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Renaissance A Song for All Seasons album cover
3.75 | 452 ratings | 44 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Opening Out (4:15)
2. The Day of the Dreamer (9:43)
3. Closer Than Yesterday (3:19)
4. Kindness(at the End) (4:48)
5. Back Home Once Again (3:16)
6. She Is Love (4:13)
7. Northern Lights (4:07)
8. A Song for All Seasons (10:55)

Total Time: 44:36

Bonus on Esoteric Recordings 2019:

9. Northern Lights (single edit) (3:31)
10. Day of the Dreamer (BBC Radio One) (9:53)
11. Midas Man (BBC Radio One) 3:51)
12. The Vultures Fly High (BBC Radio One) (2:52)
13. Northern Lights ("Top of the Pops" version) (4:23) *

CD 2 & 3: Live at the Tower Theater, Philadelphia, 4th Dec '78
CD 2 (47:39)
1. Can You Hear Me (14:53)
2. Carpet of the Sun (3:54)
3. Things I Don't Understand (9:47)
4. Opening Out (4:20) *
5. Day of the Dreamer (10:21)
6. Midas Man (4:18)
CD 3 (55:30)
1. Northern Lights (4:32)
2. A Song for All Seasons (11:02) *
3. Touching Once Is So Hard to Keep (12:26) *
4. Ashes Are Burning (27:27) *

* = Previously unreleased.

Line-up / Musicians

- Annie Haslam / vocals
- Michael Dunford / electric and 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars
- John Tout / keyboards
- Jon Camp / bass, bass pedals, electric guitar, lead vocals (4,6)
- Terence Sullivan / drums, percussion

- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Harry Rabinowitz

Releases information

LP Sire ‎- SRK 6049 (1978, US)
LP Warner Bros. ‎- K 56460 (1978, UK)

CD Sire ‎- WPCP-4219 (1991, Japan)
CD WEA International 25959 (1999, )
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REPUK 1146 (2011, UK) Remastered (?)
3CD Esoteric Recordings , PECLEC 32667 (2019)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Matti for the last updates
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Buy RENAISSANCE A Song for All Seasons Music

RENAISSANCE A Song for All Seasons ratings distribution

(452 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RENAISSANCE A Song for All Seasons reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars a season for all songs

Well actually this is marginally better than Novella ( well, not as soporific), so I will throw in my tuppence, but will keep it at that. It is painfully clear that, despite a "surprise hit" Northern Lights the best days of the band were over after the Cards album, the formula clearly established and repeated to boredom. I never owned this album or the following ones or even Novella, or never actually taped them when I borrowed them from friends. That's all I had to say about this one. Is this 100 words yet??? Rats. I guess I'll have to ramble on some more, than. And if you (I?) think this one is bad, wait until you get a load of the next two stinkers: you won't believe it how corny and cheesy these albums are. I believe it is 100 now?? Read ya later ;o))))

Review by lor68
3 stars OK probably the right score is "three stars", but as it's their first attempt to change radically route in the same direction of melodic pop music,that is such an interesting romantic composition anyway characterized by their important creativity (especially their wonderful arrangements), the present album deserves for sure an excellent evaluation: consider the improvement of the remastered version concerning the fantastic epic title track for example, the sensible "Opening Out", the first stunning mini-suite "Day of the Dreamer" (perhaps the best one) and the captivating "Kindness (at the end)", even though this latter becomes quite tepid when the male voice is entering...well this time you can forget the other quite tepid pop songs and think of an album aligned with the late seventies/early eighties, despite of containing a few simple songs with light melodies.

Recommended, especially the title track and in some cricumstances the symphonic side of "Day of the Dreamer" and the melodic "Opening Out", this latter- moreover-characterized by a great sense of lyricism...the remaining pop hits are fairly good anyway!!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yes, another outstanding Renaissance album, AMONG THEIR BEST ONES! On this one, the omnipresent & OUTSTANDING classical arrangements are really in the foreground, really participating to the melody! Clearly, Renaissance is a band that is better when having an accompanying orchestra! Again, the style is still strongly baroque symphonic. Just hear this combination of relatively modern keyboards and strings+horn arrangements: SUBLIME! Annie's lead vocals are very loud, pure and never bland. There are 2 epic songs of around 10 minutes: they are among the best Renaissance's tracks: "Day of the dreamer" and "Song for all seasons". On the album, there is less acoustic guitar, but more clean electric one: it fits absolutely well with the ensemble! The Rickenbaker bass sounds "bottom enough", and it is very elaborated and melodic, absolutely restless. Thinking about it, the album definitely sounds like "Song of Scheherazade". There are many delicate percussions, it is absolutely graceful & magical. There are some excellent short tracks: "Northern Lights" is very accessible and catchy with Annie's addictive voice: this unforgettable track that might be liked by many people!


Review by Moogtron III
2 stars This album is quite disappointing: compositions and production are a bit of a letdown. They lost their " Midas touch", so to say. There are a few highlights on this album, sure enoough, but the album as a whole cannot stand in the shadow of it's predecessors: Sheherazade And Other Stories, Live At Carnegie Hall and Novella.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Slightly better than Novella which was a plus considering the downward spiral some of the bands were experiencing at that time. ' Opening out' and the title track arguably the best songs on this release.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With this album the band moved deeper to the realms of commercial oriented music, but there are still some very beautiful moments on it. "Opening Out" is a strong symphonic overture, and "Day of The Dreamer" has a faster, cheerful theme which deepens to a very mellow, romantic theme. Also the bit over ten minutes running title tune is a nice mini epic worth of mentioning. Still sometimes the cheerful and sweet elements start to go too far for my taste, but I recommend to listen this album if one has a change. Especially if you liked the band's previous albums or are fond of sweet fairytale music, this is worthy to check out.
Review by daveconn
3 stars With Genesis producer David Hentschel and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra aboard, Renaissance released the intricate, pastoral-sounding A Song For All Seasons. It's the closest they've come to sounding like mid-period Genesis (c. A Trick of the Tail), from the gauzy 12-string guitars and fluid bass lines to the ornate keyboard passages. In a world that now included The Clash, The Sex Pistols and no turning back, A Song For All Seasons is unseasonably outfitted music that better suits the taste of the early '70s. Yet as a result Renaissance, who got lost in the initial wave of progressive artists, were now one of the standard-bearers of the current prog rock movement. Listening to "Kindness (At The End)" or "Day of the Dreamer" is to hear the ghost of Genesis dance again, much as it did in the music of Kansas. While the old English guard was crumbling (ELP, Genesis) or bumbling (Gentle Giant), bands like Renaissance and Marillion kept the English faction afloat alongside the American invasion of would-be proggers (Kansas, Styx, Boston). In fact, you could argue that Renaissance was just hitting their stride in the late Seventies. Songwriters Michael Dunford and Jon Camp had managed to contain a wealth of musical ideas in four- and five-minute songs (although the title track nearly bursts at the seams), a feat that many progressive acts had difficulty matching. The gentle "Back Home Once Again" and melodic "Northern Lights" forego the musical gymnastics without losing the pastoral spirit of the album. They're the more accessible tracks on A Song For All Seasons, but not a good indication of the album's progressive merits. On deeper inspection, the album doesn't boast the musical profundity of a Genesis or Gentle Giant at their best, but if you found Kansas alluring (and maybe a little bombastic) can a rediscovery of Renaissance be far behind?
Review by b_olariu
4 stars A truly great album. This one i have in my collection for many years, and i'm amased every time i listen, thats why is my fav from Renaissance. I might say the period between Prolog and Azure D'or is the best period, in fact Renaissance is one of the biggest and talented bands ever emerge from Engaland's progressive music. I choose here Closer than yesterday a highlight, and a special one for me, the beautiful voice of Annie Haslan makes me tremble every time i heard the tune. Second best is the title track again smooth and very prog. In the end a band that needs attention from the prog lovers, a true classic, as other albums from the golden age of prog music, the '70. Enjoy the warm voice of the lady of prog music.
Review by Matti
4 stars (Edited in 30th April, 2019: My original review from 2006 needed only slight editing.) In 1978 the downhill of prog had clearly begun. Renaissance made no exception in shifting towards more poppy songs. Despite being poppier and lighter compared to the previous album, and my favourite, Novella, I like also this one a lot. An earlier reviewer hits the nail by saying that David Henschel (who has produced Genesis) "encouraged the band to bring out some of their hidden energy, thus giving this often mellow band a much needed edge". While one can complain about some songs being simple and light, this album has a lovely, fresh and rich sound, and even at its most poppy it's still above the average mainstream pop. A good example is the famous hit 'Northern Lights' -- the only hit they ever had, in fact. It makes the listener shiver with joy. Annie Haslam's superb voice has never sounded better. But there are also many fantastic moments of pure symphonic prog. For example 'Opening Out', with a magnificent contrast between soaring orchestral passages and fragile, sensitive details, is one of the best album openers I know. And when Annie sings "to feel your touch" in the deeply romantic slow movement of 'Day of the Dreamer', it's pure bliss.

