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Renaissance - Renaissance CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 355 ratings

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3 stars This is an early progressive album from 1969 with two ex-members of the Yardbirds in tow. It has a definite 60s feel to it and reminds me of bands like The Moody Blues and perhaps the Yes debut album. It is something of a piano lovers dream featuring extensive work by John Hawken. He plays harpsichord as well and this is really his album in terms of carrying most of the songs.

The album begins with a long piano intro by Hawken on "Kings and Queens" serving notice that we are in for something different. But I don't feel it ever gets off the ground as it keeps harking back to this sing-songey chorus with rather cheesy lyrics. There are a few nice guitar and percussion flourishes towards the end but for a 10 minute track there was quite a lost opportunity here. Next is "Innocense" which begins with trippy guitar and features more nice piano but also some rather lackluster vocals. Track 3 is called "Island" and is one of the more successful. Jane Relf delivers an enchanting vocal on this one against some gorgeous bass and guitar work and again, more piano! The song is a bit poppy in the first half but features enough quality playing throughout to make it tasty. Track 4 is "Wanderer" featuring harpsichord runs with a very classical feel, this being co-written by Hawken. At two minutes the delicate vocals begin and some nice bass work. The piece is nice although a bit one-dimensional. The album closes with the 11-plus minute "Bullet" which begins with dramatic piano before an excursion down a bluesy, slightly funky street with almost chanting harmonies on top. At four minutes in Relf starts jamming on harmonica and if briefly sounds like Canned Heat! That stops and we move into a quiet murky experimental area with some free play reminiscent of the open section during Moonchild. At nine minutes things get more bizarre with some cascading vocalizations by Jane. By the end it sounds like Popul Vuh so obviously this is the weirdest track and a great way to close a prog album.

It's an interesting album and an important one for '69 with the classical elements but the composition is less than perfect in my opinion. I can't get as excited about this as some of the other reviewers have, with all respect.

The Repertoire re-issue features two bonus tracks (The Sea and Island) along with nice liner notes, a couple of photos, and the trippy album artwork.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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