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TUSCANY

Renaissance

Symphonic Prog


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Renaissance Tuscany album cover
3.09 | 75 ratings | 12 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lady From Tuscany (6:40)
2. Pearls Of Wisdom (4:25)
3. Eva's Pond (3:40)
4. Dear Landseer (5:19)
5. In The Sunshine (4:25)
6. In My Life (5:26)
7. The Race (4:58)
8. Dolphins Prayer (3:19)
9. Life In Brazil (3:40)
10. One Thousand Roses (7:12)

Total Time: 49:23

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Annie Haslam / lead and backing vocals
- Michael Dunford / acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Terence Sullivan / drums, percussion
- Mickey Simmonds / keyboards, backing vocals

Guests:
- John Tout / piano (2,4), Harpsichord (4), keyboards (8)
- Roy Wood / bass (4,5), keyboards (5), backing vocals (8), percussion (9)
- Alex Caird / bass (1,2,6,7,9,10)

Releases information

CD Toshiba/EMI-TOCP-65591-Jap-2000 (2000, Japan)
CD Giant Electric Pea GEPCD 1030 (2001, UK)

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REPERTOIRE 2011
Audio CD$6.41
$8.52 (used)
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CD a song for all seasons ~ USD $13.25
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CD illusion ~ USD $15.01
LP live at carnegie hall ~ USD $14.89
CD novella ~ USD $13.25
CD prologue ~ USD $7.32
CD renaissance ~ USD $14.50
CD renaissance ~ USD $15.01


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RENAISSANCE Tuscany ratings distribution


3.09
(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
8%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
27%
Good, but non-essential (36%)
36%
Collectors/fans only (24%)
24%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

RENAISSANCE Tuscany reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Renaissance are back!!Well actually this album deserves a "2 stars and an half" rating, cause my enthusiasm is soon interrupted after the first splendid vocal intro by Annie Haslam, concerning "Lady from Tuscany", becoming in a few aggressive passages a bit boring...obviously you have to forget their glorious past and think of the recent issues by Annie Haslam, in order to understand that her elegant pop/romantic soft rock is partially resembling the atmosphere of "Ashes are burning" or - if you prefer- is a modern and anyway sensible version of such an old album!! Moreover the lyrics are quite disappointing, sometimes banal, despite of their approach remaining the same!! All the tracks are fluent and sensible, but without the pathos of the old times, despite of their compactness (except on the "easy-listening" track "Life In Brazil"...). Instead try to listen to the last track "One Thousand Roses" and finally you find their taste for their old mood: that is a "romantic prog" mood, enriched with a delicious and simple solo as well, at the keyboards,plus an aggressive refrain too!! So I don't know whether this is enough to make this album recommended or not, but anyway you can check it out at least!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#20146) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As the twentieth century drew to a close it seemed possible that the elements were in place for a reunion of Renaissance's classic line-up. A reunion duly occurred but significantly without bassist Jon Camp or lyricist Betty Thatcher-Newsinger. In the event, John Tout was able to participate in only a few of the recording sessions, adding his trademark piano to the keyboard orchestra of new boy Mickey Simmonds. Annie Haslam took on the role of lyricist while Camp was replaced by Alex Caird on bass.

The result, while not exactly a return to form, is still a magnificent achievement, similar in many ways to Yes's 'comeback' album Magnification. While the sound here is clearly identified with the Renaissance of the 1970s, yet it also has moved on: less complex, shorter and fewer instrumental passages, a smoother more dignified sound where the ideas no longer tumble after each other in a rush but build sustainable atmospheres and moods. Economics also play a part as flesh-and-blood orchestras are replaced by a synthetic variety consisting mostly of strings!

Considering some of the poor efforts of the early 1980s, it is a relief to find Michael Dunford has not, after all, lost the ability to write memorable well-crafted tunes that stick in the mind long after the CD has finished. And Annie has contributed some fine lyrics, addressing topics like the plight of beached dolphins [Dolphin's Prayer], using race-running as a metaphor for a need for acceptance and popularity [The Race], or an open letter to the 18thC painter/sculptor who created the lions in London's Trafalgar Square [Dear Landseer]. Nothing earth shattering at all but something with a little more meat than the generic adult relationships of several songs.

