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Renaissance - Ashes Are Burning CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.26 | 884 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I remeber about 10 years ago when I heard the piano intro of "Can You Understand?" coming from a radio in my office. I was really surprised and suddenly disappointed when it turned into a rap!! This song is one of the best things ever produced by Renaissance and the fact that the studio version is very similar to the live version of "Carnegie Hall" even without a symphonic orchestra makes this one of my favourite Renaissance albums.

The lineup is more or less the same of the mentioned live, with the exception of Andy Powell, whose poor guitar solo on the title track was fortunately kept off from the live version. But tlet's go in order.

"Can You Understand" is introduced by the piano as I have written, then the song has something of "russian" is terms of classical music inspired to Russian composers as it was quite usual for the band and in particular for Michael Dunford. An interlude with a country flavour and then an orchestral part. Annie Haslam is one of the best prog singers ever (look at PA polls) and her work is excellent as usually was before the 80s. There's a nice story that I've found on Wikipedia: a part of the song was composed by J.M. Jarre, but Dunford thought it was a Russian traditional and used it without permission. For this reason on some editions this song is credited to Jarre.

"Let It Grow" is one of the mellow "piano and voice" songs typical of this period of Renaissance. Another example is "Carpet of the Sun".

"On The Frontier" with its choral singing and the open major chords is part of the hippy side of the band. I think one of the reason why the band is often compared to YES is the bass. Jon Camp plays it at high volume and it sounds similar to Chris Squire. The "classical" interlude played by piano and bass is the best moment of the song.

"At The Harbour" has a long piano intro that's too disconnected from the rest of the song. The song itself could have been shorter as the central part is the good one. Same for the coda.

"Ashes Are Burning" takes only 11 minutes against the 24 of the live version. The reason is in the bass solo that has sense in a live and less in a studio song. Regardless this it's one of my favourite songs ever on which Annie Haslam can show all her great vocal range. The various sections make it an epic track. Add the bass solo of the live version and remove the guitar solo of this version and it's a masterpiece.

A great album but not at the level of Carnegie Hall.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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