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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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Ashes Are BurningAshes Are Burning
Repertoire 1995
Audio CD$6.45
$9.58 (used)
Turn of the CardsTurn of the Cards
Repertoire 1994
Audio CD$6.79
$8.75 (used)
Live at the BBC: Sight & SoundLive at the BBC: Sight & Sound
Imports 2016
Audio CD$22.08
$27.77 (used)
Scheherazade & Other StoriesScheherazade & Other Stories
Imports 2015
$12.98 (used)
Repertoire 2012
Audio CD$7.17
$7.16 (used)
Live At Carnegie Hall-The Deluxe Anniversary EditionLive At Carnegie Hall-The Deluxe Anniversary Edition
Friday Music 2015
Audio CD$25.13
$8.50 (used)
Live Fillmore West 1970Live Fillmore West 1970
Angel Air 2016
Audio CD$8.21
$8.20 (used)
Academy Of Music 1974Academy Of Music 1974
Cleopatra 2015
Audio CD$10.00
$11.05 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
The Renaissance Dance Bands - Susato Danserye 1551 - HMV - HQS 1249 - Vinyl LP USD $6.40 Buy It Now
Time Life - Classic Rock - Rock Renaissance - Rare CD USD $3.87 [0 bids]
Time Life - Classic Rock - Rock Renaissance II - Rare CD USD $6.46 [0 bids]
Renaissance Northern Lights (16200) 7" Single 1978 Warner Bros. K 17177 USD $4.40 Buy It Now
USD $14.99 Buy It Now
Mauricio Kagel "1898" / Music For Renaissance Instruments CD 028945957029 USD $22.99 Buy It Now
1977 RENAISSANCE - Novella - Gatefold Album Disc VINYL LP Record SA7526 USD $14.99 Buy It Now
Dying to Be Heard by Bill Mumy (CD, Aug-1997, Renaissance Records (USA)) USD $14.99 Buy It Now
Renaissance & New Music, New Music USD $14.33 Buy It Now
Tacuma, Jamaaladeen Renaissance Man CD USD $5.93 Buy It Now
Renaissance-Academy of Music 1974 CD NEW USD $17.26 Buy It Now
RENAISSANCE ?- A Song For All Seasons (LP) (VG-EX/EX-) USD $15.51 Buy It Now
Renaissance [PA] by E-Town Concrete (CD, Apr-2003, Razor & Tie) NEW USD $4.75 Buy It Now
RENAISSANCE 2 - King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents in Concert, Part 2 - CD USD $114.75 Buy It Now
Ebony Eyes / Hard Rock Renaissance JAPAN Dead End Loudness ORG'91 1ST PRESS A6 USD $149.99 Buy It Now
Soweto String Quartet - Renaissance USD $1.28 Buy It Now
Le Luth A La Renaissance Andras Kecskes~RARE 1979 France Import Classical~VG++ USD $36.51 Buy It Now
NEW English and Italian Renaissance Madrigals (Audio CD) USD $20.90 Buy It Now
Renaissance Time Line 1983 IRS 70033 Progressive Rock 33 rpm Vinyl LP VG++ USD $12.99 Buy It Now
Various Artists Renaissance Music From The Courts Of Man CD USD $4.49 Buy It Now
EX- !! Renaissance/Prologue/1972 Sovereign Gatefold LP USD $19.39 Buy It Now
EX/EX !! Renaissance/Illusion/Island Reissue LP USD $16.81 Buy It Now
Renaissance/Ashes Are Burning/1973 Sovereign Gatefold LP USD $16.81 Buy It Now
Blue Heron Renaissance Choi...-V 1: Music From The Peterhouse CD NEW USD $15.89 Buy It Now
Nostradamus: Music of His Renaissance Hudson Chamber Ensemble Audio CD USD $3.99 Buy It Now
Anthology by Sad Caf (CD, Jan-2005, Renaissance Records (USA)) USD $5.88 Buy It Now
Hilliard Sound - Renaissance Masterpieces - Ockegheim / Desp (CD Used Very Good) USD $17.80 Buy It Now
RENAISSANCE - A SONG FOR ALL SEASONS (srk 6049) USD $1.00 [0 bids]
2m 31s
Renaissance The Masters Series Part 6 Vol. 2 Hernan Cattaneo 2cd USD $9.70 Buy It Now 3m 38s
Cherry Vanilla Bad Girl/Venus d'Vinyl (CD 2008, Renaissance) 2 albums on one CD USD $3.99 Buy It Now 3m 59s
13m 3s
Kleine Geistliche Konzerte/cordes/weser Renaissance Ensemble CD NEW USD $23.68 Buy It Now 15m 26s
RENAISSANCE | "Novella" CD | fabulous 1977 release on CD USD $6.08 [2 bids]
33m 15s
A Renaissance Christmas Waverly Consort ~US Columbia M 34554 VG / VG USD $5.16 Buy It Now 34m 19s
Pohlert Renaissance Ensemble on MHS 1914 Songs from Liederbuch of Arnt von Aich USD $19.99 Buy It Now 38m 35s
NEW Renaissance (Audio CD) USD $18.66 Buy It Now 51m 44s
Tanzmusik Der Renaissance Ulsamer Collegium Archiv Lp vinyl NM Dance Music USD $6.99 Buy It Now 53m 15s
Sidur by Gevolt (CD, 2008, Renaissance Records (USA)) USD $1.99 Buy It Now 1h 5m