As in their heyday, songs are written specifically to suit Annie's voice, using her range and abilities to enhance rather than superficially impress with unnecessary theatrics. She sounds wonderful, as good as she has ever done. Musically they range from simple ballads where Annie is accompanied only by lush keyboard orchestration [Eva's Pond and Dolphin's Prayer], to more energetic songs with longer and more developed arrangements [Deer Landseer, One Thousand Roses and especially The Race]. The interest is in detail and dynamic, rather than complexity: a delicious 'flute' solo, a sexy trill from Annie, a Mellotron-like string-pad, a jig-like keyboard riff, or a brief section of male harmonies from Roy Wood. These are the things that make this album special.

Taken on merit, Tuscany is a very fine album indeed, clearly tracing its lineage to the great days of the 1970s, yet replacing youthful energy with a sage maturity. The emphasis is less on instrumental dexterity and more on overall quality of performance concentrating on their greatest asset - Annie's voice. It is perhaps what you might expect them to make after all this time. Sadly, and very frustratingly, the nature of human egos mean Tuscany is likely to be the last original work from Renaissance. If so, then it stands as a fitting epitaph to a great band.

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Send comments to Joolz (BETA) | Report this review (#97750) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 09, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Here comes Renaissance for what is still to date their last studio album.

"Tuscany" was released some twenty one years after their last decent album IMO ("Azure D'Or"), and I am not convinced that it was a good idea. Of course, it will lead to a reunion tour and lots of souvenirs coming back but as such, this album is not a great come back.

I have some kind of mixed feeling about the opener and title track which has some good passages but is too pop oriented to be really convincing. Annie's voice is always a pleasure to listen to and "Pearls Of Wisdom" is such a track during which she can fully display her talent. A nice and charming ballad. A good (but short) true "Renaissance" song.

Shortly formatted songs are the trends here. The mellowish "Eva's Pond" as well as the folkish "Dear Landseer" are good examples of what NOT to do. Trying to resemble to the good old "Renaissance" but with little inspiration. Flat, flat and again flat.

This album is unfortunately a collection of uninspired songs. Far from the great recordings which the band released a long time ago of course. It supersedes their poor "Time Line" or "The Other Woman" only by the fact that the band is trying in some way to renew with their original and symphonic sounds and dropped their disgusting electro pop mood.

But none of the tracks featured here could ever compete with their great work. Just a collection of average songs which leads to an overall feeling of dullness and uniformity. It is very difficult to find an outstanding track on this album. On the contrary, a song as The Race could have been released on their prior works (which is not a compliment). Very poor. Press next of course.

Even Annie's voice can't prevent Dolphin Prayer as well as Life In Brazil to be a complete disaster. It is time that the album reaches its end even if the closing number is my favourite one of the whole (but there is very little competition to be honest). Poignant vocal intro for this second true old Reanissance song. But two out of ten is not a big deal, right?

It would be wise for the band not to release any new material if they are unable of producing a better effort. It seems that it is their decision anyway. Two stars for this rather disappointing release.

Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#168834) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Angel fingers and fine singing

There have been a number of attempts over the years to gather together those primarily responsible for the fine music created by renaissance over the years. These efforts have tended to flounder, and the untimely death of Keith Relf in 1976 means that a reunion of the original line up is clearly not possible. There have however been many fine musicians passing through the ranks, so a gathering of some of the great and the good has always been feasible. The sole constant in such a reunion would be the essential presence of the unique voice of Annie Haslam (although even here, Stephanie Adlington made a decent job of stepping in on a couple of Michael Dunford's Renaissance albums).

In 1998, Dunford and Haslam met up to discuss the promotion of a musical based on "Scheherazade". They were subsequently joined by Terry Sullivan and John Tout plus Haslam's husband Roy Wood (of ELO, The Move, and Wizzard). The original intention was to simply record some bonus tracks for an already planned release, but such was the success of the reunion that they decided to record a brand new album.

