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RENAISSANCE

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Renaissance picture
Renaissance biography
Founded in 1969 - Disbanded in 1987 - Reformed between 1998-2002 and again since 2009

There were two groups under the banner of RENAISSANCE. The first group included Keith and Jane RELF (vocals) and came from the YARDBIRDS ashes. The second and better known incarnation produced some of the best music that I have ever heard. Annie HASLAM's five octave range fit perfectly with the classical/orchestral rock (lot of piano playing & full symphony orchestra backup) created by the other members. The quick description I usually give is they are sort of like the old MOODY BLUES with a an incredible female vocalist. The soprano voice of Annie and the piano virtuosity of John TOUT allied to the beauty and refreshing melodies, the refinement of the arrangements gave their music its magnificent splendour.

Photo by Brian Tirpak

My favorite RENAISSANCE albums are "Ashes Are Burning" and "Turn of the Cards". I also recommend "Novella", "Scheherezade and Other Stories" and "A Song for All Seasons" are must haves. I would add "Live At Carneige Hall" and "King Biscuit Hour Parts 1 and 2" as their 'prime' material. Plenty to fill a day with class, power and ethereal delights. The best introduction to the band would be the "Tales of 1001 Nights" compilation, which together contain of the band's best material from 72 through 80. Also the very first album from '69 is essential. After 1979, the band moved towards a more pop direction, like many other bands did in the late 70's.

See also:
- ILLUSION
- Jim MCCARTY

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Turn Of The CardsTurn Of The Cards
Esoteric Antenna 2020
$42.99
Live At Carnegie HallLive At Carnegie Hall
Esoteric Antenna 2019
$22.04
$20.00 (used)
Song For All SeasonsSong For All Seasons
Esoteric 2019
$19.74
$15.90 (used)
NovellaNovella
Esoteric 2019
$19.52
$26.29 (used)
Live Fillmore West 1970Live Fillmore West 1970
Angel Air 2016
$10.57
$10.99 (used)
Ashes Are BurningAshes Are Burning
Esoteric 2019
$11.66
$16.19 (used)
Turn of the CardsTurn of the Cards
Repertoire 1994
$12.04
$11.56 (used)
Scheherazade and OtherScheherazade and Other
Repertoire 2007
$13.41
$34.99 (used)
Symphonic JourneySymphonic Journey
Symphonic Rock Recordings 2018
$20.15
$25.56 (used)

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RENAISSANCE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RENAISSANCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.76 | 340 ratings
Renaissance
1969
3.08 | 243 ratings
Illusion
1971
3.74 | 429 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.22 | 712 ratings
Ashes Are Burning
1973
4.09 | 616 ratings
Turn Of The Cards
1974
4.32 | 1192 ratings
Scheherazade And Other Stories
1975
3.75 | 380 ratings
Novella
1977
3.68 | 349 ratings
A Song for All Seasons
1978
3.02 | 201 ratings
Azure D'Or
1979
2.48 | 123 ratings
Camera Camera
1981
1.62 | 111 ratings
Time-Line
1983
2.14 | 70 ratings
The Other Woman
1995
2.88 | 58 ratings
Ocean Gypsy
1997
2.15 | 60 ratings
Songs From Renaissance Days
1997
3.03 | 102 ratings
Tuscany
2000
3.26 | 128 ratings
Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]
2013

RENAISSANCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.26 | 225 ratings
Live At Carnegie Hall
1976
3.82 | 58 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1
1997
3.70 | 54 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2
1997
3.85 | 26 ratings
BBC Sessions
1999
4.10 | 13 ratings
Day of the Dreamer
2000
2.42 | 12 ratings
Unplugged - Live at The Academy of Music, Philadelphia USA
2000
3.14 | 14 ratings
Can You Hear Me
2001
3.31 | 12 ratings
Mother Russia
2002
3.92 | 12 ratings
Live + Direct
2002
3.57 | 40 ratings
In The Land Of The Rising Sun
2002
3.15 | 13 ratings
British Tour '76
2006
3.17 | 14 ratings
Dreams & Omens
2008
4.16 | 30 ratings
Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert
2011
3.92 | 3 ratings
Past Orbits Of Dust: Live 1969/1970
2012
3.21 | 19 ratings
DeLane Lea Studios 1973
2015
3.86 | 14 ratings
Academy Of Music 1974
2015
3.19 | 16 ratings
A Symphonic Journey
2018

