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RENAISSANCE

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Renaissance picture
Renaissance biography
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.

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.

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Ashes Are BurningAshes Are Burning
Import
Repertoire 1995
Audio CD$6.03
$4.90 (used)
Turn of the CardsTurn of the Cards
Import
Repertoire 1994
Audio CD$7.86
$10.42 (used)
Scheherazade And Other Stories-The Deluxe EditionScheherazade And Other Stories-The Deluxe Edition
Remastered
Friday Music 2015
Audio CD$20.33
$20.32 (used)
Academy Of Music 1974Academy Of Music 1974
Cleopatra 2015
Audio CD$10.99
$11.06 (used)
TuscanyTuscany
Import
REPERTOIRE 2011
Audio CD$7.54
$3.99 (used)
Da CapoDa Capo
Box set · Import
Repertoire 1995
Audio CD$9.14
$7.16 (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)

3.73 | 297 ratings
Renaissance
1969
3.06 | 212 ratings
Illusion
1971
3.71 | 380 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.22 | 631 ratings
Ashes Are Burning
1973
4.08 | 554 ratings
Turn Of The Cards
1974
4.30 | 1035 ratings
Scheherazade And Other Stories
1975
3.72 | 344 ratings
Novella
1977
3.62 | 308 ratings
A Song For All Seasons
1978
3.00 | 177 ratings
Azure D'Or
1979
2.41 | 115 ratings
Camera Camera
1981
1.61 | 101 ratings
Time-Line
1983
2.13 | 65 ratings
The Other Woman
1995
2.89 | 53 ratings
Ocean Gypsy
1997
2.16 | 59 ratings
Songs From Renaissance Days
1997
3.03 | 95 ratings
Tuscany
2000
3.28 | 116 ratings
Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]
2013

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

4.24 | 200 ratings
Live At Carnegie Hall
1976
3.80 | 55 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1
1997
3.68 | 52 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2
1997
3.84 | 24 ratings
BBC Sessions
1999
4.08 | 11 ratings
Day of the Dreamer
2000
2.45 | 12 ratings
Unplugged - Live at The Academy of Music, Philadelphia USA
2000
3.19 | 14 ratings
Can You Hear Me
2001
3.32 | 12 ratings
Mother Russia
2002
3.90 | 10 ratings
Live + Direct
2002
3.50 | 38 ratings
In The Land Of The Rising Sun
2002
3.20 | 11 ratings
British Tour '76
2006
3.19 | 14 ratings
Dreams & Omens
2008
4.15 | 25 ratings
Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert
2011
3.91 | 2 ratings
Past Orbits Of Dust: Live 1969/1970
2012
3.26 | 14 ratings
DeLane Lea Studios 1973
2015
4.08 | 10 ratings
Academy Of Music 1974
2015

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

2.89 | 22 ratings
Song of Scheherazade
2008
3.97 | 13 ratings
Kings And Queens
2010
4.70 | 8 ratings
Live at the Union Chapel
2016
3.86 | 3 ratings
Live at the BBC Sight & Sound
2016

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

2.57 | 12 ratings
In the Beginning
1978
4.00 | 3 ratings
Rock Galaxy
1980
3.44 | 30 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
1990
3.21 | 30 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
1990
3.45 | 16 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)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Island
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Prologue
1972
3.00 | 2 ratings
Northern Lights
1978
1.20 | 7 ratings
Faeries (Living At The Bottom Of My Garden)
1981
3.57 | 16 ratings
The Mystic And The Muse
2010

RENAISSANCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Scheherazade And Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.30 | 1035 ratings

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Scheherazade And Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars Symphonic crossover prog?: 8/10

I would have never expected that the rather folksy and vocal and piano oriented RENAISSANCE (at least here) could be so appealing. This formula made me apprehensive because (for some reason) female vocals and classical piano are my biggest turn-offs. Luckily, we're talking about Anne Haslam and John Tout (respectively), which does present a much greater variety than I could ever expect.

