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Renaissance - DeLane Lea Studios 1973 CD (album) cover



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3 stars This 'live in the recording studio" recording sessions recorded at the celebrated De Lane Lea U.K. recoding studios for radio broadcast on an unstated radio station in 1973, was performed right on the heels of Renaissance finishing their second studio album containing the mark II "Annie Haslam" lineup.

Recorded in the company of both friends and family, the group seems usually enthusiastic and performs the material from Ashes are Burning technically perfect, which they do well without any orchestral support.

This album stays close to the Ashes are Burning numbers and includes a live version, for the first time that I'm of aware of, the beautiful melancholy At The Harbor. Another rare gem includes another rarely performed live song, Prolouge's Sounds of the Sea which the band executed flawlessly.

AAB starwarts include the evergreen Can You Hear Understand? along with the killer closing track with Andy Powell reprising his lead electric guitar role that contributed to the studio version. British folk stalwart Al Stewart also adds backing vocals this epic closer.

My only and really subsequent complaint regarding this album is that it seems to be "booted" from what has now become common practice to re-issue source tape copies after the original owners of the producing radio stations have folded and become public domain. The sound quality is a bit thin but passable as is common from masters originating from this type of source tape, and as usual, has a louder than normal level of type hiss on a couple of songs.

As there are no copyright or copyright pending notations in the liner notes, this is probably the case.

The tape is also mastered from what sounds like a multi generation that has some loud extraneous noise for few seconds near the coda of Ashes are Burning.

Not a bad album per se, but there are of course other 'live in the studio albums' that are much better like the now out of print Renaissance At The BBC. If you see the BBC Sessions album for a good price, grab it and run like hell.

Report this review (#1366755)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Annie Haslam, vocalist of Renaissance, earned the sobriquet of Queen of progressive rock for her incredible exploits. But even she had to start somewhere. Given that her first proper band experience (excluding the cabaret band she was in earlier) was with Renaissance, she was still finding her feet in the early years. While her innate talent and classical training gave her a headstart, the contrast with her mid 70s peak is pretty stark.

As it is, unfortunately, on this album. On the face of it, the track selection alone should make this album, taken from a 1973 concert at DeLane Lea studios, a winner, even within the cornucopia of Renaissance live albums. Let It Grow, At The Harbour and Sounds of the Sea aren't on any official live releases of the band, though the former did make it to Annie Haslam's solo live album Brazilian Skies. Further, Andy Powell and Al Stewart guest on Ashes Are Burning, making it one of only two recorded live performances which have the guitar solo (the other being the Academy of Music concert).

But, as said above, Annie is yet to attain the sheer, frightening perfection she would only a couple of years down the line. There are pitch issues but I wouldn't mind them so much if not for another issue that really spotlights them: her attack. At this point, her attack is still a bit harsh and it makes her singing sound stiff (in comparison to what she would go on to do). If you were to compare her performance of Carpet of the Sun here to the one on Midnight Special in 1977, it is particularly evident. There was, after all, a point of time when even a singer as great as her was worried about getting it right. Ironically, this fear pushes her into committing more errors than she would in concerts from later on where she simply cut loose.

Not to worry, Annie's B minus game is still pretty damn good and the vocalese coda of Sounds of the Sea is especially gorgeous, with an unexpected twist at the end. There is also the mesmerizing coda of At The Harbour to savour. And as in so many other shows, she raises her game come time to perform Ashes Are Burning. The musicians perform their parts impeccably well and with feeling, which too forgives a lot. The sound isn't awesome but it will do. So what gives?

Just that there isn't a compelling reason to add one more Renaissance live album to your collection here. Not unless you are particularly fond of the rawness of bands in their early days, say like the popular music reviewer George Starostin. Me, I do like the rawness but only when it adds to the energy of the performance. Rawness can also mean hesitation and lack of confidence and there's more of that here. Renaissance gave better concerts than this one and plenty of them. But if you do get this album, you won't regret it.

Report this review (#1802563)
Posted Thursday, October 12, 2017 | Review Permalink

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