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A SONG FOR ALL SEASONS

Renaissance

Symphonic Prog


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Renaissance A Song for All Seasons album cover
3.63 | 241 ratings | 35 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. Openning 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

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Camp / bass, bass pedals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals
- Michael Dunford / 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars
- Annie Haslam / lead and backing vocals
- Terrence Sullivan / drums, percussion
- John Tout / keyboards
+ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Releases information

1999 CD WEA International 25959

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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Symphony of LightSymphony of Light
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Import
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RENAISSANCE A Song for All Seasons ratings distribution


3.63
(241 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
21%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
45%
Good, but non-essential (28%)
28%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

RENAISSANCE A Song for All Seasons reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
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))))

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#20090) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
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!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#20091) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 03, 2004

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!

EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#20092) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004

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.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#20098) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
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.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#20100) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 03, 2005

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
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?

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#47583) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#78490) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
4 stars 1978, the year of 'Tormato, 'And Then There Were Three'... The downhill of prog has clearly begun. Renaissance made no exception in shifting towards more poppy songs - the previous album 'Novella' is IMHO their finest and most artistic work. - Now, you expect me to bash this very different follower? Sorry, I won't do that; I like it a lot. An earlier reviewer hits the nail 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 miles ahead of average mainstream pop. A good example is the famous hit 'Northern Lights'. It just makes the listener shiver with joy. Of course its charm is based very much on Annie Haslam's superb voice - which maybe has never sounded better than on this album. 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 slow movement of 'Day of the Dreamer' I truly am touched by her.

What faults would this LP have then? Well, there's one song I don't like: 'She Is Love' sung by the bassist Jon Camp. Hardly that syrupy song would make an impression with Annie either, whereas 'Kindness' that ends the happy & romantic first side with sadder emotions is gorgeous and works really fine with male 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 majestic, long and progressive title track with all the ingredients of a memorable Renaissance composition. My conclusion: a very pleasant, perfectly produced 4-star album recommendable to friends of romantic, 'feminine' symphonic prog. Definitely my favourite from 1978.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#81269) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 16, 2006

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.

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#89214) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, September 07, 2006

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.

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Posted Tuesday, November 07, 2006

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...

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Posted Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
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 Haslam´s fantastic vocals. Kindness is another good song and problably Jon Camp´s 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!

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Posted Sunday, February 18, 2007

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.

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Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
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.

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Posted Sunday, May 06, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Sunday, April 06, 2008

Review by Gerinski
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Monday, March 15, 2010

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
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.

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Posted Friday, January 14, 2011

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Monday, April 11, 2011

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
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.

peace

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Posted Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Whilst Renaissance fans tend to 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 - I tend to see this as the point where things seriously began to sag.

The band had just released four albums ploughing the same furrow - Ashes Are Burning was, admittedly, fantastic, and I wouldn't blame anyone for enjoying the more-of-the-same selections of Turn of the Cards, Scheherazade and Novella if they were well and truly into the band's style. But I suspect many will admit that by Novella things had begun to get mildly repetitive, and it was time for a change. So, Michael Dunford picked up his cobweb-strewn electric guitar and brought it back into 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.

Unfortunately, these changes resulted in an album which, to me at least, sounds incredibly lacklustre. It's no surprise that one of the tracks on here (Back Home Once Again) was used as the theme music for a forgettable drama on British TV; the tracks here are perky, phoney, emotionally vacant and shallow slices of nothingness. They are competently performed but utterly cliched and safe, producing the sort of music which produces no thrills and doesn't move me emotionally like the best of Renaissance's songs used to do; it's soporific, unthreatening stuff which in seeking to become accessible becomes inoffensive to the point of being forgettable. The band's veer into New Wave pop may have been unwelcome, but if they headed on this trajectory for much longer they'd have hit easy listening territory. A shame.

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Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion 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?

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#718629) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 09, 2012

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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 07, 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 08, 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

4 stars Volte face part one! Well, my views on this album, as well as the one before, have surely changed. I now agree in the main with ClemofNazareth's review of this album. I don't think it makes the cut for masterpiece status; it's not consistent enough nor has sufficiently outstanding music in patch ... (read more)

Report this review (#199407) | Posted by rogerthat | Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An extremely underated album. (Don´t 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 don´t 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 08, 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 01, 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

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, Liv ... (read more)

Report this review (#20097) | Posted by Moogtron III | Monday, August 02, 2004 | 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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