The opener, A Trip to the Fair is initiated by a melancholic, dramatic piano, followed right after by the main section where Haslam's vocals are prominent. Her timbre is mezzo-soprano, although easily prone to attending higher notes; her voice is robust and powerful, really similar to HEART's Ann Wilson. Loved it. There is a short jazzy interlude, followed by a powerfully symphonic end. Right away, the introduction of RENAISSANCE's strong points (vocals + piano) is optimal.

Truth be told, for as progressive as they might, by definition, be, throughout the first three tracks there is little to call "innovative". The lack of instrumental prominence and heavy folksy tone is perhaps one of the clearest examples of the relative "simplicity", even with the usage of various keyboards and (mildly) complex arrangements. Of course, this didn't depreciate the album, but I assume crossover prog fans will enjoy it much more than symphonic prog ones.

However, we still haven't spoken about the high point, which is Song of Scheherazade - the full blown symphonic nine-sections suit that honors RENAISSANCE's labeling.

I can imagine sometimes song epics can feel boring. Twenty minutes of music can be tiresome if done unwisely. Perhaps RENAISSANCE was afraid that pianos and vocals couldn't entertain the crowd for so long. Therefore, the best option naturally is to literally make a movie-song. I mean it. The sections are (almost) perfectly divided into what could be "scenes". For instance, the introduction sounds terrifyingly a lot to what could be the soundtrack of a 60s Hollywood movie with the same name. Picture this: static shots of Muslim spearmen wandering on desert hills; lavish (Turkish) villages with sprawling markets shown by a helicopter shot, yadda yadda yadda. This is by no means a flaw, it's so cool actually. It's a surprising burst of adrenaline of a band that was sounding so soft until very little ago. The story is told linearly. There are many mood variations, ranging from slower but no less melodramatic parts to nice symphonic-jazz parts with a healthy dose of flutes and "epic" brass. The outro is terrific: atop the emotional symphony in the background, a choir (lead by Haslam, of course), powerfully chants Scheherazade's name. Maybe she killed the Sultan. Oops, spoilers.

The first side is not dull by any means, but calling it compelling would be a stretch. Worth of three stars for me. However, Scheherazade's brazen, blatant cinematographical pretension and its success doing so raise the bar quite a lot. I'm conflicted on the rating - whether 8 or 9 out of ten, so this might change in the future. What won't change for is my recommendation that any symphonic fan should grab a copy of this to enjoy the astounding Song of SCHEHERUAZAAAAAAAAAAAAAADE...

I mean it, it's pretty good.

 Live at the BBC Sight & Sound by RENAISSANCE album cover DVD/Video, 2016
3.86 | 3 ratings

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Live at the BBC Sight & Sound
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by rogerthat
Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Repertoire Records has previously dug out the De Lane Studios and Academy of Music concerts of Renaissance for official release. In comparison, this 'Live at the BBC Sight & Sound' package includes material that fans are well acquainted with. It draws from the previous BBC Sessions CD and adds, as the main attraction, video of the concert performed by Renaissance at the Hippodrome, London in 1977 as part of the Sight & Sound in Concert series. However, this main attraction has already been available, 'unofficially', on youtube for a few years now, something that the band acknowledged while promoting this release on their facebook package.

I was excited as this was the only colour footage taken from a live performance given by the band in the 70s. And it is a beautifully shot concert, way ahead of all of the band's DVDs including the recent ones in that aspect, covering the band from a whole variety of angles. However, when I saw the nervous look on Annie Haslam's face in the first close up shot in the concert as they perform Carpet of the Sun, I began to have misgivings. After a somewhat glaring misstep (hard to be too harsh when somebody's got a voice like that) towards the end of that song, her confidence seems to drop even more and she wears a kind of anxious and downcast look through the rest of the show, for the most part. The wide variety of giggles and grins sported by her in shows over the years attest to how unusual it is for her to be that aloof while performing. I didn't mind the show on the whole but I was also not overwhelmed and just said to myself that you can't have it all. Maybe best quality audio and video had to come at the (slight) expense of musical quality and show(woman)ship.

So I decided to play the audio CD version of the concert, just to see if the audio was better on it as compared to the DVD (it was). And I began to get a different impression of the concert, indeed of Annie's singing. On video, she looks tentative, perhaps weighed down by her perfectionist streak and perhaps also battling a throat that was protesting the workload she had imposed on it. But, on audio, I heard beautiful, confident and expressive renditions, as always. Yes, with those little missteps hither and thither, but it is much harder to notice when the sheer quality of her vocal delivery overwhelms you.