There's one song I don't like: 'She Is Love' sung by the bassist Jon Camp who isn't much of a singer. 'Kindness' that ends the happy & romantic first side with sadder emotions is gorgeous and works pretty fine with Camp's lead vocals and Annie's backing vocals. Rather repetitive 'Back Home Once Again' is another unfavourite of mine. The weak start of the second side is compensated by 'Northern Lights' and the majestically progressive title track with all the ingredients of a memorable Renaissance epic. All in all, A Song for All Seasons is a very pleasant, excellently produced 4-star album recommendable to friends of romantic, 'feminine' symphonic prog. Definitely among my favourite albums from 1978.

Spring 2019: Esoteric Recordings just released an expanded 3-disc box set of A Song for All Seasons. The first disc contains the remastered album plus the promotional single edit and "Top of the Pops" version of 'Northern Lights', and three songs of BBC radio One sessions from August 1978 (these have previously appeared on Renaissance's BBC compilation). Discs 2 and 3 contain a concert at the Tower Theater, Philadelphia, 4th December 1978. The 36-page booklet naturally features an interview-based liner notes, plus Tour Programme and press information from 1978, without forgetting song lyrics.

Much of the set's appeal lies on the Philadelphia gig. Four of its ten tracks haven't been released before. As a musical performance per se, it is understandably inferior compared to the classic Carnegie Hall live double album that was recorded with a symphony orchestra; the five-piece band does its best to imitate the orchestral nuances on their own. Haslam adds her vocalise whenever it helps, and John Tout is busy with his piano and synths. The sonic quality is quite good really. The set list has a strong emphasis on the material of Novella and A Song for All Seasons. Two of the older songs, 'Carpet of the Sun' and the perennial closing epic 'Ashes Are Burning', were in the Carnegie Hall set too. The latter is here stretched up to 27 minutes. This maginificent composition never fails to give me goosebumps, but occasionally the over-extended live performance feels slightly too wandering. 'Things I Don't Understand' (from Turn of the Cards) is a great choice amidst Novella / Seasons stuff.

The ER box set is a fine and luxurious example of the label's great work on the expanded re-releases, and this album truly deserved it.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The last of their gems...

And its horrible when you love or like a band that you discovered , and realize that this was their last good album, after listened to the previous ones and love them, obviously some more than others i dont know, but then see that after this there`s no more to offer, it could have marked the point of decadence of the band.

As many other bandss which appeared in the 70`s and made some nice albums, then closer to the 80`s the quality, imagination and creativity of the music was falling down, then, after listen to beautiful albums such as Scherezade or Ashes are Burning , i found A Song for all Seasons which at first was an unknown name for me, i didn`t even know of it`s existence when i got it , so it was a toss, but after all im glad to own it because is a very nice albums, now i have read some reviews of lowe raitng which i am totally disagree, i wont debate of it, but only give you my opinion of this great album which at the same time was the begining of decadence, if you dont believe me, just listen to Camera Camera.

It starts with the classic symphonic sound of those 70`s times, and with the magnific , beautiful , outstanding voice of Annie Haslam, who gives Rennaissance an extra point besides it`s music, i can imagine or i think that Rennaissance music is happy music, despite sometimes or much times it turns to slower and melancholic moments and her angel`s voice could be relaxing, but i feel for example in the first song whuich is great and with a powerlful beggining, that is something like a happy trip.

So it`s only a personal feeling, anyway for example it changes completely in the second song which is a long 9 minute song and in the half sounds a bit deppresing, it has beautiful passages with a great acoustic guitar sound and also as you notice in the credits an orchestra performed in the album which is another excellent point and makes it yet more special. "Kindness" is the fourth song which is one of my favorites here because of it`s great symphonic - keyboard oriented beggining , and also because Annie doesn`t sings here, im not saying that i prefer songs without Annie, no way, but this is an special mention Jon Camp lends his voice to this song, is a soft but quite good voice, excellent and suitable for this theme, its a beautiful song.

"Northern Ligths" is a classic Rennaissance song, not my favorite but also quite good, it has it`s personal touch and i think its worth to mention it.

"A song for all Seasons" is the last one here, and maybe the best talking about prog and musical harmony, its great and also is the longest of them all, in the same level as Mother Russia or Ashes are Burning for instance, great song, nice guitars and keyboards, and again the beatiful voice of Annie here, besides the excellent work of the orchestra, not so many albums with orchestra sounds that good, this one does.

Maybe the songs that im not mentioning are weaker, but good anyway, but i do not consider this album as a masterpiece, also and despite i like it so much, im struggling of giving it 3 or 4 stars, i recommend it, and actually if it exists i would give it 3.5 stars, so give it a chance and enjoy it.

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Punk may not have directly caused the downfall of Prog, but it represented a significant shift in the ideals and expectations of the record buying public - Prog's audience had flown, and with it any chance of second division bands to continue without change or compromise. Renaissance's solution was to invite Genesis producer David Henschel to oversee the recording for the first time. His influence is undoubtedly significant, as the sound here is much more crisp and punchy with a much harder edge. The band also seem invigorated by Henschel's presence, their arrangements displaying an exciting freshness lacking from Novella.

On Novella Jon Camp clearly had a greater presence than before, with two songwriting credits and a more prominent bass work. That trend is extended here on the band's next album as six of the eight songs are credited wholely or in part to him while only three contain lyrics by Betty Thatcher, the Cornish poetess who had been the band's principal lyricist since the beginning. Additionally, Camp takes lead vocals on two songs, a sure sign of shifting dynamics within the band!

