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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.

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Scheherazade and OtherScheherazade and Other
Repertoire 2007
$9.32
$9.31 (used)
Ashes Are BurningAshes Are Burning
REPERTOIRE 1995
$8.26
$11.98 (used)
Turn of the CardsTurn of the Cards
Repertoire 1994
$8.20
$7.83 (used)
ProloguePrologue
Repertoire 1995
$8.24
$6.00 (used)
A Song for All SeasonsA Song for All Seasons
Repertoire 2012
$15.98
$36.10 (used)
NovellaNovella
Repertoire 2012
$7.75
$7.74 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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2016 REMASTER KAZUMI WATANABE GUITAR RENAISSANCE IV JAPAN CD USD $19.80 Buy It Now
2016 REMASTER KAZUMI WATANABE GUITAR RENAISSANCE III JAPAN CD USD $19.80 Buy It Now
2016 REMASTER KAZUMI WATANABE GUITAR RENAISSANCE V JAPAN CD USD $19.80 Buy It Now
2016 REMASTER KAZUMI WATANABE GUITAR RENAISSANCE II JAPAN CD USD $19.80 Buy It Now
CHIMURENGA RENAISSANCE Girlz With Gunz Ep 12" NEW VINYL Glitterbeat USD $23.99 Buy It Now
TIME LIFE ROCK RENAISSANCE III CLASSIC ROCK USD $7.99 Buy It Now
Early Music: From Ancient Times to the Renaissance (10xCD) USD $106.72 Buy It Now
Time-Life Records The Story of Great MUSIC Boxed LP Sets Renaissance Elegance USD $59.99 Buy It Now
CD. M People / Renaissance / 6 tracks single / Made in Australia USD $4.53 Buy It Now
L'ITALIE RENAISSANCE 6 CD NEW+ DE VINCI/CAMBIO/TROMBONCINO/ISAAC/SPINATINO/+ USD $41.74 Buy It Now
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Songs & Dances Of Medieval & Renaissance Times (CD Used Like New) USD $4.44 Buy It Now
Audio CD: Innocence, Renaissance. Acceptable Cond. Import. 766126803320 USD $26.83 Buy It Now
@ CD REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE - AGE OF AQUARIUS / SPV BL MUSIC 2009 / POWER METAL USD $9.99 Buy It Now
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Renaissance Masterpieces Choir of New College Oxford Edward Higginbottom (5xCD) USD $22.67 Buy It Now
Da Vinci Code, The: Music of the Renaissance CD (2006) USD $11.99 Buy It Now
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EARLY MUSIC of Old Adria RENAISSANCE ENSEMBLE BELGRADE RTB Stereo LP Low SHIP USD $17.00 Buy It Now
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VILLAGE PEOPLE Renaissance HONG KONG PROMO LP 1981 NM CSP 8015 VINYL GAY HI-NRG USD $5.32 Buy It Now
Late Gothic And Renaissance Masterworks Vol. 2 - Rene Clemencic (3xCD) USD $18.66 Buy It Now
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RENAISSANCE / NORTHERN LIGHTS 1978 WARNER BROTHERS UK USD $1.47 Buy It Now
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Ashes Are Burning - Renaissance (2016, CD New) USD $28.49 Buy It Now
ALAN STIVELL "RENAISSANCE OF THE CELTIC HARP" 1971 12" VINYL LP. USD $20.01 Buy It Now
RENAISSANCE NORTHERN LIGHTS 7" VINYL VG CONDITION USD $3.56 Buy It Now
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RENAISSANCE - Novella ~ GATEFOLD VINYL LP USD $28.34 Buy It Now
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Mother Earth Blues, Vol. 1 by Various Artists (CD, Apr-2011, Renaissance) NEW USD $2.99 Buy It Now 2h 22m
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RENAISSANCE - Bbc Sessions - 2 CD - Import Best Of Live - *Excellent Condition* USD $63.49 Buy It Now 3h 15m
Konrad Ragossnig Ulsamer Collegium Dance Music Of The Renaissance E LP Germany USD $5.00 Buy It Now 3h 15m
RENAISSANCE ~ LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL 2 VINYL RECORD SET / 2 LP'S ~ 1976 USD $19.99 Buy It Now 3h 20m
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Early Music: From Ancient Times to the Renaissance (CD, Oct-2010, Harmonia Mundi USD $26.52 [4 bids]
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VINYL LP - RENAISSANCE HITS - MUSICA ANTIQUA - BRL 1 USD $11.99 Buy It Now 4h 59m
Tycoon & Turn Out The Lights by Tycoon (1999, CD, Renaissance Records) USD $5.90 Buy It Now 5h 3m
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Renaissance Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1 FREE SHIPPING!! USD $7.95 Buy It Now 5h 33m
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More places to buy RENAISSANCE music online Buy RENAISSANCE & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

