The story of Curved Air's biggest ever hit, Back Street Luv

The first British band ever signed to Warner Brothers, Curved Air released two versions of Back Street Luv. The studio one was their sole hit, but four years later they put out a live rendering. The band made their only appearance on Top Of The Pops on September 9, 1971. Also performing on the show were Carole King, The Fortunes, Shirley Bassey, Marmalade and Rod Stewart. At the time, Back Street Luv was number nine at the time. A week later, it went up five places.

Curved Air singer Sonja Kristina recalls the band’s big hit, inspired by her own, ahem, youthful misdeeds…

Where did the inspiration for Back Street Luv come from?

“When I was 15, I used to skip off school and one day noticed a blond man standing on the steps at the local snooker hall. I became fascinated with him, and ended up chasing and seducing him. He looked like a pop star, although I found out he’d been in prison and had a wife and child. But that didn’t deter me from my interest in him and also some of his friends. However, I could never think about taking him home as my father ran a borstal, and this guy had once been an inmate there. So my dad would know who he was.

“I got found out eventually, and was suspended from my convent school. But the whole episode gave me the idea for the song.”

What was the reaction to it?

“It was amazing. When it was released, I recall hearing it on Alan Freeman’s Saturday afternoon show on Radio One, and I had a feeling then it would catch on. It got a lot of radio airplay after that. And people really took to the song.”

Did you feel like pop stars?

“We did, actually. I had been to a Beatles gig at a theatre in Wembley when they got loads of screaming girls. But what we got were screaming boys. We were used to having audiences who would listen to our songs and then applaud. But now they would go crazy for us. We even got to do Top Of The Pops. It was all new territory for Curved Air.”

Was having a hit a blessing or a curse?

“It was a blessing. The song seems to reach out to our fans even now. Every time we play it, Back Street Luv gets a massive reaction. Like every hit single, this obviously means something different to each person. I know where it comes from, of course, however the fact it has resonated down the years is a big compliment. It’s a simple song, but then those are often the ones to stand the test of time.”

Back Street Luv b/w Everdance

(Warner Bros, 1971)

Highest UK Chart Position: No. 4

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.