How did these developments affect the music? In some respects the classic elements are still to the fore, with two mini-epics amongst the best in the band's repertoire - both Day Of The Dreamer and title track A Song For All Seasons would be natural contenders for a list of favourites, despite the alien sounds of electric guitars and more prominent synths than in earlier years. Renaissance had always mixed shorter songs in with the longer ones, but here they predominate. Even the opener Opening Out, which has all the hallmarks of a Renaissance standard, barely gets above four minutes.

Generally the shorter songs are a mixed bag. Opening Out is a very-mini-epic which never develops. Closer Than Yesterday is a stunning ballad from the top draw with the added benefit of some interesting Mellotron work and counter-harmonies. Jon Camp's solo singing on his Kindness (At The End) works very well, reminiscent of Kiev from Prologue. The next two songs are the album's low point: TV theme song Back Home Once Again is a pleasant 'nothing' track while the forgettable She Is Love is sung solo by Camp backed only by orchestra. Lastly, the much maligned Northern Lights may be poppish, but is still an intelligent and entertaining arrangement.

Title track A Song For All Seasons is the undoubted star of the show, eleven minutes of sheer joy as the band weave their magic around the only lyric on the album that actually seems to mean anything [the four seasons as a metaphor for life]. This song has everything you could wish, tempo and mood swings abound while subtlety rubs shoulders with bombast as beguiling melodies lead to a rousing climax that tests the famous range of Annie's voice. It may be the last mini-epic the band would write, but they went out with a bang!

From here onward it was all downhill - when you reach the top of a mountain, the only way to go is down. Sadly it is the beginning of an unrecoverable slide into the musical wilderness that represented their 1980s output. This album certainly has a couple of poor songs, but the freshness and energy in the remainder, together with a sharper production, make this underrated album highly recommendable.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Definitely not on par with earlier albums, this LP still contains few good moments. Noteworthy are longer, "symphonic" suites "Day of the Dreamer" and "Song For All Seasons". The remaining stuff is so-so, more in the easy listening vein than prog. Not entirely worth 3 stars, but very close...
Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Well, after the rather disapointing Novella, Renaissance tried to do things in a differente way: new label, new producer, enters the electric guitar after a long time and some shorter, more pop flavoured songs. On the other side, their epic, classical side is well represented too. All in all they prove they could balance this dangerous formula very well. It is only unfortunate that Song For All Seasons would be their last great album.

The Lp started very well with one of their great tunes, Opening Out. The music is beautiful and Annie Haslam steps int proving again that she is probably the greattest female singer to ever grace a rock band! Then comes Day Of The Dreamer, a quite long prog epic and probalby the best track on the album. Closer Than Yesterday is a simple pop tune again graced and enriched by Haslamīs fantastic vocals. Kindness is another good song and problably Jon Campīs best vocal performance since Kiev.

Side two of the vynil record starts with Back Home Once Again, another simple pop song that Annie Haslam used some multi tracking vocals to enhance it and make it work. Not very outstading, but good. The same goes for Nothern Lights. Actually the only bad track in the whole CD is She Is Love, a boring tune sung by Camp with orchestra that I always skip. I still wonder why they included such a dud here. Then we have another epic: the title track. An excellent piece of prog work.

A very fine CD, no less. Again, unfortunate, their very last. But what a good last one! Highly recommended!

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The Aurora Borealis is in my eyes

"A song for all seasons" is the album which contains Renaissance best known and most commercially successful track, "Northern Lights". This was rightly a huge hit single for the band, but it still manages simultaneously to retain all that is good about their music.

This was the last Renaissance album to have a prog feel although six of the eight tracks are shorter songs with straight-forward structures. For the first time the band brought in a top name producer in the guise of David Hentschel. They also called upon Louis Clark, who had worked with the Electric Light Orchestra, to provide the orchestral arrangements played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The song-writing is dominated by the Camp/Dunford partnership, with long term lyricist Betty Thatcher only featuring on the final three tracks.

The first of the two feature tracks, "The day of the dreamer", is a true Renaissance classic, along the lines of "Ashes are burning". John Tout throws in a wonderful diversity of keyboard sounds, as the piece develops through varying moods. The song cumulates in a majestic Annie Haslam vocal and an orchestral crescendo. The closing title track is the other opus. This 10 minute suite brings together every Renaissance cliché in an excellent cacophony of symphonic excess.

The shorter tracks are fine Renaissance pieces with a reassuringly familiar feel. They are by and large "Northern lights" type songs, with gentle melodies and a moderate tempo. "Closer than yesterday" includes some excellent multi-part harmonising of Haslam's vocals on the choruses. "Kindness" has a rare lead vocal from John Camp, the song sounding similar to the wonderful "Kiev" from the "Prologue" album. "Back home once again" was used as the theme for the long forgotten TV series "The paper lads". Only "She is love" comes across as weak, being a soft wandering love song. "Northern lights" may well have achieved great success in the singles charts, but that does not diminish the majesty and quality of the song.

In all, another superb album from Renaissance, with strong melodies and some well developed tracks. The excellent production and orchestration greatly enhance the feeling that this is a quality production.

The LP comes with a tasteful sleeve, and a fold out poster with four pictures of the same scene taken in each of the seasons.

Review by kenethlevine
5 stars A Song for all Seasons is the ultimate Renaissance album, the one they had been pointing to for almost a decade. Here they shed some of the preciousness that kept most of their previous works from being full 5 star efforts, added some electronics while continuing to embrace the orchestral backing, and delivered a pop sensibility to several tunes, resulting in an incredible achievement for symphonic prog for 1978. Almost all their contemporaries had sold out, and here was Renaissance producing the most convincing album of their career.

From the opening anticipatory sounds of the achingly beautiful "Opening Out", to the histrionics of the title track, this is a group effort. "Day of the Dreamer" is a potent epic indeed, with multiple parts and none so heartwarming as the soft middle section with Annie's plea to the dreamer, and a reprise of the album's main theme. "Closer than Yesterday" has us listen to multiple Annie's sing a pastoral folk number, while "Kindness at the End" features wicked bass lines and a splendid vocal from Jon Camp. "Back Home Once Again" is almost pure pop except with a lusciousness that assures us this is no pure pop band. I wish I could buck the trend and give praise to "She is Love", but it really is a dud, just not enough to diminish the disc, because "Northern Lights", the band's only hit, follows with a melody and chorus you won't soon forget, and "A Song For All Seasons" is uplifting in its wistfulness as it takes you thru the seasons of life.

Alas, this was not an achievement that Renaissance could come close to repeating, which is sad. Yet one could argue that most bands fall short of reaching their full potential before they run their course. That Renaissance was able to realize so much so late only strengthens their status as one of rock's truly unique talents.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars If ever you are a fan of the band, there are few reasons not to like this album. The opening being a typical "Renaissance" one. Inspired, graceful and offering some emotional vocal moments.

The "epic" track from this work being another of their very good compositions. A good balance between orchestrations, pleasant melody and of course a very convincing Annie. But who would doubt about her great vocal capabilities?

