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Renaissance - Turn Of The Cards  CD (album) cover

TURN OF THE CARDS

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 428 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Turn of The Cards is one of my favourite albums ever so I hope I'm able to write an objective review without being influenced by my personal feelings. After the dramatic chanes in the lineup the band is now "complete", in the sense that this is, I think, the best lineup showed by Renaissance. Dunford writes all the musics, borrowing sometimes little pieces of classical music not covered by copyright. On the previous album he borrowed a piece of Jean Michel Jarre thinking that it was a Russian traditional, but it's another story. All the lyrics are written by the poetress Betty Thatcher (no relations with Maggie).

The album opener is great. "Running Hard" has a 2 minutes piano intro. Those two minutes are enough to understand that something great is coming. The song has many changes in rhythm and melody and is highly symphonic. Renaissance have often been compared to YES. I think the reason is in the bass as Jon Camp plays quite similar to Squire, but there's not the self-indulgence typical of YES. The Renaissance starting from the third album are closer to classical music, specially 19th century's russians. The only excursion of YES in this realm is the Stravinskij Firebird's suite played by Wakeman on YESSHOWS.

"I Think Of You" belongs to the "Carpet Of The Sun" kind. Slow, sweet three minutes songs based on piano and Annie Haslam's voice.

"Things I Don't Understand" Is another "short symphony". I think we could use this song to define "Symphonic Prog". There are a lot of things in less than ten minutes. Changes in pitch, tempo, instruments coming and going, and everything flowing like a river. There are no sudden transitions. A remark for the vocal performance of Annie from the middle of the song to the coda. It's a pity that this song hasn't been included in the "Live at Carnegie Hall".

"Black Flame" is another great song. Properly a song, not a sort of symphony as the previous track, I mean a song in the structure. But it's a great song. There a contrast in the chorus: bass and drums play louder, the rhythm is increased but in the same time there's a harpsichord behind. After two choruses there's a variation and then the main theme again. Another great performance of Annie Haslam at her best.

Albinoni's "Adagio" is arranged with lyrics and played by organ and voice. Not a great thing. I'm used to skip it, to be honest. When a prog band takes a classical piece and reinterpret it totally, like they did later with "Sheherazade", I think also Rimsky-Korsakov would appreciate. Playing classical things as in "Cold is Being" is useless and sometimes irritating, like rapping on Comfortably Numb or growling on The Great Gig In The Sky. Well, it's just three minutes and they are followed by a masterpiece.

"Mother Russia" can help fogetting the forgettable "Cold is Being". This is one of my favourite Renaissance's songs and one of the few songs present on "Carnegie Hall" that are better in the studio version. I think also this song contains something borrowed from a classical composition but I'm not able to say which one. I won't try to describe this song. I'm convinced that's great and I strongly suggest this album to who wants to start with Renaissance. The Adagio is not bad enough to make me decrease the rating from "Masterpiece".

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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