Turns out the Sight & Sound concert is another fine example of Annie's quiet resilience. Perhaps she may have been embattled by inner demons and may have completely abdicated the role of frontperson for this show to the more composed Jon Camp but she was still striving to give her best song after song and did not disappoint the eager fans who had turned up to watch the show. I could finally put in perspective the enthusiastic cheering from the crowd after every song. No, it is not that they were forgiving. It is that she and the band as such had truly mounted a wonderful show, in spite of the somewhat scripted quality these Sight & Sound shows have compared to less high profile performances by Renaissance (or other bands). My pick would be Ocean Gypsy but don't miss John Tout's wonderful piano work on Mother Russia. There are some fine, subtle variations in there that he's sneaked in unobtrusively without altering the spirit of the composition.

He is bolder still on the 1975 Sight & Sound show, also performed at the Hippodrome, shining especially on Ashes Are Burning, where he attempts a modest harmonic expedition rather than trying to play fast. No, it's not the second coming of Dave Stewart but it's still the most interesting keyboard solo I have heard from John Tout on this track. He's on a roll as such on this show and some of his best work on Ocean Gypsy can also be heard here. Annie is in finer voice, that is to say more like her usual, frighteningly invincible self and knocks Ashes Are Burning in particular out of the park. If I haven't said much if anything about the others, it's only because there isn't much to add except to say they are all in reliably good form, just as fine as on any of the other shows from the 70s.

The Paris Theater show is also a fine set but there's little to add because the song selections overlap, barring Song of Scheherzade. It is a more by-the-book set compared to the 1975 show. There is also a little trio of songs performed as part of 'BBC Sessions' first released on radio in 1978. Of these, Day of the Dreamer turns out best and has some lovely bass playing by Camp, especially in the slow second verse.

So, is it worth it at the end of it all? If you are only interested in the DVD, maybe not, because you necessarily have to buy the full compilation of Renaissance's BBC appearances. Maybe they could have (and can still) release the DVD as a standalone purchase. But if you don't have the earlier BBC Sessions release, it is well worth the money. Not only because the performances are good but because the recordings are top notch too, easily better than Live at Carnegie Hall or Live at Albert Hall. You do miss the orchestra here, but as I have said in other reviews, the orchestra was never a quintessential aspect of Renaissance's live shows, only a special addition in a select few shows. If you want to hear Renaissance the way they usually were, except a bit more formal, this is a fine place to start.

 Live At Carnegie Hall by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 1976
4.24 | 200 ratings

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Live At Carnegie Hall
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nş 114

"Live At Carnegie Hall" is the debut live album of Renaissance and was released in 1976. It features songs from all their studio albums that were attended by the new Renaissance's line up, until then, which corresponds too, to their musical golden era. The release of this live album was taken from a live show recorded at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1975, which was performed with the backing of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Carnegie Hall is a famous New York theatre better known for its classical performances than for rock concerts. Curiously, or maybe not, this was the local chosen by Renaissance to present this live performance. Sincerely, I'm convinced that this local was purposeful and not by chance, because their sound is so close to the classical music that made a complete sense to play this live show in that place.

However, Renaissance was for some unknown reasons always more popular in the USA than in Europe. So, it was quite natural to record their classic live album over there. "Live At Carnegie Hall" featured songs from their four previous studio albums, and proved that the band could pull off their complex and orchestral compositions and arrangements very well on stage, too. When I say "their four previous studio albums", I mean the first four studio albums from their second line up, "Prologue", "Ashes Are Burning", "Turn Of The Cards" and "Scheherazade And Other Stories". So, it not includes "Renaissance" and "Illusion", the two debut studio albums that belong to their first and completely different line up. Anyway, these four albums are in general considered their four best studio albums, at least three of them, "Scheherazade And Other Stories", "Turn Of The Cards" and "Ashes Are Burning", for this precise order.

