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RENAISSANCE

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Renaissance picture
Renaissance biography
Founded in 1969 - Disbanded in 1987 - Reformed between 1998-2002 and again since 2009

There were two groups under the banner of RENAISSANCE. The first group included Keith and Jane RELF (vocals) and came from the YARDBIRDS ashes. The second and better known incarnation produced some of the best music that I have ever heard. Annie HASLAM's five octave range fit perfectly with the classical/orchestral rock (lot of piano playing & full symphony orchestra backup) created by the other members. The quick description I usually give is they are sort of like the old MOODY BLUES with a an incredible female vocalist. The soprano voice of Annie and the piano virtuosity of John TOUT allied to the beauty and refreshing melodies, the refinement of the arrangements gave their music its magnificent splendour.

Photo by Brian Tirpak

My favorite RENAISSANCE albums are "Ashes Are Burning" and "Turn of the Cards". I also recommend "Novella", "Scheherezade and Other Stories" and "A Song for All Seasons" are must haves. I would add "Live At Carneige Hall" and "King Biscuit Hour Parts 1 and 2" as their 'prime' material. Plenty to fill a day with class, power and ethereal delights. The best introduction to the band would be the "Tales of 1001 Nights" compilation, which together contain of the band's best material from 72 through 80. Also the very first album from '69 is essential. After 1979, the band moved towards a more pop direction, like many other bands did in the late 70's.

See also:
- ILLUSION
- Jim MCCARTY

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RENAISSANCE discography


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

3.76 | 390 ratings
Renaissance
1969
3.09 | 269 ratings
Illusion
1971
3.74 | 475 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.23 | 791 ratings
Ashes Are Burning
1973
4.11 | 672 ratings
Turn of the Cards
1974
4.31 | 1313 ratings
Scheherazade and Other Stories
1975
3.75 | 423 ratings
Novella
1977
3.70 | 398 ratings
A Song for All Seasons
1978
3.03 | 221 ratings
Azure d'Or
1979
2.49 | 133 ratings
Camera Camera
1981
1.59 | 128 ratings
Time-Line
1983
2.11 | 73 ratings
The Other Woman
1994
2.88 | 61 ratings
Ocean Gypsy
1997
3.02 | 111 ratings
Tuscany
2000
3.23 | 142 ratings
Grandine Il Vento [Aka: Symphony Of Light]
2013

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

4.28 | 243 ratings
Live at Carnegie Hall
1976
3.81 | 59 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 1
1997
3.70 | 56 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2
1997
3.85 | 27 ratings
BBC Sessions
1999
4.10 | 13 ratings
Day of the Dreamer
2000
2.42 | 12 ratings
Unplugged - Live at The Academy of Music, Philadelphia USA
2000
3.14 | 14 ratings
Can You Hear Me
2001
3.31 | 12 ratings
Mother Russia
2002
3.92 | 12 ratings
Live + Direct
2002
3.58 | 43 ratings
In The Land Of The Rising Sun
2002
3.15 | 13 ratings
British Tour '76
2006
3.20 | 16 ratings
Dreams & Omens
2008
4.15 | 30 ratings
Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert
2011
3.92 | 4 ratings
Past Orbits Of Dust: Live 1969/1970
2012
3.21 | 19 ratings
DeLane Lea Studios 1973
2015
3.86 | 14 ratings
Academy Of Music 1974
2015
3.21 | 21 ratings
A Symphonic Journey
2018
4.67 | 6 ratings
50th Anniversary: Ashes Are Burning: An Anthology - Live in Concert
2021

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

2.89 | 22 ratings
Song of Scheherazade
2008
3.97 | 14 ratings
Kings And Queens
2010
4.29 | 13 ratings
Live at the Union Chapel
2016
4.00 | 8 ratings
Live at the BBC Sight & Sound
2016

