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Renaissance - Azure d'Or CD (album) cover

AZURE D'OR

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.03 | 225 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Includes "Northern lights" clones parts 2-5

"Azur D'or" is largely lacking the classical and progressive influences which made Renaissance's earlier albums so distinctive. In their place, we have ten pretty straight forward melodic soft rock tracks. There appears to have been a conscious decision by the band to change direction, inspired by the commercial success of the "Northern Lights" single. As a result the orchestration, which had become a Renaissance trademark, is notable by its absence.

A number of the other key ingredients are still here, Annie Haslam's wonderful voice, John Tout's distinctive keyboards, and Michael Dunsford's guitar. The weakness is in the song-writing and the track development by the band. That said, the songs are highly enjoyable.

The highlight for me is the wonderfully melodic "Kalynda", which finds Haslam putting on a fine vocal performance. In prog terms, I readily acknowledge that this track is pretty much a non-starter, but it has a beautiful simplicity which seductively conveys the atmosphere of the island to which it relates.

Elsewhere, the band are trying too hard to rekindle the success they enjoyed with "Northern lights", several of the tracks appearing to be little more than clones of that song. "Secret mission", "Jekyll and Hyde" and "The winter tree" all fall into this trap. The multi tracking of Annie Haslam's vocals on many of the choruses finds her sounding similar to Sonja Kristina of Curved Air at times, the style of music only serving to emphasise that similarity.

There are moments which hint at the symphonic classics of the band's past. "The flood at Lyons" has a strong latter section, while "Jekyll and Hyde" has an orchestral sounding synth break. "The discovery" is an instrumental piece with an ambient start leading to an upbeat Spanish flavour.

"Only angels have wings" is one of those rare Renaissance songs with a male lead vocal. It sounds a bit like a cross between a Camel number and something by Mile Batt, but the vocals are average at best, only serving to emphasise Haslam value to the band.

In all, a commercially orientated album with pleasant melodies and proficient playing. Unfortunately it falls well short of the band's finest works.

John Tout, along with Terrence Sullivan would leave the band under acrimonious circumstances not long after the album had been released. Poor sales of the album led to the band being dropped by their record label, and yet again Renaissance future was left in considerable doubt.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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