Instruments of Middle Age and Renaissance CD NEW USD $13.75 Buy It Now 1h 5m
With Joyful Voice Boston Camerata Medieval Renaissance Baroque Christmas 3CD Set USD $19.99 [0 bids]
1h 5m
Stile Antico: A Musical Journey Into the English Renaissance CD NEW USD $19.93 Buy It Now 1h 6m
Renaissance Ibiza 3 CD Album USD $1.29 [0 bids]
1h 13m
Renaissance: The Mix Collection Part 4 (CD) USD $18.11 Buy It Now 1h 14m
Renaissance Songbook - P. Verdelot (CD Used Very Good) Hdcd USD $12.97 Buy It Now 1h 18m
Renaissance by Vanilla Fudge (CD, Nov-1998, Sundazed) USD $10.73 Buy It Now 1h 19m
British Tour '76 by Renaissance (CD, Apr-2006, Major League Records) USD $10.34 Buy It Now 1h 19m
Illusion by Renaissance (Vinyl, Feb-2016, Repertoire) USD $20.24 Buy It Now 1h 19m
1h 25m
Platform [Digipak] * by Christian Smith (CD, Sep-2009, 2 Discs, Renaissance... USD $4.04 Buy It Now 1h 35m
Renaissance Songbook (CD, Linn Records (UK)) USD $12.08 Buy It Now 1h 35m
MXPX - The Renaissance EP 12" GREEN DAY BLINK 182 PUNK HARDCORE LP w/ insert USD $18.50 Buy It Now 1h 46m
RENAISSANCE Carnegie Hall Live 2LP Set BTM 1976 UK press USD $11.63 Buy It Now 1h 49m
NEW Archguitar Renaissance (Audio CD) USD $26.14 Buy It Now 1h 52m
Various Artists - Renaissance (The Classics, 2005) USD $3.23 Buy It Now 1h 53m
Les Plaisirs de la Renaissance - Danses et chansons - CLEMENCIC TRIO - HMU LP USD $10.99 [0 bids]
1h 53m
Beyond Chant Mysteries of the Renaissance Voices of Ascension Music CD USD $7.99 [0 bids]
Saddle Up: Cowboy Renaissance (CD) Various Artists USD $33.23 Buy It Now 2h 2m
M People - Renaissance USD $2.46 [0 bids]
2h 9m
THE SUMMIT CHORALE SUMMIT NEW JERSEY NJ Music Of The Renaissance USD $8.00 [0 bids]
USD $16.00 Buy It Now
2h 12m
Renaissance Northern Lights/ Opening Out 45rpm 7" 1978 USD $0.01 [1 bids]
2h 13m
Renaissance Ball In Warsaw, New Music USD $14.98 Buy It Now 2h 19m
2h 35m
Unknown Artist Renaissance Man CD USD $4.23 Buy It Now 2h 38m
RENAISSANCE SUITE - David Munrow & Early Music Consort London - ANGEL 45-RPM LP USD $12.99 [0 bids]
2h 39m
Un Gout De Renaissance, New Music USD $13.03 Buy It Now 2h 52m
NEW Renaissance Lute Music (Audio CD) USD $12.68 Buy It Now 2h 52m
Charlie: Here Comes Trouble CD 2008 Reissue Renaissance Records RMED-219 NEW USD $10.95 Buy It Now 3h 12m
Unknown Artist The Art of Romance. Renaissance Romance. CD USD $4.00 Buy It Now 3h 17m
MURO Da Originater - Sampling Renaissance TOCT-27007 CD JAPAN NEW USD $60.06 Buy It Now 3h 19m
FREE US SHIP. on ANY 2 CDs! NEW CD : The Hellenic Renaissance, Vol. 2: Franghisk USD $20.80 Buy It Now 3h 20m
BLACKMORES NIGHT Shadow of the Moon CD 1998 EDEL Germany Deep Purple Renaissance USD $3.99 [0 bids]
USD $5.19 Buy It Now
3h 23m
Unknown Artist At the Renaissance: Ben Webster CD USD $10.00 Buy It Now 3h 28m
Renaissance awakening dave seaman 2 x cd house USD $2.98 [0 bids]
3h 38m
Madame D'Amours: Music for Renaissance Flute, New Music USD $14.33 Buy It Now 3h 42m
REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE Trinity cd ( stratovarius ) USD $7.64 Buy It Now 3h 47m
RENAISSANCE Tour Old/Vtg Large Button Pin Badge 44mm (not patch lp cd) /MS018 USD $6.46 Buy It Now 3h 55m
RENAISSANCE Tour Old/Vtg Large Button Pin Badge 44mm (not patch lp cd) /MS017 USD $6.46 Buy It Now 3h 56m
Chansons populaires de la Renaissance, New Music USD $8.48 Buy It Now 4h 3m
Ich rhm dich Heidelberg Musique de la Renaissance la cour de Heidelberg, New USD $10.79 Buy It Now 4h 4m
4h 11m
Flores de España Orient et Occident dans la Renaissance espagnole, New Musi USD $14.33 Buy It Now 4h 18m
Christian, Hans Light & Spirit - Sacred Renaissance Musi CD USD $4.38 Buy It Now 4h 21m
RENAISSANCE - Novella - SIRE RECORDS - 1977 LP NM - TAS LIST.. USD $10.49 [0 bids]
4h 34m
Chansons au Luth - Songs and instrumental pieces from the Renaissance, New Music USD $11.73 Buy It Now 4h 43m
RENAISSANCE - Carnegie Hall - 6029, Gatefold, Rock Vinyl LP Record USD $9.99 Buy It Now 4h 49m
Various Artists Classical Guitar Masters: Musical Renaissance CD USD $3.99 Buy It Now 4h 55m
Victoria De Los Angeles 'Five Centuries of Spanish Song' Gothic Renaissance MINT USD $5.81 Buy It Now 4h 57m

