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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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RENAISSANCE discography


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

3.75 | 378 ratings
Renaissance
1969
3.09 | 265 ratings
Illusion
1971
3.74 | 458 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.23 | 773 ratings
Ashes Are Burning
1973
4.11 | 655 ratings
Turn of the Cards
1974
4.32 | 1279 ratings
Scheherazade and Other Stories
1975
3.75 | 411 ratings
Novella
1977
3.70 | 383 ratings
A Song for All Seasons
1978
3.02 | 213 ratings
Azure d'Or
1979
2.49 | 131 ratings
Camera Camera
1981
1.61 | 120 ratings
Time-Line
1983
2.11 | 73 ratings
The Other Woman
1995
2.87 | 61 ratings
Ocean Gypsy
1997
2.14 | 62 ratings
Songs From Renaissance Days
1997
3.02 | 108 ratings
Tuscany
2000
3.28 | 137 ratings
Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]
2013

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

4.27 | 239 ratings
Live at Carnegie Hall
1976
3.81 | 59 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1
1997
3.70 | 56 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2
1997
3.85 | 27 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 | 42 ratings
In The Land Of The Rising Sun
2002
3.15 | 13 ratings
British Tour '76
2006
3.20 | 16 ratings
Dreams & Omens
2008
4.15 | 30 ratings
Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert
2011
3.92 | 4 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
3.18 | 18 ratings
A Symphonic Journey
2018
5.00 | 2 ratings
50th Anniversary: Ashes Are Burning: An Anthology - Live in Concert
2021

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

2.89 | 22 ratings
Song of Scheherazade
2008
3.97 | 14 ratings
Kings And Queens
2010
4.29 | 13 ratings
Live at the Union Chapel
2016
3.96 | 7 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 | 35 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
1990
3.20 | 33 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
1990
3.34 | 18 ratings
Da Capo
1995
2.53 | 5 ratings
Innocence
1998
2.56 | 5 ratings
Trip To The Fair
1998
3.83 | 3 ratings
Songs For All Seasons
2002
3.09 | 3 ratings
Heritage
2003
1.70 | 5 ratings
Midas Man
2003

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

2.00 | 2 ratings
Island
1970
3.09 | 3 ratings
Prologue
1972
3.95 | 2 ratings
Carpet of the Sun
1973
2.00 | 1 ratings
Mother Russia
1974
3.00 | 1 ratings
Back Home Once Again
1977
3.00 | 2 ratings
Midas Man
1977
3.67 | 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
3.56 | 19 ratings
The Mystic and the Muse
2010

RENAISSANCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Midas Man by RENAISSANCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
1.70 | 5 ratings

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Midas Man
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog123

1 stars I don't know... Attracted by the fact that here are canons (or new versions) of all three versions of Renaissance I bought this compilation and, unfortunately... I wonder where these recordings come from and, above all, why we didn't try to remix them or do some operation to improve the sound. That said... At a basic level they would seem to be excellent executions. But not knowing exactly who sings or who plays the only good thing is the fact that I bought it for the price of a budget compilation. Also because the second CD is classified as a bonus. What to say? A huge disappointment for a compilation of a truly extraordinary band that I really like.
 Turn of the Cards by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.11 | 655 ratings

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Turn of the Cards
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars This album is very calm and beautiful. Annie Haslam's always-beautiful vocals add a nice dimension to the sound. The textures of pianos are always beautiful and the musical structures extremely well built. Sometimes complex and at other times more serene. From those albums it's great to sit back and relax with their background music. Turn of the Cards represents an evolutionary step, mainly in terms of arrangement, dynamics and production. Here the pieces flow naturally from start to finish, encompassing melodious music and descriptive instrumentals in an organic wave of energetic, calm lines.