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

2.83 | 14 ratings
In the Beginning
1978
4.00 | 4 ratings
Rock Galaxy
1980
3.40 | 35 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 1
1990
3.20 | 33 ratings
Tales of 1001 Nights Volume 2
1990
3.34 | 18 ratings
Da Capo
1995
2.14 | 62 ratings
Songs from Renaissance Days
1997
2.53 | 5 ratings
Innocence
1998
2.56 | 5 ratings
Trip To The Fair
1998
3.83 | 3 ratings
Songs For All Seasons
2002
3.09 | 3 ratings
Heritage
2003
1.70 | 5 ratings
Midas Man
2003

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

2.00 | 2 ratings
Island
1970
3.09 | 3 ratings
Prologue
1972
3.95 | 2 ratings
Carpet of the Sun
1973
2.00 | 1 ratings
Mother Russia
1974
3.00 | 1 ratings
Back Home Once Again
1977
3.00 | 2 ratings
Midas Man
1977
3.67 | 3 ratings
Northern Lights
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Jekyll and Hyde
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Winter Tree / Island of Avalon
1979
1.25 | 8 ratings
Faeries (Living At The Bottom Of My Garden)
1981
3.56 | 19 ratings
The Mystic and the Muse
2010

RENAISSANCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Renaissance by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.76 | 390 ratings

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Renaissance
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Idiotock

4 stars Great Debut album, highly recomended.

This is my First serious Review (or something like that), i listened the first album from a random band, that band was Renaissance. I knew what Renaissance are, but i've never heard a song from this album. Lets go to the first song.

Kings and Queens: Interesing intro, piano sounds really good, the way that it sounds with the bass and percussion is great, then starts a section, here vocals start. The vocals are fine, but think it should be better. The rest of song has more instrumental sections and a vocal part. The entire song has a great instrumental and a good bass. 8.5

Innocence: Good intro, here is a noticeable improvement of the vocals, when it finish for the first time ,a very good instrumental section begins, this part ends with a piano section and then a small vocal part, when it ends, another instrumental section begins and the song ends after that. 8.5

Island: A song with guitar intro who in it first minutes, is more pop than previus songs, really good, all instruments here are fine. When this part ends, begins a instrumental section with a piano as a lead instrument, being more like the previus songs, here is a great combination of piano, bass and drums, then a vocal choruses sucesed by a intrumental section based on Beethoven's Pathetique, after this section, the song ends. 8.5

Wanderer: The shortest song on the album, has a good intro, then a instrumental section begins, here a harpichord is included, after this, another section begins, here vocals apears. This song has a great vocal interpretation by Jane Relf. After the last section, the song ends. 8

Bullet: The song begins with a bass and piano intro, then drums and guitar appears, starting a section with vocals,. This part has a incredible instrumental where the most of the instruments stands out. After this section, a instrumental with bass, drums, guitar, piano and a lead harmonica. When this part ends, begins an interlude with piano, percussion and bass. Then a solo/section bass, this part is a little weird, but has very interesting moments, this part concludes with a vocal chorus which can become a bit strange or disturbing, on this part, little by little ambient sounds appear with which the song ends. This song is the more avant-garde song from this album. 8

Conclusion: On a scale of 1 to 10, this album deserves 8.3/10, so I'll give it four stars ****

I'll rate the bonus tracks too, but not today because it's a bit late :P, so they'll be rated another day.

 Time-Line by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1983
1.59 | 128 ratings

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Time-Line
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Mspy1

1 stars This record is terrible; I adore this band, but they were clearly slip sloping downwards. Time-Line their eleventh pop-oriented studio album.

They started slowly steeply downwards starting with the two albums before this one. The only two good things are, the first one being her voice sounding fine on the record. The album cover is the second positive aspect of this release which is basically 80s new wave hair style.

The massive orchestral arrangements, the majestic keyboard supporting her magnificent singing, baroque sort of stuff, acoustic guitars are just not there, this is everything you liked about Renaissance. This is basically pretty terrible early 1980s synth-pop, which isn't what Renaissance is known for. Furthermore, the synth arrangements aren't great either, and all the other instruments are awash which is not what you expect from Renaissance.