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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 | 293 ratings
3.04 | 211 ratings
3.71 | 376 ratings
4.22 | 623 ratings
Ashes Are Burning
4.08 | 546 ratings
Turn Of The Cards
4.31 | 1015 ratings
Scheherazade And Other Stories
3.72 | 341 ratings
3.63 | 304 ratings
A Song For All Seasons
3.00 | 176 ratings
Azure D'Or
2.42 | 114 ratings
Camera Camera
1.61 | 101 ratings
2.13 | 65 ratings
The Other Woman
2.89 | 53 ratings
Ocean Gypsy
2.16 | 59 ratings
Songs From Renaissance Days
3.04 | 95 ratings
3.27 | 115 ratings
Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]

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

4.23 | 196 ratings
Live At Carnegie Hall
3.80 | 54 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1
3.68 | 51 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2
3.87 | 23 ratings
BBC Sessions
4.08 | 11 ratings
Day of the Dreamer
2.45 | 12 ratings
Unplugged - Live at The Academy of Music, Philadelphia USA
3.19 | 14 ratings
Can You Hear Me
3.32 | 12 ratings
Mother Russia
4.10 | 10 ratings
Live + Direct
3.50 | 38 ratings
In The Land Of The Rising Sun
3.20 | 11 ratings
British Tour '76
3.19 | 14 ratings
Dreams & Omens
4.19 | 24 ratings
Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert
3.91 | 2 ratings
Past Orbits Of Dust: Live 1969/1970
3.26 | 14 ratings
DeLane Lea Studios 1973
4.08 | 10 ratings
Academy Of Music 1974

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

2.89 | 21 ratings
Song of Scheherazade
3.97 | 12 ratings
Kings And Queens
4.70 | 8 ratings
Live at the Union Chapel

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
3.44 | 30 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
3.21 | 30 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
3.45 | 16 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 | 1 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
0.00 | 0 ratings
3.00 | 2 ratings
Northern Lights
1.20 | 7 ratings
Faeries (Living At The Bottom Of My Garden)
3.57 | 16 ratings
The Mystic And The Muse


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live At Carnegie Hall by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 1976
4.23 | 196 ratings

Live At Carnegie Hall
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead

5 stars Review N 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 | 115 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.

 Illusion by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.04 | 211 ratings

Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead

4 stars Review N 83

The original line up of Renaissance fell apart during the recording of this second album. Jim McCarthy was the first to leave. Then, he was followed by Keith Relf and Louis Cennamo who left the band to form a new group called Armageddon. John Hawken kept the band alive recruiting new members like Michael Dunford, but after several short lived transitional line ups, he also departed with Jane Relf. Later and after the disband of Armageddon, immediately after the tragic dead of Keith, the rest of the original Renaissance line up regrouped and formed a new band called Illusion. This new band released two studio albums "Out Of The Mist" and "Illusion" and also was disbanded in 1978. So, the new Renaissance group that would arise in 1971 is based almost in a completely new line up.