Some numbers are less polished/interesting like the mellowish "Closer Than Yesterday" and "Kindness" (indeed), but the band has already released some of those invisible tracks. As long as there aren't too many on an album, I can live with this fact. After all, the band isn't really in the rocking genre, right?

The music featured is more easy listening than before. Short numbers almost all the way through give little room for extrapolation. A track, just a track like "Back Home.". Not always very enthusiastic to be honest.

The very (too) sweet She Is Love could have been written by "10CC" but does not have this extravaganza. And "Northern Lights" might well be their best selling single, it is somewhat dull, I'm afraid.

Fortunately, this album closes on another truthful "Renaissance" track. The title song is pure joy and melody. Sweetness, grandiose and passionate vocals from Annie of course (but she is not singing on all tracks on this album, which might be one of the problems).

Their so recognizable style can fully be appreciated here. The grandeur (some might say pompous) of "Sheherazade" is very close and therefore I like it so much.

Still, it is their weaker effort for a long time (their debut actually). Average I should say. Raised to three stars from five out of ten.

Review by rogerthat
4 stars The good thing about an album like A Song for All Seasons, successful in its time and not quite so well remembered anymore, is that it still offers scope for critique from a fresh perspective. There's precious little to be said about Dark Side of the Moon or In The Court of the Crimson King that hasn't already been said in the multitude of reviews written about those albums. I have tried to pin down the reason why A Song for All Seasons, and Northern Lights in particular, broke through in a way no other Renaissance album before or after it could. I think I have found some answers that resonate at least with my own views of the album. I would like to elaborate it below, with the warning that it's going to be long!

The difference between previous Renaissance albums and A Song for All Seasons is underlined by the simple but catchy bit of acoustic guitar that opens Northern Lights. Renaissance songs had incorporated guitar before, to be sure. But what's different about Northern Lights is guitar is set to an appealing rhythm. I don't even mean beats, as in actually performed on percussions. Just the rhythm itself will suffice. Northern Lights doesn't just sound grand or pretty unlike so many Renaissance songs; it also has a pulse, something to which you can snap a finger. Since at least the 60s, rhythm has played a pivotal role in the evolution of mainstream music. I am a firm believer that, barring pioneers and first movers like the Beatles, bands usually taste commercial success when they move their sound a little bit (or more, as applicable) to where they are closer to the mainstream.

As Kevin Gilbert sang on City of the Sun, "Make it so we might understand". From "Can You Understand" to "Things I don't Understand", Renaissance decisively moved to a place where the mainstream could understand. The catchy rhythm is backed by a simple but elegant melody with a pleasing emotional arc. The refrain of longing in the song is balanced out by an optimistic bounce, once again a welcome change as far as Renaissance songs go. It of course does take Annie Haslam's sublime delivery to make a promising song a memorable and haunting one (listen to the great Judith Durham's well sung but somewhat over vehement cover and hear the difference). A difference which is further brought home when Jon Camp's weak delivery mars the otherwise interesting Kindness in the End).

But the other song where the 'new Renaissance' present themselves is Day of the Dreamer. Once again, the use of accentuated piano chords adds a pulse to what might otherwise have been a typical Renaissance intro. Plus, notice how brief the intro is, quickly making way for drums and the orchestra to accompany vocals. An overall sunny, bouncy orientation helps make all the orchestral pomp more appealing than before. Any danger of the song getting generic and lacking character is stamped out by Annie's brilliant rendition of the verse that follows the interlude.

These characteristics are not necessarily shared by the other songs on the album. The title track in particular features one of their longest instrumental intros, though the urgent tempo, dark mood and dramatic vocal melody add a touch of freshness. Back Home Once Again and Closer Than Yesterday reflect a Novella hangover, though they are not without merit.

Even in these songs, though, a change is observed in the increased use of synthesizers. In a nutshell, Renaissance sound more British on this album than on any of the previous mk-ii albums. It is no wonder that A Song for All Seasons was their most successful in Britain even as it fared worse than Novella in America. The album was produced by David Hentschel, who also produced Wind and Wuthering, and it could be said that Song for All Seasons offers a more optimistic and sunny, if less complex, approach to a Wind and Wuthering like mood.

Whether the band themselves grasped the significance of this change is an interesting question. People who were there at the time say the band did not back up their studio success with as much touring in Britain as they perhaps ought to have. The follow up Azure D' Or seems to have been promoted more enthusiastically in America rather than Britain. Renaissance reposed their faith in their largest catchment of fans, but not all of these fans perhaps were listening as their band began to sing different tunes.

They also didn't ever follow up on the peculiar qualities that made Northern Lights taste charting success. It would probably be fair to assume Northern Lights as well as Dreamer were products of spontaneous inspiration which the band didn't quite understand how to emulate, much as they wanted another Northern Lights. In a recent interview, Annie herself characterised Northern Lights as a more commercial sound (not in a derogatory sense, mind). Placing it in the commercial box doesn't quite do justice to why it succeeded where their later attempts at following New Wave trends failed spectacularly.

For the first and possibly the last time in their career, Renaissance made music that lives and breathes of its own without requiring Annie's expert intervention (ironic, considering Northern Lights was based on her relationship with Roy Wood). Clearly not a masterpiece of prog and even as far as 'essential albums' go, there are at least a fair few four-star albums I would take over this one. It is still an essential addition to a prog rock listener's collection if only to understand what Renaissance could do and perhaps could have done had they followed a different approach to their music.

Review by Gerinski
4 stars I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this album, since it used to play a lot at home when it came out, I was 12 at the time and my older sisters and brother got hooked on this one, so it's part of my boyhood's soundtrack. Purists despise this album saying that it went too pop compared to Renaissance's peak period of 'Ashes', 'Turn of the Cards' and 'Sheherazade', which is true, but the positive counterpart to this is that it also finished removing the last traces of folk which were still noticeable in their previous albums (I'm not very fond of folk you see). While maybe a bit less sophisticated that the older masterpieces, I find this album wonderful and surely better than Novella or Prologue.

The production was much improved and the orchestrations are spot-on, not too intrusive but giving the most symphonic songs a very classical and elegant angle. Annie's terrific voice is as crystal-clear as ever and nearly all the melodies are superb, I actually find the vocal phrases and instrumental sections more beautiful and inspired than many of those in their most crowned albums. The only thing with Renaissance is that it's so sweet and beautiful that it may fool you into thinking that you are listening to something a bit too cheesy and too little prog-rocky (something which happened to several of my teenage prog buddies), but then it's only an illusion. The music composition, the arrangements and the interpretation are very competent and totally deserving of the term symphonic prog-rock.

It has 3 symphonic masterpieces deserving 5 stars: the opening tandem of "Opening out" with "The day of the dreamer" and the closing "A song for all seasons", all three have a place in my all-time prog favourites. "Kindness" is also a great prog track but it's too bad that it is sung by John Camp, I still can not understand how on earth if you have Annie in your band you would still dare to sing anything out of your shower.

Then we have 3 catchy songs (the ones purists despise) in "Closer than yesterday", "Back home once again" and "Northern lights". Yes, they are more pop-oriented, but they are all of them beautiful and I have no problem with them (a complete album with nothing but this kind of songs would probably be something else).