About the performance of the line up on this album, Annie Haslam is the obvious starting point with her pure five octave range that she uses so well. To the keyboardist John Tout lacks, perhaps, the stage presence of Rick Wakeman, but his playing is a key part of Renaissance's instrumental sections. The acoustic guitarist Michael Dunford is equally retiring. He composes the bulk of the material with the non playing lyricist Betty Thatcher. The bassist Jon Camp is all over the play and often his runs are more like lead than part of the rhythm section making a perfect interplay with the energetic drumming of Terence Sullivan. It's the interplay between both that gives the band such a vibrant energy.

The tracks performed on this live set were "Prologue" from "Prologue", "Can You Understand", "Carpet On The Sun" and "Ashes Are Burning" from "Ashes Are Burning", "Running Hard" and "Mother Russia" from "Turn Of The Cards" and "Ocean Gypsy" and "Song Of Scheherazade" from "Scheherazade And Other Stories". About the live performance of them, the title track from "Prologue" kicks it all off, and is followed by strong versions of "Ocean Gypsy", "Can You Understand", "Carpet Of The Sun", "Running Hard" and "Mother Russia". All these versions may not add anything that the studio recordings didn't have, but it's still great to listen to them in a live setting. The band also talks and comments a lot between the songs, adding a very interesting and familiar magic live atmosphere that far too many live albums lack. These are all tracks included on the first record. The second record in the set is taken up by only two tracks. First we have, of course, their great suite "Song Of Scheherazade". What is really very interesting about this track is that the album itself was actually still not released when the band played it here. So, you can imagine that the audience must have gotten some quite enormous expectations for it after listen to this track for the first time, that night. But the real highlight of the album is the fantastic 23 minute version of "Ashes Are Burning". This is one of the best performances the band ever caught on vinyl, and Camp delivers some of the most beautiful bass playing I've ever heard from him. In reality, "Live At Carnegie Hall" remains as one of the best live albums from a progressive rock band in the 70's.

Conclusion: There are some bands that are equally good performing on studio or live and Renaissance is one of those cases. "Live At Carnegie Hall" has great live performances, the repertoire chosen is magnificent and the live sound quality is excellent. All of these factors contribute that "Live At Carnegie Hall" be one of the best live albums ever made. This album is simply amazing and it has true fantastic musical live moments and basically it represents some of the best material from their golden era. All their musical performance is absolutely irreproachable, but the live performance of the second part of the concert is completely unforgettable. The 30 minutes of the "Scheherazade" suite is absolutely amazing and particularly the live version of "Ashes Are Burning" is, for me, even better than the original studio version. It's the highest musical moment of this live set. "Live At Carnegie Hall" is, perhaps, the best way to describe Renaissance's music for those who aren't yet familiarized with the typical sound of the band. This is one of the best postcards of the group and subsequently, one of the best musical works that can introduce anyone into their music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light] by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.28 | 116 ratings

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Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars A fitting Tribute to Michael Dunford, and a Great Return to Form.

It took a long time. Thank goodness for crowd-funding. Like so many other wonderful 70s bands, record company pressure forced a change in their sound. You first hear it in 1979's Azure D'Or (although still a decent album), but the changes would continue with Camera Camera and degenerate to the point of no return in Time Line (where the band's time line literally ended, for a long while). For some reason, it took Renaissance much longer than other bands for the two key members to get back together to make a new album (both Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford tried their own separate versions of Renaissance in the 1990s, but those don't cut it). I am very glad they finally did. Michael Dunford passed away during the recording of this album, after writing most of the material. It is a testament to his strengths as a composer that this material is as good as it is. Annie Haslam writes all the lyrics here, which are (mostly) very good, and although her voice has aged she sounds very good for a 65 year old. She has that same presence, and is still able to hit those (very) high notes.