"Illusion" is the second studio album and the last of this line up of Renaissance and was released in 1970. It was originally released only in Germany. "Illusion" had a very difficult birth and was a very difficult album in the history of Renaissance. Despite the serious problems with the line up for the band's second album, it hardly had any kind of effect on the music. "Illusion" can be considered almost as strong as their debut album, only partly with different musicians. On both albums, the sound is identical and they both contain a fine blend of rock, prog, folk and classical music which make of them mature releases. "Illusion" is even an incredible album, although not as aggressive as their debut, "Renaissance" is. In my humble opinion, it's almost at the same level of their previous one, in terms of quality.

"Illusion" has six tracks. The first track "Love Goes On" written by Keith is a very short song very simple and pleasant to listen to despite being a little repetitive on some parts. It isn't for sure one of the best musical moments of this band but I'm convinced that we are in the presence of a good song and a very decent song to open the album. The second track "Golden Thread" written by McCarthy and Keith is better than the previous song and is composed in the same vein and style of the previous album. It's a fantastic song where Jane shines with her vocal performance. It has a beautiful and lovely classical melody and has also a phenomenal piano performance and a beautiful choral work. This is without any doubt one of the highlights of the album and one of my favourite songs of this line up of Renaissance. The third track "Love Is All" written by McCarthy and Thatcher is another short song very simple and pleasant to listen to, in the same vein of "Love Goes On". It's, for me, better and more beautiful than "Love Goes On" and has beautiful vocal performance, a lovely chorus and a beautiful piano work. It's a song oriented to pop, but it's extremely beautiful and nice to listen to. The fourth track "Mr. Pine" written by Dunford is one of the most beautiful and sophisticated songs on the album. It starts as a medieval piece that turns into jazz and rock styles, and that, in the end, returns to the medieval style. This is really a truly progressive song with so many musical changes that it almost seems to be various songs into only one song. This is another highlight of the album and it's also one of my favourite songs on it. The fifth track "Face Of Yesterday" written by McCarthy is a slow piano based song and is another beautiful and pleasant song to listen to and where Jane has her greatest vocal moment on the album. Finally, she can show to us all of her great vocal talents and that at times she even makes us believe that we are in the presence of Annie Haslam. In reality, this is a great song with a superior and unforgettable vocal work of Jane. This is the kind of songs that can only raise the overall quality of any album. The sixth track "Past Orbits Of Dust" written by McCarthy, Keith and Thatcher is a completely different song from the others, as happened with "Bullet", the last song of their previous album "Renaissance". It's an extensive psychedelic piece of music with a jazz touch, very experimental, and like with "Bullet" it's also a little bit lengthy and boring to my taste. As with "Bullet", "Past Orbits Of Dust" is also my less favourite song on this album. Anyway, "Illusion" remains almost as good as their previous eponymous debut studio album.

Conclusion: I don't agree with most of the people about this album. Sincerely, I'm absolutely convinced that "Illusion" is an underrated album in the history of the progressive rock music. It's possible that in some musical parts, it isn't as brilliant as "Renaissance" is, but otherwise, it's in a certain and strange way, more balanced and cohesive than "Renaissance" is. "Illusion" remains as an excellent album, very melodic and with some great progressive parts, and the vocal performance of Jane is, in my humble opinion, better than on their previous debut album. It's truly a pity that during the most of the songs of the first two albums of the band, she was mostly confined in a subordinate vocal role and not in a more important role. She deserved much more, because he has a brilliant voice with a beautiful timbre. So, this is really a nice album with great moments that can't be missed by any true fan of the progressive symphonic style.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Renaissance by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.73 | 293 ratings

Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead

4 stars Review N 82

Renaissance is a progressive rock band that emerged from the ashes of The Yardbirds, a band mostly known as the starting point of three of the best British rock guitarists, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. However, the history of Renaissance is essentially the history of two separate groups with two completely different line ups. The original group was founded in 1969 by the ex-Yardbirds members, the drummer Jim McCarthy and the vocalist and guitarist Keith Relf. With the addition of the keyboardist John Hawken, the bassist Louis Cennamo and the singer Jane Relf, the sister of Keith, the group was completed. The first line up of the group released only two studio albums, this debut album "Renaissance" and the following second, "Illusion". Their self titled debut working has mixed influences of rock, folk and jazz with some frequent quotations from various pieces of classical music. Despite be a very good album, it's quite an embryonic album compared to their classic albums from the 70's, the albums of the second line up.

So, "Renaissance" is the debut studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1969. The line up of this album is Jane Relf (vocals and percussion), Keith Relf (vocals, guitar and harmonica), John Hawken (piano and harpsichord), Louis Cennamo (bass) and Jim McCarthy (vocals and percussion).