"Running Hard" is the opening track. It starts with a very complex improvisation that mixes jazz and classical music. When the song comes in with its full melody, it is catchy, especially the vocals of Annie Haslam. It has several segments where it moves with great naturalness and smoothness from one to the other. An excellent opening song for the album. "I Think Of You" is charmingly simple. More pop-oriented, it also has a folk flavor through its acoustic guitar rhythm section. This combined with the clavinet sound makes the song richer in texture. The bass lines are very compact and accompany the music well from beginning to end. "Things I Dont Understand" is a song that moves to more energetic beats. The bass lines are made up of a lot of groove. The vocal line is very rich, especially during part of the interlude, while the guitar still dominates the rhythm section. The choir in the middle of this track is literally mesmerizing. "Black Flame" starts with a sound set by acoustic guitar, very smooth background bass and keyboard also giving a flow to the music. Before the vocals come in, some string orchestrations enrich the track. Again we are facing a very catchy melody. The clavinet work makes the music even more interesting to enjoy. I consider this one of my favorite songs from the band. "Cold Is Being" is a short song, serene and very well constructed by Anne's voice and the church organ in the background. It can also be seen as a preparation for the next track that will close the album. "Mother Russia" is the track that closes the album and if I'm not mistaken it was the first song by the band I heard. It's a great and wonderful epic that moves dynamically between highs and lows that always stirs my emotion. It's not just a wonderful track in terms of melody, but also because of its wonderful flow from one segment to another. Working on its string section makes the music even richer. Wonderful.

Anyone who likes melodic and harmonious rock will enjoy "Turn Of The Cards" a lot. If you also know how to win something from progressive rock music, because the songs are extremely varied, you will have a lot of fun with this album. The funny thing is that Renaissance was and is "relatively" unknown - at least in comparison to the other heroes of the 1970s in this genre.

 Scheherazade and Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.32 | 1279 ratings

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Scheherazade and Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars In music, of any genre, we often run into groups and records that are placed in an intermediate position between different labels, making classification complex; this is not the case of the Renaissance that perfectly embody that perhaps the most successful branch of progressive of the 70s, called symphonic prog, a sub-genre in which nineties such as Genesis and Yes are cataloged, just to name two of the most popular groups. Perhaps the Renaissance are the group that by far best embodies this genre, leaving very large spaces for the orchestral parts, which in the suite are performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. What we are about to talk about is perhaps their best work or, if nothing else, the one that has found more support among fans. Scheherazade and Other Stories is a soft and melodious record with romantic and fairytale atmospheres. The production, as in almost all the records of the time, is very dry and "flat", in the sense that the master is very balanced on the various frequencies. The sound is however well defined, as much as possible in those years. The artwork evokes, with medieval pictorial images, what the concept of the disc is based on, namely the famous collection of oriental fairy tales and short stories entitled "The Thousand and One Nights". Born as a folk-symphonic formation in the late sixties from a nucleus that was the Yardbirds (Relf and McCarty), this band broke up as soon as possible, during the making of the second album, "Illusion" of 1970. Next, the band is renewed- completely. The new line-up, however, does not take final shape until a pretty girl with long hair appears at an audition. She is Annie Haslam: in a short time she will probably become the most important woman of the whole progressive scene (at the limit "contrasted" by the only Sonja Kristina of Curved Air). Her very personal, melodic and extended voice is the embroidery on the sinuous textures woven by Michael Dunford's guitar and John Tout's keyboards. The rise of the group does not leave fans indifferent: the particular music of the Renaissance, a symphonic trail suspended between baroque and exotic, is completed in a handful of notable ellepis, before falling into its own grandiloquence and rising towards a more easily renewable and representable song form, moreover with notable economic results.

The album has four songs, and it is based on the closing suite and on the initial "Trip To The Fair": this is an excellent song, opened by shrill keyboard chords and supported by the beautiful voice of Haslam in a market climate in the reign of Prince Aladdin; from here, a beautiful progressive opening takes place where a very pleasant choir rises majestically. "The Vultures Fly High" is a short interlude, perhaps forerunner of the sound that will characterize them in the near future, but no less intense. Instead, it touches the seven minutes "Ocean Gypsy", a hypnotic melody for voice and keyboards that flares up in an airy ballad, highlighting the beautiful bass game by Jonathan Camp and the incisive drums by Terence Sullivan. But now the time has come: "Song Of Scheherazade" stands out majestically and redundantly in its sonorities, the bass is a beating heart, the male voices rise to welcome the warm voice of Scheherazade, before it takes flight on the flying carpet of the keyboards towards the progressive realm, where symphonism will create castles of unsustainable intensity.

