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Renaissance - A Song for All Seasons CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.70 | 366 ratings

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5 stars The four albums preceding this one (Ashes Are Burning, Turn of the Cards, Scheherazade, and Novella) had all been masterpieces of classical symphonic rock in my opinion. With A Song For All Seasons, the band decided to change things up a bit by introducing 2 elements that had been missing from their previous efforts: the electric guitar and a hit single. The electric guitar had been featured on Prologue and had made a brief appearance on the title track of Ashes Are Burning, but was completely absent from their next 3 LP's. Here, its presence adds a welcome sense of power and majesty to the music which is breathtaking indeed, especially when combined with the lush symphony orchestra.

The album begins with the gorgeous Opening Out which segues into the first of 2 epics, Day of the Dreamer. The same themes appear in both pieces and because of that, I've always viewed them as a single track although they were often performed separately live. Day of the Dreamer simply has to be one of the most magnificent of the band's epics and features some truly magical melodies and stunning keyboard work throughout courtesy of John Tout. This is followed by the short folky ballad Closer Now than Yesterday highlighted by Annie Haslam's multi-tracked vocals and some nice mellotron flutes. Side 1 closes with Kindness, a powerful tour-de-force featuring fantastic Yes/Genesis-like bass, keys, and guitars along with Jon Camp's lead vocals.

The second half of the program starts with the first of 2 pop songs: Back Home Once Again is a nice enough track which was used as a theme for a British TV series. Fortunately, the interesting arrangement, featuring harpsichord and tympani, manages to lift it out of the ordinary. She is Love is the only weak moment on the album. To begin with, it's not that great of a song. And with only piano and orchestra, it's not really a band number. But its real downfall is its use of Jon on vocals instead of Annie. It's not that Jon has a bad voice, but Annie has a magnificent one, why not use her? Originally I thought maybe the lyrics required a male perspective, but this is not the case. This decision defies logic, especially since Jon had already taken his turn on lead vocals on Kindness. However, I have since learned that Annie wasn't happy with the key the track had been recorded in and refused to sing lead, and since the orchestra had already been recorded, Jon reluctantly had to step in.

Things pick up with the British hit single Northern Lights, a seriously catchy and well executed track. Why this song wasn't a massive hit in America as well remains unknown. The album closes with the powerful 10 minute epic Song For All Seasons., which would prove to be the last of the great Renaissance epics. These last 2 tracks demonstrate the versatility of writer Michael Dunford who seems equally adept at composing hits or prog epics, which is not an easy task.

David Hentschel's (Genesis, Elton John) production is spot on for this truly sublime album. Camp's lead-like bass, Tout's classically infused keyboards, Sullivan's innovative percussion, Dunford's lush guitar work, and of course Haslam's soaring vocals make for a sonic experience unlike any other. A true symphonic work of art. The hideous cover art doesn't begin to represent the magnificent sounds hidden inside. I'm not going to deduct any points for that, nor for the one weak musical moment of She Is Love. The rest is just too good. A 5 star masterpiece, albeit a slightly flawed one.

DavidMinasian | 5/5 |


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