Finally we have "She is love" which on top of being dull is also sung by Camp and in this one he sings even quite worse than in "Kindness". They should have better kept this song for their vault of never-released tracks, but if they wanted to release it anyway, at least sung by Annie it might have been saved. A totally incomprehensible decision by the band.

All in all it does not deserve the 5 stars as a whole but I highly recommend it for its wonderful 3 best tracks and, if you are not too purist or hard-edged, the beautiful rest. Just be ready to push the "next track" button when "She is love" begins.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A song for All Seasons is the first Renaissance to disappoint me. The band simply falls flat on this one. The sound is trying to get too refined, too Broadway show tunes like (which, come to think of it, Annie Haslam has a pretty awesome Julie Andrews-like voice!) Gone are the clear, untreated instrumental tracks, here are the glitzy production songs. And using special effects on the pristine voice of Anne HASLAM is like committing blasphemy! Gone are the amazingly engaging melodies, everything just feels over-the-top, as if the band is trying too hard. And there is so much repetition of old tricks--rhythms, riffs, structures, melodic hooks--everything sounds familiar--like hoge-podge, will-nill splices of old song pieces. There are a few--a few--magical moments, but not enough to make any single song call me back. Too bad.
Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars It's sad to say, but this is the last album on which Renaissance have put some effort and one of the lasts with their best lineup helped in this occasion by the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra.

I think it's significant that their best album (in my opinion, of course) is the live at Carnegie Hall. The Renaissance's music is symphonic by definition and the orchestra fits very well in their music.

The first two tracks have the style of their great predecessors, but in some parts they seem to be reusing small parts of older songs, re-elaborating melodies and riffs already used. The music is excellent but not very "fresh". Not properly a crisis of creativity, just a symptom. Of the two, "Day Of The Dreamer" has spare weak moments. It's a high-level song even with them.

"Closer Than Yesterday" belongs to the "short melodics" like "The Captive Heart" or "Carpet of The Sun". The difference is only in the acoustic guitar instead of the piano behind Annie's voice. a non-essential track built on the same structure of Carpet of the Sun.

"Kindness" is the kind of tracks that we fans wanted from Renaissance. Jon Camp's high volume bass and the usually great "classical" piano of John Tout (a Fender piano this time). It was years since when a Renaissance song wasn't featuring Annie as lead vocalist. Jon Camp has a nice voice, but Annie is special. Apart of this big difference, this song sounds very similar to other songs. In terms of songwriting it's like they are a tribute band of themselves.

Another "remake" of Carpet of the Sun comes after. "Back Home Once Again" has in addition a poppy chorus that I really don't like. A harpsichord in the background is not enough. The rest of the song is not bad.

Jon Camp has similarities with Chris Squire also in the voice. He uses his highest pitch on "She Is Love" and he sounds like the Fish (Out of Water). Interesting but non essential as well.

Another poppy song in the vein of Carpet Of The Sun: "Northern Lights" is nice but it's like an excursion into the British glam in the era of Punk.

The title track is great symphonic prog. The track on which the orchestra is more present and the one closer to the hieghts of Song of Sheherazade even though not so high. In the end this is still a good album, but it's symptomatic of the bad changes that are going to come. Another "almost good" album will be released before the bad numbers represented by Camera Camera and Time Line. This last will mark the end of the band that will try to resurrect in the 90s with controversial results.

Review by colorofmoney91
3 stars A Song for All Seasons is fantastic and not unlike the previous albums in the Renaissance catalog. It seems that most fans have decided that this album is of lesser quality for some reason. I honestly don't understand why, because this album still follows the folky and classical influenced composition structrures and beautiful vocals that have graced the previous albums. This album does seem to sound more symphonic and playful. One thing that is noticeable immediately are the shorter track lengths, but that doesn't at all affect the quality of the music. Because of the stronger symphonic qualities of this album, everything seems to flow together best as one large piece rather than individual songs, but it doesn't really make a huge difference at all. If nothing, the title track is especially worth checking out.

Highly recommended for fans of folky symphonic prog with a heavy symphonic feel.

Review by ClemofNazareth
5 stars There were a lot of changes going on in the Renaissance camp when they entered Trident Studios in the winter of 1977 to record 'A Song for All Seasons'. They had left BTM in the wake of 'Novella' and signed with Warner Brothers Records, a move that along with a management change (Miles Copeland out, John Scher in) presumably gave them access both to better representation and better studio conditions. As part of this change the band were also persuaded to take on a producer in the form of David Hentschel. Hentschel was best known for transforming Elton John ('Goodbye Yellow Brick Road') into a mainstream superstar, as well as for overseeing the dismantling of the progressive version of Genesis. This could have spelled trouble for fans of the band's progressive music, but in the end resulted in arguably their best album yet.

The group was also experimenting with electric guitar again, something that would become a major part of their sound as the decade wound to a close. Thankfully Michael Dunford's spacious acoustic guitar sound remained well-represented on this album, particularly on the shorter works like "Closer than Yesterday", "Back Home Once Again" and the album's mega-hit "Northern Lights". In a welcome change the band reverted to heavy use of synthesized orchestral arrangements on this record, something they would rapidly move back away from on subsequent albums but used quite effectively here. ELO conductor and keyboardist Louis Clark led the arrangements, most of which were actually performed by band keyboardist John Tout. And finally, this album marks the beginning of a shift away from lyricist Betty Thatcher in favor of collaborations between bassist Jon Camp and Dunford, as well a greater presence of the sort of extensive instrumental passages that marked the band's early records.

Everything seemed to be in place for a hugely successful (albeit commercial) release, and for the most part that's what Renaissance delivered. 'A Song for All Seasons' would become their biggest-selling album ever in the UK (with a Silver rating), would be another in a string of charting albums in the U.S., and would garner them their very own 'one-hit wonder' in the UK with the Top-10 single "Northern Lights".

While 'Novella' was ostensibly a symphonic/classical album in the same vein as most of what the band had done up to this point, that album seemed to lack a conviction and dedication to delivering innovative progressive music, veering instead into territory that sounded dangerously like an aging prog-rock band trying to remain relevant in the face of wavering confidence in their sound. It became their biggest album in the U.S., but largely thanks to intensive touring and the fact that there wasn't a whole lot of competition for old- school 'art rock' act in the States at the time. 'Novella' made little impression on the group's UK fan base back home, but such would not be the case with 'Seasons'.

While the music on this album is considerably more adventurous, ambitious and symphonic than the band's two prior records I'm not sure that's why it became so commercially successful. Rather, the nostalgic and somewhat jingoistic "Northern Lights" seemed to strike a chord with a UK audience that to this point had largely shunned the band. Prog fans can be quite fickle and conservative, and many possibly felt this Mk II/III version of the group could not claim rights to be considered the 'official' Renaissance. That song seemed to cut through this skepticism and gave folks back home something to appreciate even as Renaissance continued to ply their trade most heavily in the States where they had amassed a measurable East Coast following. In the U.S. the 'Lights' single barely made a dent on the radio and failed to chart altogether, but the style of decidedly British and classical symphonic rock Renaissance were still playing continued to be popular here even as it was being drowned out by the emergence of punk in and around London and New York. The landscape was quickly changing but it seems there was enough time left for one more majestic prog-rock record, and an argument could be made that this was the one.

