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Renaissance - Da Capo CD (album) cover

DA CAPO

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.34 | 18 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 316

"Da Capo" is a compilation of Renaissance and was released in 1995. This is an excellent introduction to Renaissance's music and it's also probably the most ambitious compilation made by the band until that date. This compilation was put together by Annie Haslam and covers the musical career of the band from their debut studio album "Renaissance", released in 1969 to their eleventh studio album "Time-Line", released in 1983. What is really interesting is that Haslam decided to include some tracks that belong to the first incarnation of the band with a completely different line up and when she wasn't part of it as well. All tracks chosen to be part of this compilation were put into the chronological order, with one, two or three tracks from each studio album of Renaissance. It has also two original studio unreleased tracks.

"Da Capo" has twenty five tracks. So, of all those tracks, from "Renaissance" we have "Kings And Queens" and "Island". From "Illusion" we have "Love Goes On" and "Love Is All". From "Prologue" we have "Prologue" and "Bound For Infinity". From "Ashes Are Burning" we have "Carpet Of The Sun" and "Ashes Are Burning". From "Turn Of The Cards" we have "Black Flame", "Running Hard" and "Mother Russia". From "Scheherazade And Other Stories" we have "Trip To The Fair", "Ocean Gypsy" and "The Young Prince And Princess As Told By Scheherazade", which is one of the parts of the original extended musical suite "Song Of Scheherazade". From "Novella" we have "Midas Man" and "The Captive Heart". From "A Song For All Seasons" we have "Northern Lights" and "A Song For All Seasons". From "Azure D'Or" we have "Forever Changing" and "The Flood At Lyons". From "Camere Camera" we have "Bonjour Swansong" and "Ukraine Ways". Finally, from "Time-Line" we have de final track of this compilation, "The Entertainer".

Besides these twenty three tracks which were released on their several studio albums, we have also two more tracks previously unreleased. So we have "Africa", which is an original and previous unreleased song that date from 1980 and we have also "Writers Wronged", which is also another original and previous unreleased song also dated from 1980.

This double CD set managed to sneak onto the market in the mid of the 90's, below the radar of the most diligent fans of the band and in the best record stores. Across their history, through two different original line ups, and the variants and offshoots of the more enduring second incarnation, as well as its splintering into at least two groups sharing some of the same repertoire, and releases on more than half a dozen labels, Renaissance piled up a significant body of music. Astonishingly, this double CD was the first serious attempt of Renaissance, in a quarter century, to compile the best parts of the output of both versions of the group, covering a period of thirteen years, from 1969 until the dissolution of the second line up in 1982. And it succeeds despite the vast changes in sound and personnel represented on the band.

The selection of the material here is very fair and is in general very good too. The studio versions of the songs are well produced and the sound is excellent. The four early songs from the pre-Haslam albums are interesting and grow on you with repeated listenings. Those albums are better than many people think. Obviously, the latter tunes on the second CD get a little cheesy as the band grew more pop oriented on the later albums. But, they're all very well written, intelligent and listenable as rock music. Besides, all their albums are represented until that moment, and where some of their best compositions are present too. On the other hand, there are a pair of previously unissued tracks, "Africa" and "Writers Wronged". The former sounds unlike anything the group ever did elsewhere, emphasizing percussion, while the latter is a very pretty acoustic guitar dominated track. But, above all, I just can't seem to get enough bored of Haslam's voice.

Conclusion: There are different kinds of compilations. Usually, a real genuine compilation is released to represent the best songs recorded by a band and normally include their entire musical career. The responsibility of the selection of the repertoire included on the compilation is made by the members of the band in connection with their record label. But with this compilation from Renaissance, this isn't entirely true. This compilation was released in 1995 and the main concern of Annie Haslam was to choose songs that represent the entire musical career of the group, including the two first studio albums when the line up of the band was all completely different, and therefore, this compilation doesn't represent necessarily all the best Renaissance's music works. However, "Da Capo" is a good compilation and where all songs are good, very good or even excellent. The first CD is excellent and includes some of their best songs included on some of their best studio works. The second CD, despite isn't as good as the first CD, includes also great songs and it has also some excellent musical moments with special emphasis to the songs taken from their album "Scheherazade And Other Stories" and also to "A Song For All Seasons" which is a fantastic song. I really think that "Da Capo" and "Live At Carnegie Hall" are perhaps the best introductions into Renaissance's music. If you're a newbie enjoy it. Still, and as is usual, a prog compilation can never substitutes the original albums. So, this is the reason why of my 3 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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