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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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RENAISSANCE Videos (YouTube and more)

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Live at the BBC: Sight & SoundLive at the BBC: Sight & Sound
Imports 2016
$32.10 (used)
Ashes Are BurningAshes Are Burning
Repertoire 1995
$11.98 (used)
Turn of the CardsTurn of the Cards
Repertoire 1994
$5.49 (used)
A Song for All SeasonsA Song for All Seasons
Repertoire 2012
$9.64 (used)
Azure D OrAzure D Or
Imports 2011
$7.96 (used)
Delane Lea Studios 1973Delane Lea Studios 1973
Purple Pyramid 2015
Scheherazade & Other StoriesScheherazade & Other Stories
$3.95 (used)
Academy Of Music 1974Academy Of Music 1974
Cleopatra 2015
$10.96 (used)
Repertoire 1995
$7.47 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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Two Renaissance Dance Bands Vinyl LP Record 1971 HQS 1249 USD $8.35 Buy It Now
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renaissance back home once again (vinyl V/GOOD+ but has label damage) USD $2.09 Buy It Now
Dalai Lama Renaissance - I Know You Will (Vinyl) USD $36.18 Buy It Now
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TUBES - Alive In America - CD - Best Of Live USA RENAISSANCE RECORDS USD $7.00 Buy It Now
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Renaissance 12" Vinyl LP Album Island Records ILPS 9114 VG/EX Record Album USD $13.91 [0 bids]
12m 26s
Michael Dunfords Renaissance - Ocean Gypsy USD $5.55 [0 bids]
13m 7s
James Zabiela - DJ - RENAISSANCE - UTILITIES 2-CD Set USD $14.99 Buy It Now 13m 7s
Renaissance - Northern Lights 7" Single 1978 K-17177 USD $4.16 [0 bids]
14m 39s
Renaissance Madrigals USD $1.29 Buy It Now 30m 15s
31m 57s
BYRDS: My Back Pages 2:30- Renaissance Fair-France 7" 1967 CBS 2648 Original ASL USD $74.98 Buy It Now 36m 15s
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RENAISSANCE The Mix Collection SASHA & JOHN DIGWEED x 3 CD ORIGINAL 1994 RELEASE USD $48.70 [0 bids]
1h 4m
1h 9m
RENAISSANCE TURN OF THE CARDS CD MINI LP OBI Yardbirds Annie Haslam Dunford new USD $13.34 Buy It Now 1h 23m
LP Record Renaissance Novella 1977 Sire Record SA 7526 USD $5.95 Buy It Now 1h 31m
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Renaissance "Azure D'Or" LP promo USD $0.99 [0 bids]
1h 45m
RENAISSANCE - Novella - Vinyl LP *Gatefold Cover Sire SA-7526 USD $0.99 [0 bids]
1h 45m
Renaissance - Turn Of The Cards Sire ?- SAS-7502 1974 Vinyl, LP, Album US USD $0.99 [0 bids]
1h 45m
NEW Fortuna Desperata - Gothic & Renaissance Organ (Audio CD) USD $29.35 Buy It Now 1h 54m
Sky 7th-The Renaissance CD NEW USD $15.07 Buy It Now 2h
Nathan Townsend-Prelude to My Time Has Come- Renaissance Man CD NEW USD $13.73 Buy It Now 2h 2m
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Renaissance 3d Satoshi Tomiie - Satoshi Tomiie Audio CD USD $10.44 Buy It Now 2h 6m
Renaissance - Back Home Once Again 7" - K 17012 matrix A1/B1 - Ex USD $9.03 Buy It Now 2h 9m
The Miracles "Renaissance Tamla Records T 325L 1973 USD $2.95 Buy It Now 2h 14m
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Renaissance Novella TAS List Sire SR-6024 Play Graded Record USD $1.99 [0 bids]
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Renaissance USD $8.01 Buy It Now 2h 40m
Renaissance Au Pays De France Ensemble Musique Acienne De Lyon French Pressing USD $11.42 Buy It Now 2h 44m
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RENAISSANCE Lot of 2 LP'S ORIGINALS SIRE records turn of the cards USD $7.47 [0 bids]
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NEW Les Châteaux de la Loire - Musique de Cour à la Renaissance (Audio CD) USD $27.80 Buy It Now 2h 58m
Christmas in Spain & Mexico: Renaissance Vocal Music, New Music USD $8.48 Buy It Now 3h 24m
Histoire De La Litterature: La Renaissance, New Music USD $21.86 Buy It Now 3h 26m
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RENAISSANCE discography

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

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

3.73 | 309 ratings
3.06 | 221 ratings
3.71 | 390 ratings
4.22 | 642 ratings
Ashes Are Burning
4.08 | 564 ratings
Turn Of The Cards
4.31 | 1061 ratings
Scheherazade And Other Stories
3.72 | 350 ratings
3.64 | 316 ratings
A Song For All Seasons
3.00 | 182 ratings
Azure D'Or
2.41 | 116 ratings
Camera Camera
1.61 | 104 ratings
2.13 | 67 ratings
The Other Woman
2.88 | 55 ratings
Ocean Gypsy
2.15 | 59 ratings
Songs From Renaissance Days
3.03 | 97 ratings
3.27 | 118 ratings
Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]

