, and it’s only “Fade Away” that marries the singer’s two loves – music hall and rock ‘n’ roll – thus expanding her creative palette. Many of these tracks would appear on the “Sonja Kristina” follow-up, although 1991’s “Songs From The Acid Folk” and later experimentation rather build on their original vibrancy than match it. Sometimes running away is all what’s needed for real zest.