Scheherazade and Other Stories is a very particular record, something almost unique, in which the lyricism and the emotional factor are much more prominent than the individual technique of the musicians. The symphonic component is extremely extreme, supplanting even the rock one in many places. Wanting to be picky, this is more of an opera than a progressive record, as the experimental factor is practically absent and there is no clear and defined progression within the songs. Renaissance have managed to create one of those works that cannot in any way leave the listener indifferent. If you were predisposed to this kind of emotion, this record would reserve you some wonderful moments; on the contrary, if you were looking for a prog disc in the strict sense of the term, Scheherazade and Other Stories would probably not be for you. However, the compositional and arrangement value remains indisputable, which does not drop for the entire duration of the album, maintaining a very high quality standard. So, summing up, we can say that it is a gem, but reserved for those who can understand its value.

 Renaissance by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.75 | 378 ratings

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Renaissance
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Artik

4 stars Wow! Such an album in 1969? Impressive, very impressive! Strong classical influences (piano sound) intertwined with psychedelic melodies (vocal lines) and some jamming with MUCH better results than any The Nice album operating in somewhat similiar teritory at the time. The Nice had some great tracks but non of their albums stand the test of time as a whole, but this one is a different story. Several longer compositions (two tracks on the first side of vinyl, three on the second) where the band avoids pop song structures and adorns them with some bold instrumental work by busy bass guitar and abovementioned piano. There are male vocals (Keith Relf) on some of the tracks and female (Jane Relf). I like both - male ones are nothing spectacular, but ok, and I like them for the slightly psychedelic vocal melodies, and I like Jane's voice as well, particulary prominent on the track "Wanderer". Both voices work nice in harmonies too giving the closing track somewhat soulful taste with jazzy piano and great addition of bluesy harmonica untill it turns into improvised bass solo and otherworldly vocal harmonies at the end. It should be more recognised for it's significance in shaping early prog. 4,5 star
 Live at the Union Chapel by RENAISSANCE album cover DVD/Video, 2016
4.29 | 13 ratings

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Live at the Union Chapel
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Any story about RENAISSANCE runs the risk of violating basic rules about brevity and clarity, as their history is even hazier than the decade of their vintage. But let me try. After a lengthy period of silence that followed a period of sub-par sub Renaissance activities by both principal parties, vocalist Annie Haslam and guitarist Michael Dunford united in 2009 around the dream of returning to their roots, meaning the romanticism and ambition of the 1972-1978 period for which the group is justly renowned. Since Renaissance was always as much a live act as a studio venture, part of that dream was to return to the UK (Annie has lived in US for many years) to perform for the first time in decades. While they did manage to produce an album together with a very able backing band, Dunford passed away from a sudden illness in 2012, and the band didn't make it to the UK until some time after, with the DVD in question originating from an April 2015 concert at the Union Chapel. OK now that wasn't so bad.

First of all the scene is splendorous, almost like a high budget Broadway set but absolutely real. The stage is backed by such magnificence that it almost gives the impression of open air, which is highly unlikely in the UK in April! As to the band, none being members during the group's time in the spotlight, they nonetheless do the legacy proud. Rave Tesar plays the parts that had belonged to John Tout, mostly piano, always a signature of the group's sound, while Tom Brislin operates the rest of the keyboards, mostly fitted to approximate the orchestra. Acoustic guitarist Mark Lambert is as critical for his vocal counterpoints to Annie as he is to propelling the classic amp-less arrangements. Frank Pagano and Leo Traversa buttress the rock aspect of the group, and perhaps what is missing most is Jon Camp's chunky bass as far as I can tell.