The album opener, appropriately-titled "Opening Out" makes an immediate statement by the band with a light keyboard and 12-string sequence followed by an explosion of fat drums, orchestral strings and Camp sporting a new bass that gave his notes more of a guitar-like sound than on prior albums. The pompous arrangement reminds me quite a bit of the sort of stuff Kansas, Styx, the Moody Blues and even Pink Floyd were filling the airwaves with around the same time, and its not at all surprising that American audiences were quickly smitten with the big, bold sound of this album. This is progressive music at its finest, a swirling blend of strings, brass, layers upon layers of keyboards and fat bass, brash percussion and the ever-present plucking of Dunford's acoustic guitar. Annie Haslam's angelic vocals are almost an anti-climax here, and frankly this song would have been almost as strong even as an instrumental.

The magic continues with the even bolder and more spacious "The Day of the Dreamer", at nearly ten minutes one of the longer Renaissance tracks from their later years. While 'Novella' tended toward a more subdued and bleak sound, this song at least is much more like a celebration of music with an unabashed blend of tempo shifts, bombastic keyboard forays and frenetic orchestral passages that in retrospect seem to be almost defying the changing times and industry shift to simpler, less technically impressive punk and soft-rock pop. The shift to an aggressive funky arrangement four minutes in is quickly followed by a softer transition to scattered percussion and Tout's lush piano a minute or so later, setting the stage for one of Haslam's best vocal deliveries that almost rivals Jon Anderson's most dramatic performances circa 'Relayer'. This is a gorgeous throwback tune, one that even today takes the listener back to the heyday of progressive rock when idealistic lyrics, technical virtuosity and a general lack of concern for hurrying through a musical score were the things that so endeared fans to the genre in the first place. A majestic orchestral climax sets the perfect stage for a softer acoustic piece, and the band obliges with the brief "Closer than Yesterday" that recalls the best of the their unique blend of Haslam/Dunford singing/strumming accented by Haslam's own layered backing vocals and Clark busying himself with getting the most of Tout's two hands on his keyboards in the background laying down subdued but lush orchestral backing. This song borders on an anthem, and probably could have been one with a few more minutes of instrumental interlude.

Camp is all over "Kindness (at the End)", not surprisingly since it is a song he composed and one that is initially almost tunnel-focused on complex rhythms and big percussion before making way to Tout's finger-stretching keyboard passage and Camp himself on vocals. This is one of those prototypical early seventies-sounding idealistic numbers along the lines of classic Moody Blues and demonstrates the band could deliver a solid folk- tinged rocker even without Haslam, although wisely they restricted that demonstration to this one song.

The entire band contributed to "Back Home Once Again", a slightly more commercial- sounding composition that nonetheless fits well on the album and reveals hints of the direction they would subsequently take in the studio. This is the one song here that would not rank among the finest in their catalog, but still measures above anything else on record store shelves at the time.

Thatcher provided the lyrics for the remaining three tracks and as a result the overall mood shifts to a decidedly more English feel with restrained string passages, sparse piano and a much slower tempo starting with the subdued and brief "She is Love".

"Northern Lights" was somewhat surprisingly not the opening track on the album, indicating possibly the band did not expect it to fare as well as it did as a single. Hard to believe though as the melodic, rhythmic opening and Haslam's dominating vocals with precise echoing made this an easy and obvious choice for a radio hit. The nostalgic, distinctly English lyrics clearly struck a chord with the band's fans back home and helped to rocket this one to a Top-10 place on the singles charts there. The song is clearly what drove the album up the UK charts despite the fact this incarnation of the band had never had a charting record in the UK before. Musically "Northern Lights" holds it own on the album despite a much simpler layout that favors bass, acoustic guitar and harmonizing backing vocals behind Haslam as opposed to the intricate orchestral arrangements that dominate the rest of the record. The conventional verse/refrain/chorus arrangement indicate the group was in fact attempting to create a single, but everyone in the band's camp must surely have been pleasantly shocked with just how tightly the song was embraced.

And in true Renaissance fashion the band closes with an epic-length, pompous orgy of tempo-shifting musical explosions with the title track that ends the album. Drummer Terry Sullivan is credited on this song but in reality he mostly penned only the opening while Camp and Dunford fleshed it out into what would become something of a swan-song to the band's classically-inspired prog-rock background. Haslam covers virtually every octave in her range at one point or another, while Camp grounds each progressive shift in the arrangements and Tout breaks out every keyboard in his arsenal for a piece that seems to cover most of the band's musical history in just over ten minutes. It would never get better than this, and one has to wonder whether the group knew it as they put the finishing touches on the song and the album.

I don't rate very many albums as true five-star masterpieces and to be honest there are a couple things that could have led me to dialing this one back just a bit, most notably "Back Home Once Again" which is very good but not masterful. The album artwork could have been more imaginative as well, especially considering the band was known to that point for great attention to their packaging. But it's what's inside that counts, not the cover. And one song, unless its filler or a real stinker, shouldn't mark an entire album either. So five stars it is, and the strongest recommendation I can possibly make for a Renaissance album. If you've never heard the band or just want to find that one album that defines their classic sound most accurately, this is the one. I'd also recommend the first Renaissance album even though it features an entirely different lineup, but this is the one every Renaissance fan, nay every progressive music fan, needs to have in their collection.


Review by Warthur
4 stars Most Renaissance fans agree that the band went into a bit of a decline prior to them entering hiatus during the 1980s. Many place the point where the band went into terminal decline somewhere after this one - the consensus seems to be that things had definitely gone stale by Camera Camera, whilst the status of Azure d'Or is a bit more controversial.

That said, it was pretty evident that Renaissance would need to change their sound - they'd released a string of four studio albums from Ashes Are Burning to Novella which all ploughed much the same furrow, and it was time for a shift. So, Michael Dunford picked up his cobweb-strewn electric guitar and brought it back into become a central plank of the Renaissance sound for the first time since Prologue, and the band settled down to produce an album of catchy, accessible shorter numbers as was the wont of many prog bands facing the double whammy of emerging new musical styles on the one hand and changing fashions on the other.

That isn't to say longer songs are gone, mind - Day of the Dreamer and A Song For All Seasons offer the album's mini-epics, and with Day of the Dreamer quoting some themes from Opening Out there's a certain amount of artful interweaving going on here. Nor have their symphonic roots been lost - the Royal Philharmonic is here to provide orchestral backing.

Still, it's fair to say that this is the first Renaissance album for a while where the shorter songs are given the focus, and it paid off, with Northern Lights being a hit single and Back Home Once Again being picked up for the soundtrack of a TV drama. (The show was largely forgotten, but the extra exposure couldn't have hurt.)

With David Hentschel producing, it's probably no surprise that they sound just a touch closer to Genesis than previously, but both bands were deep enough in pastoral prog territory that some overlap would be inevitable anyway, and the shorter songs here are by and large good, though sometimes a bit cheesy. (Back Home Once Again, in particular, is a bit corny, and why the band thought that Jon Camp should sing lead on not one but two songs is beyond me.)

