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Renaissance Illusion album cover
3.15 | 310 ratings | 24 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Love Goes On (2:51)
2. Golden Thread (8:15)
3. Love Is All (3:40)
4. Mr. Pine (7:00)
5. Face Of Yesterday (6:06)
6. Past Orbits Of Dust (14:39)

Total Time: 42:31

Bonus Tracks on 2004 Arcangelo remaster:
7. Shining Where the Sun Has Been (Jim McCarty & Keith Relf 1968 Demo) (2:52)
8. All the Fallen Angels (Keith Relf 1976 Demo) (5:28)
9. Prayer for Light (5:27) %
10. Walking Away (4:19) %

% Soundtrack by Jim McCarty & Keith Relf for 1971 unreleased movie "Schizom"

Line-up / Musicians

- Jane Relf / lead (1,5,6) & backing vocals, percussion
- Keith Relf / guitar (excl. 4), lead (1) & backing vocals, producer
- John Hawken / piano & keyboards (excl. 6)
- Louis Cennamo / bass (excl. 4)
- Jim McCarty / drums (excl. 4), lead (2) & backing vocals

- Terry Crowe / lead vocals (4)
- Michael Dunford / guitar (4)
- Neil Korner / bass (4)
- Terry Slade / drums (4)
- Don Shinn / electric piano (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul Whitehead with Clean Mashine Studio

LP Island ‎- 6339 017 (1971, Germany)
LP Island - ILPS 9139 (1971, Netherlands)
LP Ariola - 85 689 IT (1973, Israel)
LP Island - HELP 27 (1977, UK)

CD Line - LICD 9.00425 (1987, Germany)
CD Repertoire - REP 4513-WY (1995, Germany)
CD Arcangelo - ARC-7069 (2004, Japan) 24-bit remaster w/ 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RENAISSANCE Illusion ratings distribution

(310 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (48%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

RENAISSANCE Illusion reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars A bit of a ill-confusion

After their debut album's success (especially in France, Germany and Belgium), the group went in the studio for the follow-up in a state of disunion. Indeed, McCarty had become tired of touring, but chose to remain as a songwriter and studio member (and was trying to build as touring version of the band), and before Illusion was finished, the group had disbanded. Indeed Keith's failing health was also forcing him to stop touring and wanted to concentrate on writing, Cennamo left for Steamhammer via Colosseum (both the latter would meet up again in Armageddon, Keith's fateful end), Hawken coming and going from the group, then finally splitting for Spooky Tooth and later Strawbs, but was persuaded to finish the album. But by the time things had imploded, the album was still too short for release, and it is the reserve/touring group that produced the final track. So Renaissance's Mk II line-up lasted one studio song, but would tour a few months and be filmed for a Belgian TV special.

Again recorded in the Island studios, but this time produced by Keith instead of Samwell-Smith, Illusion was released in early 71 with no promotion and only in Germany, but comes with a superb cosmic artwork gracing the gatefold sleeve, with a mystic inner gatefold artwork enhancing it. (I base myself on the Repertoire mini-Lp for this, because I've never seen the vinyl with my own eyes.) Most of Illusion is very worthy successor of the debut (might even be a tad folkier too) and remains well in its continuity (despite the acrimony about musical direction), even if not quite as inspired. And well beyond the track recorded by the Mk II line-up, you can (barely) see the future Mk III line-up peeking through, as Dunford and future external lyric-writer poetess Betty Thatcher each share a credit, but not the same track.

Opening on the rather-poor Relf-only written song of Love Goes On, while not catastrophic, is certainly not a good omen for things to come, but this is thankfully quickly over. The much better Golden Thread renews with the previous album's style (even if it wouldn't manage to find a space on it) and reassures the fans, and features a humming finale heard on Trespass. Next is a first collab between McCarty and Thatcher (nope, not talking politics here ;-))), the good but also ill-fitting (in the album's context) Love Is All, a song that obviously was lifted (and rearranged) by Roger Glover's Butterfly Ball project. As if not enough confusion, the Mk II track Mr Pine is next (I'd have included it last), but sort of announces sonically the future Prologue album with Hawken playing a rare (for Renaissance's Mk I) Hammond organ. In the Belgian TV broadcast, it would be John Tout that would play this track and the other Illusion tracks they played. Face Of Yesterday returns to the first album's soundscapes (and should've been grouped with Golden Thread, IMHO). The album closes on the lengthy (and over-extended) Past Orbits Of Dust, where the original group is joined by an extra organ player. This track is a bit jammy, comes with incantations, but also augurs Prologue's more psychedelic soundscape.