Ten songs, all written by Haslam (lyrics) and Dunford (melodies), were recorded and overdubbed over two separate sessions. The first session involved the line up described above, but Wood and Tout were unable to perform on the second, so Mickey Simmons (keyboards) and Alex Caird (bass), neither of whom are former members of Renaissance, were brought in to complete the recordings.

The album is a clear attempt to recapture the majestic sounds of the band's heyday in the 1970s. The opening "Lady from Tuscany" has all the tenets of that era of Renaissance history, with time changes, punchy keyboard orchestration and the full range of Haslam's five octave voice. "Pearls of wisdom" features a fine piano arrangement by John Tout, the additional orchestration resulting in a truly majestic piece. Thereafter we have a succession of well produced songs which capture the essence of Renaissance. It would be easy, and indeed churlish, after a single listen to dismiss some of the content as lightweight. To do so though would be to miss the intricacies of the arrangements and the depth of the production. The songs here are brought to full fruition with sensitivity and care.

The album closes with "One thousand roses", a well constructed number in the true prog tradition of Renaissance. In all then, a fine addition to the band's discography which at time of writing sees them going out on a high.

"Tuscany" was originally only released in Japan some three years after the project had started, but it did eventually secure a UK release in 2002. The lack of interest by the record companies has meant that despite the quality of this product and the pedigree of the performers, no further releases have come from this fine band since.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#244136) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars Lady from Britain

This album could perhaps be regarded as Renaissance's "comeback" album and even if I haven't heard all of the band's albums from the 80's and 90's, I think it is safe to assume that this is their best in a long time. Devoted fans and followers of the band will undoubtedly enjoy this album. However, I think that few Prog fans will like this as much as the band's classic 70's albums. There is nothing particularly progressive about this music.

The Renaissance trademarks are still very much here; the distinctive vocals of Annie Haslam, the strong presence of piano and acoustic guitars, the influences from Classical music and Folk. The production values are high and this is not a poor album by any means. Indeed, this is a high quality product no doubt about that - a high quality Classical Folk Pop album, that is. There is a decent level of variety on the album and some songs are better than others. But no song deserves special mention. While well written, nothing here is particularly memorable for me.

At this point I must admit that I have never been a big fan of this band in the first place, always finding dissatisfaction with the lack of a strong Rock base in the band's sound. I do recognize the band's talents and I can understand why many people like them, but it is not really my cup of tea. They did, however, make some quite good albums in the 70's, particularly the rather groundbreaking self-titled one from 1969 as well as Ashes Are Burning. What is most appealing with those albums is the band's willingness to experiment and write songs with progressive structures. On Tuscany, however, with the exception of the slightly longer opening and closing tracks, all the songs lie in the three and a half to five and a half minute range and there is little or no room for any instrumental workouts or indeed anything that goes beyond traditional song structures.

This album is definitely recommended for serious fans and collectors, but definitely not for everybody.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#254327) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, December 05, 2009

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A reunion album from one of my top five fave prog bands of all time! I was quite excited about it. I was really glad to see the progīs greatest female singer Annie haslam back in the fold with songwriter Michael Dunford plus John Tout and Terence Sullivan of the classic line up. Ok, tout does not play on all tracks and bassist Jon Camp is nowhere in sight, but there were enough old faces to make me think of a great record was in the making. I guess we were all expecting too much, maybe? Anyway, the results were not bad, but they were not too good either.

The CD starts quite well with Lady From Tuscany and Pearls Of Wisdom. I was happy to see that Haslamīs voice is in great shape after all these years and the band was not far behind. The second specially have a fine fluid piano (played by Tout) that reminds of Renaissanceīs early stuff, around the Prologue era. However, the remaining tracks are not nearly as good. Not bad, but simply not up to the bandīs name and history. Of course nothing here is as bad as their 80īs output, but with Dunford writing and with such musicians youīd expect something more symphonic and engaging. And all you got is a collection of short songs with rather bland lyrics.

The band even tries something different with Life In Brazil, but the results are not very convincing. Besides, the rhythms chosen (a mix of rumba and calypso) for most of the tune are more caribbean than brazilian. Only on the last part of the song the percussion does have a kind of samba feeling. Fortunatly the last track, the 7 minute long One Thousand Rose, brings back the old flame and it is one that is par to their best stuff. I wish the whole CD had the same punch.

