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Renaissance - Illusion CD (album) cover

ILLUSION

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.06 | 227 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 83

The original line up of Renaissance fell apart during the recording of this second album. Jim McCarthy was the first to leave. Then, he was followed by Keith Relf and Louis Cennamo who left the band to form a new group called Armageddon. John Hawken kept the band alive recruiting new members like Michael Dunford, but after several short lived transitional line ups, he also departed with Jane Relf. Later and after the disband of Armageddon, immediately after the tragic dead of Keith, the rest of the original Renaissance line up regrouped and formed a new band called Illusion. This new band released two studio albums "Out Of The Mist" and "Illusion" and also was disbanded in 1978. So, the new Renaissance group that would arise in 1971 is based almost in a completely new line up.

"Illusion" is the second studio album and the last of this line up of Renaissance and was released in 1970. It was originally released only in Germany. "Illusion" had a very difficult birth and was a very difficult album in the history of Renaissance. Despite the serious problems with the line up for the band's second album, it hardly had any kind of effect on the music. "Illusion" can be considered almost as strong as their debut album, only partly with different musicians. On both albums, the sound is identical and they both contain a fine blend of rock, prog, folk and classical music which make of them mature releases. "Illusion" is even an incredible album, although not as aggressive as their debut, "Renaissance" is. In my humble opinion, it's almost at the same level of their previous one, in terms of quality.

"Illusion" has six tracks. The first track "Love Goes On" written by Keith is a very short song very simple and pleasant to listen to despite being a little repetitive on some parts. It isn't for sure one of the best musical moments of this band but I'm convinced that we are in the presence of a good song and a very decent song to open the album. The second track "Golden Thread" written by McCarthy and Keith is better than the previous song and is composed in the same vein and style of the previous album. It's a fantastic song where Jane shines with her vocal performance. It has a beautiful and lovely classical melody and has also a phenomenal piano performance and a beautiful choral work. This is without any doubt one of the highlights of the album and one of my favourite songs of this line up of Renaissance. The third track "Love Is All" written by McCarthy and Thatcher is another short song very simple and pleasant to listen to, in the same vein of "Love Goes On". It's, for me, better and more beautiful than "Love Goes On" and has beautiful vocal performance, a lovely chorus and a beautiful piano work. It's a song oriented to pop, but it's extremely beautiful and nice to listen to. The fourth track "Mr. Pine" written by Dunford is one of the most beautiful and sophisticated songs on the album. It starts as a medieval piece that turns into jazz and rock styles, and that, in the end, returns to the medieval style. This is really a truly progressive song with so many musical changes that it almost seems to be various songs into only one song. This is another highlight of the album and it's also one of my favourite songs on it. The fifth track "Face Of Yesterday" written by McCarthy is a slow piano based song and is another beautiful and pleasant song to listen to and where Jane has her greatest vocal moment on the album. Finally, she can show to us all of her great vocal talents and that at times she even makes us believe that we are in the presence of Annie Haslam. In reality, this is a great song with a superior and unforgettable vocal work of Jane. This is the kind of songs that can only raise the overall quality of any album. The sixth track "Past Orbits Of Dust" written by McCarthy, Keith and Thatcher is a completely different song from the others, as happened with "Bullet", the last song of their previous album "Renaissance". It's an extensive psychedelic piece of music with a jazz touch, very experimental, and like with "Bullet" it's also a little bit lengthy and boring to my taste. As with "Bullet", "Past Orbits Of Dust" is also my less favourite song on this album. Anyway, "Illusion" remains almost as good as their previous eponymous debut studio album.

Conclusion: I don't agree with most of the people about this album. Sincerely, I'm absolutely convinced that "Illusion" is an underrated album in the history of the progressive rock music. It's possible that in some musical parts, it isn't as brilliant as "Renaissance" is, but otherwise, it's in a certain and strange way, more balanced and cohesive than "Renaissance" is. "Illusion" remains as an excellent album, very melodic and with some great progressive parts, and the vocal performance of Jane is, in my humble opinion, better than on their previous debut album. It's truly a pity that during the most of the songs of the first two albums of the band, she was mostly confined in a subordinate vocal role and not in a more important role. She deserved much more, because he has a brilliant voice with a beautiful timbre. So, this is really a nice album with great moments that can't be missed by any true fan of the progressive symphonic style.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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