"Renaissance" has five tracks. All songs were written by Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, John Hawken and Louis Cennamo, except "Wanderer" which was written by Hawken and McCarthy. The first track "Kings And Queens" is the opening track that clearly proves what will be the personal landmark of the future band's music. It's a long and complex song heavily influenced by the classical music and where its musical structure would be relevant on their later musical compositions. It's a song extremely very well constructed, very melodious and at the same time very dynamic. It's without any kind of doubt a truly progressive song, very beautiful and represents probably the best musical moment on the album. The second track "Innocence" is a much simpler musical composition than the previous song. Its musical structure is different from their debut track and it's more influenced by the psychedelic sound of the 60's than by the classical music. It's a very good song again centred on Hawken's piano work and Keith's vocals and guitar workings, and it has an interesting and typical psychedelic guitar playing from the 60's. The third track "Island" is another beautiful and melodic song and represents also one of the best musical moments on the album and is also one of my favourites. It's again an acoustic guitar and piano based song with great melody and where this time the main vocal duties goes to Jane, despite it has also a male vocal performance. It's true that Jane isn't Annie Haslam but she sings beautifully and she can also reach the high notes. The fourth track "Wanderer" is another fantastic song, this time more close to the medieval sound. Here we can listen to the beautiful sound of harpsichord and where Jane is once more fantastic and unforgettable with her high octave notes. This is, in my humble opinion, one of her best vocal performances. Despite being the shortest song on the album, it represents also one of the best and one of my favourite musical moments on it. The fifth and last track "Bullet" is a completely different song from the others. It's a moody and darker track, very long and influenced by different musical styles that ranging from rock, blues and psychedelic music. The musical composition of this song is performed in avant- garde music style with several musical explorations of different sounds. It's a song where we can clearly see a great appetite for free musical improvisation, an ideal track to be performed live with some individual solos. I think this is a track with high and low points and sincerely it's my less favourite song on the album and it's probably the main reason that I don't consider this album a masterpiece.

Conclusion: I know Renaissance since the 70's. However, for so many years, I only knew from them three studio albums, "Prologue", "Ashes Are Burning", "Scheherazade And Other Stories" and the live album "Live At The Carnegie Hall". All these albums are from their second and better known line up. So, unfortunately I ignored the original line up for too much. Finally, some time ago, I bought the first two albums of the original Renaissance and I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised with them. So, now I'm ready to say that, although I prefer the second line up of the group, both are great. In relation to this previous debut album I need to say that we are in presence of a great album. It's commonly accepted that "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is the first progressive rock album in history. However, "In The Court Of The Crimson King" and "Renaissance" were both released in the same year, 1969. So, it's difficult for me to say which of the two albums, the first one was. However, for me, about one thing I'm sure. Both albums introduced radically new musical ideas and both were responsible for the birth of progressive rock.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Time-Line by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1983
1.61 | 101 ratings

Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Renaissance, once a renowned and ambitious symphonic prog act took the turn that sadly all too many bands of the genre have taken at one point or another in the late seventies and eighties. Yes produced disco radio-friendly hits, Genesis got to things in the area similar to Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer produced the pop sell-out Love Beach while Mike Oldfield recorded dance music with techno strains. Renaissance was no exception. Time-Line is probably the worst album in the band's discography. Mike Dunford's guitar solos are not unskillful by any means, but are being put in a scenario that makes me cringe. While listening to the band's previous works, you wouldn't be able to imagine Annie Haslam's voice in such terrible music. All in all, this is a complete junk, I recommend you stay away from this!
 Live at the Union Chapel by RENAISSANCE album cover DVD/Video, 2016
4.70 | 8 ratings

Live at the Union Chapel
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by rogerthat
Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Renaissance has a surprisingly rich treasure trove of live recordings, especially so for a second tier band. Are there some superfluous releases in this humongous catalogue of concert performances? Perhaps, but Live At the Union Chapel is surely not one of them. What follows is a review of the DVD and not the audio only CD.

What makes this DVD special is, aside from all other things, it is one of only two colour DVDs of Renaissance mk ii and the third yet overall. The only DVD representing the 70s classic line up - you know which one - is Song of Scheherazade and that much maligned black and white release is no competition. The main competition then is with the Turn of the Cards/Scheherazade and other Stories DVD from 2011. Yeppers, if you didn't know about that one and don't have it yet in your collection, you should because it has both albums performed in their entirety with a little bonus.

