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Renaissance - Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2 CD (album) cover



Symphonic Prog

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5 stars In the same legue as the live "Carnegie Hall" album!!! Get vol.1 as wel, with the first part of the concert as well.

The two bonus tracks are very nice, too. A live version of "Prologue" (without orchestra) and a new excellent studio recording.

Report this review (#20135)
Posted Wednesday, November 5, 2003 | Review Permalink
3 stars Reviewing this album is difficult. For those of you who are new to Renaissance may I suggest you start off with one of the band's studio albums (Tales of 1001 Nights, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 is my recommendation). Even though the band does an excellent performance live there are small suttleties that will be missed if you are not familiar with the studio versions of the songs. For those of you who are familiar with Renaissance I recommend this over 'Live at Carnegie Hall.' [I have not heard the Live BBC Sessions album released by Wounded Bird label (USA) - it was not recorded at a concert hall in front of a paying audience.] What really stands out is the London Philharmonic Orchestra. They do an excellent job under the baton of Harry Rabinowitz who arranged all the orchestra instruments for this live performance. It really shows that the band is enjoying the concert espically Annie Haslam's vocal variations (no lyrics sung). "Touching Once" is really exceptional here in my opinion. "Midas Man" is a difficult song to perform with sparse instrumentation and demanding backup vocals. I could hear that Jon was not sufficiently warmed up to backup Annie's soaring - beautiful vocals. I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed with "Ashes are Burning." It seems that Jon Camp (Elect. Bass Guitar) was not able to keep up. There timing seemed to go off and Terry Sullivan was trying to keep the rest of the band members in time. It was good to hear John Tout (Keyboards) stretch out and show his talent to a hometown audience. I think the problem is "Ashes are Burning" was expected to be played at every live concert they did - maybe they just were burned out by having to play it all the time? Repeating "Prologue" is not a good idea in my opinion. The orchestral version on Vol. 1 is a refereshing change. The Jan. 1979 (N.J.) version would have been better as a bonus track - it was recorded two years after this concert. "You - part 1 & 2" was on the "Songs from Renaissance Days" album. It seems the label used this as a fill track. It was recorded in 1982 in England with only Dunford/Haslam/Camp - not representative of the band line-up in October 1977! Overall I would say if you want a live album of Renaissance (classic line-up) then I would pick this one. The major drawback is the microphones feeding back. I find it quite distracting. The second release of this album does not have the picture of Michael Dunford on the front cover - there are no photos at all and no detailed liner notes. Enjoy!
Report this review (#60462)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the second of a pair of volumes principally derived from a concert performed in October 1977 at the Royal Albert Hall, London, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Essentially, observations about technical quality apply to both volumes: the recordings are crisp and dynamic, and the orchestra is exceptionally detailed, but they are plagued by a persistant buzz throughout as well as some inevitable hiss and hum, despite being mixed and remastered in 1997. Additionally, John Tout's piano sounds awful, and the mix, at least as regards balance between orchestra and band, is at best variable.

While Volume 2 will prove to be a less satisfactory proposition than its twin, opening track Running Hard is a very fair start though marred by an orchestra that is inaudible for a large part of the time and at others is too recessed. That apart, though, the band perform very well, almost too faithfully to the original studio version. Aside from the technical issues, this track compares well with the standard-setting Carnegie Hall set. Midas Man is played without orchestra, Dunford's 12-string acoustic providing the main motive force backed by a variety of synths. It works well and the layered harmonies are spot on.

Mother Russia begins well, and is another good performance spoiled by an odd disappearance of the orchestra which resurfaces later on. Touching Once is even more bizarre. Even when the orchestra makes a late appearance it can barely be heard until the instrumental interlude when things get a little chaotic during the section with a sax solo. Control is just about maintained but it is a close run thing! It ends on a rousing climax though. Ashes Are Burning closes the main set with a lengthy 27 minute version, ten minutes of which contains mostly unnecessary and tedious unaccompanied solo spots, the sort of over-indulgent nonsense that everybody did in those days. The remainder sounds OK though, especially rocking out in an extended coda with Annie's vocalese.

This volume is augmented by a couple of tracks from other sources to flesh out the running time. The first additional track presents a problem. It should be a version of Prologue recorded in July 1979 without an orchestra, but some early copies were pressed with live rendition of A Song For All Seasons instead before the fault was rectified. Inevitably, my copy has A Song For All Seasons: it's live, it is sonically quite different to the other tracks but source is unknown, it has probably been severely overdubbed. It is OK without being special. Final track - You - is a previously unreleased studio recording from approx 1981. Again, it is OK, but marred by an overuse of synths.

