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Illusion - Out Of The Mist CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.46 | 68 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Out Of The Blue

In the later 70's, when Haslam's Renaissance had made its place in the sun, the ex-Yardbirds McCarthy and Relf and originator of the concept probably regretted having given up their project, but reformed to have a second go at it, using the name of their second album, Illusion. But in the re-building phase, the singer/guitarist Keith Relf electrocuted himself plugging in his equipment, thus forcing the group to search a replacement, which came in the person of Knightsbrige who plays on electric guitars (this will make quite a difference), the other change being the drum stool occupied by newcomer McNeil, since McCarthy had decided to sing and play acoustic guitar, an instrument he used for his songwriting, being almost alone in that task now, Hawken being a distant second. Funnily enough their label is the Island label that had released the first two Renaissance album, but dropped the new Haslam line-up group from their roster.

Opening on the superb Isadora, you'd swear that almost nothing has changed from these early Renaissance days. In the same realm, Beautiful Country and the ultra-melodic (and a bit cheesy) Everywhere You Go, the obvious Face Of Yesterday (a calmer rework of that second Renaissance album), and a very Renaiisance-claiming Candles Are Burning (not Ashes ;o))) are all quite pleasant and obviously hint at the Renaissance sound. The album has rockier-than Renaissance tracks like Roads To Freedom, the enthralling Solo Flight and if these tracks are only moderately progressive, at least they shake you up and avoid their albums to become soporific like Renaissance's Novella, etc?.

By the time this came out, I thought that this Illusion album was quite superior to the Renaissance of the times as Scherazade, Azure D'Or or Novella were very much yawners (IMHO), as this album had much more energy. Although one has to wonder why they did come back , other than for financial reasons that is, it's still McCarty and Jane Relf and they still sound great and so does Hawken behind his not-yet vintage keyboards. I have yet to find how the two groups co-existed or if te Haslam Renaissance even noticed the competition in commercial terms, but I'm sure there must've been frictions. Prefer this album to the now-cruise-controlling Renaissance.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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