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Why has Renaissance gone obscure?

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criticdrummer94 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote criticdrummer94 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Why has Renaissance gone obscure?
    Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:06
I've become a huge fan of this band recently and I'm wondering why this band was never as successful as Yes, Genesis or Pink Floyd? 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote thellama73 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:15
I only have A Turn of the Cards, but I don't really like it. Maybe my taste is representative of the general public. (Ha! No, it isn't.)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lazland Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:20
Originally posted by criticdrummer94

I've become a huge fan of this band recently and I'm wondering why this band was never as successful as Yes, Genesis or Pink Floyd? 

Perhaps because the great record playing public didn't think they were as good as those three bands? Perhaps because their music was not as commercially viable as those three bands?

I really like Renaissance, and they did some great stuff, but, in football terms, they were fighting for fourth place in the league, not premier league champion material.


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Post Options Post Options   Quote HolyMoly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:22
Maybe they weren't "rock" enough to enjoy crossover success in the mainstream rock world.  Yes had Roundabout, Pink Floyd had Money, Genesis had crossover success a little later once they got into the pop singles market.  But Renaissance always had a very classical bent, with few "rocking" moments.  Later on, Renaissance appeared to go the pop crossover route with stuff like Azure d'Or, and my best guess as to why that didn't work was probably lack of support from the record company, because there's good pop potential there.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:24
Perhaps because Renaissance were never an actual progressive ROCK band, some listeners found them too classical/operatic/folk based?

They are easily one of the defining 70's progressive bands, and a very important part of the development of the genre!

At least in progressive circles, the band is so highly looked on, and it's kind of all but guaranteed no matter how ridiculous the comparison, most female fronted prog bands are compared to Renaissance and Annie Haslam!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alitare Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:38
I really loved Ashes are Burning. That one gets some plays from me.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:41
Originally posted by lazland

Originally posted by criticdrummer94

I've become a huge fan of this band recently and I'm wondering why this band was never as successful as Yes, Genesis or Pink Floyd? 

Perhaps because the great record playing public didn't think they were as good as those three bands? Perhaps because their music was not as commercially viable as those three bands?

I really like Renaissance, and they did some great stuff, but, in football terms, they were fighting for fourth place in the league, not premier league champion material.


Indeed.  Also, I don't completely understand the title.  "Have gone obscure"...they were always behind these three bands, by a long way.  TFTO earned gold certification in UK purely on pre orders and hit no.1 in UK.  No Renaissance ALBUM ever hit no.1 in either US or UK.  Genesis were a blockbuster pop group in the 80s.  Nothing needs to be said of Pink Floyd's success as well as influence, I suppose.  

For a second tier band, Renaissance have done about as well as they could have hoped and they have been fortunate enough to retain a fanbase in spite of breaking up in the 80s, which has made their revival in the last few years possible. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:49
Originally posted by rogerthat

For a second tier band, Renaissance have done about as well as they could have hoped and they have been fortunate enough to retain a fanbase in spite of breaking up in the 80s, which has made their revival in the last few years possible. 


Yes, exactly! There is still a lot of good-will and affection for the band, and they're currently wrapping up recording of a new studio album `Grandine Il Vento' for release early next year, which I'm sure many of us are looing forward to!

I haven't heard it in a few years, but I remember their last `Tuscany' was pretty decent too! Good an excuse as any now to go and grab it off the shelf for a listen!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 10:54
Because they are so heavily influenced by classical music, their essential sound is not particularly spectacular but at the same time not too reliant on any particular epoch.  So they seem to creep back into some momentum more easily and without having to change their sound much.  Their recent live shows got a favourable review from Allaboutjazz.com.   But without pop singles, they are not going to set the world afire with album sales, as simple as that.  Annie Haslam said in a mid 70s interview that it would always be a struggle for bands like them and that holds true today as well.  

Edited by rogerthat - October 29 2012 at 10:55
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Post Options Post Options   Quote infandous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 11:10
I quite like most of what the did in the 70's.  I saw them perform at Neafest this past summer and they were fantastic.  That Annie is still able to sing like she did back in the 70's (well, very nearly, anyway......much like Jon Anderson) is very impressive.

The big thing I find with them is that they never really progressed.  From Ashes are Burning through A Change Of Seasons, there really is almost no new musical development.  They became more ambitious with the compositions, but the basic style and approach never changed.  I think that is why they've always been second tier amongst prog fans (though still beloved by many).

As to popular success, well I think that is obvious.  They had no hit records and no hit singles.  Not hard to understand why they are obscure to the general music listening public.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 11:15
^^^ Well, there is, in the sense that I'd shift the point where they found their niche to Turn of the Cards.  That's where they let go of the pastoral sound of Ashes...and adopted a dense, symphonic sound, with more piano and less acoustic guitar.  But thereafter, there was never really a point where the use of an orchestra actually made the music more demanding or challenging to listen to.  It was as if they were in thrall of the sound of the orchestra than the complexity that could be obtained from it.   There's so little counterpoint in their music for a band so reliant on orchestra.  
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Post Options Post Options   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 17:05
Originally posted by criticdrummer94

I've become a huge fan of this band recently and I'm wondering why this band was never as successful as Yes, Genesis or Pink Floyd? 
 
It's obvious why ... they didn't feel the need to dress up in costumes and imagine some kind of story!  Wink  Embarrassed
 
Similarly, a lot of their early lyric material was written by an English poetess, btw ... but then, that's too intelectual to be progressive or appreciated by folks that think rock lyrics are more important if they talk about Jane or a bitch!