No Renaissance story would be worth telling if it didn't also jump forwards as well, and at the time of writing they have since performed with a chamber orchestra on several tours in the US Northeast and released one DVD of the first tour, with a high def DVD of a subsequent tour in the can and imminent. I say this because, as enjoyable as is "Live at the Union Chapel", the group improves upon the setlist for the orchestral tours. Annie and company seem to genuinely enjoy varying the material, and, knowing now how magical it was to hear "Island" from the Mach 1 period, and the long forgotten gem "Kalynda", "Trip to the Fair" and epics from "Song for all Seasons" with orchestra in 2017 and 2019, makes me feel something is missing here, fair or not.

Of course we are still treated to wonderful versions of standbys like "Prologue", "Carpet of the Sun", "Mother Russia" and the absolute live classic "Ashes are Burning", where the twin keyboardists in particular cut loose. Just watching Tesar's with his studious perfectionism contrasted with Brislin's relatively wild eyed visual and sonic expressions makes my lips curl no matter how many times I see and hear it. Because "Northern Lights" was a hit in the UK, they perform it here and it's enjoyable but diminished somewhat by the guitar parts that, as inferred by rogerthat, probably would have been better served by mimicking Dunford's approach more closely. While the 3 tracks from the reunion album fit in just fine, "Grandine il Vento" and "Mystic and the Muse" especially, they suffer, through no fault of their own, from their placid sedimentary origins rather than the forged magma of an "Ashes".

As a teenager being absolutely numbed by the grandiosity of "A Song for All Seasons" so long ago, I could never have imagined that Renaissance, in any form, would be not only performing their classics but reinvigorating them almost a half century later, to be appreciated by live audiences and people in their living rooms. Wasn't pop music supposed to be ephemeral. Wait what? Oh yeah, this is RENAISSANCE.

 Ashes Are Burning by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.23 | 773 ratings

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Ashes Are Burning
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by dougmcauliffe

5 stars This is a fantastic record that I feel I can really throw on regardless of what mood I'm currently in. While the songs all pack the epic symphonic arrangements and gorgeous vocal harmonies you know you'll be getting from a great symphonic prog album, what keeps bringing me back are the addictive hooks and vocal melodies throughout. Everything sounds so full and complete from an instrumental standpoint, and Annie Haslams lead vocals are just stunning. Can You Understand opens the record with a very driving and grand entrance, eventually simmering down into a beautiful and mesmerizing acoustic and vocal led passage. The next line of three songs happen to be my favorite because they strike the perfect balance between the unconventional progressive rock structures and accessibility. Let It Grow has a very nostalgic and sentimental sound to it, the piano after the main hook is so lovely and uplifting. On The Frontier might be my personal favorite with its dual lead vocals and very laid back but flowing cadence. I love some of the rhythmic changes throughout, they pack a ton of musical content into this relatively short song. Following that and keeping the bar just as high is Carpet of the Sun which takes a little more of a whimsical spin on things. I just cant help but bob my head to the chorus on this one, the accompanying orchestral arrangements add a lot to this particular track as well. At The Harbour is a very unique track, it's super intimate, organic and earthy sounding with a much more free flowing structure compared to the other tracks. Annie really manages to pull the listener in with her emotional delivery, but the instrumentation really sets the stage for her to work off of effectively. The title track closes the album and it is a dense journey, I get chills every time I hear that piano and acoustic guitar fade in within the first 30 seconds. This song is just straight up genius and I can't stress enough just how much replay value this track has. The band takes you through several passages of hypnotic symphonic bliss with a mastery of builds and payoffs eventually eclipsing at the end with a big ending playout and guitar solo.

This is such an un-hatable album, an incredible listen everytime, 5 stars without a shadow of a doubt.

 Heritage by RENAISSANCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
3.09 | 3 ratings

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Heritage
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nš 408

"Heritage" is a compilation of Renaissance and was released in 2003. It's a compilation album that comprises tracks from six studio albums of Renaissance Mk. 2. Well, we have tracks from "Prologue", "Ashes Are Burning", "Turn Of The Cards", "Scheherazade And Other Stories", "Novella" and "A Song For All Seasons". So, "Heritage" covers all the best albums released by Renaissance Mk. 2 in the 70's. Thus, "Heritage" is a compilation very well representative, really.

