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Renaissance - Prologue CD (album) cover

PROLOGUE

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 420 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars a prologue and an epilogue

After the collapse of the original group, McCarty's back up plan obviously didn't last very long (check out the K&Q DVD to see why it didn't) either, the ex-Yardbirds gave it another go and kept Dunford, calling back external lyric-writer poetess Betty Thatcher, he built another group that would indeed record the album and play it live (this hadn't been, the case with the MkII), but still not be involved in the songwriting, Jim keeping a rein on that with Dunford. Finding Annie Haslam was a masterstroke enough and while keeping Dunford & Thatcher team, John Tout on keys, the group is now taking shape of the classic line-up that would go on to great success. Rounding out the line-up, John Camp (bass) and Terry Sullivan (drums) make the illusion (pun intended) almost a reality (thus making the album's title a little prophetic), with Rob Hendry on guitars, but the latter's sober contributions are rather minimal as Renaissance remains a KB-dominated band

Prologue was released in 72 on the small sovereign label and came with a splendid fantasy artwork mixing nature and technology, but unfortunately it only attracted North American crowds, so the band concentrated their efforts there. Musically McCarty kept the same line and philosophy and in many ways, you'd be hard pressed to hear much difference between the MkI and Mk III line-ups at this point in time, except that Haslam is much more present than Jane was on vocals. Opening (understandably so) on the instrumental title track (except for some vocalizing), Tout attacks with a piano solo much in the line of Hawken (this means between Prokofiev and Rachmaninov), before the band kicks in the typical Renaissance fashion, with Camp also doubling the piano as Cennamo had in the previous albums. The following track hints again at Russian composers, chanting the Kiev gates, even if at first the track is a little cheesy, the middle section moves frankly in complex (all being relative) prog territory.

Share Some Love could pass for a radio-friendly love folk ditty, but if you listen to the band's solid back up of Haslam's voicing of tepid Thatcher lyrics, you'll see that we're again in the typical Renaissance mould. The 11-mins+ Rajah Khan is rather different (the title is a hint) as there are some psych rock-raga remains (see Past Orbits on Illusion) and guitarist Hendry does provide some welcomed sonic changes, especially in the guitar intro and Haslam's more eastern vocalizing, even if not radically different. The quiet Bound For Infinity is also noteworthy, with probably Haslam's best vocal performance of the present album.

While the band's metamorphosis is not yet complete, Prologue is an all-important transitional album, certainly more essential (at least in the band's history) than Illusion was, and personally I prefer it to many of the upcoming albums, precisely because there is a different-sounding track (Khan), which won't happen again for a while.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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