So in the end I have mixed feelings about Tuscany. If they had better songs and were a little bolder on the arrangements this could be THE comeback album. As it is I found it to be quite pleasant and not exactly what I was expecting from such remarkable and classic band. Rating: sopmething between 2,5 and 3 stars. Iīll round up to full three stars because Haslamīs voice makes all the difference and she can turn even the weakest stuff into something good just because she sings it.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#293859) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, August 09, 2010

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars After an impressive sequence of poor pop albums it looked like this once great band was doomed to disappear forever. Listening to things like "Time Line" this appeared to be also the best thing to do for Renaissance, so when I heard of Tuscany I've been undecided about the purchase. Now, 11 years after the release I have bought it, and....

Well, after the first track which conserves a bit of that electro-pop mood of which the previous albums were full I was very afraid to have wasted my money, even if the opening and the coda of "Lady of Tuscany" aren't bad.

But I was wrong. The rest of the album is a return to Symphonic prog. Even if they don't reach the highness of their best albums this is a good one. Starting from the second track to the last one with highlights like the excellent "Dear Landseer" and some weaknesses like "In The Sunshine", that's weak but not as poor as any track from Azure D'or to Time Line. The few tracks on which there's more electronic are preventing me from giving the album a high rating.

Annie's voice is still excellent. She doesn't try her highest notes (years pass also for her) but she's still Annie Haslam. It makes some effect seeing Jon Tout in the "guests" list, the same as seeing Rick Wright guesting with Pink Floyd.

A good album, not good enough to represent a rebirth or to have any follow-up, but a decent closure act for one of the historical bands of symphonic prog.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#476983) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars The release of 'Tuscany' was admittedly a bit of a surprise for Renaissance fans, coming as it did more than a decade after the last vestiges of the classic lineup finally called it a day in the late eighties. True, there were a handful of records and tours under the Renaissance banner, consisting of both Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford-led lineups but for the most part neither really captured the essence of the band in its heyday, and certainly neither group represented all the best the pairing of Haslam, Dunford, bassist Terry Sullivan and keyboardist John Tout had to offer.

Coming on the heels of a critically-acclaimed series of Dunford-arranged performances of the 'Schererazade' pieces in the form of a musical in 1997 Haslam and Dunford began to work together again, soon pulling in both Sullivan and Tout to participate in a series of studio sessions. While the group originally planned to record a handful of Haslam/Dunford compositions along with remakes of some classic Renaissance material, what eventually emerged was an entire set of original studio tracks. Haslam's former partner Roy Wood (the Move, ELO, Wizzard) was also enlisted in the effort along with well-traveled studio and touring journeyman Mickey Simmonds (Caravan, Fish's band, Camel) to fill out some of the keyboard tracks when Tout was unavailable. Interestingly enough, Simmonds would be listed as a member of the band on the resulting liner notes while Tout was listed as a guest musician. Bassist Alex Caird is also listed as a guest musician along with studio engineer Rob Williams.

The songs on this album are considerably more casual and elegant than the rather strident and New-Wavey work they had produced on their last couple of studio albums in the early eighties. The former band members were clearly quite comfortable and inspired to be working together, and the resulting songs are graceful, extremely well-produced and sound like a natural, mature version of the slightly classical adult contemporary music the band created in the late seventies before succumbing to pressure from their label to crank out more radio-friendly (but critically panned) music toward the end of their eighties career.

Tout's lush piano and harpsichord work on the laconic "Pearls of Wisdom" and "Deer Landseer" are instantly recognizable, and even when the group veers back into danceable pop-rock territory with songs like "The Race" and the closing "One Thousand Roses", the telltale signs of a youth spent creating their unique brand of classical-folk can be clearly heard amid the thumping, simple rhythms. "Life in Brazil" and "Lady From Tuscany" in particular show the old friends in rare form, with very little lost over the years in terms of their ability to meld Haslam's magnificent vocals with Tout's lush keyboards and in the case of "Life in Brazil" some unexpectedly energetic, inflected percussion from Wood.