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 | 313 ratings
Renaissance
1969
3.06 | 225 ratings
Illusion
1971
3.71 | 395 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.22 | 650 ratings
Ashes Are Burning
1973
4.08 | 571 ratings
Turn Of The Cards
1974
4.31 | 1076 ratings
Scheherazade And Other Stories
1975
3.73 | 355 ratings
Novella
1977
3.65 | 322 ratings
A Song For All Seasons
1978
3.00 | 187 ratings
Azure D'Or
1979
2.41 | 118 ratings
Camera Camera
1981
1.61 | 106 ratings
Time-Line
1983
2.12 | 68 ratings
The Other Woman
1995
2.87 | 56 ratings
Ocean Gypsy
1997
2.15 | 60 ratings
Songs From Renaissance Days
1997
3.02 | 98 ratings
Tuscany
2000
3.27 | 119 ratings
Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]
2013

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

4.26 | 208 ratings
Live At Carnegie Hall
1976
3.81 | 57 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1
1997
3.69 | 54 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2
1997
3.84 | 25 ratings
BBC Sessions
1999
4.08 | 12 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
3.91 | 11 ratings
Live + Direct
2002
3.50 | 39 ratings
In The Land Of The Rising Sun
2002
3.13 | 12 ratings
British Tour '76
2006
3.17 | 14 ratings
Dreams & Omens
2008
4.15 | 28 ratings
Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert
2011
3.92 | 3 ratings
Past Orbits Of Dust: Live 1969/1970
2012
3.22 | 18 ratings
DeLane Lea Studios 1973
2015
3.84 | 12 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
4.40 | 9 ratings
Live at the Union Chapel
2016
3.91 | 4 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
3.45 | 31 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
1990
3.21 | 30 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
1990
3.46 | 17 ratings
Da Capo
1995
2.53 | 5 ratings
Innocence
1998
2.57 | 4 ratings
Trip To The Fair
1998
3.83 | 3 ratings
Songs For All Seasons
2002
4.00 | 2 ratings
Heritage
2003
2.00 | 4 ratings
Midas Man
2003

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Island
1970
5.00 | 1 ratings
Prologue
1972
3.33 | 3 ratings
Northern Lights
1978
1.25 | 8 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
 Live at the Union Chapel by RENAISSANCE album cover DVD/Video, 2016
4.40 | 9 ratings

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Live at the Union Chapel
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Still burning

Renaissance was never among my favourite groups, being a bit too meek and lacking in Rock substance for my tastes. They are somewhat more meaty in the live setting however, compared to the studio. This fact together with keyboarder Tom Brislin's involvement was what drew me to check out Live at the Union Chapel. I previously knew Brislin from the Symphonic Yes DVD, as well as Camel's The Opening Farewell DVD. And having played with both Yes and Camel - two of my all-time favorite bands - I was curious to hear what Brislin could do for Renaissance. I was not disappointed, Brislin plays very well indeed, sharing keyboard duties here with Rave Tesar. The latter concentrates mainly on piano, leaving Brislin to focus more on synths; he even throws in a rousing solo in Ashes Are Burning.

The rest of the band consist of Mark Lambert on acoustic guitar, Leo Traversa on bass guitar, Frank Pagano on drums, and of course Annie Haslam on vocals. Despite the fact that Haslam herself is the only member with a long history with the band, they do a very good job to reproduce the classic songs in this intimate live setting. Personally, I like best the opening instrumental Prologue, the epic Symphony of Light, and Ashes are Burning.

A high quality performance, and one of the best I've heard from Renaissance

 Azure D'Or by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.00 | 187 ratings

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Azure D'Or
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nē 173

'Azure D'Or' is the ninth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1979. This was the first album where the band stopped using an orchestra, the first album where the band exclusively features short songs and where the long epic pieces were gone and it was also the first album with the only full instrumental song ever released by the group.