Definitely not as good as the debut, Illusion is a confused and patchy album (for the reasons stated), but surprisingly still good and a definitely a Renaissance-worthy album, that should not be overlooked, but investigated in a second or third wave. And if you manage to find in its Repertoire mini-Lp form, you might want to go for it a little dsooner than expected, because it is a beauty.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the second Renaissance album: the last Renaissance album before they change all the musicians. This record is sometimes piano oriented, but less than the Renaissance of the Annie Haslam-era; those baroque piano parts are absolutely delightful and unforgettable! The omnipresent electric guitar is inoffensive. The female singer Jane Relf has a very good voice, even if Annie Haslam is better. There are tons of catchy & mellow backing vocals. Many parts have rather delicate psychedelic rock tendencies, not unpleasant at all! I even find a few Canterbury and Beatles influences in some parts. For 1970, this album is really sophisticated and avant-garde, like the preceding one. Compared to the previous one, the tracks are a bit less catchy and memorable.
Review by Matti
4 stars I borrowed an edition ("Innocents & Illusions") of the 'original' Renaissance's two albums including also some bonus tracks. The first album I had quite unsuccesfully listened already in my teens when I had just found the Haslam-Renaissance. Also that groundbreaking album finally sounded better now, but my real surprise was this Illusion. Its reviews here are mostly not very favourable but I was totally charmed. It has more folk flavour than the debut, and it has Jane Relf much more as the lead singer. Debut is perhaps proggier and has more classical references in John Hawken's piano solos, but there's no denying that Illusion is very beautiful folk-prog - even if 'Love Goes On' and 'Love Is All' are rather simple naive songs with lots of harmony vocals (nice songs anyway).

'Past Orbits Of Dust' (14:39) is to me the most boring just as 'Bullet' is in the debut. They are the most experimental but don't exactly give worth their length. Highlights here are 'Golden Thread' and 'Mr Pine' (the latter penned by Michael Dunford, key figure in the 'new' Renaissance) that beautifully bring together the prog and folk elements. The sound is full of warmth and the vocals of both sexes very pleasant throughout the whole album. (Though unprofessional Jane is naturally far from Annie Haslam's skills.) If you're not put off by naive folkish charm you'll enjoy this!

The bonus tracks (4 to this album) are so nice too that it's a miracle how they remained unreleased(?) at the time. PS. The text also gives a clear historical view on the first Renaissance and its gradual way to the other line-up. ; )

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The interesting album covers gave me some associations of psychedelic music first, but the music that was concealed with was quite different. There are some nice symphonic passages done with acoustic instruments, but some kind of humorlessness and troubled feeling consumes me when I'm listening to this album. There seems to be some kind of religious themes contemplated, and when these rock hymns are backed up with the early folk rock sound of the sixties, the first album of Genesis comes into my mind as an association. What troubled me on this album and the previous record is the conservative and naive piano on each track, reminding me the playing of an angry school teacher. The first song "Love Goes On" also reaches some kind of culmination peak of banality in my opinion For me the best song here was maybe "Mr. Pine", which has several different movements parts and some medieval and psychedelic folk influences. Though this certainly is an original piece of work, it still was a disappointment to me. The following incarnation of the group felt much more pleasing to me, leaving the two first albums as peculiar remarks of artistic brewing on the pages of history.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Only released in Germany at the time and done during a time when the band was quickly falling apart, a lot of fans did not even know its existence. Even some biographies skip this one. Obviously the music isnīt great. There is no real fantastic songs although Mr Pine, Golden Thread, Face Of Yesterday and parts of Past Orbist On Dust are well above average. Face Of Yesterday is in fact a beautiful song that would eventully be re recorded in Illusionīs debut album Out Of The Mist. Also no songs here is as bad as some of the stuff in their first album (like Bullet). Still this is a very unbalanced, ragged album, saved in part by the nice vocals and some good instrumentation. The production also does not help much.

If youīre new to this band this is not a good starting point. If youīre a fan, you should be aware of the problems the group was facing at the time. Be sure to have listen to all the classic albums before tackling this one.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second album from Renaissance is almost as good as their debut which I really love. This one is more refined and the sound quality is really good. The music is still evolved around John Hawkenīs beautiful piano. Keith and Jane Relf still share the vocals.