The opening "Lady From Tuscany" and closing "One Thousand Roses" serve as perfect bookends for a collection of well-crafted songs that, while not particularly ambitious compared to some of their better known seventies classics, certainly prove the magic was still there when the group ensconced themselves in a southern England studio in the latter half of 1999. Despite legal and technical delays the release of 'Tuscany' on the EMI Toshiba label in late 2000 proved to be a great capstone on the band's career, and the brief but well-received Japan tour that followed ensured there would be further collaborations by the four longtime Renaissance artists.

There is still a Renaissance entity today which thankfully includes Haslam and Dunford together rather than fronting separate 'Rensaissance' touring acts. A new EP was released in late 2010, and the group continues to tour regularly. One can only hope another full-length studio album is in their future.

The songs on this album do not rise to the level of unique creativity and musical exploration that earlier Renaissance albums did, but given all the time and trials that beset the band in the ensuing years following their eighties breakup, it is certainly a pleasure to hear original music from them in the new century. A strong three star album and one I would recommend to any Renaissance fan that may have lost track of the group over the past couple of decades.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#522841) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars I had high hopes for this supposed comeback album, almost two decades since the last true Renaissance album. Sure, Michael Dunford and Annie Haslam each released albums and toured as "Renaissance", but without the other members, it was not the same.

Here, Dunford and Haslam are back together, along with drummer Terence Sullivan from the classic lineup. Keyboardist John Tout, who's departure really destroyed the band's sound in the eighties, was available in a limited fashion, and appears on three tracks. The inferior Mickey Simmons plays on the rest of the tracks, and sounds completely generic and unoriginal. Bassist John Camp, whose sound was integral to the classic symphonic albums, sadly, does not appear. Alex Caird plays bass on most of the songs, with Roy Wood on the rest, and neither shines.

The songs, while having Haslam's fine voice, sound to me like a band that just can't capture the magic they once had. There are slight glimmers of attempts at grandiose symphonic rock, but the inspiration just isn't there. Like recent Peter Gabriel albums, Renaissance substituted innovation and inspiration with moodiness and imitation of ethnic music.

Slightly better that the eighties albums, but only just. 2.5 stars. Rounded up I guess.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#743820) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars Renaissance to many people mean just one song, the haunting "Northern Lights" but they were much more than just a one song band, with many fans pointing to the album 'Scheherazade and Other Stories' as being the highlight of their career. Even though they were living on opposite side of the Atlantic by 1998, Annie Haslam and guitarist Michael Dunford spent time discussing how to promote a stage version of the album. One thing led to another, and drummer Terry Sullivan and keyboard player Jon Tout were encouraged back on board. However, Jon Tout was unable to commit enough time for the project and a replacement was found in the very able Micky Simmonds (Fish etc).

With Roy Wood assisting on bass (I am sure that he and Annie were/are married) a new album has been recorded that captures all of the majesty of the old days. Annie Haslam has a classical voice that many have tried to emulate but few have managed, and while it is her vocals that give the band their unique sound this is very much a joint effort with all of the songs co-written by Annie and Michael. Songs such as "Dolphins Prayer" show what Enya has been trying to do for so long, but has never managed to take it to this level.

I have heard many Renaissance albums and am glad to be able to say that this is one of their best. Welcome back guys.

Originally appeared in Feedback #65, Dec 01

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#970783) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Latest members reviews

2 stars The latest and probably final Renaissance album is said to be a return to the 1970s sound. I have not heard the albums from their "lost years" when they dabbled with commercial pop so I do not know if this is true. Renaissance has in my ears always been one third symphonic prog, one third cla ... (read more)

Report this review (#247608) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, November 01, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Strange album Tuscany. Ok, this album is extreme important because marks the return of Annie haslam with Renaissance. But I think that Mandrakeroot exaggerates with the compliments (like Joolz) also if in general I think that Tuscany is a good album. For the songs no, but for the atmospheres and ... (read more)

Report this review (#160299) | Posted by Stige | Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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