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Renaissance - Scheherazade and Other Stories CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.32 | 1408 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars The follow-up to a masterpiece like "Turn of the Cards" is even better and after it they released one of the best live albums of the history of prog....

It begins with "A Trip to the Fair", a long track of an unusual kind for Renaissance. The instrumental parts are evocative and sometimes spacey for the first half of the track, then comes the second half with its jazzy instrumental parts alternated to Annie's clean voice telling us a weird story. A great opener, just to have an idea of what is about to come.

"The Vultures Fly High" starts with a rhythmic piano. If it wasn't for the heavy bass and Annie's voice that comes soon, it could make me think to Supertramp. But it's for few seconds only. This is another great song and the sound is "Renaissance at their best". Unusually rock. (not hard, just less symphonic than usual).

After those two tracks what remains are two masterpieces. "Ocean Gipsy" is the first of the two. An excellent melody underlined as usual by bass and piano with Annie's voice on pitches less high than usual. It's incredible how Michael Dunford can write songs like this keeping for himself only rhythmic guitar parts. The coda is the only thing that was probably better in the live version on Carnegie Hall.

Now the epic side-long track. Very few words about the concept, as Jon Camp tells almost the whole story to the public on its opening on Carnegie Hall. It's a revisitation of the classical suite "Sheherazade" of the russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov. A piece in general considered "easy". I have listened to it (the classical) when I was a schoolboy during a music lesson. What Renaissance did was not just rearranging the classical piece, something that was usual in the 70s for mainstream artists. The drummer Deodato is an example. No, they have written something different. Rimsky-Korsakov's original theme is reprised at the beginning of the suite, the structure is similar, but that's all. It's more like Renaissance being inspired by the same concept, the story of 1001 nights, which inspired the russian composer. What else? Together with Pink Floyd's Echoes and Caravan's Nine Feet Underground this is my favourite "over 20 minutes" song. At least from the 70s. It's also one of the best vocal performances of Annie Haslam where she shows all her talent. A masterpiece of symphonic prog.

octopus-4 | 5/5 |


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