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Renaissance - Prologue CD (album) cover

PROLOGUE

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.74 | 427 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Renaissance's Rebirth

During the mid 80's I was crossing a musical existential crisis, I had already bought the scarce Prog material available in my dear Perú and couldn't stand the music the great bands as GENESIS were releasing. Being that I knew very little about Prog, apart from the big 6 and a few bands like TRIUMVIRAT, I started to believe there was no chance to keep increasing my musical collection.

But one day a girlfriend came from USA and gave me this album by an unknown (for me) band called RENAISSANCE, she told me that the guy in the record store sold it to her as the best invention since sliced bread, so even when I was not too fond on female vocals for a masculine genre as Progressive Rock, gave "Prologue" a chance.

From the first note I realized that there was a lot of great music to discover, and even if no band ever released a new great album again, the 70's had a huge amount of music to offer. and considered that this band defined perfectly what Symphonic means, the wonderful voice of "Annie Haslam" but over all the fantastic piano by "John Tout" made me want to get all the albums of the band, and in a few months did so.

"Prologue" is opened by the title song, a magnifiscent instrumental (with choirs) where "John Tout" really demonstrates what a capable pianist he is, starts playing in the style of "Rachmaninoff", crosses through "Bach" but all in the spirit of good old Rock & Roll with a hint of Jazz, just delightful from start to end.

The choirs by Annie are just perfect for the song and "John Camp" gives an outstanding bass performance.Yes it's true that no Classical musician would take this eclectic piece seriously, but who cares? This is Progressive Rock, a different universe for a different audience.

Despite the impressive piano introduction that makes Emerson pale, "Kiev" is not the usual RENAISSANCE song, sounds more like a late 60's Proto Prog song with echoes of Psychedelia, well except when the piano retakes the lead with a hint of Rachmaninoff, great song.

As Certif1ed mentions in his review, the sea gull and waves sounds during the first 37 seconds of "Sounds of the Sea" is so predictable. that borders the laughable, but we are here for the music, so what really should matter for us is what happens after this 37 seconds and for almost 7 minutes more, and it's incredibly beautiful, for the first time in the album, we can listen "Annie Haslam's" voice in her full majesty, with some male choirs that enhance the effect. If we add the soft piano and very subtle percussion, we have an incredibly beautiful song, probably not the most elaborate expression of Progressive Rock, but......Who cares if the melody is so delightful?

"Spare some Love" starts with an unusual (for Renaissance) acoustic guitar intro (being that the piano is usually the main instrument), but after a few seconds the pristine clear voice of Annie joins the rest of the band and choirs to create another extremely beautiful song. By this point the KING CRIMSON or GENTLE GIANT fanatics may be a but disappointed because of the emphasis placed on the melody rather than complexity, but even when the changes are not so radical, the music is first class.

For the moment in which we can listen "Bound for Infinity" is obvious that "Annie Haslam" is going to be one of the brightest stars in Prog firmament, her confidence for a debutante in a band that has been together for three years is amazing, and along with "John Tout" are the center of attention.

The album ends with the bizarre epic "Rajah Khan", with the addition of"Francis Monkman" (as guest) in the synths and the hallucinating and trippy performance of "Rob Hendrix" is the guitar and mandolin, we are before a strange blend of Psychedelia and Symphonic Prog, in some moments seems as of they were jamming, but the perfectly coordinated explosions of strength, piano sections and amazing vocal work proves us they have everything calculated, even when the excellent arrangements make the music sound as casual, a wonderful closer.

"Prologue" is not the best RENAISSANCE album, the new formation is just giving their first steps, but I consider this album an essential release, if not a masterpiece, very close to this status, so I will rate it with 4 solid stars

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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