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Renaissance - Renaissance CD (album) cover

RENAISSANCE

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.72 | 311 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 82

Renaissance is a progressive rock band that emerged from the ashes of The Yardbirds, a band mostly known as the starting point of three of the best British rock guitarists, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. However, the history of Renaissance is essentially the history of two separate groups with two completely different line ups. The original group was founded in 1969 by the ex-Yardbirds members, the drummer Jim McCarthy and the vocalist and guitarist Keith Relf. With the addition of the keyboardist John Hawken, the bassist Louis Cennamo and the singer Jane Relf, the sister of Keith, the group was completed. The first line up of the group released only two studio albums, this debut album "Renaissance" and the following second, "Illusion". Their self titled debut working has mixed influences of rock, folk and jazz with some frequent quotations from various pieces of classical music. Despite be a very good album, it's quite an embryonic album compared to their classic albums from the 70's, the albums of the second line up.

So, "Renaissance" is the debut studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1969. The line up of this album is Jane Relf (vocals and percussion), Keith Relf (vocals, guitar and harmonica), John Hawken (piano and harpsichord), Louis Cennamo (bass) and Jim McCarthy (vocals and percussion).

"Renaissance" has five tracks. All songs were written by Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, John Hawken and Louis Cennamo, except "Wanderer" which was written by Hawken and McCarthy. The first track "Kings And Queens" is the opening track that clearly proves what will be the personal landmark of the future band's music. It's a long and complex song heavily influenced by the classical music and where its musical structure would be relevant on their later musical compositions. It's a song extremely very well constructed, very melodious and at the same time very dynamic. It's without any kind of doubt a truly progressive song, very beautiful and represents probably the best musical moment on the album. The second track "Innocence" is a much simpler musical composition than the previous song. Its musical structure is different from their debut track and it's more influenced by the psychedelic sound of the 60's than by the classical music. It's a very good song again centred on Hawken's piano work and Keith's vocals and guitar workings, and it has an interesting and typical psychedelic guitar playing from the 60's. The third track "Island" is another beautiful and melodic song and represents also one of the best musical moments on the album and is also one of my favourites. It's again an acoustic guitar and piano based song with great melody and where this time the main vocal duties goes to Jane, despite it has also a male vocal performance. It's true that Jane isn't Annie Haslam but she sings beautifully and she can also reach the high notes. The fourth track "Wanderer" is another fantastic song, this time more close to the medieval sound. Here we can listen to the beautiful sound of harpsichord and where Jane is once more fantastic and unforgettable with her high octave notes. This is, in my humble opinion, one of her best vocal performances. Despite being the shortest song on the album, it represents also one of the best and one of my favourite musical moments on it. The fifth and last track "Bullet" is a completely different song from the others. It's a moody and darker track, very long and influenced by different musical styles that ranging from rock, blues and psychedelic music. The musical composition of this song is performed in avant- garde music style with several musical explorations of different sounds. It's a song where we can clearly see a great appetite for free musical improvisation, an ideal track to be performed live with some individual solos. I think this is a track with high and low points and sincerely it's my less favourite song on the album and it's probably the main reason that I don't consider this album a masterpiece.

Conclusion: I know Renaissance since the 70's. However, for so many years, I only knew from them three studio albums, "Prologue", "Ashes Are Burning", "Scheherazade And Other Stories" and the live album "Live At The Carnegie Hall". All these albums are from their second and better known line up. So, unfortunately I ignored the original line up for too much. Finally, some time ago, I bought the first two albums of the original Renaissance and I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised with them. So, now I'm ready to say that, although I prefer the second line up of the group, both are great. In relation to this previous debut album I need to say that we are in presence of a great album. It's commonly accepted that "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is the first progressive rock album in history. However, "In The Court Of The Crimson King" and "Renaissance" were both released in the same year, 1969. So, it's difficult for me to say which of the two albums, the first one was. However, for me, about one thing I'm sure. Both albums introduced radically new musical ideas and both were responsible for the birth of progressive rock.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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