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Renaissance - Prologue CD (album) cover

PROLOGUE

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 374 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars On this album the only link to the first version of Renaissance is in the songwriters Dunford, Thatcher and McCarthy, none of whom actually make a sound. Dunford would be installed as guitarist on subsequent recordings, but here we have Rob Hendry, who does not have as much influence as his successor. John Tout and Jon Camp have both joined, Tout amply filling John Hawken's sizable shoes and Camp being a Chris Squire-influenced bass player and sometime vocalist who would subsequently impact the group's development.

The most impressive aspect of Prologue is how the band has integrated the best features of the earlier incarnation into their own nascent style. The music is far more engaging than virtually anything from Renaissance Mach 1, with plenty of confident classical flourishes and jazzy inflections on both "Prologue" and "Kiev". The fascination with the maritime begins here with "Sounds of the Sea", which thematically resembles an early "Ocean Gypsy". It is a bit too pretty and overly extended but still serves as the first showcase for Annie Haslam's plaintive style. Regarding Annie, it must be said that while her voice is not as naturally warm as that of Jane Relf, she does tug at the heart strings remarkably well for one with such superior technical prowess.

For me the highlight is "Spare Some Love", which begins as a simple acoustic song before becoming quite the funky rocker in the midsection. I am very partial to the mix of Annie and the male voices in the chorus, and the sprinkling of lead guitar and punchy bass lines add to the impact. "Bound for Infinity" is a mellow one reminiscent of some of the material on Illusion, but, like "Sounds of the Sea", lacks a bit of excitement. The closer, "Rahan Khan" sounds good on paper, but is ultimately an unconvincing blend of the eastern and classical styles, with plenty of psychedelia thrown in. It is a lot more menacing than the Renaissance we knew or would come to know, but doesn't really do much with that aspect, perhaps partly due to all the wordless vocals. It was an approach they rarely took again, and for that I am grateful.

An uneven album with moments of magic and grandeur, this prologue to the new Renaissance suffers from some lazy songwriting both in the lyrics and the music. They would need to overcome these flaws to rise to the next level, which they subsequently did in a big way.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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