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Renaissance - Song of Scheherazade CD (album) cover

SONG OF SCHEHERAZADE

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

2.89 | 22 ratings

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rogerthat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I had reviewed this DVD around the time of its release. A rewrite seems appropriate two years hence. As I'd have expected, the DVD did not fare too well with the fans and the band don't appear very keen on unveiling more concert DVDs from the 70s at this point. I have mixed views on that one.

I can fully understand the reaction of most people to this DVD. The video is indeed not very good at all. Not only is it in black and white but there are ghost images and the like and the camera angles are no great either. Unfortunately, nor is the sound quality which would make this a little easier to overlook. It is not really bootleg quality. The sound is fairly clear throughout and on both concerts - Passiac, New Jersey, 1976 and Ashbury Park, New Jersey, 1979 - but it is kind of quiet and muffled. There is so little 'delay' in the 1976 concert that singer Annie Haslam almost sounds as if she is singing without a mike! As such, if somebody were to be introduced to this band via this DVD, that would be fairly disastrous.

And yet, I leave my rating unchanged at 4 stars. I guess I need to do some explaining, then. Though it is not my profession, I am personally keenly interested in singing and am all ears if it's a great one. Therefore, the opportunity to watch Annie Haslam perform the best Renaissance material is well worth the money to me, even with this picture and sound quality. The stupefying ease with which she delivers massive grand Bs on Prologue and, later, on the Scheherazade epic, makes my jaw drop in disbelief. Her relaxed approach as she cruises through the 1976 gig with only two mistakes, and very minor ones at that, has to be seen to be believed and I am able to relate to the audience's spontaneous rapture of applause mid-song in Ocean Gypsy. It must have been a heavenly treat for the ears and since I never got to see it in the flesh and blood, this will do very well, for me.

Speaking of which, the saving grace is the setlist of the 1976 gig, running through their classics from the first four albums of the Haslam-lineup. The 1979 gig was meant to promote the Azure D'Or album and is predictably a weaker selection. The band appear quite tired on this gig, understandable being that this was apparently their last evening of a long tour. A fine performance of Forever Changing and also Mother Russia shore up things in the second gig.

Which is why my rating is a heavily qualified one. For my personal satisfaction, this was a valuable purchase for me and one that has given me a lot of pleasure. I have to dock the one star because it is not the most ideal, neither in terms of audio and video quality nor the selection of the second concert. But I am not sure general prog rock fans would receive this DVD with nearly as much enthusiasm. Four stars for diehard Annie Haslam fans and two for the consumption of the prog rock community as such.

rogerthat | 4/5 |

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