RENAISSANCE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.89 | 22 ratings
Song of Scheherazade
2008
3.97 | 13 ratings
Kings And Queens
2010
4.41 | 11 ratings
Live at the Union Chapel
2016
3.92 | 5 ratings
Live at the BBC Sight & Sound
2016

RENAISSANCE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.83 | 14 ratings
In the Beginning
1978
4.00 | 4 ratings
Rock Galaxy
1980
3.40 | 33 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
1990
3.19 | 31 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
1990
3.46 | 17 ratings
Da Capo
1995
2.53 | 5 ratings
Innocence
1998
2.57 | 4 ratings
Trip To The Fair
1998
3.83 | 3 ratings
Songs For All Seasons
2002
4.00 | 2 ratings
Heritage
2003
2.00 | 4 ratings
Midas Man
2003

RENAISSANCE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Island
1970
3.10 | 2 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.00 | 1 ratings
Carpet of the Sun
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mother Russia
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Back Home Once Again
1977
3.00 | 2 ratings
Midas Man
1977
3.33 | 3 ratings
Northern Lights
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Jekyll and Hyde
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Winter Tree / Island of Avalon
1979
1.25 | 8 ratings
Faeries (Living At The Bottom Of My Garden)
1981
3.57 | 18 ratings
The Mystic And The Muse
2010

RENAISSANCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Song for All Seasons by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.68 | 349 ratings

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A Song for All Seasons
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Novella by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.75 | 380 ratings

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Novella
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Aside from the 1969 debut which was essentially a totally different band bearing the Renaissance name, Novella, was, for all practical purposes, the first Renaissance album I ever bought, in 1996, for $1 (it was the true original US Sire pressing with ABC distribution). What I didn't realize was this album was never thought of in a high of a light as previous one, but after getting familiar with those albums as well, I really can't see why this is not as highly regarded. Try listening to Camera, Camera (a later offering from them, from 1981, never a good year for prog), that's pretty awful. Novella pretty much sticks to the same 1970s formula they did before, but to my ears it may have not offered anything new to the table that you hadn't already heard on previous albums. The opening song, "Can You Hear Me" simply blew me away. It starts off orchestral, but then the acoustic guitars kick in and Annie Haslam sings and it's pure heaven. The strange thing is I swore up and down I've heard this song years before I ever bought this album or even heard of Renaissance (or Annie Haslam, for that matter). At that time, me and my family were living in rural Oregon some 20 miles outside Eugene, Oregon (living like hippies complete with split-window VW microbus minus the Grateful Dead stickers) and getting their local FM rock station KZEL 96.1 (which is still around to this day) and there's a chance they had played "Can You Hear Me". Maybe that's why I swore I've heard that song before, but KZEL, like just about all the progressive underground FM rock stations after 1975, too succumbed to the commercial AOR format (you're far more likely to hear "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas in early 1977 on that station than you would "Can You Hear Me" by Renaissance).

OK, on to other songs, the rest of the album never reaches the mighty heights of "Can You Hear Me", on the other hand they are still very good songs, particularly "Midas Man" and "Touching Once (Is So Hard to Keep)". In fact nothing on this album makes me want to move the tonearm of my turntable, which is great. Remember: try listening to one of their albums of the 1980s, which are far worse, then come back to Novella. It's miles better. Renaissance newbies probably should try Scheherezade or Turn of the Cards as they're generally regarded higher, but Novella is still worth having, and oh, by the way, "Can You Hear Me" is by far my very favorite Renaissance songs.

 Rock Galaxy by RENAISSANCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1980
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Rock Galaxy
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nš 291

'Rock Galaxy' is a very special compilation of Renaissance. It's a very economic package that includes their fith studio album 'Turn Of The Cards', released in 1974 and their sixth studio album 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' released in 1975, on only one package. This is a very interesting compilation because it includes two absolutely indispensable musical works of the band at a cheap price, which would be a very worth purchase, at the time, for those who didn't have both studio albums individually. It follows the same pattern of their previous compilation 'In The Beginning', released in 1978. 'In The Beginning' includes the first two albums of the second Renaissances' incarnation, their third studio album 'Prologue', released in 1972 and their fourth studio album 'Ashes Are Burning', released in 1973.

'Turn Of The Cards' and 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' are two absolute indispensable musical works of the band. They're also, in my humble opinion, the two best albums released by Renaissance. We can even say that all those four albums, 'Prologue', 'Ashes Are Burning', 'Turn Of The Cards' and 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' are the four best works from the second Renaissance's incarnation. However, they're also better than the two debut studio albums released by Renaissance's first incarnation, 'Renaissance' and 'Illusion', released in 1969 and 1971, respectively.