The line up of the album is the same of their last previous studio albums. So, the line up on 'Azure D'Or' is Annie Haslam (lead and backing vocals), Michael Dunford (guitars), John Tout (keyboards), Jon Camp (vocals, backing vocals, guitars and bass) and Terence Sullivan (backing vocals, drums and percussion). However, this was the last album to feature this line up. John Tout who was dealing with some personal problems due to the death of his sister left the band and Terry Sullivan, long time friend of John Tout, also left the band as well, by a principle of solidarity.

'Azure D'Or' has ten tracks. The first track 'Jekyll And Hyde' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is a good song to open the album. Annie Haslam's voice sounds as good as ever, and despite the new rhythm, more pop than was usual, it remains an unmistakable Renaissance's song, as fresh and cool, as always it was. The second track 'The Winter Tree' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is a great example of a good pop music with excellent musical composition. It combines a nice acoustic guitar work with a beautiful keyboard working. It isn't as good as the previous song, but it's still a good song. The third track 'Only Angels Have Wings' written by Jon Camp is a different track from the previous, especially because it has the male voice of Jon Camp. It's a song with excellent orchestration and a great keyboard working. We may say that this is a typical symphonic track, very interesting and pleasant to hear, which curiously hasn't any drumming work. The fourth track 'Golden Key' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is an excellent track and it's probably my favourite track on the album. It's a wonderful song, probably the best musical composition on the album, and it's also probably, the most progressive track on it. This is a great melodic song with an absolute irreproachable orchestration, completely in the same vein of some of the best songs composed for their previous great studio albums. The fifth track 'Forever Changing' written by Betty Thatcher and Terry Sullivan represents another good musical moment on the album and represents also another highlight on it. This is another great melodic song with a memorable melody and where, once more, we are in presence of a fantastic vocal performance and a great acoustic guitar working. The sixth track 'Secret Mission' written by Jon Camp is another good song where all the musical elements, combined together, turned this song complex enough, to can be called a good progressive song, really. Once more the vocal performance of Annie Haslam is great and the keyboard work of John Tout is also, and once more, absolutely remarkable. No doubt about it. The seventh track 'Kalynda (A Magical Isle)' written by Jon Camp is a nice melodic song full of emotions. It has another great and perfect acoustic guitar working. Once more the vocal performance of Annie Haslam deserves a special mention. It's a very beautiful and simple song and although it can't be considered one of the most progressives on the album. The final result is another catchy and pleasant song to hear. The eighth track 'The Discovery' written by Jon Camp is a rare instrumental track for the band, the only composed on the album. Sincerely and despite being a very simple and vulgar instrumental song, I consider it a delightful and very interesting track, with great orchestration and with a classical touch. The ninth track 'Friends' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is another beautiful and melodic song. It's true that it's another very simple song, in terms of musical composition, and a little bit repetitive. But, once more, the final result is sufficiently catchy, nice, pleasant and enjoyable to hear. The tenth and last track 'The Flood At Lyons' written by Jon Camp and Michael Dunford was the song chosen to close the album. This is another good song that brings us the same mood and musical arrangements of their best good old times. Once again the vocal working of Annie Haslam is absolutely great and contributes powerfully to turn this song into a great musical moment and ending this album magnificently.

Conclusion: Despite 'Azure D'Or' be the weakest musical work released by Renaissance in the 70's, it remains, for me, a good album. It's true that it's a more commercially oriented album only with short songs, but in general, we can say that it's a very pleasant and nice musical proposal to hear, nothing disastrous and sufficiently good to be considered still a classic Renaissance's album, a minor classic it's true, but nevertheless, it's still a classic album from them. If you don't know Renaissance's music yet, you may like 'Azure D'Or'. I even sincerely think that even who knows their best albums shouldn't be disappointed with it, because it isn't as bad as some think. However, I wouldn't advise you to start with it. My advice is to start with 'Ashes Are Burning', 'Turn Of The Cards' or 'Scheherazade And Other Stories'. Their compilation album 'De Capo' is also another great proposal to start with this great 70's band.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 A Song For All Seasons by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.65 | 322 ratings

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A Song For All Seasons
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nē 172

"A Song For All Seasons" is the eighth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1978. It marked the return of the electric guitars to the band's music after several years of absence. Like happened on "Novella", the line up is the same. So, the line up on the album is Annie Haslam (lead and backing vocals), Michael Dunford (guitars), John Tout (keyboards), Jon Camp (vocals, backing vocals and bass) and Terence Sullivan (drums and percussion).