The moods Renaissance create on the album are really great, and with the exception of the two short and rather hippie like songs Love Goes On and Love is All, the album is a masterpiece in my ears. I think the technical level of these musicians are outstanding, and I can only listen in awe of how soulful the playing is.

Donīt miss out on this album if you like symphonic prog. This is excellent music. I have to note here that the ending epic of the album Of Orbits and Dust is a real masterpiece. This is just the way I like my prog rock. Challenging and melodic. The only reason I donīt give this 5 stars is the aforementioned Hippie songs. They should have left those of the album and put in another prog rock song instead, that would have made it perfect. Itīs just my opinion, maybe you want be bothered as I am.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars It is generally written that the second version of Renaissance had none of the members present in the first. While this is technically true, the final release for Mach 1 does contain guitarist Mike Dunford as guest and songwriter on "Mr Pine". Not surprisingly, that lengthy track is the one that sounds most like what Renaissance would become, and comes off like an overture of as yet unexplored but intriguing ideas. Passages that would resurface in later tunes like "Running Hard" can be heard here. In addition to Dunford, lyricist Betty Thatcher makes a rather modest debut on "Love is All", given how mystical she became around the time of "Turn of the Cards". For a glimpse of that poetic style, "Past Orbits of Dust" is a better bell weather, although musically it is perhaps more in line with the self titled album, and drags on to excess. It's like a very immature version of "Ashes are Burning"

Elsewhere, things have become a lot more focused than on the debut. The shorter "love" cuts are more accessible and blatantly folky, enhanced by lovely harmonies, and "Face of Yesterday" is the best expression of their romantic progressive vision that was fully realized on the ILLUSION albums of the late 1970s. In fact, the "Out of the Mist" album from 1977 actually reworks this classic song. Using Jane Relf as the main vocalist only enhances the overall appeal of this album.

A significant improvement over the previous year's offering, Illusion still gives only a hint of the reality that was about to unfold.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The band had to face enormous difficulties while recording this release. Lots of internal problem did have an impact on the delivery of their second album. Although this line-up won't have anything to do with the later "Renaissance", the sound is closer to the one we all know.

More than hints of the great classical / prog mood which will be the TM for "Renaissance" are to be noticed during the very good "Golden Thread".

One of the most sophisticated song from this album is "Mr. Pine". It starts as a medieval piece of music, but quickly turns into a jazzy mood. Truly symphonic keys and melodic vocals add some nice feeling. But all these fade out and fade in, give the impression that there are several songs into this one. The band should have thought of better liaisons to make it more united.

This is being taken in charge during the next song "Face Of Yesterday". Jane Elf can finally show all of her vocal talents in this very good number. During the two first albums of the band, she was mainly confined in a subordinate role which is a pity because her voice is brilliant and holds a lot a emotion in her timber. She should have had a stronger role IMO.

And even if the "epic" is somewhat loose as well and half improvised (and jazzy.), "Renaissance" was better inspired than on their debut. We aren't still flirting with great music but the way is paved for better things to come.

Three stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars No illusion here...don't miss this beauty

If you've even been confused about the two line-ups of Renaissance and how the story played out, you need to look no further than our band page here which has a forum thread called "A Renaissance confusion" written by Joolz which spells out this complete history in full detail. This first version of the band which produced the first two albums is considered somewhat illegitimate by some fans of the famous second line-up. In a way, the feel of the albums is bit like that of the Yes discography, where those first two Yes albums are often overlooked by casual fans. And like those first two Yes albums, the first two Renaissance albums stand on their own, delivering music that by all means should appeal to Haslam-era fans and symphonic fans in general.

I prefer this second album just a bit over the debut and the music seems a little more consistent and Jane's vocals a little bit more confident. There's plenty here to enjoy for symphonic fans: long lush piano and keyboard workouts, great guitar and bass playing, and the delightful vocals of Jane Relf. While perhaps not as technically note perfect as Haslam, I actually prefer Relf's singing voice as I find it less dry and just as suited to the music. The album has two short poppier tracks (Love Goes On, Love Is All) that may have been made for radio and granted these will seem silly and dated to young ears. They have a clear hippie, period feel to them though I've come to enjoy them. The other 4 tracks range from 6 to 14 minutes in length and vary from average to quite impressive on the quality scale. "Golden Thread" may be my favorite with John Hawken's phenomenal piano playing and lovely classical melodies. "Face of Yesterday" is more of the same, very beautiful singing with great bass playing. On the 14 minute "Past Orbits of Dust" they are perhaps their most experimental trying out slightly jazzy guitar and bass parts and some spacey jamming. They will also throw in some hand percussions, vocal experimentation and wrap them in a heavier package.