Edited by moshkito - October 29 2012 at 17:06
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 19:06
Originally posted by infandous

I quite like most of what the did in the 70's.  I saw them perform at Neafest this past summer and they were fantastic.  That Annie is still able to sing like she did back in the 70's (well, very nearly, anyway......much like Jon Anderson) is very impressive.

The big thing I find with them is that they never really progressed.  From Ashes are Burning through A Change Of Seasons, there really is almost no new musical development.  They became more ambitious with the compositions, but the basic style and approach never changed.  I think that is why they've always been second tier amongst prog fans (though still beloved by many).

As to popular success, well I think that is obvious.  They had no hit records and no hit singles.  Not hard to understand why they are obscure to the general music listening public.


well they did have a pretty big single in the UK - "Northern Lights", off "Song for All Seasons" in 1978, but it didn't do anything in America and I don't know if it did anything anywhere else.  It was ironic because up until then, the group had been better received in America than in UK.  But the album success in US did not translate to singles success, probably because of the reasons people have given above.  And, unfortunately, the singles success in UK proved an anomaly, as it failed to generate any momentum at all for the group.  Still, one of my favourites from the 70s prog scene.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dellinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 19:38
However it may be, I really love that band, and Annie may be my favourite singer from prog, tied with Jon Anderson. They really got some magical moments.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote smartpatrol Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 19:46
I think it's because they're either, frankly, not as good as most classic Prog bands, or they're just underrated
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 29 2012 at 20:35
Originally posted by moshkito

 
 
It's obvious why ... they didn't feel the need to dress up in costumes and imagine some kind of story!  Wink  Embarrassed
 
Similarly, a lot of their early lyric material was written by an English poetess, btw ... but then, that's too intelectual to be progressive or appreciated by folks that think rock lyrics are more important if they talk about Jane or a bitch!

By her own admission, the late Betty Thatcher was not a poet and wanted to be a commercial artist.   She got the job because she was a friend of Jane Relf and Keith Relf read some letters she had written to Jane and liked what he saw.  Formally, she was not any more qualified as a poet than Annie, though much better imo at writing lyrics.  

As for dressing up, well, they had to dress up essentially folk and pop melodies in classical sounds...that was their USP, wasn't it?  At least Floyd didn't dress up the music.  There is no need to deride other bands to talk up the one in question, is there?   Renaissance members are self professed fans of Yes, by the way and Jon Camp admitted to imitating Squire.  
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Post Options Post Options   Quote infandous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 30 2012 at 08:28
Originally posted by rogerthat

Originally posted by moshkito

 
 
It's obvious why ... they didn't feel the need to dress up in costumes and imagine some kind of story!  Wink  Embarrassed
 
Similarly, a lot of their early lyric material was written by an English poetess, btw ... but then, that's too intelectual to be progressive or appreciated by folks that think rock lyrics are more important if they talk about Jane or a bitch!

By her own admission, the late Betty Thatcher was not a poet and wanted to be a commercial artist.   She got the job because she was a friend of Jane Relf and Keith Relf read some letters she had written to Jane and liked what he saw.  Formally, she was not any more qualified as a poet than Annie, though much better imo at writing lyrics.  

As for dressing up, well, they had to dress up essentially folk and pop melodies in classical sounds...that was their USP, wasn't it?  At least Floyd didn't dress up the music.  There is no need to deride other bands to talk up the one in question, is there?   Renaissance members are self professed fans of Yes, by the way and Jon Camp admitted to imitating Squire.  



Yeah, I didn't really understand the comment either.  Especially since it's quite obvious they DID "dress up" on stage in the seemingly obligatory 70's stage outfits.  No capes, I guess, but some of Annie's dresses were quite medieval.  Of course, they didn't go to the lengths of groups like Yes or Genesis with the stage props and such, but I suspect that was down to not having the money for it.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 30 2012 at 08:56
I know I am in the minority, but a growing one (right ClemofNazareth and Rogerthat?) who thinks that Renaissance' peak was 1978, "A Song for All Seasons".  That was a bit late for a prog act from the early 70s to peak.   Yes we are a minority, but a larger minority (in percentage anyway) than those who think Genesis, ELP, or Yes peaked in 1978.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 30 2012 at 09:26
Originally posted by kenethlevine

I know I am in the minority, but a growing one (right ClemofNazareth and Rogerthat?) who thinks that Renaissance' peak was 1978, "A Song for All Seasons".  That was a bit late for a prog act from the early 70s to peak.   Yes we are a minority, but a larger minority (in percentage anyway) than those who think Genesis, ELP, or Yes peaked in 1978.


Yeah, I know you agree and also ClemofNazareth.  I think because of the somewhat pop-ish sound in places and also that it's 1978 and not 1973, SFAS doesn't get its due vis-a-vis the other Renaissance mk ii albums.  It's not really a step down at all; they really should have had some guitar in the mix anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 30 2012 at 09:28
Originally posted by infandous




Yeah, I didn't really understand the comment either.  Especially since it's quite obvious they DID "dress up" on stage in the seemingly obligatory 70's stage outfits.  No capes, I guess, but some of Annie's dresses were quite medieval.  Of course, they didn't go to the lengths of groups like Yes or Genesis with the stage props and such, but I suspect that was down to not having the money for it.


They were also not theatrical so there was really nothing much to act out in the way of Genesis or Floyd.   But they all wanted to make a statement, nonetheless, like many other bands from the 70s.  Annie's dresses were supposed to reflect the character of the music.
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