On the face of it then, this DVD, taken from their concert at aforesaid venue in London, is up against the odds when compared with Cards/Scheherazade. But, leaving aside this obvious disadvantage, Renaissance score over the 2011 DVD on two counts. One, the video footage is much better shot here (though I'll leave providing the technical justification for that comment to somebody else!) and the audio too is stunning. The audio is available in two modes - stereo and surround sound. The surround sound set up is incredible. Listening to Annie Haslam's voice on surround can almost lull you into believing it's the 70s. Two, the concert features three tracks from Grandine Il Vento/Symphony of Light. That would perhaps be regarded as a problem by some but, as somebody who is no great fan of that album, I must say these three tracks really come alive in the concert setting. I had already enjoyed Mystic and the Muse on the 2011 DVD and now enjoy Symphony of Light as well as Grandine Il Vento a lot more on the DVD compared to the studio versions. The energy and emotion that was perhaps a touch subdued in the studio recordings really flows in the concert performances and makes them a lot more engaging.

I have minor quibbles here and there of the band's playing (like the way Mark Lambert performs the opening guitar riff of Northern Lights...just compare it to the way Dunford played it and you'll see my point) but overall they are splendid. Annie Haslam continues to amaze, as ever. It's not that her instrument is completely untouched by the demands of touring for so many years and a purely vocal acrobatics-oriented track like Prologue spotlights what's changed. But on the other tracks (which have lyrics) her phrasing seems to have gotten even better as compared in 2011 (which was already - dare I say it - better than the 70s). As I mentioned earlier, the surround sound set up adds that little bit of 'beef' to her voice which was missing in the 2011 recording, closing the gap even more on the 70s. These are nitpicky considerations of a long time fan (or not so long time by Ren fan standards!); suffice it to say that those who are less demanding will have nary a complaint of any hue to make.

Time for the rating, then. From a Renaissance fan perspective, this is five star material. I am not comparing this with DVDs of other bands and wouldn't advise a casual listener (of Renaissance) to start here. But if you already like this band, then this is a must have for sure.

 Songs From Renaissance Days by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.16 | 59 ratings

Songs From Renaissance Days
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

2 stars Songs From Renaissance Days is a compilation of unreleased outtakes and demos that the band had recorded around the time of the Camera Camera and Time Line album sessions. Except for a couple of songs, there was good reason not include these songs on the afore noted albums. They simply are not up to snuff as either new wave prog or straight pop songs. But this compilation does give one the ability to see clearly the two diametrically opposed musical avenues the group was deciding in the wake of poor sales of the Camera Camera album that was just released in 1981.

Dream Maker is a gorgeous emotive song that features some of Jon Camp's best lyrics that were placed together with Michael Dunford's hypnotic melody. Annie Haslam shines on this track but it would be only one the few where she does.

Africa and You are outtakes and demos, respectively, from the Camera Camera sessions and are good for a look at other musical ideas the band were playing with at that time. Unfortunately, these are failed experiments that involved tribal rhythms and chanting in a faux tribal language in the case of Africa, and long almost repetitive musical passages in the case of You.

This compilation also features two solo demos from Annie that are a stiffy electric slowed down version of the band's UK hit Northern Lights ,and the last song ever co-written by lyricist Betty Thatcher and Dunford for the band to record as a Renaissance album track titled No Beginning No End. No Beginning No End features another gorgeous Dunford melody and it is surprising that the song was not resurrected during any of the band's recent re-incarnations.

Only When I Laugh and The Body Machine are slick synth pop songs that are pleasant mostly due to Haslam's emotive vocals. Writer's Wronged is a song that doesn't know if it wants to be prog, pop or jazz and probably illustrates the confusion in musical direction that the band were experiencing at that of its recording.

The band's cover of Paul Simon's America seems redundant in that it was Yes' encore piece during their many US concerts, and the band do little to better Yes' version.

All in all, Songs From Renaissance Days was a postcard to old Renaissance fans that should have never been sent. 2 stars.

 Camera Camera by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.42 | 114 ratings

Camera Camera
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

5 stars Eight rapid fire old time camera shutters clicking open and closed signal the invisible metronome of Camera Camera's opening title track and we're off. Jon Camp's bass takes over the beat with five identical propulsive bass notes that climax in a quick four note melody, while long time acoustic guitarist Michael Dunford shadows Camp's leading bass with surprise stabbing stereo electric guitar chords that are actually rhythmic notes that cascade around the soundstage. New drummer Peter Baron adds electrifying drum fills and briefly detours to hit his snare on the offbeat before rejoining the song in conventional rock band style. Briefly, images of Bill Bruford and Chris Squire fill my head before Peter Gosling's distinctive synth notes fill the sound stage joined by Annie Haslam's distinctive vocals. But Haslam herself surprises and climaxes her multi tracked choruses with some never before heard high octave vocal hijinks.

This is how I first remember hearing the formally symphonic progressive rock band Renaissance back in 1981 and I was thrilled. I recently played a near mint copy of the original vinyl album of Camera Camera and the initial rush is still the same.

