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Illusion - Renaissance Illusion: Through The Fire CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.65 | 18 ratings

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5 stars A wonderful little known album that should be in the possession of every fan of the Mach 1 Renaissance, and band Illusion, featuring Jane Relf as the female voice. This lineup also featured ex Yardbirds Keith Relf (Jane's brother) on guitar and vocals and Jim McCarty on drums and vocals. Filling out this early Renaissance line up was Louis Cennamo on bass and the great John Hawken on piano and keyboards.

All have returned in 2001, save the departed Keith Relf, to help Jim McCarty flesh out this wonderful material that has a deep Renaissance/Illusion spiritual vibe both musically and lyrically. McCarty is the sole songwriter and chief vocalist, with Jane singing warm emotive backing vocals. The star of this album is once again Hawken, who's seems to channel some of the late John Tout's regal touch and excels on piano on every track that features him. Even the two tracks that don't feature Hawkin showoff McCarty's growing skills as pianist, along with his drumming and percussion work on all but one track on this album. Cennamo demonstrates why the Mach 2 Annie Haslam fronted lineup had to be as good or better than the original. The depth of talent, even minus Keith Relf, is so staggering that it makes me wonder why the Mach 1 line up never hit it big in their short time as classical/symphonic proggers.

Guest players handle the mostly acoustic guitar parts admirably and the stand out songs are "One More Turn Of The Wheel" (which probably could have been the title track if it was not so similar sounding tho the Mach 2 group's album tilted Turn Of The Cards), "Good Heart", "Glorious One", "Mystery Of Being", and the album's title track "Through The Fire."

McCarty was an early songwriter for the Mach 2 Renaissance that followed him with songs like "Kiev", "On The Frontier" and "Bound For Infinity", so have no doubts that this album is a must have for fans of both Renaissance and Illusion. McCarty has crafted a fine album that elegantly bridges the gap between both of those groups, and ironically, produced the best Illusion album ever committed to vinyl. 5 stars for McCarty's masterpiece as it's truly the result of a labor of love on so many diverse levels.

SteveG | 5/5 |


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