0.5/5 at most and there is nothing to review anyway except Annie's voice.

 Scheherazade and Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.31 | 1313 ratings

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Scheherazade and Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Maw The Void

3 stars Even though I personally simply can't enjoy this record, it's undoubtedly one you must check if you enjoy symphonic progressive rock or progressive rock in general.

Let me start by saying that the only track that justifies the high rating of this album is the twenty four minute epic "Song Of Scheherazade", which is without a doubt a very solid symphonic prog epic. The whole album merges symphonic prog with various other instruments, mostly wind instruments, so it makes the whole record very recognizable. The vocals aren't spectacular but they're definitely good and aren't bad in any way, and the musicians themselves don't show off often which is always good.

Even though this record maintains a similar sound throughout, it doesn't save it from how considerably aimless it is. The epic in specific, feels like a compilation of multiple (very solid, for sure) snippets. It works well as a suite, I must say.

This is definitely a record that you should check, and a very solid work, probably the best from Renaissance. With that said, it's three stars for me. It's good, but I can't say it's essential to any collection.

 Scheherazade and Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.31 | 1313 ratings

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Scheherazade and Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This opera is a great surprise. To my ears is an absolute masterpiece of contemporary music.

But let's go in order.

Side A.

1) Trip to the Fair. Beginning marked by a piano (John Tout) playing anxious notes in a classical style and in fact the lyrics of the song are gothic. Anyway, what a beauty! The progression of the piano is fantastic and is reminiscent of cultured music (Chopin?). The choirs at first solemn then become infernal, and in the meantime the progression on the piano is repeated several times, always the same, but accompanied by a rhythmic crescendo of the arrangements, the music becomes a march and then finally at 3 minutes and 45 seconds, after a few notes of xylophone, we can hear Haslam's vocals, beautifully punctuated with his distinctly English accent. So far, we have always stayed on the initial melody, which is repeated three times until finally there is a harmonic progression, towards what could be a refrain, were it not that it is not repeated. A jazz piece follows with xylophone and piano which leads to a climax with a solemn choir. The initial melody is back, sung again by Haslam but deformed by a circus arrangement that takes over in the instrumental ending. Masterpiece. Rated 8.5 / 9

2) The Vultures Fly High. Three-minute rhythmic song where the rhythm section and the strings are the protagonists. Haslam manages to produce a more dynamic interpretation than his standards. The song's only flaw is its brevity. Rated 7.5.

3) Ocean Gypsy. Wonderful start with acoustic guitar arpeggio, keyboard and Haslam's angelic voice to outline a very catchy melancholy melody which then goes into a major key, with a wonderful progression. We are at some truly remarkable melodic peaks. After the epic instrumental interlude, with a grandiose orchestral crescendo (Tony Cox) with solemn choirs, comes the third verse, to perfectly complete this masterpiece. Haslam's voice, arcane and beautifully British (ie folk) gives the whole piece a very refined accent. Many prog groups produce virtuosity or whimsical refined compositions but they are not able throughout their career to churn out a simple melodic song as beautiful as this one. Rated 9.

Side B

4. Song of Scheherazade (24:52) : - a) Fanfare (2:37) - b) The Betrayal (4:55) - c) The Sultan (2:46) - d) Love Theme (2:29) - e) The Young Prince and Princess as Told by Scheherazade (4:04) - f) Festival Preparations (1:07) - g) Fugue for the Sultan (2:12) - h) The Festival (2:12) - i) Finale (2:30)

a, b, c. The suite, which traces a famous Persian parable, after a fiatistic Intro comes alive with a galloping instrumental piece where the strings and the drums of Terence Sullivan emerge. In the third section, more relaxed and exotic, the choirs arrive and then the singing of Jon Camp, soloist or accompanied by Annie Haslam. Overall, the first movement is divided into three short, rather rhythmic sections where you can hear the grandeur of the orchestra. The music is always beautiful but does not reach the peaks of the first side. Rated 8.