As I've already reviewed these two albums previously on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my both reviews. However, in here I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them track by track, as I did before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of both albums.

'Turn Of The Cards': As 'Prologue' and 'Ashes Are Burning', 'Turn Of The Cards' is also a great Renaissance's album. In a certain way, 'Turn Of The Cards' is a kind of the second part of 'Ashes Are Burning'. In reality, there was little development from 'Ashes Are Burning' to 'Turn Of The Cards', and musically both albums are very close. For me, a darker version of Renaissance emerged on 'Turn Of The Cards' and so, I think this album is the darker and heavier version of 'Ashes Are Burning'. When I reviewed 'Prologue' and 'Ashes Are Burning', I wrote that 'Spare Some Love' from 'Prologue' and 'On The Frontier' from 'Ashes Are Burning' are the weakest points of those albums. Sincerely, on 'Turn Of The Cards' I can't see any weak points on this album, while it's true that 'I Think Of You' and 'Cold Is Being' aren't as good as the other four tracks, but, in my opinion, they're better than the other two tracks of those albums. So, although not as good and bright as 'Scheherazade And Other Stories', 'Turn Of The Cards' is, in my humble opinion, a much more mature, uniform and balanced album than both previous studio albums, 'Prologue' and 'Ashes Are Burning'. Still, I can't feel on it the same force, quality and originality of 'Sheherazade And Other Stories'.

'Scheherazade And Other Stories': I have a vinyl copy of 'Sheherazade And Other Stories' since it was released, and during many years, it was the only album from the band that I possessed. Still, it's nevertheless true that this wasn't the only album that I knew from them, in those times. In reality, I also knew very well their third and fourth studio albums 'Prologue' and 'Ashes Are Burning'. However, 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' always was my favourite work from the band, and it always had a very special place into my heart. Even now, that I own almost all of their musical works, it still remains so. Sincerely, I'm perfectly convinced that 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' is, in reality, an extraordinary album and it's also one of the most representative progressive rock albums from the 70's. I'm even also convinced that Renaissance is probably the most symphonic classic progressive rock band that ever existed and one of their best representatives. I think it has a very special place into the progressive rock. 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' is, for sure, one of the best progressive albums ever released and 'Song Of Scheherazade' is certainly one of the best classic progressive rock suites ever recorded. Concluding, no progressive rock collection is complete without this album.

Conclusion: 'Prologue', 'Ashes Are Burning' and 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' were my first contacts with Renaissance's music and 'Prologue', 'Ashes Are Burning', 'Turn Of The Cards' and 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' are the four best studio albums from Renaissance. They belong to the best period of the band, their golden era. However, I still consider 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' their best studio album and their only studio masterpiece and 'Turn Of The Cards' their second best release. If you have both albums already, you don't need this compilation, unless you have a collector vinyl spirit. In this case it will be a great addition to your collection, if you can find a lost copy. Still, if you don't have both albums yet and you own this compilation, it substitutes perfectly well the two original albums. But, if you don't have yet, these two albums, you must buy both, urgently. So, I'm going to rate it with 4 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2 by RENAISSANCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1990
3.19 | 31 ratings

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Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nš 288

"Tales Of 1001 Nights Volume 2" is a compilation of Renaissance and was released in 1990. It represents the second part of "Tales Of 1001 Nights Volume 1". As happened with that compilation, it includes tracks from four studio albums of Renaissance too. It has one track from their sixth studio album "Scheherazade And Other Storis", released in 1975, three tracks from their seventh studio album "Novella", released in 1977, two tracks from their eighth studio album "A Song For All Seasons", released in 1978 and two tracks from their ninth studio album "Azure D'Or", released in 1979.