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

4.25 | 205 ratings
Live At Carnegie Hall
3.80 | 55 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1
3.68 | 52 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2
3.84 | 24 ratings
BBC Sessions
4.08 | 11 ratings
Day of the Dreamer
2.43 | 12 ratings
Unplugged - Live at The Academy of Music, Philadelphia USA
3.17 | 14 ratings
Can You Hear Me
3.31 | 12 ratings
Mother Russia
3.90 | 10 ratings
Live + Direct
3.50 | 38 ratings
In The Land Of The Rising Sun
3.13 | 11 ratings
British Tour '76
3.17 | 14 ratings
Dreams & Omens
4.15 | 27 ratings
Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert
3.91 | 2 ratings
Past Orbits Of Dust: Live 1969/1970
3.14 | 15 ratings
DeLane Lea Studios 1973
4.05 | 10 ratings
Academy Of Music 1974

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

2.89 | 22 ratings
Song of Scheherazade
3.97 | 13 ratings
Kings And Queens
4.70 | 8 ratings
Live at the Union Chapel
3.91 | 4 ratings
Live at the BBC Sight & Sound

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

2.57 | 12 ratings
In the Beginning
4.00 | 3 ratings
Rock Galaxy
3.45 | 31 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
3.21 | 30 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
3.46 | 17 ratings
Da Capo
2.53 | 5 ratings
2.57 | 4 ratings
Trip To The Fair
3.83 | 3 ratings
Songs For All Seasons
4.00 | 2 ratings
2.00 | 4 ratings
Midas Man

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
5.00 | 1 ratings
3.33 | 3 ratings
Northern Lights
1.25 | 8 ratings
Faeries (Living At The Bottom Of My Garden)
3.57 | 16 ratings
The Mystic And The Muse


Showing last 10 reviews only
 British Tour '76 by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 2006
3.13 | 11 ratings

British Tour '76
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars With the advent of 2015's "legal bootlegs" of off air Renaissance concerts coming to light, its good see at least one former radio broadcast from Renaissance that is licensed by surviving member. In this case its Annie Haslam's White Dove organisation. While this, like many taped Renaissance performances of the era, are stellar concerts, this one is sonically a bit hard on the old eardrums. While the band sounds full and has good presence, Annie's singing sounds a shrill and tinny which was usual for the EQing for a radio broadcast but seems a bit over the top this time around. However, the band is note perfect as is Annie but there's little variation in the song arrangements to be found on this recording except for added vocals by bassist Jon Camp and guitarist Michael Dunford on "Prologue" that adds little to the song as compared to it's studio version. There is no orchestral accompaniment for this concert and the longer epic songs do suffer. However, Annie goes full ballastic on another show stopping version on the great concert closer "Ashes Are Burning". Two stars as more exciting radio broadcasts are available from this band's great era.
 A Song For All Seasons by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.64 | 316 ratings

A Song For All Seasons
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

5 stars Just like you're favorite friends, sometimes you're favorite albums have their faults. That doesn't make them any less great or enjoyable, you love them just the same. A Song For All Seasons was both a blessing and a curse for Renaissance in that it help to bring them to a somewhat wider audience, but having thrown out all the stops to do, I feel that it left the band with clear direction forward. More on that at the conclusion of the review.

First off, the music. ASFAS sticks with the band's penchant for orchestra and band epics such as the sublime "Opening Out", "Day Of The Dreamer', and the album's breathtaking title track, along with lesser short songs that are their want such as "Closer Than Yesterday" and "Back Home Once Again' and fiery Kindness (At The End). The epics are all stellar but the lyrics were mostly written by uber bassist Jon Camp, instead of the erstwhile Betty Thatcher for this batch of songs. Thatcher is still in the catbird seat for the album's highlight songs, the UK hit "Northern Lights" and the mystically evocative title track. Now on the production and here is where we run into some faults. To say that the album is overproduced would almost be an understatement as producer David Hentshel throws in everything but the proverbial kitchen sink as well as many sonic tricks like adding long phasing and heavy flanging to the sound mix. This works extremely well for the afore noted epics but absolutely suffocates the quieter more pastoral short songs with Annie Haslam being overdubbed three or more times for "Closer Than Yesterday' and the added 'orchestra on steroids' to "Back Home Once Again", with it's symphonic percussion never out of sight and closes with tympani blasting out the song's fade out ending. This was a serious misstep as a more stripped down arrangement would have served these songs much better. I can only guess that this heavy production, which worked so well for "Northern Lights" blinded both the producer and the band that more was always better. But "Northern Lights" is so magnificent with it's multi tracked vocals, catchy acoustic strumming and driving, almost hypnotic, bass and drums that this goof can really be forgiven them. Even the multi-tracked keys of John Tout shine as he plays fugue like synth notes at the end of the primary verses along with his always gorgeous piano.