d, e, f. The second movement opens with a classic piano piece by John Tout, perhaps the musician who most characterizes the sound of this album, to which the orchestra is added, mainly the strings. In the second section we finally hear the folk voice of Annie Haslam singing the love between the prince and the princess. This relaxed atmosphere lit by her singing is reminiscent of Ocean Gypsy and in fact the quality of the music has risen. The winning key of this group is: romantic melody + voice of Haslam + piano of Tout + arrangement (strings and rhythm section, with the bass of Camp making virtuosity). The sung piece could continue but is sacrificed in favor of the composition, which provides an evocative instrumental interlude with an oriental flavor worthy of a Tchaikovsky ballet, then the music changes completely and, guided by Tout's piano, it seems to become a jazz opera in Gershwin's style, with an excellent crescendo. The work of integration between folk instruments and the London Symphony Orchestra is remarkable. In the end the evocative atmosphere returns, guided by a wind instrument that I cannot identify. This instrumental section is perhaps the highlight of the suite. The second movement is great. Rated 9.

g, h, i. The third movement begins with another instrumental section worthy of cultured music, this time it reminds me of Dvorak's symphony From the New World. Then Annie Haslam's voice returns to elaborate the final part of the narration, which then increases in the last section. It seems incredible but the defect of this suite seems to me mainly the fact that the music does not have enough time to expand (as in the two long tracks of side A) leaving Annie Haslam's singing little space to give the best of her. In this suite there is a narrative need to produce many sections with different moods: the compositional work is refined but moving from one section to another in relatively short time removes some pathos. Rated 8,5.

Song of Sheherazade: Rated 8.5 / 9

We are facing a masterpiece, a flawless album that stands as the definitive symphonic pop-folk work. On the first side, the Renaissance churn out two mini-suites based on enchanting melodies. In the second, a suite of almost 25 minutes where they demonstrate a high-class compositional and arranging ability.

Haslame's voice and Tout's piano together with the strings create a unique sound, the rhythm section keeps pace and Camp performs virtuosity on the bass. Dunford stands on the sidelines but is the real genius being the author of much of the composition.

Absolute masterpiece. 9,5/10. Five Stars.

 Scheherazade and Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.31 | 1313 ratings

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Scheherazade and Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Ian McGregor

1 stars I just don't understand all the hype for this record. For me, it's just a crappier version of Genesis but with a medieval vibe. The only song that's worth talking about is Song Of Scheherazade, and just because of the mess it is. It isn't a twenty four minute song, it's a collection of short tracks that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and there is absolutely nothing memorable about them. It just doesn't work. The other tracks are more of the same, if not a little worse.

If you're wondering what this album sounds like: Dark Ages Genesis. One Star.

 Scheherazade and Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.31 | 1313 ratings

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Scheherazade and Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by FalconBleck

5 stars #49th Review

This was my gateaway to this band, if you have heard it already you'll probably know how i feel.

A Trip to the Fair 8/10 This track got me into this album, the beginning with those very low russian chords, and that fast pace, the voices, its the beginning of an story, but more than that, for me this is the track that goes the closest to being like Genesis's Musical Box, i've wanted to feel something similar as that song for a while, and many have done something, but not quite like this one. This song feels older than it is, but also very innocent, i like the story that's being told and the sense of movement that the piano playing gives. This song has a very interesting solo that goes more into soft jazz territory, and i really dig it as it is, ofcourse the bass is superb here, if there's something that this song gave me as a first impression is that this band has all the bases covered.

I'll sadly rest 2 points, because of weird voice inflection on "trip to the faaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiir" and repetition, this is still one of my favorites, but i think that this could've been a little better.

Vultures Fly High 9/10 This is the shortest song... and is as impressive as the other ones, i absolutely love the chords here and those bass lines. This has a faster tempo and its very energetic, i enjoy every moment that it repeats too, but if that wasn't enough, this track has an small solo, and its beautyful, i live for stuff like that... I think that the only downside is that this small idea wasn't developed further, i can't imagine how... this could've been integrated into something else probably and this part would've been remarkable if that was the case.