For very good reasons. After the departure of long time members John Tout and Terry Sullivan following the release of the more 'radio friendly' Azure D'dor album in 1979, the remaining group members, Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford and Jon Camp found themselves without a record contract while facing a wholesale change that invaded the pop music scene of the early eighties when New Wave ruled the pop radio waves. And frankly, the band's longtime orchestral sound was sounding long in the tooth ever since the release of the Novella album in 1977.

Realigning themselves with former manager Miles Copeland, who now owned IRS Records' subsidy label Illegal, the group recruited keyboardist Gosling from their offshoot band Nevada and added crack studio drummer Baron. With full financial backing from Illegal, the band produced a terrific electric prog album while still maintaining elements of their classical sound. Gosling settled on a distinctively thick synth sound that incorporated elements of dissonant sound, space age whooshes and buzzing into his melodic tones. Baron brought a more prog style of drumming with solid beats backed up with lightning tom fills and deft cymbal work. Aside from Dunford taking up rhythmic electric guitar in place of his previous percussive acoustic, Camp forsook his trebly bass sound for a fat grubby tone that was still the melodic anchor of each and every song.

Camera Camera revealed the new band's penchant for dynamic instrumental sections that were based around Baron's rapid hi hat and encircling tom tom fills that bring to mind Phil Collins without being outright derivative. A rich thick sound mix that gives a prog fan a lot to sink his musical teeth into. Other standout tracks include Tarant-tula, with its creepy electric guitar arpeggios that are chased with a menacing bassline from Camp, and the moving acoustic guitar based Okishi-san, which conjures up images of ancient Japan with the story of a lovelorn Geisha taken away to another village far from the gentleman caller she has fallen for.

Long time lyricist Betty Thatcher shines in her stories of lost love on this song as well as in the heart rending Bonjour Swansong (only available on the CD version.) I once read that a critic stated that Bonjour Swansong was Northern Lights recast in waltz time. While the song does have a strong resemblance to Northern Lights in it's slow but not quite waltz time chorus,and execution could not render the song more different. Less complex and presented as a pop song, Bonjour Swansong displays the return of Dunford's beautiful acoustic strums that supports Haslam's multi tracked vocals for the choruses before Haslam stops the show with one of her ethereal moments in the song's middle eight section. Camp's bass is confined to simple scales in the song's catchy choruses instead of his complex melodies that were displayed in the more prog tinged Northern Lights, and this the main reason why the song succeeds and sounds original.

Jigsaw is Thatcher's mirror of the band's fortune and interpersonal relationships which were fractured after the release of Azure D'or, and the band does another incredible job of transferring the chaotic feelings into dramatic time signature changing music.

Ukraine Ways is another of the band's neo-classical prog pieces that conjures up images of the cold former Soviet Union, Cossacks, and Russian men dancing. The song goes through several changes from dynamic prog to dramatic vocal yearning with Gosling playing cascading classical piano around Camp's melodic bass lines in the chorures. The song's musical climax is Camp's pounding bass notes in the instrumental section that's supported with more rapid fire drum fills from Baron before a very distorted guitar lead, almost reminiscent of a garage rock tone, briefly teases before returning in full force for the songs climactic lasts moments. Great waves of whooshing synths slowly die off as this great album draws to a close.

Camera Camera is not without its faults. Fairies (living at the bottom of the garden) and Running Away From You are bland pop songs that evoke feelings of the band having gone New Wave as synths are used for the quirky rhythms, and Gosling's sometimes noisy synth tones can be off putting to some people. But in a time when Yes and Genesis were devolving into pop acts and King Crimson actually embraced New Wave, Renaissance still put quality into their music.

Camera Camera was a brave album that Renaissance bet their professional future on. Too complex in some instances and too fey in others, the music would never be appreciated by anyone other than a diehard electric and symphonic prog fan. Camera Camera manages to encompass both of those subgenres easily. Thirty plus years after it was first released, it's time for diehard fans of the band's older sound to drop their prejudices and gave this album a deservedly fresh listen.

How fortunate are the fans who got the message the first time around. Five stars for this essential album in the Renaissance canon.

 In The Land Of The Rising Sun by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 2002
3.50 | 38 ratings

In The Land Of The Rising Sun
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars The Tuscany reunion tour yielded this fine album that's probably a bit less precious to fans now in light of the band's 2011 reunion, subsequent live CD/DVD and the new Grandine Il Vento album.

Live in Japan 2001 does not feature the old ever familiar band members and it shows in their sometimes metered but still accomplished performances. What is immediately apparent is how much better sounding the four songs from the Tuscany album, Lady From Tuscany, Dear Landseer, Pearls Of Wisdom, and One Thousand Roses, sound live with two keyboardists filling out and adding the more immediate and dynamic sound to these live versions.

This would be the first time Renaissance utilized two keyboard players, the incredible Mickey Simmonds and the equally talented Rave Tesar, who stunningly bring this material to another level.

