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Renaissance BBC Sessions  album cover
3.85 | 27 ratings | 5 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (59:20)
1. Prologue (6:56)
2. Vultures Fly High (2:52)
3. Midas Man (3:54)
4. Day Of The Dreamer (9:53)
5. Touching Once (10:15)
6. Song Of Scheherazade (25:30)

CD 2 (62:42)
1. Can You Hear Me (13:24)
2. Ocean Gypsy (7:29)
3. Carpet Of The Sun (3:36)
4. Mother Russia (10:18)
5. Running Hard (9:36)
6. Ashes Are Burning (18:29)

Total Time: 122:02

Line-up / Musicians

- John Tout / keyboards, vocals
- Annie Haslam / lead and backing vocals
- Jon Camp / bass, bass pedals, cello, vocals
- Terence Sullivan / drums, percussion, vocals
- Michael Dunford / acoustic guitar, electric guitars, vocals

Releases information

2CD Wounded Bird WOU-1001 (1999)

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RENAISSANCE BBC Sessions ratings distribution

(27 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

RENAISSANCE BBC Sessions reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
2 stars The only review for this is two lines long and gives 5 stars, as well as two of the ratings without reviews, and that makes me feel I'm obliged to lay more criticism. Well, in theory this 2-CD collection of RENAISSANCE live at the BBC - dating back to the latter half of the seventies - is fine. The track list is rather impressive per se. But when the sound quality is pretty low (a sort of raw and hollow recording), I'm myself not very pleased, no matter how memorable the gigs might have been originally. The official live (double-LP) release Renaissance at Carnegie Hall has much better sound quality. It came before Novella and Songs For All Seasons, which are lovely albums IMHO, while this BBC compilation includes some great tracks from these albums. But still that doesn't make this recommendable. Also the leaflet looks rather cheapy. It's much wiser to get the best studio albums of RENAISSANCE if you're newcomer to their beautiful symphonic prog graced by the golden throat of Annie Haslam.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This album is somewhat of a mix between Live At Carnegie Hall and The Flower Biscuit Hour albums.

It holds most of the great songs that the band has written during their golden era and they are impeccably played here. It is always a pleasure to spend two hours listening to these wonderful songs, even if "Trip To The Fair" is not included here.

It could have replaced some songs which probably don't have the caliber of "Can You Hear Me", "Sheherazade" of course, "Mother Russia" etc. Because, I have never been charmed by "Carpet Of The Sun" or "Touching Once".

One does have the opportunity to listen to an excellent live version of "Vultures Fly High". Full of rhythm, melody and harmony. I quite liked this short and popish song from "Sheherazade.". And last not but least: "Ashes Are Burning". The band converted this eleven minutes original into anything between eighteen and twenty-five minutes long while layed live.

Both versions from the Carnegie and the Flower Hour held a dull and useless long bass solo and even if this version also features one, it is smoother and hopefully shorter (two minutes or so). So even if I never understood their approach, I have to admit that it is bearable during this BBC Sessions and it is my preferred one of the whole (even if unlike the Flower Hour one, we won't have the great vocalize during the final part).

It is a very good live album with an impressive set list and one can appreciate the fact that all these songs are played without the support of an orchestra which is rather interesting. Four stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Until not so long ago I often found myself asking how Renaissance would sound live without all the orchestration that was a kind of trademark fo the band during their heydey in the 70´s. The only two live CDs I knew until recently were kind of ´special´ occasions recordings (i.e., recorded with the aid of a live orchestra). Obviously no band could afford to have a whole orchestra - or even part of it - to back them on every concert they were performing. So, while I enjoyed both 1976´s Live At The Carnegie Hall and and both parts of 1997´s Live At The Albert Hall, I was quite curious to know how they handled their highly elaborated arrangements without strings, horns and, sometimes, choirs. I wondered if the music could hold my interest and how they would replace those huge orchestral parts.

Thanks to those BBC sessions, my curiosity was satisfied. In fact, I was quite surprised to see they played even the whole 24 minute Scheherazade suite with only the help of John Tout´s synths (and his talent) to replace it all. And they did pretty well, specially if you relember that this was the 70´s, so gimmicks such as samplers were simply unavailable then. He had to do it with the quite primitive string and horn synthesizers they had at the time. But I was amazed how well in fact it all worked! The guy is simply a genius! He had his hands - and brain - quite full most of the time! Not only he was able to reproduce much of the original scores but also did a lot to keep the high profile of his piano and organ playing. Renaissance was always a very keyboard driven band and he doesn´t fail a single moment here.

Ok, the record is far from perfect. Some parts were not exactly very well recorded (the piano sound of Prologue for example is quite low in the mix), but fortunatly those moments are few and far between. Most of the time what you get here is a band full of outstanding musicians playing along with a very extraordinaire singer. Annie haslam never fails to prove that she can indeed sing that well live: what a beautiful, precise and powerful voice!! Needless to say, the rest of the band is not far behind, proving they could play live whatever compliciated songs they recorded on studio, with ou without orchestrations. So even overblown stuff like Touching Once and Can You Hear Me are performed convincely. And the band does it with such passion and precision you won´t miss the orchestral scores at all. Well, no, maybe they pushed it too far with Scheherazade, but still it turned out quite good overall.

On the other tracks, they show they are quite a good prog rock band, and I always thought that songs like Midas Man and The Vultures Fly High would make fine live material for them. Both songs are covered here and their versions even rival the original studio versions, because of the extra punch they injected on them. Even the usually overlong, a bit boring, Ashes Are Burning live track is a little shorter here (´only´ around the 17 minute mark), with a -thank God - reduced bass solo.

Conclusion: Renaissance was not so dearly loved by many progheads for nothing. They were truly special. their chemistry together was impressive and if you have any doubts about it, just listen to this CD. A real prog gem that I´m really happy having found it.

Rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!!

Latest members reviews

4 stars Truth be told, Renaissance is the type of band that probably could be able to perform their most stellar work in their sleep. An illusion given off by the fact that they are so familiar with their material, along with their super musicianship coupled with their always uber professionalism. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1366985) | Posted by SteveG | Wednesday, February 11, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Album announced in 1999 "BBC Sessions". It is a work of CD2 piece set that collects the live BBC session at the time that exists in the hight period as a group from 1976 to 1978. An intimate ensemble by the best member finishes being skilled. The presence of the music only of live is extraordi ... (read more)

Report this review (#48678) | Posted by braindamage | Tuesday, September 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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