Ocean Gipsy 9/10 This ballad is amazing, love the chords and sounds, but specially the voice... the lyrics also help a lot, this track is a classic. I wasn't sold at first, if the song was just the chorus, but the way that the chorus ends "turn to gold" has a chord that i love. Although it may seem simple, as it is a ballad, the song keeps adding more to do for the instruments, so this is on another level. This piece also features a beautyful piano solo, that adds what this song needed to be one of my favorites, and the ending, that's very sad, but its perfect. There's something missing, but that is featured on the Scherezade song, every time i listen to the solo i expect a certain section that its actually not here.

Song of Scheherazade 10/10 This is a giant song with 9 sections, of wich many are instrumentals... i won't talk for each section specifically.

The introduction to this has a pretty serious attitude to it with those chords, but then it goes into full on adventure mode, the bass really does a fine job here, its like the begin of a movie. As the piece progresses i feel like we're getting introduced to a heroic character and then the rythm becomes tame, now we're introducing royalty with our first lyrics.

For this section i'll shoutout the chorus, i find it mesmerizing, everything is perfect but the many voices seal the deal... and the brass instruments, the transition from this section to "She says Scheherazaaaaaade" is incredible and that phrase gets repeated through the song somehow never losing how intense it sounds although its just shouting the name of the protagonist.

I just love the transition from orchesta to a lonely keyboard, and what the keyboard plays here its so beautyful, it made me tear up a little, somehow the piece becomes even more beautyful after this, if you weren't convinced at this point that this song is special then i don't know what will, probably the voice of an angel... wich happens to be the next section! This entire section is beautyful, but the ending is perfect, i sometimes listen to this song until this point "He will learn to love her for the rest of his life", i wish to marry some day, and to feel that everyday.

Then there's a lovely eastern night ambience that leads to the re-telling... I love the participation of every instrument and sound in this section, even the smallest contributions, i ofcourse saw the "la la la la" part coming a mile away, i really didn't want it to happen, but it was inevitable, yet after that, the song goes different ways and surpasses my expectatives like twice.

The piece gets chill, like a peaceful night, but then those very low chords appear, its time for another increasing scale, and a reprise of everything i have loved so far, but with a twist, this is were the prog rock kicks in hard, with some intrincate time changes, i love Annie's inflections here, mostly when she is not doing those weird time signature parts... and then reprise, "told the tales of sultans, talismans and rings..." love this line, and the chorus comes in the most epic way, this is the end of this story, there's a glorious chord change and Annie does a very high note, absolutely remarkable... and i expected the song to continue!

This is such a remarkable song, i have listened to it every day for more than two weeks now since i discovered it, this cemented my love for this band, i feel like i arrived too late for this, but at the same time, i feel as if i've listened to this my whole life.

In conclusion, this band is one of my mains now, and this album a must, this completely deserves the 5 stars, without a doubt. Go listen to it right now!

 Midas Man by RENAISSANCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
1.70 | 5 ratings

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Midas Man
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog123

1 stars I don't know... Attracted by the fact that here are canons (or new versions) of all three versions of Renaissance I bought this compilation and, unfortunately... I wonder where these recordings come from and, above all, why we didn't try to remix them or do some operation to improve the sound. That said... At a basic level they would seem to be excellent executions. But not knowing exactly who sings or who plays the only good thing is the fact that I bought it for the price of a budget compilation. Also because the second CD is classified as a bonus. What to say? A huge disappointment for a compilation of a truly extraordinary band that I really like.
 Renaissance by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.76 | 390 ratings

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Renaissance
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Artik

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

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Live at the Union Chapel
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

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

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

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

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

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

 Ashes Are Burning by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.23 | 791 ratings

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Ashes Are Burning
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by dougmcauliffe

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

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

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

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