True to the album's title, the band were making an effort to adapt to changing times, and as far as prog bands adapting their sound in the late 1970s go, this is one of the more successful examples, though it sags just a little in the middle.

As with many Renaissance albums, early CD issues of A Song For All Seasons were rather lacklustre in execution, and that left me with a poor impression of it. The Esoteric remaster is strongly recommended if you are after this on CD, because it sounds fantastic and also comes with a live show from 1978 - extracts from it had been featured on the Dream and Omens release, but it's here that the full concert got an official release.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars This was the last gasp of Renaissance's prog period.

Two of the songs on this album are in the symphonic style that made this band great, and famous. The Day Of The Dreamer fits in with the heavy symphonic epics of the groups previous albums. The title track A Song For All Seasons ranks up there with the best of the Renaissance tracks. It's superbly orchestrated, and is as powerful a song as we've heard from Haslam, Dunford and the band.

But this was 1978. Small minded and greedy record company executives were herding their successful stables into the pen of pop music, where mundane recordings could be force fed to the masses, who had been convinced by the self proclaimed music experts that punk and disco had substance.

Renaissance bent to the pressure, and the remaining half of the album is made up of songs that begin the transition of their style from symphonic prog to bland AOR.

There is still some substance here. the orchestra adds some depth and complexity, but not really enough to disguise the drastic dumbing down of the arrangements. And the success of the single Northern Lights (a track that reminds me a bit of Yes' Wonderous Stories from the previous year), helped convince the group that this new direction was the correct course.

Where did that lead them?

Review by lazland
4 stars A Song For All Seasons was released in 1978, and is generally recognised as the last of the "Prog" albums released by Renaissance, although I personally find much merit in later albums. Not all "AOR" is bad.

Anyhow, that is for future reviews. This album, of course, contains the band's best known piece of music in the wider world outside of progressive rock music fans, Northern Lights, which, deservedly, became a smash hit. It contains, in my opinion, everything that is good about this great band, the soaring lyrics of the beautiful Annie Haslam, intricate and detailed songwriting, performed with panache. I fell in love with this track, and, as a result, with the band as a young 14 year old. I remember taking the album home with me on the school bus, with "who the f**k are they?" ringing in my ear!

The remainder of the album is a glorious example of how the best Prog rock bands from this "classic period" began to reinvent their sound, approach to songwriting, and musical commercial nous. Utilising the services of David Hentschel, he of Genesis fame, and the lovely orchestrations of The London Philharmonic Orchestra, the album still sounds wonderfully fresh and vibrant, and stands as a glorious buttress amongst much of the commercial new wave fodder of the day.

It is, in truth, symphonic folk Prog rock personified, only now, with the exception of two longer, "traditional" tracks, the wonderful Day Of The Dreamer, and the title track which closes proceedings, in a shorter form. This does not mean that any of the things which made this great band so vital are compromised. It merely made them more accessible, and that is never a bad thing to this reviewer's mind. The title track is one of the finest pieces of classical symphonic rock ever put to vinyl. Jon Camp's bass lines are simply to die for, and, at their best, as here, Renaissance most certainly gave Yes a serious run for their money in this sub-genre.

Of course, longstanding fans such as I will already have this album, and it is fair to say it still divides opinion. This review is rather directed to younger folk looking to see what they might enjoy whilst trawling through Prog Archives. If you want an immediately, beautifully performed, accessible introduction to the type of pastoral music that earned us lot the derogatory "bloody hippies" title in our schooldays, then look no further.

A joy to return to, four stars for this. An excellent addition to any serious progressive rock collection.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 172

"A Song For All Seasons" is the eighth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1978. It marked the return of the electric guitars to the band's music after several years of absence. Like happened on "Novella", the line up is the same. So, the line up on the album is Annie Haslam (lead and backing vocals), Michael Dunford (guitars), John Tout (keyboards), Jon Camp (vocals, backing vocals and bass) and Terence Sullivan (drums and percussion).

Renaissance had deeper roots in the classical tradition than did most of the other progressive acts, often incorporating lesser known late romantic, (and beyond), motifs into their recorded workings. Such ties may have helped them to remain true to their musical commitments at a time when many other progressive bands were collapsing artistically, somehow. However, "A Song For All Seasons" was Renaissance's last album to have a real progressive feeling.

"A song For All Seasons" has eight tracks. The first track "Opening Out" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is, in a certain way, a strange song. It's a very beautiful and melodic song that has everything to be an epic song, but due to a mysterious and surprising motif, doesn't develop and ends somewhat in an abrupt way. However and despite that, we are in the presence of a great track. The second track "Day Of The Dreamer" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp follow the steps and the style of their greatest predecessors songs. This is clearly a very good progressive track with several musical changes, all over the song, with some great musical moments. It's probably not fresh and enough inspired as other great epic songs composed by them, but in its essence, it keeps the excellence of Renaissance's music. The third track "Closer Than Yesterday" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is a very brief song and is also one of the shortest songs on the album. This is a song with a very simple musical structure, very nice and pleasant to hear. It's a typical acoustic ballad especially composed for the duo Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford with a lush orchestration on the back. It's a simple but a nice song, too. The fourth track "Kindness (At The End)" written by Jon Camp is an excellent song that at some times reminds me strongly the music of Barclay James Harvest. It's a very good song with good bass line by Jon Camp, great classical piano by John Tout and where the excellent performance of John Tout marry perfectly well with the voice of Annie Haslam. The fifth track "Back Home Once Again" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is with "Closer Than Yesterday" one of the smallest songs on the album, and because of its musical structure, it has a more commercial sound. It's a nice song but it represents one of the weakest songs on the album. And because of that we wouldn't rank it among the finest songs on their musical catalogue. The sixth track "She Is Love" written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is another weak point of the album and represents probably the weakest song on it. We can't say this it's a bad song but, in a certain way, the song doesn't catch, and the only thing I can say is that they should have been kept this song out of this album, perhaps. A totally incomprehensive decision made by them, I think. The seventh track "Northern Lights" written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is another beautiful and catchy song on the album. It's true that is a more pop oriented song but it's very beautiful and nice to hear. I think it represents a very good pop song, composed with enough quality to can give us some pleasure when we hear it. The eighth track "A Song For All Seasons" is the title track and was written by Betty Thatcher, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, John Tout and Terry Sullivan. This is the epic and pompous track on the album, but unfortunately, it represents also the last great Renaissance's symphonic progressive epic. The title track is a truly progressive song full of pure joy, melody, sweetness and grandiosity, and once more, the vocal performance of Annie Haslam is absolutely irreproachable. This song proves the grandiosity of this great band and closes this album with a golden key.