"Heritage" has fourteen tracks. The first track "Can You Hear Me Call My Name" is from "Novella". It's a mini epic well performed especially by John Tout's piano and Michael Dunford's acoustic guitar. The beautiful voice of Annie Haslam is perfect. The arrangements, mostly instrumental parts, are superb, and the addition of the orchestral arrangements is perfect too. The second track "Carpet Of The Sun" is from "Ashes Are Burning". It's a simple beautiful song perfectly orchestrated. It's a melodic piece where Annie Haslam offers her great vocal talents, bridging to it a nice and peaceful ambient. The third track "Back Home Once Again" is from "A Song For All Seasons". Due to its structure, it's a song with a commercial sound. It's a nice song but is one of the weakest songs on that album. So, we couldn't rank it among their finest works. The fourth track "Ocean Gypsy" is from "Scheherazade And Other Stories". It's a romantic and melancholic ballad that fits well with Annie Haslam's voice. It has a great piano work, nice guitar acoustic performance, wonderful vocal performance and a great choral work. It has an excellent melody and an emotional atmosphere. The fifth track "Running Hard" is from "Turn Of The Cards". It's a brilliant piece with clear and strong classical influences that begins beautifully with a great piano introduction. It has fine piano melodies, good drumming and is brilliantly sung by Annie Haslam. The sixth track "Prologue" is from "Prologue". It's essentially an instrumental song, despite it has some female vocals, but there are no lyrics and the vocals only singing the melody. This song shows how strong the influence of the classical music is into their music. The seventh track "Midas Man" is from "Novella". It's a beautiful classical track with a folky touch. This is mostly a song performed by the acoustic 12 string guitar of Michael Dunford and with where we can hear, in some parts, the sound of the tubular bells. The eighth track "I Think Of You" is from "Turn Of The Cards". It's a short and mellow ballad, nice and pleasant. However, it isn't at the same quality level of the most songs of that album. I think this song is too much conventional and soft, and is my least favourite song on that album. The ninth track "Black Flame" is from "Turn Of The Cards". It's a beautiful and melodic ballad with a nice touch of medieval music. The musical structure of it is simple. Here we have the perfect harmony between the acoustic guitar of Michael Dunford and the piano of John Tout. Once more we have a good choral work and beautiful vocals. The tenth track "Northern Lights" is from "A Song For All Seasons". It's a beautiful and catchy song. It's true that it's a more pop oriented song 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 us some pleasure when we listen to it. The eleventh track "Young Prince & Princess" is from "Scheherazade And Other Stories". This small part belongs to the suite "Song Of Scheherazade" which is a collection of related songs and instrumentals that are sometimes spellbinding but also sometimes repetitive. This part is perhaps a conclusion to the suite's first part, with lilting harmonies, tubular bells and wonderful flute melodies, sung by Annie in a sultry mood. The twelfth track "Trip To The Fair" is from "Scheherazade And Other Stories". It's one of the best and most triumphant songs of the band. The story is a dark tale of strange happenings at the fairground. It has an amazing grand piano work by John Tout and a great vocal performance by Annie Haslam. The thirteenth track "The Vultures Fly High" is from "Scheherazade And Other Stories". It's an energetic rock song with a beautiful vocal harmony and where the vocal performance of the chorus is brilliant. I can enjoy it very much. The fourteenth track "Mother Russia" is from "Turn Of The Cards". 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. This is one of the most beautiful and magnificent pieces of Renaissance.