The first track ''Can You Hear Me?'' was originally released on ''Novella''. This is an excellent track to open that album. It's a mini epic track very well performed especially by John Tout's piano and Michael Dunford's acoustic guitar. The beautiful voice of Annie Haslam is perfect, as usual. The arrangements, mostly of instrumental parts, are great, and the addition of orchestral arrangements is fantastic and complete very well this piece. The final result is a great progressive track. The second track ''Touching Once (Is So Hard To Keep)'' was originally released on ''Novella''. It's the epic track on that album. It keeps the same style of the opening track. This is a long symphonic suite, very classical and with great orchestration. It's another excellent track with another fantastique vocal performance of Annie Haslam. This is a very progressive track with several changes and where we can listen to, the sound of a saxophone. The main beauty of this track is its nice melody and its superb orchestral arrangements. This is another great progressive track. The third track ''Midas Man'' was originally released on ''Novella''. This is a beautiful classical track with a folky touch. It's mostly an acoustic track very well performed and with a nice final result. This is essentially a track performed by the acoustic 12 string guitar of Michael Dunford and where we can hear, in some parts, the sound of the tubular bells. Because it's a repetitive track it's considered by many somehow boring. However, I think that is perfectly unfair because it has very good arrangements that can be perfectly audible on any good audio system. The fourth track ''Nothern Lights'' was originally released on ''A Song For All Seasons''. This is a beautiful and catchy track on that album. It's true that it's a more pop oriented track 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 to us some pleasure when we hear it. The fifth track ''A Song For All Seasons'' was originally released on ''A Song For All Seasons''. This is the epic and pompous track on that album, but unfortunately, it represents the last great Renaissance's symphonic progressive epic. The title track is a truly progressive track and is full of pure joy, melody, sweetness and grandiosity. Again, the vocal performance of Annie Haslam is absolutely irreproachable. This track proves the grandiosity of this great band and closes that album with a golden key. The sixth track ''Jekill And Hyde'' was originally released on ''Azure D'Or''. This is a good track to open that album. Annie Haslam's voice sounds as good as ever. Despite the rhythm of the track be more pop than it was usual, it remains an unmistakable Renaissance's song, as fresh and cool, as always they were. The seventh track ''The Winter Tree'' was originally released on ''Azure D'Or''. This is a great example of a good pop track with excellent musical composition. It combines a nice acoustic guitar work with a beautiful keyboard working. It isn't as good as some of the previous tracks on that album, but it's still is a good track. The eighth track ''Ashes Are Burning'' was originally released on ''Ashes Are Burning''. It's the magnum opus of that album and fortunately it was chosen to close brilliantly this compilation album. This can be considered certainly the lengthiest epic of Renaissance but this can't only be attributed to the length of the track. We all know that it isn't, in reality, the duration of a track that makes of it an epic. "Ashes Are Burning" has everything that an epic must have. It has a very complex musical structure, blending nice melody, excellent individual musical performance by all members and the beautiful voice of Annie Haslam. This is, in reality, a memorable piece of music. It can be considered without any type of doubt as one of the greatest progressive rock tracks ever made, really.

Conclusion: With "Tales Of 1001 Nights Volume 2", Renaissance completed what they began with their previous compilation "Tales Of 1001 Nights Volume 1". Both compilations represent a great introduction to Renaissance's music catalogue, covering their career from 1972 to 1979. With both compilations, Renaissance covered what is considered their golden era and all the albums that are really essential to check their greatest musical career. Of course I'm talking about Renaissance's second incarnation. Who are used to the story of this great band knows that there were two different Renaissance's bands, with two completely distinctive lines up. The original line up, between 1969 and 1971, released two great studio albums, "Renaissance" and "Illusion" that must be checked too. But, in this case, we are only talking about the second Renaissance's incarnation. And in this case, in my humble opinion, all their albums that deserve to be checked are covered. So, as happened with the previous compilation, I'm going to rate it with 3 stars too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Scheherazade And Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.32 | 1192 ratings

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Scheherazade And Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nš 286

'Scheherazade And Other Stories' is the sixth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1975. It has often been considered their best studio album and represents probably the highest point of their fantastic musical career.

'Scheherazade And Other Stories' has four tracks. We can say that it's divided into two parts, the suite and other three tracks. The first track 'Trip To The Fair' written by Betty Thatcher, John Tout and Michael Dunford is a brilliant song and a perfect way to open this extraordinary album. This is one of the best and most triumphant songs of the band with a fantastic and amazing grand piano work by John Tout and a great vocal performance by Annie Haslam, as always. The story is a dark tale of strange happenings at the fairground and the music written by John Tout and Michel Dunford provides the perfect atmospheric musical picture to the song. This is really a great opener that can gives us a perfect idea of what is about to come. The second track 'The Vultures Fly High' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is the shortest song on the album and is an energetic rock song built upon a beautiful vocal harmony. It's the weakest song on the album but we can say that it maintains perfectly the high musical quality of the album and the typical Renaissance's sound. It's a song with a beautiful melody and the vocal performance of the chorus is absolutely brilliant. I know this isn't a much loved song for many of you, but, for me, it has enough quality, so I can enjoy it very much. The third track 'Ocean Gypsy' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is a perfect track and is also one of the classic songs in the Renaissance's musical catalogue. This is a romantic and melancholic ballad that fits perfectly well with Annie Haslam's voice. It has also a great piano work, nice acoustic guitar performance, a wonderful vocal performance and a great work of the chorus. This is a song with an excellent melody line and a very emotional musical atmosphere, and the final result of that is a terrific Renaissance's song. It's one of the best songs of the band.