Musically and stylistically, this album comes closest to A Song for All Seasons. The song "A Symphony of Light" opens the album, and (on the first release, before the bonus tracks) the song "The Mystic and the Muse" closes it. These are the two best and most musical songs, as well as the longest and most progressive, on the album. In between are a number of songs of mixed quality, with most of the album fairly soft, slow and mature. (So, again, in its structure it mirrors A Song for All Seasons). Some of the other tunes are quite good. "Blood Silver Lake Moonlight" is probably the third-best tune, and features a duet with Annie Haslam and John Wetton. In also find "Waterfall" to be quite musical, as well as parts of "Grandine Il Vento" and "Air of Drama". On the other hand, I find "Porcelain" and "Cry to the World" to be weak, in the same way that some of the songs in the middle of A Song for All Seasons are weak (that is, a bit too cheesy, with some trite lyrics). Three bonus tracks were added to the initial release, with two of these explicitly written as tributes to Michael Dunford and recorded after his death ("Immortal Beloved" and "Renaissance Man") although the third also sounds like a tribute to my ears ("Tonight"). These are all decent. Of these three, I like "Tonight" the best musically, but all three fit very well with the rest of the album, and together add up to a very fitting tribute. I agree that this is the best Renaissance album in almost 40 years. Who knows if Renaissance will make another album, but even if this turns out to be their last it is a great gift to the world. All taken together, I give this album 7.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to (high) 3 PA stars.

 Camera Camera by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.41 | 115 ratings

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Camera Camera
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Things Get Dicey...

Under strong pressure to produce a hit, Renaissance, now reduced to only three members, gave in and went full-hog into the early 80s new wave sound with an eye on radio play. The result is, shall we say, less than flattering. Unlike Azure D'Or, which kept its dignity and class even in the face of a complete change in sound, Camera Camera just comes across as crass. Even the photos on the album show them pandering. Of course, this being Renaissance, there is still some decent music on this album, but it is dwarfed by the majority of tunes which are generally quite bad. There are basically three songs here that I like and can listen to: "Tyrant-Tula", "Okichi-San", and the closer, "Ukraine Ways". The other 6 tunes range in quality from throwaway downward. But even these three decent tunes are not good enough to warrant making this part of your Renaissance collection. I give this album 3.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to low 2 PA stars. Only for dedicated fans and archivists.

 Azure D'Or by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.00 | 177 ratings

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Azure D'Or
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars A Change in Sound, but still OK.

This is the album where Renaissance gave in to the record company, and began writing directly for radio exposure, melding a distinctly early British new wave sound into their own style. The result is that if you did not know in advance, you might not realize this is Renaissance when you hear it. All of the songs here are short and poppy, and use lots of synth. Saying this, this is the best of their new wavey albums, and I don't think any of these songs are bad. They won't turn you off. But most of them are not that good either. The best tracks are the opener and the closer, "Jekyll and Hyde" and "Flood at Lyons" - these are really the only memorable tunes. Some other tracks, including "Winter Tree", and "Only Angels Have Wings" have some charm too. There is one decent instrumental too, "Discovery", which would have been a great introductory section to an extended epic, but alas it just ends instead of morphing into another tune like would have happened on one of their earlier albums. The general effect is one of a nice pleasant album but one you don't really remember or care about too much. Definitely not as bad as the two albums that would follow this one. I give this album 5.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates as low 3 PA stars.

 A Song For All Seasons by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.62 | 308 ratings

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A Song For All Seasons
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Mixed, but still rooted in their classic sound.

This is the last Renaissance album to contain the classic sound of their previous albums. The late 70s found record companies pushing artists to produce more hits and to adapt to the new sounds that were coming out on the radio (whether punk, disco, or new wave). While Renaissance would do this on their next album (Azure D'Or), A Song for All Seasons avoids such temptations, but it is still clear that they have compromised, mainly by mixing shorter more catchy songs among their longer extended compositions. The result is an album that is both is a mix of Novella (and its extended symphonic approach), and of a more 70s-contemporary AOR approach with a bunch of four-minute tunes meant to please the record company execs. The structure is in the form of a sandwich. The good (extended) compositions come at the beginning, and end, of the album, with the shorter AOR pieces in the middle. Of course, the three best tracks are the ones in the former mode. These are "Opening Out", "Day of the Dreamer" and the title track "A Song for All Seasons", which although only three tracks they take up more than half of the album (since these are the longer tunes). These are the tracks that make the album worth getting. Of the middle/shorter tracks, I find only "Northern Lights" does anything for me. The other songs are not bad though - nothing off-putting, just too fluffy and mainstream-AOR sounding for my taste (unlike later albums like Camera Camera and Timeline, which contain some actually bad songs). I give this album 6.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to mid 3 PA stars.