Renaissance had deeper roots in the classical tradition than did most of the other progressive acts, often incorporating lesser known late romantic, (and beyond), motifs into their recorded workings. Such ties may have helped them to remain true to their musical commitments at a time when many other progressive bands were collapsing artistically, somehow. However, "A Song For All Seasons" was Renaissance's last album to have a real progressive feeling.

"A song For All Seasons" has eight tracks. The first track "Opening Out" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is, in a certain way, a strange song. It's a very beautiful and melodic song that has everything to be an epic song, but due to a mysterious and surprising motif, doesn't develop and ends somewhat in an abrupt way. However and despite that, we are in the presence of a great track. The second track "Day Of The Dreamer" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp follow the steps and the style of their greatest predecessors songs. This is clearly a very good progressive track with several musical changes, all over the song, with some great musical moments. It's probably not fresh and enough inspired as other great epic songs composed by them, but in its essence, it keeps the excellence of Renaissance's music. The third track "Closer Than Yesterday" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is a very brief song and is also one of the shortest songs on the album. This is a song with a very simple musical structure, very nice and pleasant to hear. It's a typical acoustic ballad especially composed for the duo Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford with a lush orchestration on the back. It's a simple but a nice song, too. The fourth track "Kindness (At The End)" written by Jon Camp is an excellent song that at some times reminds me strongly the music of Barclay James Harvest. It's a very good song with good bass line by Jon Camp, great classical piano by John Tout and where the excellent performance of John Tout marry perfectly well with the voice of Annie Haslam. The fifth track "Back Home Once Again" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is with "Closer Than Yesterday" one of the smallest songs on the album, and because of its musical structure, it has a more commercial sound. It's a nice song but it represents one of the weakest songs on the album. And because of that we wouldn't rank it among the finest songs on their musical catalogue. The sixth track "She Is Love" written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is another weak point of the album and represents probably the weakest song on it. We can't say this it's a bad song but, in a certain way, the song doesn't catch, and the only thing I can say is that they should have been kept this song out of this album, perhaps. A totally incomprehensive decision made by them, I think. The seventh track "Northern Lights" written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is another beautiful and catchy song on the album. It's true that is 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 hear it. The eighth track "A Song For All Seasons" is the title track and was written by Betty Thatcher, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, John Tout and Terry Sullivan. This is the epic and pompous track on the album, but unfortunately, it represents also the last great Renaissance's symphonic progressive epic. The title track is a truly progressive song full of pure joy, melody, sweetness and grandiosity, and once more, the vocal performance of Annie Haslam is absolutely irreproachable. This song proves the grandiosity of this great band and closes this album with a golden key.

Conclusion: "A Song For All Seasons" is a great album but is also the last great Renaissance's album. In a world with The Sex Pistols and The Clash, there is no space for the progressive music of bands like Renaissance, Genesis and Gentle Giant, for instance. Those bands needed to be more commercial. Renaissance and Genesis did it with some success, or they would to have an end, which is the case of Gentle Giant. "A Song For All Seasons" was produced by Genesis' producer David Hentschel and he did an excellent job. I can see a certain parallelism between Renaissance and Genesis. Both bands belong to the same symphonic prog sub-genre, 1978 is the year of "A Song For All Seasons" and is also the year of "And Then There Were Three?", and both albums were produced by Hentschel. Finally, both albums are, in my humble opinion, the last great studio albums released by them. 1978 was also the year of Gentle Giant's tenth studio album, "Giant For A Day". However, while "A Song For All Seasons" and "And Then There Were Three?" are great works, "Giant For A Day" is a complete fiasco and represents Gentle Giant's worse musical working.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Novella by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.73 | 355 ratings

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Novella
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nē 171

"Novella" is the seventh studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1977. When we talk about the years of 1976 and 1977 we mustn't forget the arising of the punk movement. Those were times of great turbulence for all the progressive rock music. Renaissance was able to manage and to last longer, than most of the other progressive rock bands, before beginning their period of musical decline. During the period of 1977 and 1978, when bands such as Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant and Emerson, Lake & Palmer fell part way or whole way into pop mediocrity, Renaissance managed to come up with a great album "Novella", in 1977 and one very good album "A Song For All Seasons", in 1978.

The line up on "Novella" is Annie Haslam (lead and backing vocals), Michael Dunford (backing vocals and acoustic guitars), John Tout (backing vocals and keyboards), Jon Camp (vocals, backing vocals and bass) and Terence Sullivan (backing vocals, drums and percussion). The album has also the participation of Richard Hewson.