On the recording and creation of this material original bassist Louis Cennamo would recall "We were just pushing the music in any way that we was very creative and we were free to take the music in nearly any direction we wanted. John's classical training was the basis but the rest of us explored any ideas that added to the sound. John and I worked very hard to add many new interpretations to the melodies and ideas that Keith and Jim brought to the rest of the band. Some of their ideas were quite developed when they brought them to us but some were not. So, John and I were free to create the kind of elaborate melodies that were so integral to the sound of Renaissance. Other times, everyone would just experiment and we'd test any and all ideas that came to us. The band was getting on quite well and we were developing a strong bond and admiration for one another. It was a beautiful time really -- one which I look back fondly on. [Louis Cennamo] I find the quality of the music on "Illusion" as beautiful, varied, and interesting as the stuff that would come later though to be fair I've only heard some of the Haslam-era stuff. The Renaissance Records CD issue features pretty good sound quality for the period along with a band history. 8/10

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars Writing about this album is not easy for me. It alternates good moments and weaknesses and an opener like "Life Goes On" doesn't help. This song is based on a trivial and repetitive sentence (its title) with just a short interlude of Jane Relf in the middle.

"Golden Thread" takes about two minutes to start after a piano intro, what follows has initially a classical mood. I don't understand why a voice not very nice, probably Jim McCarty, sings instead of Jane Relf. The song itself is not bad but I really don't like this voice.

A mellow piano intro for a short love song. Very far from the Renaissance's heights. "Love Is All" is nothing more than a 4-chords song with a hippy flavour.

"Mr. Pine" is folky. Two minutes of harpsichord, a sudden silence followed by a theme that will reappear exactly in this form on "Running Hard". Then it turns back to the harpsichord beginning. This is the first Renaissance song written by Michael Dunford.

"Face Of Yesterday" is a slow piano based song. Nothing special, just two open chords followed by an ascending sequence. Good vocals from Jane Relf.

"Past Orbits Of Dust" is the longest track. Quite complex as composition with a jazzy mood and largerly driven by the bass while the acoustic guitar plays chords on a funky rhythm. The vocals are flat, no reverb or other effects, probably a production choice to enhance the jazzy flavour. The live version of Ashes Are Burning before the bass solo can give an idea. The bongos and drums solo in the middle is very hippy, but all the song is hippy. The final minutes are very jazzy. this is the best track of the album but it's far from the standard Renaissance. It makes me think to Richard Sinclair, also in the coda on which the bass is the first instrument.

A transition album before the total change in the lineup, very interesting for Renaissance fans but not good for a first approach to the band, so I'd leave it to fans and rate it with two stars even if the last track could deserve 3.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Like the second King Crimson album, Renaissance's sophomore effort was pieced together at a point in time when the original lineup had completely disintegrated. But whilst Fripp and Sinfield were able to produce a reasonably good album from the wreckage of the Court of the Crimson King lineup of their band, here there just isn't a sufficiently stable core to produce a sound album around.

Jane Relf is, in fact, the only musician who appears on all of the tracks this time around; four of the six include the original band lineup, the closing epic "Past Orbits of Dust" sees Don Shin sit in on keyboards in place of John Hawken, whilst Mr. Pine sees Jane Relf and John Hawken backed by an otherwise completely different lineup - including Michael Dunford in his first appearance on a Renaissance album. (In fact, he composes the song, due to primary Renaissance songwriters Keith Relf and Jim McCarty having departed.) Another Renaissance first is the lyrics contributed to Past Orbits of Dust and Love is All by Betty Thatcher, an old school friend of Jane Relf who essentially wrote poetry for her own pleasure and who after being introduced to the band would contribute lyrics to most of the classic era albums.