Overall this volume doesn't gel quite as well as Volume 1, due partly to the ten minutes of solo tedium that should have been left on the cutting room floor, and having two alien tracks tagged on at the end as make-weights. Otherwise it is a set of good to excellent performances spoiled by those persistant technical problems. If you can only get one, then get the first volume. Better still, get the 2CD Carnegie Hall set.

Report this review (#98211)
Posted Friday, November 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Second part of this "King Biscuit Flower Hour". Somewhat on the lower edge of the scale when compared with the first one.

Don't get me wrong. There are still excellent songs performed here. The best example is IMO "Mother Russia". This version features so emotional vocals and the band is in full symbiosis with the orchestra. A great musical moment and my preferred one from this album. But I am talking about one of the best "Renaissance" song ever, so.

When compared to its counterpart of the first leg of this album (fully orchestrated), I have to humbly admit that "Prologue" is faaaaaar much better here. The orchestra has gone, and the band has the full control of the song. Annie can display her fantastic vocal harmonies as during the original studio version. I even prefer this one: fresher, more dynamic, crystal clear vocalizing. A damn good track.

The band plays some songs from their latest studio album (at the time - 1977). "Midas Man" as well as "Touching Once" are not the best ones from Renaissance but I must say that these live approaches have more feeling. They just "live" better. Especially "Touching" which is very pleasantly interpreted here. Way better than the studio version.

What annoys me most on this CD is the ultra long "Ashes Are Burning". Of course, we all know by now that "Renaissance" couldn't refrain their need for "expanding" this song. Indulgence during (almost) twenty seven minutes (while the original lasted for about eleven). After an acceptable intro, there are nine PAINFUL minutes (including the P.I.T.A. bass solo). I have never understood why the band decided to add such dull part to a very good original track.

To tell the truth, I have to add that the final part (some ten minutes) are just wonderful. Annie again is just a wonderful showcase: her vocalize job during the closing section is just GORGEOUS. But my feelings are mixed on the overall length of this song. At least a third is totally useless and improvised.

The closing track is an unreleased song. "You". Well, not that unreleased any longer. The band brought out an album of left-over songs ("Songs From Renaissance Days") which featured this song. The sound is more on the pop side but not too much (especially during the second and symphonic part). A good song after all.

At the end of the day, if the band could have refrain their useless jam session during "Ashes" I would have used the same rating as the first CD of this concert. As such I can only rate this one with three stars.

There is also a cheaper version of this album available under the name "Mother Russia". Exactly the same music but with a cheaper packaging.

Report this review (#167978)
Posted Friday, April 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Continuing my review of KBFH part 1, I do believe that this album can't be evaluated as a different piece but only as a whole thing together with the last album. I know, they're released separately for some stupid reason but the concert was the same. Whatever...

I think that this "side" is better than the first for two reasons: "Can you hear me" isn't here and "Midas man" is. If this last song can sound a little bit pedestrian to Renaissance standards in "Novella" (but not to my ears) it achieve another dimension when played alive. This and the last "Novella" work "Touching once..." marks this disc as being a solid 5 star live album, not only by the (good) diversity in Renaissance's live set but still for the excellence of the performance of their warhorse Ashes are burning and the couple "Turn of the cards" hymns.

An interesting observation: as it seems to be usual in Renaissance releases (read Russ Elliot's - in the Northern Lights page - considerations about the mistakes and confusions on their CD releases), showing a great lack of care and respect to this band, my KBFH CD doesn't have "Prologue" live but... "A song for all seasons"! Lucky I am in owning a live version of their last epic. This makes my CD better than the regular ones but doesn't influence the 5 star rating that this side of Renaissance's KBFH deserves. If you have the opportunity just buy both albums.

Report this review (#237847)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Ashes are burning, and burning, and burning....

Volume two of the King Biscuit Flower Hour recordings gathers in some of the remaining tracks from Renaissance performance at the Royal Albert hall in London,UK. This concert saw Renaissance performing some of their finest material, supported by a full orchestra.