The fourth track is the suite 'Song Of Scheherazade'. It's divided into nine parts: 'Fanfare' written by John Tout, 'The Betrayal' written by John Tout, Michael Dunford and Jon Camp, 'The Sultan' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford, 'Love Theme' written by Jon Camp, 'The Young Prince And Princess As Told By Scheherazade' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford, 'Festival Preparations' written by John Tout, Michael Dunford and Jon Camp, 'Fugue For The Sultan' written by John Tout, 'The Festival' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford and 'Finale' written by John Tout, Michael Dunford and Jon Camp. This is the great epic on the album. It's the most ambitious song made by the group and is so impressive that most of the listeners are tempted to forget the rest of the album, which as we have seen, would be completely unfair. Lyrically, the suite is based on the '1001 Nights', a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian tales compiled in Arabic, during the Islamic Golden Age History, which became a classic of the world literature. The tales are organized as a series of stories narrated by Scheherazade, the wife of king Shahryar. This king, crazy for have been betrayed by his first wife, marries a different bride every night, sending them to kill in the next morning. Scheherazade escapes of this fatal fate telling wonderful stories about various topics that capture the curiosity and attention of the king. At dawn, Scheherazade stops each story to continue in the next night, which keeps her alive over many nights, 1001. At the end, the king regrets for his behavior and gives up executing her. Musically, this is the type of songs that makes of Renaissance a transcendental band and stands as one of the best prog bands ever, and probably, put them as the epitome of the symphonic prog rock. This is a song that has everything that must have. It has perfect performances, good orchestral work, beautiful and fantastic chorus, excellent and amazing vocal performances and finally it has the perfect Arabic ambience needed to respect the lyrics of the song.

Conclusion: I have a vinyl copy of this album since it was released, and during many years, it was the only album from the band that I possessed. Still, it's nevertheless true that this wasn't the only album that I knew from them in those times. In reality, I also knew very well their third and fourth studio albums 'Prologue' and 'Ashes Are Burning'. However, 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' always was my favourite work from the band, and it always had a very special place into my heart. Even now, that I own almost all of their musical work, it still remains so. Sincerely, I'm perfectly convinced that 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' is, in reality, an extraordinary album and one of the most representative progressive rock albums from the 70's. I'm even also convinced that Renaissance is probably the most symphonic classic progressive band that ever existed and one of their best representatives. I think it has a very special place into the prog rock music really. 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' is, for sure, one of the best prog rock albums ever released and 'Song Of Scheherazade' is certainly one of the best classic progressive rock suites ever recorded.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Carpet of the Sun by RENAISSANCE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Carpet of the Sun
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars I did not know that the classic track from Ashes Are Burning was released as a single, but it makes sense: the song has a fine melody, it is short for Renaissance standards and the orchestral arrangement is discretely beautiful. In other words, simply perfect to introduce this band on radio at the time. I really donīt know how good this song performed at the charts, but it deserved to be a hit. The b side was another gem: Bound For Infinity was a plaintive track from the earlier Prologue Album, that a structure similar to A Face of Yesterday (from their second album, 1971īs Illusion). It is a beautiful, underrated tune, that I have always loved.

Both tracks are a great showcase for Annie Haslam unique, operatic vocals and the more subtle side of Renaissance instrumental prowess. Simple does not mean simplistic and they were a great example that fine melodies were not enemies of great prog music. Sometimes less is more. A classic!

Rating: 4 strong stars.

 Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1 by RENAISSANCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1990
3.40 | 33 ratings

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Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nš 284

'Tales Of 1001 Nights Volume 1' is a compilation of Renaissance and was released in 1990. This is a compilation that includes tracks from four studio albums of Renaissanace. So, it includes one track from their third studio album 'Prologue', released in 1972, two tracks from their fourth studio album 'Ashes Are Burning', released in 1973, four tracks from their fifth studio album 'Turn Of The Cards', released in 1974, and four tracks from their sixth studio album 'Scheherazade And Other Storis', released in 1975. These four studio albums belong to what is usually considered their golden era. These four albums are also the first four albums that belong to their second and better incarnation.