"Novella" has five tracks. The first track "Can You Hear Me?" written by Betty Thatcher, Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is an excellent song to open the album. It's a kind of a mini epic track extremely well performed especially by John Tout's piano and Michael Dunford's acoustic guitar, and once more the beautiful voice of Annie Haslam is absolutely perfect. The musical arrangements, which consist mostly of instrumental parts, are superb, and the addition of the orchestral arrangements is fantastic and complete perfectly well this piece of music. The final result of this fantastic work is a great progressive track. The second track "The Sisters" written by Betty Thatcher, Michael Dunford and John Tout is a soft orchestrated ballad with a very melancholic feeling and with a superb angelical vocal work by Annie Haslam with a great dramatic interpretation, very well supported by a nice choral work. It's a very beautiful song with a very special Spanish touch done by the performance of Michael Dunford on his acoustic guitar. Musically, it's a very simple track but with an extremely beautiful melody and where the gorgeous voice of Annie Haslam shines brilliantly in all its magnificence. This isn't a typical song of Renaissance, because in reality, this is very distinct to everything the band had done before, but it works perfectly well and once more we are in presence of a great Renaissance's song. The third track "Midas Man" written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is a beautiful classical track with a folky touch. It's mostly an acoustic song very well performed and with nice musical final result. This is mostly a song performed by the acoustic 12 string guitar of Michael Dunford and where we can hear, in some parts, the sound of the tubular bells. Because is essentially a repetitive song is considered by many a boring song. However, I think that is perfectly unfair because it has a very good musical arrangement which can be perfectly audible on any good audio system. The fourth track "The Captive Heart" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp is another beautiful track of Renaissance and represents, in my humble opinion, one the most beautiful songs made by them and where the voice of Annie Haslam is absolutely superb and unforgettable. It's a track with wonderful piano work with a classical style introduction. The main components of this song are the piano of John Tout and the voice of Annie Haslam supported by male voices on the back. This is a typical Renaissance's song strongly influenced by classical music and with a very nice touch of folk music. This track represents how a song composed with a simple musical structure can be as superb as it is. Only few bands can do that, and Renaissance is for sure one of them. The fifth and last track "Touching One (Is So Hard To Keep)" written by Michael Dunford and Jon Camp can be considered the epic track on the album. It retakes the style of the opening track, a long symphonic suite, very classical and with great orchestration. This is another excellent song once more with great accentuation in the style of the voice of Annie Haslam. This is a very progressive track with several musical changes all over the song and where we can listen to, the sound of a saxophone. The main beauty of this song is on its nice melody and also on its superb orchestral arrangements. This is another great progressive track.

Conclusion: Despite "Novella" isn't as good as "Prologue", "Ashes Are Burning", "Turn Of The Cards" and especially "Scheherazade And Other Stories", it's without any doubt, a great album. At least it's at the same quality level of their first two studio releases, "Renaissance" and "Illusion". However, we mustn't forget that "Novella" was released in 1977, at the height of the punk movement. That movement would have, in a short time, disastrous consequences in Renaissance, as happened with Genesis, Gentle Giant and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, for instance. "Novella" can be considered the beginning of the end of an era in Renaissance's music. "Novella" can be also considered, perhaps, the last great studio album of Renaissance and also the last truly progressive album released by the group. Unfortunately, soon another great progressive band would be defeated by the immediate commercial interests of the record labels.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Academy Of Music 1974 by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 2015
3.84 | 12 ratings

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Academy Of Music 1974
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Kingsnake

3 stars This live album is rather good sounding. Mostly live-recordings salvaged from the beginning of the seventies have a terrible bootleg-quality.

Mostly when it was recorded for radio, the quality is much better. I don't know the history of this live album, but it sounds good. Although there's a lot of audience talking throughout the recording. Wich is rather annoying. So apart from playing the album as a novelty, I won't come back to this album rather often.

The tracklist isn't really suprising, the band play their stand-out tracks. Because the band wasn't a singles-band, they could just go on and play their 10+ minute epics. Annie is of course outstanding, but that is no suprise. The rest of the band is really tight, and one of the tightest progbands from that era.

Anway, because I'm a fan, I'm rather happy listening to it, but I cannot imagine other music-lovers to have an interest. So I recommend this one to Renaissance-fans and not so much to other listeners.

 British Tour '76 by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 2006
3.13 | 12 ratings

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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
3.65 | 322 ratings

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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
3.22 | 18 ratings

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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 | 1076 ratings

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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 | 1076 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.

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

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