Conclusion: "A Song For All Seasons" is a great album but is also the last great Renaissance's album. In a world with The Sex Pistols and The Clash, there is no space for the progressive music of bands like Renaissance, Genesis and Gentle Giant, for instance. Those bands needed to be more commercial. Renaissance and Genesis did it with some success, or they would to have an end, which is the case of Gentle Giant. "A Song For All Seasons" was produced by Genesis' producer David Hentschel and he did an excellent job. I can see a certain parallelism between Renaissance and Genesis. Both bands belong to the same symphonic prog sub-genre, 1978 is the year of "A Song For All Seasons" and is also the year of "And Then There Were Three?", and both albums were produced by Hentschel. Finally, both albums are, in my humble opinion, the last great studio albums released by them. 1978 was also the year of Gentle Giant's tenth studio album, "Giant For A Day". However, while "A Song For All Seasons" and "And Then There Were Three?" are great works, "Giant For A Day" is a complete fiasco and represents Gentle Giant's worse musical working.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars Novella was an underrated album, as it contained the wonderful "Can You Hear Me", while the rest of the album couldn't reach that height, it's still a pretty darn good album and worth getting (and in fact, you only need to hear their awful 1980s offerings of Camera, Camera and Time Line to see that Novella is miles better). Of course the moderate popularity of the band in the US was starting to slip, which I guess had to do with disco (punk never really had much of an impact in the US) not to mention the transformation of FM rock radio from underground progressive to commercial AOR had a lot to do with it. So it's no surprise that A Song for All Seasons pretty much was the end of the road for American success. Strangely they were starting to get a small amount of UK success with "Back Home Once Again", smack in the middle of the punk era. How did that happen? I understood The Enid was able to withstand the punk-era releasing albums well into the 1980s due to the punks taking a liking to their music, and Steve Hackett also weathering out this era probably due to dissatisfied Genesis fans who disliked where the band was headed without him. Anyways, it's clearly a transitional album as they still continue with lengthy pieces, but with shorter pop songs designed for radio airplay. "Opening Out" demonstrates they can still make great material, and not too different from what they've done before. "Day of the Dreamer" and the title track demonstrates how they can still make epic material in 1978 despite being smack in the middle of the punk-era, while "Northern Lights" and "Back Home Once Again" were obviously short, pop- oriented tunes. As obviously Renaissance never bought in to the punk movement, much like Genesis, recording more pop- oriented material was the way to go. At least here they hadn't completely abandoned prog. I was surprised to see much of the album is actually quite good, even the more pop-oriented moments. It's no Scheherezade or Turn of the Cards, that's for sure, but nowhere as bad as Camera, Camera or Time Line. Still A Song for All Seasons has good material worth hearing.

Latest members reviews

4 stars It was by shear luck that I came across this album in a used record store back in the mid-1980s and it was what I would call spontaneous serendipity that I bought it having never heard of the band or their music until that day. I was flipping through LPs and the album cover stood out to me. Afte ... (read more)

Report this review (#2934838) | Posted by Four Corners Guy | Wednesday, June 21, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "A song for all our time" I can just imagine, after being presented with Renaissance's previous album Novella, a Warner Brothers A&R man gesticulating wildly, chomping on a fat cigar and complaining loudly that "I don't hear no hits!" .The band must have realized that by now, nearly ten yea ... (read more)

Report this review (#2402590) | Posted by Lupton | Saturday, May 16, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Just like you're favorite friends, sometimes you're favorite albums have their faults. That doesn't make them any less great or enjoyable, you love them just the same. A Song For All Seasons was both a blessing and a curse for Renaissance in that it help to bring them to a somewhat wider audienc ... (read more)

Report this review (#1892104) | Posted by SteveG | Thursday, March 8, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Mixed, but still rooted in their classic sound. This is the last Renaissance album to contain the classic sound of their previous albums. The late 70s found record companies pushing artists to produce more hits and to adapt to the new sounds that were coming out on the radio (whether punk, disco, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1706957) | Posted by Walkscore | Friday, March 31, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I agree with everyone that this work is far way better than Novella, and IMHO should be seen as the last great album from Renaissance, before the embarrasing pop era. A Song For All Seasons is a proof that Renaissance still had all possibilities to sound like earlier works. Although the album has a ... (read more)

Report this review (#985236) | Posted by MyDarling95 | Monday, June 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The hallmarks of the band is present. Another beautiful work of Dunford, Camp, Haslam, Tout and Sullivan. With two major pieces like The Day of The Dreamer and A Song for All Seasons, properly orchestrated by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Are worthy songs from the era symphonic band. T ... (read more)

Report this review (#940854) | Posted by sinslice | Sunday, April 7, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#414758) | Posted by DavidMinasian | Saturday, March 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My favorite Prog song is "Breakthrough" by Peter Hammill but probably my 2nd favorite prog song is "A Song For All seasons" by Renaissance, title-track of this great album. That is Folk, Prog, POP and Classic Rock. But that in every case is magical. As I think, in general if I speak of Classic ... (read more)

Report this review (#376436) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Saturday, January 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I started out with Renaissance through a gig at UMIST (Manchester, England) in a rather lively venue which faltered after the first number... Can you fix the sound? Err, no, it's all this glass, er, um WE THINK YOURE LOVELY ANYWAY ANNIE... and we were off. That would have been 1977ish so that mea ... (read more)

Report this review (#202448) | Posted by Spenny | Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars One of the last great albums I am an unashamed RENAISSANCE fan. The reason is a mix of the playful, symphonic music and the brilliant vocals by Annie Haslam. For me, that is an almost perfect unity. I heard both good and bad things about this album before I purchased it. I waited some month ... (read more)

Report this review (#201025) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, January 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of those 'love-it-or-hate-it' albums, apparently. Progressive rock-lovers hate a few things: disco, punk and pop. Although I'm not very fond of disco and punk (although they can be entertaining), there's absolutely nothing wrong with pop. I love pop-melodies, structures and lush productions ... (read more)

Report this review (#189881) | Posted by Kingsnake | Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An extremely underated album. (Donīt let the ugly cover put you away of it!) This is Renaissance at their best, with perfect musicianship with the orchestra, on a level that i donīt think they reached with the previous albums also with orchestra. All songs are very inspired ( with the exception ... (read more)

Report this review (#163770) | Posted by Semente | Wednesday, March 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't claim to know a huge amount about Renaissance but I bought this album having heard the hit single Northern Lights. I thought this was a gorgeous song and kind of regard it as a template for "if a prog band is going to do pop, then this is how to do it". The album itself I loved on first h ... (read more)

Report this review (#127007) | Posted by Nigel66 | Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's remarkable that this album gets such a variety of reviews. In my own humble opinion this is the last of the really great albums by Renaissance, the last one on which they showed their unique gift of writing and performing with a classic orchestra. Just listen to the opening track 'Opening ... (read more)

Report this review (#97732) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Wednesday, November 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was my introduction to RENAiSSANCE albeit through the single NORTHERN LIGHTS. I loved the album then and still do. Melodic catchy tunes with plenty of substance and development. Combined with the superb muscianship, production and that amazing voice; this album opened a new adventure in ... (read more)

Report this review (#92797) | Posted by huge | Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm surprised that other reviewers give this album such low ratings, especially while saying that early albums by the band are better. The early albums by the band show a sound in development, and tend to be a bit on the sappy, syrup side. With "A Song For All Seasons" the band expanded thei ... (read more)

Report this review (#20102) | Posted by | Thursday, May 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not their best album, but especially the title track is very convincing and beautiful, a wonderful mix of modern classic music, jazz and a little bit of James Bond. The two first numbers are good enough. Just forget the rest and you have a very good album. ... (read more)

Report this review (#20086) | Posted by Eb.Eb. | Sunday, December 21, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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