''Tales Of 1001 Nights Volume 1'' has eleven track. The first track ''Prologue'' was released on ''Prologue''. This is essentially an instrumental song, despite it has female vocals, but there are no lyrics and the vocals only singing the melody. Musically, it shows the strong influence of the classical music on their work. The second track ''Can You Understand'' was released on ''Ashes Are Burning''. The song begins with a fantastic and incredible classical piano solo and the rest of the song is performed in a magnificent symphonic folk/rock style. The vocal performance of Haslam is brilliant. This song has a rare and superb electric guitar solo performed by the guitarist of Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell. The third track ''Carpet Of The Sun'' was released on ''Ashes Are Burning''. It's a simple and beautiful song with a perfect and nice orchestral work. It's a very melodic piece where Haslam offers her great vocal talents and a very nice and peaceful ambient. The fourth track ''Running Hard'' was released on ''Turn Of The Cards''. It's a brilliant piece with a strong classical influence that begins with a fantastic piano introduction. It has fine piano melodies, good drumming and is brilliantly sung by Haslam. The fifth track ''I Think Of You'' was released on ''Turn Of The Cards''. It's a very short and mellow ballad, nice and pleasant to listen to. Despite be a good song it hasn't the same quality level of the songs on that album. I think it's too much conventional and soft for my taste. The sixth track ''Black Flame'' was released on ''Turn Of The Cards''. It's a beautiful and very melodic ballad with a nice touch of medieval music. Here we have the perfect harmony between the acoustic guitar of Dunford and the piano of Tout, brilliantly performed by both. Once more we have good choral work and some beautiful vocals. The structure of the song is simple, but very interesting too. The seventh track ''Mother Russia'' was released on ''Turn Of The Cards''. This is a massive classic and sophisticated piece that combines perfectly well the clear influences of the classical Russian composers and the political vicissitudes of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian dissident against the regime in the USSR. It's one of the most beautiful pieces made by Renaissance. The eighth track ''Ocean Gypsy'' was released on ''Scheherazade And Other Stories''. It's a perfect track and one of the classic songs in the Renaissance's catalogue. This is a romantic and melancholic ballad, which fits well with Haslam's voice. It has great piano work, nice guitar acoustic performance, wonderful vocal performance and a great work of the chorus. This is a song with an excellent melody and an emotional atmosphere. The ninth track ''Trip To The Fair'' was released on ''Scheherazade And Other Stories''. It's one of the best songs of the band with a fantastic and amazing piano work by Tout and a great vocal performance by Haslam. The story is about a dark tale of strange happenings at the fairground and the music provides the perfect atmospheric picture to the song. The tenth track ''The Vultures Fly High'' was released on ''Scheherazade And Other Stories''. It's an energetic song built upon a beautiful vocal harmony. It's the weakest song on that album but it maintains the high quality level of that album and the typical Renaissance's sound. It's a song with a beautiful melody and the vocal performance of the chorus is brilliant. The eleventh track ''The Young Prince And Princess As Told By Scheherazade'', is one of the parts of the suite ''Song Of Sheherazade'' which was originally released on ''Scheherazade And Other Stories''. It's among the most adventurous pieces of work they have produced. The sections come across as separate tracks at times, breaking the continuity and making the piece seem fragmented. This part has lilting harmonies, tubular bells and some wonderful flute melodies.

Conclusion: This is a great introduction to Renaissance's music catalogue, covering their career from 1972 to 1975. These albums belong to their second and best known incarnation. Despite the undeniable quality of the two albums of their first Renaissance's incarnation, 'Renaissance' released in 1969 and 'Illusion' released in 1971, these four albums are in general considered their best. They belong to what is considered Renaissance's golden era. About the tracks, they're in chronological order. They're all very well representative of the band and represent some of the best tracks of them. So, I've nothing to say against the choice made by the band. In reality, they're all great tracks. So, we may say, this is a good compilation, but non an essential purchase. We can always question the need of these compilations of progressive rock bands. They can never substitute the original studio albums. I think 3 stars is the right rating to it.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Turn Of The Cards by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.09 | 616 ratings

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Turn Of The Cards
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nš 281

"Turn Of The Cards" is the fifth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1974. This is another classic album of Renaissance, full of beautiful vocal parts, harmonies and classical music. It follows the same steps of its predecessor, but it's heavier, more dynamic and dark. But, the usual wonderful folky and symphonic music is here, as we can expect on all their albums. This was the last Renaissance's studio album to include excerpts from existing classical pieces.

