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Renaissance - Academy Of Music 1974 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 14 ratings

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4 stars Despite it's horrid album cover painting, which I doubt the band had any control over, especially after the passing of guitarist/songwriter Michael Dunford, who had owned many of the group's copyrighted materials, Live At The Academy Of Music 1974 is both a concert and professional high point for Renaissance as it solidified the band's Tri-state area reputation as well as paving the way for the group's acclaimed Carnegie Hall concerts which took place the following year in 1975.

Live At The Academy is another Renaissance concert album, a double CD this time, put out by Pyramid Records that has no credits as to the source of a the radio broadcast tape. The broadcast was originally aired on WNEW FM Radio, who were one of the major FM radio supporters and proponents of the group, especially in their Ashes Are Burning and Turn Of The Cards album release and touring years from 1973-74.

Joining the band for probably their first orchestral concert was a twenty four piece orchestra which pumped up both the band and the concert crowd. Indeed, as this is probably the most raucous Renaissance audience that you will probably ever hear recorded. Everyone from vocalist Annie Haslam through to drummer Terry Sullivan raised their game and the performances are stellar. Especially prominent were the fantastic bass runs of John Camp, who also sounds in exceptional form as a backing vocalist to Haslam. John Tout's fingers literally dance around his piano in an enthusiastic speed and style which is quite unusual and welcome from him.

The concert starts with the now familiar opener Can You Understand? that features Annie in wonderful vocalise and scat style colorings in this song's wonderful melodies. Outstanding.

The concert focuses almost exclusively on songs from Ashes Are Burning and Turn Of The Cards and it's odd not to hear the song in it's now familiar extended encore version. For this concert, Andy Powell, from Wishbone Ash, is once again a guest performer and does a fantastic solo as well as mirroring John Tout's synths in the song's compelling instrumental section. What is also odd and now idiosyncratic is that the band reprise the title rack Prologue from the mark II line up's debut album.

The sound quality is more than decent and sound's exactly as a FM radio broadcast would at the time with an exaggerated top end (bright sounding) along with some very good bottom end that was really never heard in that era's technology of 15 inch woofers and no subwoofers. Also adding to the sound quality is the excellent "in your face" sound mix that shows off every instrument without causing the sound mix to sound congested.

Live At The Academy is defiantly not for the audiophile as some minor stage buzzing, feedback and offstage chatter can be heard at times, but the band's stellar performance makes it a must have for Renaissance fans. 4 stars.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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