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Illusion - Enchanted Caress CD (album) cover



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3 stars Illusion were I guess what many would have considered a late 60's supergroup formed by members of RENAISSANCE, The YARDBIRDS and The STRAWBS (Jim McCarty, Keith Relf, Jane Relf, John Hawken and Louis Cennamo). "Enchanted Caress" was to be ILLUSION's 3rd album which unfortunately never saw the light of day until after the band split up. Musically "Enchanted Caress" illustrates an allusion to that of RENAISSANCE and The BEATLES... classical but yet poppy. Vocals are shared between Jim McCarty and the beautiful voice of Jane Relf which always takes me back into a RENAISSANCE frame of mind as I listen to this album. Excellent music...!

Report this review (#28961)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I love to listen to this album. It's got a sixties folk-feel to it, not really progressive music but nonetheless beautiful songs. The first track on this album "Nights in Paris" is one of my favourite songs ever. Beautiful in melody and arrangement with perfect vocal harmonies and that marvellous voice of Jane Relf. Her voice remained clear and pure throughout the years when for example Annie Haslam of Renaissance Mk.II seemingly has to prove that she is capable of singing operas. Not to be mistaken, I love and respect Annie's contribution to the Renaissance records but to my opinion she sometimes overdid the "look I can sing 5 octaves"-thing. "Enchanted caress" consists of previously unreleased material from recording sessions that were intended to lead to their third album but with Keith Relf being tragically killed by accident these plans were shelved. On this record the last unreleased recording of Keith Relf "All the falling angels" can be heard. Another highlight is the guitar dominated piece "Slaughter on 10th Avenue", an instrumental track which reminds me of Jan Akkerman's style. I wish Illusion had made more records then. Their blend of sixties psychedelic pop, folk, progressive elements and classical moods (the latter prominently appearing in Renaissance Mk.I's albums "Renaissance" and "Illusion") was unique and should have been developed.

They released an album in 2001 called "Through the fire" under the name of Renaissance Illusion" that goes more into the new age-pop direction. It's still nice an album to listen to and another chance to hear Jane Relf's natural-sounding voice again.

Report this review (#61634)
Posted Sunday, December 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Enchanted Caress is a sympathetic album rather easy to listen. One can distinguish folkier, rock and progressive related elements. So, the songs are not really progressive. Some tracks are quite catchy and pleasant to listen: the airs are not meaningless at all. On the other hand, some tracks sound really common & deja vu, lacking a bit originality and uniqueness, like the music of Rita Coolidge, Anita Baker or any romantic-based lite music. Jane Relf's lead vocals are a bit more conventional than usual, although she gives a very good performance. The piano is no longer Baroque, despite it is still omnipresent: I find it more timid, maybe a bit more played in the background. There are some acoustic guitar arrangements. The male lead singer has a rather ordinary voice. I fell from the couch when I first heard "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue": in fact, it is a not terrific bold rock version: I prefer the colorful & progressive electronic version of Larry Fast's Synergy.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Report this review (#125204)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars This was supposed to be Illusion´s third album, but it was not released until many years after they broke up. In fact, the band had high hopes on the american market (where their first LP Out Of The Mist was well received and sold well), but when the second one was not even released there, the writing was on the wall. The times were not for prog and the recording companies were not interested in that style of music anymore.

I guess this might explain the kind of tracks we find here. They are even mellower, poppier and shorter than all their previous works. Aiming at the pop market maybe? That´s the only reason I can think of for such loss of quality. Also the band was breaking up so it was not expect a great cohesion at the final days. Not that the songs are bad, but I was expecting something closer to their two previous CDs and what we have here is basicly pop rock tunes, very 60´s influenced. Nice, ok, but very forgetable. Not one progressive note in the whole (short) record. The production does not help much either.

I wonder if those tracks should ever be released. This is surely for hardcore fans, collectors and completionists only. And even those should listen before buying it.

Report this review (#192547)
Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars There is something about tastefulness, understatement, and civility that can take a sad situation and make it bearable, or a simple pop song and make it classy. While on the one hand it's hard to imagine that "Enchanted Caress" emanates from the masters of ILLUSION, it retains these essential traits that have more to do with personality than whatever music they happen to be playing.

In fact, what is presented herein has more stylistically in common with early 1970s FLEETWOOD MAC thanks to a generally consistent if at times pedestrian rhythm section, subdued production, mix of male and female lead singers, and strong albeit muted melodies. Apart from the players, the prog credentials might come from the simple songs' ability to grow on the listener, from mere pleasant background to something to relax by, and there is a subtle difference.

Taken as a mellow and very peripherally progressive album, this is pretty enjoyable. It's true that the schmaltzy "Getting into Love Again" and "As Long as We're Together" let things down a bit. But a few songs do stand out: "Nights in Paris" has an excellent verse even if the chorus is mindless repetition. Jane Relf's vocal work and John Hawken's colorful piano on the gorgeous "The Man Who Loved the Trees" do recall the prior two albums. "Slaughter on 10th avenue" is an instrumental showcasing John Knightsbridge's lead guitar. My favourite is "Crossed Lines", with its catchy chorus and strong beat enhanced by Hawken's playing. "You are the One" points to some of the SALLY OLDFIELD work that would come later. While "All the Falling Angels" is decent, it is of value chiefly for historical reasons as it is left over from the early days and features KEITH RELF and some mellotron work.

An air of quiet resignation hangs over this album, and, given its time period, it's no wonder. This quality might only enhance its ability to caress listeners rather than force them to stand at attention. 2.5 stars rounded up.

Report this review (#198819)
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Enchanted Caress" was supposed to be Illusion's third album of the late seventies. Alas, it shows all the signs of a prog group trying to come up with a radio hit, as pushed by their record company. The demos, recorded in 1979, that make up this album are not terribly bad. They're just not terribly good either.

Sole songwriter and vocalist Jim McCarty tries in vain to bridge the gap between commercial concerns and artistic validation. It seems to succeed until listening to the late Keith Relf's lone demo titled, chillingly, "All The Fallen Angels", which was recorded, presumably, sometime in the early seventies, as Relf died in 1976 prior to Illusion officially forming and recording their first album in 1977. Even with it's hippy overtones, Relf's one demo sound's sincere as compared to McCarty's demos.

Uber keyboardist John Hawken, from the Strawbs' Hero and Heroine fame, is almost completely muted, and makes "Enchanted Caress" all the more harder to endure. Fortunately, his classical piano motifs would return on McCarty's excellent but tongue twisting "Renaissance illusion: Through The Fire" solo/reunion (?!) album released in 2001.

Report this review (#1667160)
Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2016 | Review Permalink

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