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Renaissance - Azure D'Or CD (album) cover

AZURE D'OR

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.00 | 185 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 173

'Azure D'Or' is the ninth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1979. This was the first album where the band stopped using an orchestra, the first album where the band exclusively features short songs and where the long epic pieces were gone and it was also the first album with the only full instrumental song ever released by the group.

The line up of the album is the same of their last previous studio albums. So, the line up on 'Azure D'Or' is Annie Haslam (lead and backing vocals), Michael Dunford (guitars), John Tout (keyboards), Jon Camp (vocals, backing vocals, guitars and bass) and Terence Sullivan (backing vocals, drums and percussion). However, this was the last album to feature this line up. John Tout who was dealing with some personal problems due to the death of his sister left the band and Terry Sullivan, long time friend of John Tout, also left the band as well, by a principle of solidarity.

'Azure D'Or' has ten tracks. The first track 'Jekyll And Hyde' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is a good song to open the album. Annie Haslam's voice sounds as good as ever, and despite the new rhythm, more pop than was usual, it remains an unmistakable Renaissance's song, as fresh and cool, as always it was. The second track 'The Winter Tree' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is a great example of a good pop music with excellent musical composition. It combines a nice acoustic guitar work with a beautiful keyboard working. It isn't as good as the previous song, but it's still a good song. The third track 'Only Angels Have Wings' written by Jon Camp is a different track from the previous, especially because it has the male voice of Jon Camp. It's a song with excellent orchestration and a great keyboard working. We may say that this is a typical symphonic track, very interesting and pleasant to hear, which curiously hasn't any drumming work. The fourth track 'Golden Key' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is an excellent track and it's probably my favourite track on the album. It's a wonderful song, probably the best musical composition on the album, and it's also probably, the most progressive track on it. This is a great melodic song with an absolute irreproachable orchestration, completely in the same vein of some of the best songs composed for their previous great studio albums. The fifth track 'Forever Changing' written by Betty Thatcher and Terry Sullivan represents another good musical moment on the album and represents also another highlight on it. This is another great melodic song with a memorable melody and where, once more, we are in presence of a fantastic vocal performance and a great acoustic guitar working. The sixth track 'Secret Mission' written by Jon Camp is another good song where all the musical elements, combined together, turned this song complex enough, to can be called a good progressive song, really. Once more the vocal performance of Annie Haslam is great and the keyboard work of John Tout is also, and once more, absolutely remarkable. No doubt about it. The seventh track 'Kalynda (A Magical Isle)' written by Jon Camp is a nice melodic song full of emotions. It has another great and perfect acoustic guitar working. Once more the vocal performance of Annie Haslam deserves a special mention. It's a very beautiful and simple song and although it can't be considered one of the most progressives on the album. The final result is another catchy and pleasant song to hear. The eighth track 'The Discovery' written by Jon Camp is a rare instrumental track for the band, the only composed on the album. Sincerely and despite being a very simple and vulgar instrumental song, I consider it a delightful and very interesting track, with great orchestration and with a classical touch. The ninth track 'Friends' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is another beautiful and melodic song. It's true that it's another very simple song, in terms of musical composition, and a little bit repetitive. But, once more, the final result is sufficiently catchy, nice, pleasant and enjoyable to hear. The tenth and last track 'The Flood At Lyons' written by Jon Camp and Michael Dunford was the song chosen to close the album. This is another good song that brings us the same mood and musical arrangements of their best good old times. Once again the vocal working of Annie Haslam is absolutely great and contributes powerfully to turn this song into a great musical moment and ending this album magnificently.

Conclusion: Despite 'Azure D'Or' be the weakest musical work released by Renaissance in the 70's, it remains, for me, a good album. It's true that it's a more commercially oriented album only with short songs, but in general, we can say that it's a very pleasant and nice musical proposal to hear, nothing disastrous and sufficiently good to be considered still a classic Renaissance's album, a minor classic it's true, but nevertheless, it's still a classic album from them. If you don't know Renaissance's music yet, you may like 'Azure D'Or'. I even sincerely think that even who knows their best albums shouldn't be disappointed with it, because it isn't as bad as some think. However, I wouldn't advise you to start with it. My advice is to start with 'Ashes Are Burning', 'Turn Of The Cards' or 'Scheherazade And Other Stories'. Their compilation album 'De Capo' is also another great proposal to start with this great 70's band.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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