Other notable songs are the evergreen Northern Lights, and text book covers of Mother Russia and a very full and dense sounding Trip To The Fair. Annie is in good but measured voice throught.

The highlight of this live collection, all recorded in one night in Tokyo, is a brilliant extended encore of Ashes Are Burning. This song features Simmonds and Tesar in a wonderful dueling piano jam before touring bassist David Keyes performs a very Jon Camp sounding bass solo before Simmonds goes ballistic on synth leads that mimic distorted lead guitar. Annie concludes the piece with a 'primal' sounding wordless vocal that closes out the song.

In The Land Of the Raising Sun is far the more immediate sounding and orchestrated Carnegie Hall and King Biscuit concert albums. However, a good time is guaranteed if you're one of the few that's particularly partial to owning the myriad of live Renaissance recordings. 3 stars.

 Tuscany by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.04 | 95 ratings

Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars A wise record producer once said that an album's interesting backstory cannot be played on a turntable.

I agree with him. But a compelling backstory might help one to better appreciate a record. As with the case of the 2001 studio 'reunion' album by Renaissance titled Tuscany.

After the band's third incarnation lost their recording contract in 1983, both of the remaining mark II founding members, Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford, went the solo route. Both with albums baring the Renaissance name and containing little in the way of past glory and, more importantly, quality.

Haslam's solo ventures were based on her esoteric lyrical collaborations with numerous local musicians that was far from the Renaissance sound, and Dunford's casting of 'another woman' in Annie's lead vocal role in his new mark IV Renaissance venture titled The Other Woman was a dismal exercise that left fans feeling even worse by it's release in conjunction with the mark II lineup's long term absence. Complicating the hard feelings between Haslam and Dunford was the late Dunford ending up with the trademarked Renaissance band name and copyrights to extant but unreleased mark ll demos and completed songs.

Long time poetess/lyricist Betty Thatcher had endured a failed marriage and, by her admission, could only write bitter or regretful lyrics at the end of the nineties, and any idea of a reunion with past members seemed remote at best. The long departed, but ever controlling, bassist Jon Camp was not even a remote option, and former keyboard great John Tout was working for a British IT firm and had little interest or free time to entertain such an undertaking.

Luckily, Dunford decided to let Haslam have both creative input and partial business control over a rebooted Renaissance, with Annie writing lyrics in place of Thatcher. Mark Il drummer Terry Sullivan was still an active musician and stayed in touch with former keyboardist John Tout, and was receptive to the idea of a reunion, even if it was only partial.

All were finally reunited for the Tuscany sessions, but with Tout only able to participate on just few songs due to work commitments. Ex Camel and Mike Oldfield keyboardist Mickey Simmonds took over for Tout on the remaining songs and provided stunning orchestral keys and deft piano work. Camp was replaced by Sullivan's friend Alex Cord on bass, and the band were off to it after Haslam and Dunford had co written a dozen songs. Haslam raised her game and concentrated on the joys and tribulations of past love affairs and found a niche in her lyric writing that resembled early Renaissance numbers such as Bound For Infinity and I Think Of You, Haslam's personal favorites from the mark II song canon.

An interesting back story is only good if it goes along with interesting music and so it is with Tuscany. The intro to Pearls of Wisdom is instantly recognizable as a John Tout piano piece in that is both complicated and delicate and demonstrates that he had not lost his great touch. Dear Landseer features both Tout and Simmonds with Tout's piano and harpsichord giving the song a dose of the old Renaissance class. Indeed, Tout even seemed to have made peace with synthesizers and plays moving chords to backup Annie's heartfelt plea for the plight of beached dolphins on Dolphins Prayer. The song is made even more moving by it's real life story of thousands of unexplained beached dolphins that had occurred a few years prior to this albums recording, and guest backup vocalist Roy Wood (ex Move) actually reaches notes high enough to shadow Haslam's multi octaves. It's a beautiful song that's matched by the stark and stunningly emotive Eva's Pond and the sublime In My Life. Both are endearing stripped down piano, synth and percussion pieces. Lady From Tuscany and One Thousand Roses are classic sounding full blown symphonic prog with Simmonds rising to the challenge. The Race is a nifty pop like song with a propulsive rhythm that tells the story of a man's rush through life without enjoying it.

Tuscany has a couple of clunkers like In The Sunshine and the dreadful Life In Brazil, but considering all of this band's hurdles, it's a surprising return to form that would have naturally fit the mark ll band's recorded out put following the 1979 Azure D'or album. All considered, a reunion album like this, coming an incredible 18 years after their last studio album, 1983's Time Line, is even a bit of a minor miracle. And truth be told, I prefer it over the recent and more celebrated Grandine Il Vento material. Very close to 4 stars for this offering.


Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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