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Top Of The Progs: Curved Air - Back Street Luv

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

Back Street Luv b/w Everdance

(Warner Bros, 1971)

Highest UK Chart Position: No. 4

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.

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.”

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, 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. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. 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. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio, which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.