After the two previous studio albums of Renaissance's second line up, finally the new band reached their stability. On "Ashes Are Burning", although Michael Dunford has contributed on acoustic guitar and much of the song writing, he wasn't yet credited as a full member of the band because he only joined the group prior to the release of that album. "Turn Of The Cards" is their first contribution to the group as an official member. So, the line up on this album is Annie Haslam (lead & backing vocals), Michael Dunford (backing vocals and acoustic guitars), John Tout (backing vocals and keyboards), Jon Camp (backing vocals and bass guitar) and Terry Sullivan (backing vocals, drums and percussion).

"Ashes Are Burning" has six tracks. All songs were written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford except "Things I Don't Understand" written by Michael Dunford and Jim McCarty. The first track "Running Hard" is a great song to open the album. It's a brilliant piece of music with clear and strong classical musical influences that begins beautifully with a fantastic piano introduction. It has fine piano melodies, good drumming and is brilliantly sung by Annie Haslam. The second track "I Think Of You" is a very short and mellow ballad, nice and pleasant to listen to. However and despite be far from being a weak song and the Achilles' heel of the album, it isn't, in my opinion, at the same quality level of the most songs of the album. Although, I've nothing against traditional and romantic love songs, quite on the contrary I really like of them, but I think this song is to much conventional and soft for my taste and because of that it's my least favourite song on the album. The third track "Things I Don't Understand" is another great song on the album. The melody of the song is catchy, wonderful and very peaceful and once more is brilliantly sung by Annie Haslam, which is magnificently supported by an incredible and beautiful chorus. The song sounds very epic and the keyboard melodies of the song are magnificent and once more are fantastically performed by John Tout, which was, in my humble opinion, a brilliant pianist. The fourth track "Black Flame" is another great song on the album. It's a beautiful and very melodic ballad with a nice touch of medieval music. This time we have the perfect harmony between the acoustic guitar of Michael Dunford and the acoustic piano of John Tout, brilliantly performed too. Once more we have good choral work and beautiful vocals. The musical structure of the song is simple, but the final result is really very interesting and great. The fifth track "Cold Is Being" is the other short song on the album. The music was taken entirely from the beautiful "Adagio In G Minor" attributed to Tomaso Albinoni. I know that for some of you, this song represents the weakest point on the album and probably it never should be part of it. But, I can't agree with that point of view. Sincerely, I think this is a very interesting version of the original theme, very emotional, beautiful and magnificently sung. I even think this song, is better than "I Think Of You". The sixth and last track "Mother Russia" represents, for many of us including myself and for the band too, the highest point of the album. It's the great epic of the album. This is a massive classic and sophisticated piece that combines perfectly well the clear influences of the music of the classical Russian composers and the political vicissitudes of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian dissident against the regime in the USSR. It's, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful and magnificent pieces made by Renaissance. This song is really brilliant.

Conclusion: As "Prologue" and "Ashes Are Burning", "Turn Of The Cards" is also a great Renaissance's album. In a certain way, "Turn Of The Cards" is a kind of the second part of "Ashes Are Burning". In reality, there was little development from "Ashes Are Burning" to "Turn Of The Cards", and musically both albums are very close. For me, a darker version of Renaissance emerged on "Turn Of The Cards" and so, I think this album is the darker and heavier version of "Ashes Are Burning". When I reviewed "Prologue" and "Ashes Are Burning", I wrote that "Spare Some Love" from "Prologue" and "On The Frontier" from "Ashes Are Burning" are the weakest points of those albums. Sincerely, on "Turn Of The Cards" I can't see any weak points on this album, while it's true that "I Think Of You" and "Cold Is Being" aren't as good as the other four tracks, but, in my opinion, they're better than the other two tracks of those albums. Concluding, although not as good and bright as "Scheherazade And Other Stories", "Turn Of The Cards" is, in my humble opinion, a much more mature, uniform and balanced album than both previous studio albums, "Prologue" and "Ashes Are Burning". But, since it isn't a masterpiece I'm going to rate it with the same 4 stars of the other two.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Ashes Are Burning by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.22 | 712 ratings

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Ashes Are Burning
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nš 273

'Ashes Are Burning' is the fourth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1973. It was the first of several Renaissance's albums to feature an orchestra. It's notable for being Renaissance the first band to bring an orchestra with the group, a characteristic that was extended by several works of the band in the 70's. This was also the album that turned Renaissance in one of the most famous and best symphonic progressive rock bands in the 70's. 'Ashes Are Burning' is considered one of Renaissance's better works. It makes part of what is usually called their baroque/folk era. It belongs to their golden era that began in 1972 with 'Prologue' and ended in 1978 with 'A Song For All Seasons'.