"Ashes are burning" was already an epic track, but here it takes on mammoth proportions, running to over 27 minutes. The vast extension of the piece is due to some interesting improvisation, including a vocal section by Annie Haslam, and some largely superfluous soloing. I am not averse to a bass solo, and while Jon Camp's one here displays his undoubted talent on the instrument, it tends to ramble somewhat. That said, the track as a whole is a fine prog statement. Three of the four other tracks from the main gig run to around 10 minutes, and as such are much more in keeping with their studio originals.

Since around an hour of material from the concert remained unreleased (after Volume 1), this album generously includes a further two songs. The first of these is an alternative version of "Prologue" performed live. The song was actually included in the RAH set, but it has already appeared on Volume one. This version is from a couple of years later, and is devoid of orchestra. On some versions, this track is missing, with "A song for all seasons" replacing it.

The final track, "You", is a previously unreleased studio recording from 1982 which runs to over 8 minutes. It is not really a hidden gem though, the feel being generally pop due to the wispy melody. The fine harmonies and competent instrumentation do though reprieve the song somewhat.

Note, the album called "Mother Russia" is a straight repackaging of Renaissance "Live on the King Biscuit flower hour Volume 2" album, with the tracks re-sequenced into a different order. The error mentioned above whereby initial pressings had "A song for all seasons" in place of "Prologue" is continued on "Mother Russia", at least on my copy!

Report this review (#244356)
Posted Monday, October 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the original album which I bought and reviewed as Mother Russia one year ago.

If this review sounds like the same as I did for Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1, one month ago, it is for a reason. I see no reason to invent the wheel twice.

An explanation is required, I guess. A Dutch label called Disky took this album and the part one album (which they re-released as Can You Hear Me), changed the songs around and re- released this mid-price album in a cheap packaging and bad sound. Fools like myself bought it. I have no regrets, actually, although what Disky did is nothing but a rip-off. But the original album Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2 (this album) is rather expensive and very difficult to get hold off.

Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2 is a lot better album than Disky's Mother Russia. The songs flows better into each other. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra adds more depth to the songs too.

The difference between this album and Vol 1 is that this album has all the long songs. The good songs in my view. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra orchestration is not that dense on this album too. The songs therefore finds more life and Rennaissance finds more space to express themselves. Something that really shows here. This is Rennaissance at almost their best. Some would argue; at their best.

Mother Russia, Running Hard and Prologue is brilliant here. Ashes Are Burning with it's very long hypnotic spaced out improvisation piece is simply stunning. It is perhaps my overall Rennaissance favorite. You is a new good song, but the weakest track here by many miles.

So, what's my gripes with this album ? I am here repeating what I wrote about Volume 1: I think it is a rip-off when one concert is being released as two full price albums. This makes me angry because we, their fans, deserve a bit of respect from the record label and the band.

But Volume 2 is clearly a better album than Volume 1. I think it in it's own right is a very good live album. But can we now get both albums re-released as a double CD for a normal price ? I think we, your dedicated fans, deserve this. OK ?

4 stars

Report this review (#261653)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Renaissance is one of my top 5 fave bands of all time. I just loved it from day one when I was still a young teenager in the 70´s. The reason why it took me so long to write about this CD is that as much as I adore this band they were not however known for having a particularly great live show. Ok, they could reproduce their stunning studio perfomances quite convincinly, but little else. There was not much improvisation and even when they eventually did some jamming it was only on one song (Ashes Are Burning). Always the same song. Besides, they already had a definitive live album (Live At Carnegie Hall), a must have for any fan.

So, this Live At The Albert Hall part 2 is a complete waste? Yes and no. The tracklist brings few new things. The perfomances here a no better nor worse than of those on Live At Carnegie Hall, including a massive 28 minute version of the aforementioned extended Ashes Are Burning. Touching once (is so hard to keep) (from 1977´s Novella) is the main atraction, being a nice live version that was not available elsewhere. The inclusion of an then unissued tune You is also of merit, although it was not one of their best (its original studio take remained in the can for a long time until it was released on the Songs From Renaissance Days). My CD says the final track should be Prologue (recorded on another unknown time and place), but instead we have a quite good live take of Song For All Seasons (from their 1978 album of the same name). It was a mistake, of course, but I really prefered that song instead of another Prologue (already featured on Live At Albert hall vol 1).

Conclusion: nice album. After all it does have a couple of novelties and the overall perfomances are everything you should expect from this great band. Rating: 3 stars. Good, but not really essential.

Report this review (#299240)
Posted Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars Of course, after the review of part 1 I have to immediately close the circle by reviewing this part 2.