Conclusion: "Heritage" is a very good compilation of Renaissance and is very well representative of their music in the 70's. Of course I'm talking about the second incarnation of the band, the incarnation that is more known and beloved of Renaissance. It has tracks from almost all their studio albums released in the 70's. The only exception is their album "Azure D'Or", without any track. Anyway, that isn't a bad thing. "Azure D'Or" is really a good album but it's clearly less good than all the others. It's a more commercially oriented album only with short songs. With it began the decline of the band. So, all in all, "Heritage" represents a good introduction that you need to get acquainted with Renaissance's music. Still, I think it can't substitute all those studio albums. So, this is a good but a non-essential work from the band.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Back Home Once Again by RENAISSANCE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Back Home Once Again
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Symphonic prog band Renaissance started to change their style a bit poppier and more accessible on A Song for All Seasons (1978), which however is a much more rewarding album, also from prog's point of view, than what was to follow. I have always liked it very much, but it contains a couple of songs I'm not that fond of, and the other one is 'Back Home Once Again'. Had I been a child in Britain at the time, I might have a closer and warmer relationship to the song, which after all is pretty nice when judged as a chorus-structured pop song instead of being seen as a weaker song on a good prog album.

That's because it was the signature tune for "The Paper Lads", a children's television series broadcast in the U.K. from 1977 to 1979. The series was set in the northern industrial city of Newcastle upon Tyne and recounted the adventures of a group of newspaper delivery boys and a girl. There were two series made, each of seven episodes. William Corlett's four scripts won him the Writer's Guild Award for Best Children's Writer. Personally I knew absolutely nothing about the series (Wikipedia did) or if I would have enjoyed it as a kid or not, but I believe that at least I would have liked the song, at the age of ten or so. Even today I can't think of many TV series theme songs as good and refreshing as this one. The mere idea of hearing the lovely voice of Annie Haslam from the telly is charming.

Since the album in which the song would appear the following year didn't yet exist, it was quite natural to choose a B- side song from Renaissance's previous album Novella (1977), which by the way is my personal favourite -- even though it is generally regarded slightly weaker than the seminal classic albums before it. 'The Captive Heart' is a beautiful short song from that orchestral and highly symphonic album, and it concentrates on John Tout's classically oriented piano and Annie's double layered vocals, featuring also bassist Jon Camp's backing vocals.

Both songs on this single were composed by Jon Camp and Michael Dunford. Renaissance were definitely an album oriented band at the time, and a single with two album tracks is thus quite unnecessary. But rarely a single contains as good music as this one, and an extra point for making it to the TV!

 Live at Carnegie Hall by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 1976
4.27 | 239 ratings

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Live at Carnegie Hall
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

5 stars For 40 years, this has been one of my "top 5" albums.

Even though there were many other great (usually shorter) songs from their first few albums that didn't even make it to this album, "Live at Carnegie Hall" is still pretty much a "best of" for Renaissance up to their 1976 output. They grandly showcase their unique brand of classical rock (complete with orchestra!), which was often heavily influenced by Russian romantic and impressionist composers of classical music. Annie Haslam's voice is as beautiful as ever here, and she hits a high note at the end of "Scheherazade" that still astounds me. I love the between-songs dialogue between her, John Camp and the very appreciative audience. Camp's bass solo on "Ashes are Burning" - simply sublime! In fact, the whole band sounds tight.

This is an absolute treasure for progressive rock lovers.

 Mother Russia by RENAISSANCE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1974
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Mother Russia
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Unbeknownst to the band members themselves, Sire Records put out an edited version of Renaissance's Mother Russia as a single. The single was released only in America to promote the band's 1974 album Turn of the Cards. The b-side of the single is I Think of You taken from the same album.

Inspired by the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich from 1962, Betty Thatcher's lyrics for Mother Russia is about the horrors of the Gulag labour camps in the Soviet Union. The song has become one of the best known pieces by Renaissance, very often played live.

Whilst the album version of Mother Russia runs to nine and a half minutes, the edited single version is cut down to only three and a half minutes. The single edit now appears on CD for the first time ever as a bonus track on the recent four-disc re-issue of Turn of the Cards by Esoteric Recordings. As is often the case, the longer album version is the definitive version and the only version you really need. The edit will be of interest mainly to curious fans and collectors.

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

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