Another song that fares well with the album's production is the heavy prog of Camp's "Kindness (At The End)", which really shines as his lyrics, while still dramatic, are more earthy and go over better than his faux poetry of the album's epics. It's one of two songs song by Camp on the album and it gives some much needed variation. And the band does much to carry the weight of the epics and make them immediate and rememberable. Such as Annie's touching and heart rending middle section to "Day Of The Dreamer" as a lesser vocalist would have been drowned out in the the song's thick music mix.

So, where dos that leave us? With a 5 star album as any group that can scale the shear granite cliffs of this type of musical overproduction and produce moving, evocative symphonic prog while still turning the spotlight on themselves and their talent truly deserves PA's essential rating. The band is so good that they are almost always served by their orchestral arrangements and rarely the reverse. The only downside I see to A Song For All Seasons is that Renaissance hit a creative climax with this album and it never fails to occur to me that they could not progress musically from this point. I believe that is partially the reason for the band's turn to shorter songs following ASFAS, along with the obvious commercial and business concerns. A Song For All Seasons is Renaissance's grand symphonic farewell and is a monument to both their genius and skill, and is simply a blissful pleasure to listen to.

 DeLane Lea Studios 1973 by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 2015
3.14 | 15 ratings

DeLane Lea Studios 1973
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by rogerthat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Annie Haslam, vocalist of Renaissance, earned the sobriquet of Queen of progressive rock for her incredible exploits. But even she had to start somewhere. Given that her first proper band experience (excluding the cabaret band she was in earlier) was with Renaissance, she was still finding her feet in the early years. While her innate talent and classical training gave her a headstart, the contrast with her mid 70s peak is pretty stark.

As it is, unfortunately, on this album. On the face of it, the track selection alone should make this album, taken from a 1973 concert at DeLane Lea studios, a winner, even within the cornucopia of Renaissance live albums. Let It Grow, At The Harbour and Sounds of the Sea aren't on any official live releases of the band, though the former did make it to Annie Haslam's solo live album Brazilian Skies. Further, Andy Powell and Al Stewart guest on Ashes Are Burning, making it one of only two recorded live performances which have the guitar solo (the other being the Academy of Music concert).

But, as said above, Annie is yet to attain the sheer, frightening perfection she would only a couple of years down the line. There are pitch issues but I wouldn't mind them so much if not for another issue that really spotlights them: her attack. At this point, her attack is still a bit harsh and it makes her singing sound stiff (in comparison to what she would go on to do). If you were to compare her performance of Carpet of the Sun here to the one on Midnight Special in 1977, it is particularly evident. There was, after all, a point of time when even a singer as great as her was worried about getting it right. Ironically, this fear pushes her into committing more errors than she would in concerts from later on where she simply cut loose.

Not to worry, Annie's B minus game is still pretty damn good and the vocalese coda of Sounds of the Sea is especially gorgeous, with an unexpected twist at the end. There is also the mesmerizing coda of At The Harbour to savour. And as in so many other shows, she raises her game come time to perform Ashes Are Burning. The musicians perform their parts impeccably well and with feeling, which too forgives a lot. The sound isn't awesome but it will do. So what gives?

Just that there isn't a compelling reason to add one more Renaissance live album to your collection here. Not unless you are particularly fond of the rawness of bands in their early days, say like the popular music reviewer George Starostin. Me, I do like the rawness but only when it adds to the energy of the performance. Rawness can also mean hesitation and lack of confidence and there's more of that here. Renaissance gave better concerts than this one and plenty of them. But if you do get this album, you won't regret it.

 Scheherazade And Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.31 | 1061 ratings

Scheherazade And Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by RossJWarren

5 stars I belive this to be the very best album from the classic line up. Sadly at the time it failed to click with the public, and the band remained critically mostly highly respected but there was no breakthrough into mega sales. However this is one recording that really rewards repeated listening. There absolutely no filler here, you are left wanting more. The only criticism I could honestly come up with is that perhaps the lyrics to Trip to the fair, might be a little repetitive, the story is not toled well. However this hardly distract from the opening track which is excellent. Annies voice is wonderful throughout, and utterly captivating during Oceanne Gypsy. The 2nd side is as good an example of symphonic prog you could wish to hear. THe vocals drive the story nicely. Can anyone else` hear the theme that Lloyd-Webber borrowed for his requiem in here?

Such an important recording should be found in all good progressive rock collections, I cannot see any good reason not to award all 5 Stars, as this one truly deserves it.

 Scheherazade And Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.31 | 1061 ratings

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
3.91 | 4 ratings

Live at the BBC Sight & Sound
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by rogerthat
Prog Reviewer

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
4.25 | 205 ratings

Live At Carnegie Hall
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 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
3.27 | 118 ratings

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 | 116 ratings

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 | 182 ratings

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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