There's very few to add. This part contains almost all the tracks left out from the first that were included in the Live at Carnegie Hall, apart of Midas Man from Novella and a previously unreleased song that appears just like a filler, not because it's bad but because it's a "normal" song in a serie of masterpieces.

By coincidence when years ago I put Carnegie Hall on two C60 cassette tapes, I've used Midas Man as filler...

"Ashes Ar eBurning seems to be used each time to include something different: There's a long guitar solo, not too good for my tastes on the studio version, one of my fave bass solos on Carnegie Hall and here we have a long psychedelic jam session featuring percussions, bass and Annie's vocalisms. One of the most acid moments of this band, even more acid than the debut (and it was a totally different lineup).

However the presence of a song like "Mother Russia" is enough to make this album appealable to any progger.

2.5 stars.....I'm joking, I mean that I intend this album as the second half of part 1 so the two together make 5 stars.

The second part of a masterpiece.

Report this review (#518521)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I would have been happier with this, the second half of the original show broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, if they had just left it alone. The concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was something special, in the symphonic arrangements as well as the band's enthusiastic performances.

As stated above, the first five tracks are wonderful. It is a concert of Renaissance at it's stylistic and creative peak. The symphony orchestra adds much to the power of the music, and was used better than most of the concerts where a prog band is backed by a true orchestra. And the songs are great. The only problem to me is a slightly questionable bass solo in the half hour long Ashes Are Burning. But that's a slight problem.

The first CD of this concert is 62 minutes long. Without the "bonus" material this one would have been about the same. It was someone's idea to tack on a fair, but typical performance of Prologue from a 1979 concert (I have to dig out my cassette of a later King Biscuit concert to see if it was from that one), and an unreleased song, You. Now this song was recorded in 1982, after John Tout and Terrence Sullivan had left the band. It actually is better than anything on the two albums recorded after the pair left the group. But it still has that eighties synth pop junk that marred those albums.

But still, if you skip the last track, it's a great album.

Report this review (#750977)
Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the second of the two disc release drawn from Renaissance's performance at Royal Albert Hall in October of 1977. It is also in my view the more interesting of the two albums.

The reason I say this is because it draws material from Novella apart from also including concert staples Running Hard, Mother Russia and Ashes are Burning (which is a super-super-extended version). In comparison, Part 1 only has Can You Hear Me from Novella, while the rest is mostly material you already have from Live at Carnegie Hall (I say mostly because Prologue on Part 1 is performed by the orchestra and is a very interesting interpretation), rendering that a little more superfluous.

It also helps that the two tracks drawn from Novella on this album, Touching Once and Midas Man, translate better live than Can You Hear Me with its plodding interlude. This performance of Touching Once features what is almost like a duel between saxophone and Renaissance's lead instrument Annie Haslam and is far and away the best one I have heard so far. Annie is in superlative form and the RPO also seems to respond better to Renaissance's music than did the New York Philharmonic, elevating this performance even perhaps above the studio cut. There's precious little to choose between the versions of the Turn of the Cards tracks on here and LATC.

The album also features a performance of Prologue drawn from a 1979 concert. It is a really good one and is now available in video format (um, black and white just like the rest of the Song of Scheherazade DVD, I am afraid) on Concert Vault. As an appendage, we have You (Pts 1 and 2) which would make it to the outtakes album Songs from Renaissance Days and sounds positively incongruous in this lush, orchestral live album with its extremely 80s sounding synths and percussions.

The other problem is the performance of Ashes Are Burning. By this point, Renaissance seem to have grown almost inordinately fond of this, one of their most magical and best loved tracks. Surely, extending an originally 11 minute or so track to 28 minutes (!) is a feat that even ELP would have been proud of. Consider that nearly 5 minutes of this is just Jon Camp on bass. While he may be a fine player, the problem is he doesn't really explore any interesting harmonic possibilities on this solo and only seems to be demonstrating the limits of what he can do on the instrument. The performance never completely recovers from the loss of momentum at this point even though all the rest of it that they play is very well done.

For this and for forcing You on to this collection, I dock a star and give the album 4 stars. If you would like to hear a more confident version of Renaissance than that seen (heard) on LATC and also add some Novella along the way, this is a great release. If you do not have LATC at all, then Albert Hall pts 1 and 2 are more worth your time in my humble opinion.

Report this review (#1181762)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2014 | Review Permalink

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