 Novella by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.72 | 344 ratings

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Novella
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars High Quality, if Slower.

Building on the symphonic approach they developed on their previous album (Scheherazade and other stories), Novella continues with extended pieces that develop over multiple sections, and that use the interaction between the music and lyrics to wax philosophically about life. This album has been faulted by some reviewers for being slow, and for sure it is slower (in tempo, and in getting to the punchline) than their earlier albums. It leans more on the progressive symphonic build-ups, and less on standard rock approaches. But what they sacrifice in rocking edge, they gain in subtlety and compositional development. This is the most mature-sounding album in the whole Renaissance catalogue. They very clearly are not interested here in commercial success, but instead on making lasting quality music. And it works. The album begins with "Can You Hear Me?", a tune which both harkens back to their earlier pieces like "Can you understand" and to the first tune on their previous album "A Trip to the Fair", in that it couples ambivalence and questions in the lyrics with pensive musical arrangements to create a piece of music that makes you think. This approach continues throughout the album, with "The Sisters", "The Captive Heart" and "Touching Once" all building on the pensive atmosphere. ("Midas Man", in the middle of the album is also pretty good, but not quite in the same league). It is true that I (also) would like to have heard more diversity in terms of tempo and soloing - this would have lifted the album even higher, perhaps into the five-star territory. Alas it does not, and does not reach the heights reached on their previous album. But it is still excellent as it is, among the best of Renaissance's albums. I give it 8.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

 Scheherazade And Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.30 | 1035 ratings

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Scheherazade And Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Their Masterpiece.

On this album, Renaissance put in their best effort and create a wonderful collection of music whose legacy will last for decades. While a natural evolution of their sound on 'Ashes' and 'Turn', this album also sees the songwriting develop and mature to a very high level. The highlight, and the pinnacle of their career in my opinion, is their extended epic "Song of Scheherazade", which takes up side B of the vinyl album. The music was written by three members of the band, while incorporating elements and interpretations of Rimsky-Korsakov's piece "Scheherazade" (with their lyricist, poet Betty Thatcher, once again writing the lyrics). For this piece they added a full orchestra. It is really a shining example of how good music can be, and like all things that are worth the time, it takes a bit of effort. But the reward in musicality is very high. Side A, however, is also great, containing some of the band's most innovative pieces. "A Trip to the Fair" begins the album, setting up a very interesting atmosphere, part-carnival, part-pensive and confused-waxing philosophical ("but nobody was there?"). The song immediately signals that this is an intellectual album, and it makes one stop and think. 'The Vultures Fly High", a short but likewise introspective and pensive piece follows, with "Ocean Gypsy" closing the side. The latter, like "Ashes are Burning" and "Mother Russia", would become a live staple, very musical (even if the most traditional in its form on this album). All in all, amazing music from beginning to end. I give this 9.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which sets it firmly within the 5 PA star realm. Absolutely essential.

 Turn Of The Cards by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.08 | 554 ratings

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Turn Of The Cards
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars A Key Renaissance Album.

Rennaissance continue with the same pattern they set up on "Ashes are Burning" with this release, although it has a few more rock-oriented edges than its predecessor. Like 'Ashes', it contains some of their key compositions, including the excellent opener, "Running Hard", and amazing closer, "Mother Russia", both of which would become two of the highlights of their live shows (and on their great Live at Carnegie Hall album). "Things I don't Understand" is excellent too (the third-best track), while "I Think of You" and "Black Flame" are both beautifully-sung slow ballads that showcase Annie Haslam's beautiful voice (with the latter tune in particular producing a lovely dark pensive atmosphere). The only track here that could be considered a disappointment is "Cold is Being" which involves lyrics over top of the traditional classic piece "Adagio for Organ and Strings" by Tomaso Albinoni/ Remo Giazotto. This track just doesn't work, and I find I need to hit the skip button just for this one. But the rest of the album is just wonderful, a natural evolution from 'Ashes'. I give this album 8.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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