The line up of Renaissance on this album suffered a small change from their third previous studio album 'Prologue'. On 'Ashes Are Burning', the guitarist Rob Hendry was substituted by Michael Dunford. Michael Dunford, who had been working with the group only as a composer, had joined the band by the time that 'Ashes Are Burning' was released. So, the line up on this album is Annie Haslam (lead and backing vocals), Michael Dunford (acoustic guitars), John Tout (backing vocals and keyboards), Jon Camp (vocals, and bass) and Terry Sullivan (backing vocals, drums and percussion). The album has also the participation of Andy Powel (electric guitar), as a guest musician.

'Ashes Are Burning' has six tracks. All songs were written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford except 'On The Frontier' written by Betty Thatcher and Jim McCarty. The first track 'Can You Understand' is one of the best songs ever composed by the band and is simply brilliant. The song begins with a fantastic and incredible classical piano solo and the rest of the song is performed in a magnificent symphonic folk/rock style. The vocal performance of Annie Haslam is also absolutely brilliant. This song has a rare and superb electric guitar solo performed by the guitarist of Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell. This is clearly one of the highlights of the album. The second track 'Let It Grow' is a simple, beautiful and relaxing ballad with another incredible vocal performance by Annie Haslam. Again, we can notice the melodic and beautiful piano performed by John Tout. This isn't a very emotional song, but it's, for sure and for everybody, very pleasant, because its musical structure is very simple, making of it a very accessible song to listen to. The third track 'On The Frontier' is for sure the weakest song on the album and is also my less favourite song too. However, it's far of being a bad song and it has also some pretty and good musical moments. In reality, it has the same beautiful and pretty voice and the same nice vocal harmonies. But, in fact, it's very vulgar and it doesn't have anything really new and remarkable to show. The fourth track 'Carpet On The Sun' is a simple and beautiful song that is perfect and a nice orchestral musical work. This is the shortest song on the album that remains with its very particular style a very nice song. It's a very melodic piece of music where again Annie Haslam offers to us her great vocal talents and where she can brings to the song a nice and peaceful ambient. It's a very catchy song but it isn't one of the highlights of the album. The fifth track 'At The Harbour' is a return to a more complex and ambitious musical compositions than the previous three songs. The song is a classic dark ballad and is also one of the darkest pieces of music that Renaissance would recorded. But, it's in reality, a fantastic piece of music with brilliant musical arrangements and fine melodies, which provide to the song a real and truly dramatic effect. The sixth and last track is the title track 'Ashes Are Burning'. This is the magnum opus of the album, and fortunately, it was chosen to close brilliantly this excellent musical work. This can be considered probably the greatest epic of Renaissance but this can't only be attributed to the long duration of the song. We all know that it isn't in reality the duration of a song which makes of it an epic. 'Ashes Are Burning' has everything what an epic must have. It has a very complex musical structure, blending nice melody, excellent individual musical performance, by all members, and the beautiful voice of Annie Haslam. This is in reality a memorable piece of music. It can be considered without any doubt as one of the greatest progressive songs ever made.

Conclusion: In my humble opinion, I think 'Prologue', 'Ashes Are Burning', 'Turn Of The Cards' and 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' are the four best studio albums from Renaissance and constitute the best musical period of the band, their famous musical golden era. However, and after all these years that I know very well these musical works, I still consider 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' their best studio album and the only masterpiece of the group. Despite 'Ashes Are Burning' be one of their best pieces of music, it isn't, in my opinion, a masterpiece and I even doubt if it's better than 'Prologue'. As 'Prologue', 'Ashes Are Burning' has only three songs that can be considered truly masterpieces, 'Can You Understand', 'At The Harbour' and especially 'Ashes Are Burning'. Unfortunately, the other three songs aren't as good as the others and 'On The Frontier' is, in my humble opinion, even inferior to all the others.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Midas Man by RENAISSANCE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Midas Man
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars "Nothing is worth nothing unless it's made for Midas Man"

An edited version of Midas Man from the album Novella was released as a single in 1977. The single edit is 3:32 compared to the album version's 5:45, and appears for the first time on CD as a bonus track on the 2019 re-issue of Novella from Esoteric Recordings. It's a good song, but as is normally the case with single edits of album tracks, this one offers no real value over and above the full version and will be of interest only for curious fans and collectors. The Esoteric Recordings 3CD expanded and re-mastered version of Novella that comes in a clamshell box is however a simply gorgeous package and the ultimate edition of that excellent album.

The B-side of the single is The Captive Heart, also from Novella. This one is identical to the album version. Both songs are rather low key and therefore not really representative of the range of the album from which they are taken.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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