When you put together Past Orbits of Dust's 14-minute runtime and Mr Pine's 7 minutes, almost half the album isn't recorded by the lineup that produced the first Renaissance album, and it has to be said that the two tracks recorded by alternate lineups are somewhat shaky. Past Orbits of Dust was essentially recorded by most of the original lineup plus Don Shin as a rush job to get the album finished, and whilst it does have strong sections a few of them do feel a little padded out - like the group were playing with one eye on the clock, playing until they had enough material to finish the album and then wrapping up. Mr Pine isn't bad but does comes across somewhat disjointed and sketchy, like a demo which needs polishing up - and really, since it's a test ground for a revised lineup that's exactly what it is.

As for the original lineup's efforts, it's clear that at this stage of their life inspiration was beginning to get thin on the ground - Love Goes On is a syrupy, lightweight song which is easily the least interesting of the original Renaissance's compositions, and Love Is All is saved only by Jane Relf's gorgeous vocal performance. Face of Yesterday is pretty dramatic but it seems to me that it could have done with a bit more polishing - it seems that the band agreed, since when this lineup reformed as Illusion (minus Keith Relf, who unfortunately had died shortly before the reunion happened) they had another stab at getting it down on Out of the Mist.

The highlight of the album is The Golden Thread, an astral projection-themed composition which includes superb vocal performances from both Jane and Jim McCarty and fine instrumental performances all round.

Despite these shortcomings, Illusion is an often-pleasant bit of psychedelic proto-prog - it's just that coming after the debut and before Prologue, it's achingly apparent how much more it could have been if the band hadn't been in the process of disintegrating in the process of making it.

On balance, I'd say Illusion is worth a listen if you're a Renaissance fan, but I wouldn't put as high a priority on it as the debut album. Get Illusion if you're a collector, if you see it on sale, or if you're buying it as part of the excellent value Innocents & Illusions double CD set, which compiles both of the original Renaissance lineup's albums and throws in some delicious lost tracks to boot.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars You almost need a scorecard to keep up with all the lineup changes in Renaissance during the seventies, and particularly around the time this album was recorded. And of all their records this is the one affected most significantly by band member musical-chairs. The tour following their debut release revealed waning commitment to touring by vocalist/guitarist Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty, and keyboardist John Hawken was already showing signs of the wanderlust tendency that would lead him in and out of Renaissance, the Strawbs and the Renaissance redux Illusion several times over the coming years. Bassist Louis Cennamo had also left to join Colosseum (although that wouldn't last long for him either) and the band seemed to be ready to crumble. But before that happened Hawken recruited Terry Crowe and Terry Slade to replace McCarty and Relf, Neil Korner to replace Cennamo, and added a full-time lead guitarist in Michael Dunford. All but Slade were former Nashville Teens band mates of Hawken's.

Just to muddy the water, that's not the lineup that entered the studio to record this album. The original members had already mostly completed four tracks before the breakup began, while this new group recorded the track "Mr. Pine" a bit later. That probably would have been it except that the band and their label knew the twenty-seven minute length would not cut it for an album release and reconvened the original members (Minus Hawken who was off touring with Spooky Tooth by this time) to record the closing "Past Orbits of Dust" with Don Shinn (Dada, the Echoes) filling in on keyboards on what is basically a semi- controlled extended jam session meant to fill up enough vinyl to justify the album's release.

By far the most progressive and interesting song on the album is the spaced-out psych-folk "Mr. Pine" with its emphasis on organ over piano, harmonized backing vocals and subtle use of electric guitar synchronized to the organ especially in the middle part of the track. The hazy, folksy vibe on this song was a far cry from the classical bent of the first album but was probably more attuned to the direction of more mainstream progressive music at the time.

The four tracks laid down by the departing members are frankly sub-par considering the level of talent and the band's original vision. The opening "Love Goes On" is a brief and lightweight, vocally-focused effort with the Relf siblings sharing the lead singing role and lyrics that don't go much beyond the song's title. This song is a bit what the 5th Dimension would have sounded like around the same time had they been a folk band and white. There is little attention paid to musical complexity and no extended instrumentation passages like most of their early works featured.

"Golden Thread" is longer and more developed musically, qualifying at least as a true progressive rock composition. McCarty provides the lead vocals here with Jane Relf adding mostly wordless backing. Hawken shines on piano on this, a more typical folk- classical composition akin to what brought the band together in the first place.

The piano passage on "Love is All" sounds like a compilation of the keyboard from the first two songs, and this is another short number that doesn't develop much beyond McCarty's vocals and Hawken's piano. "Face of Yesterday" isn't much different except a bit longer.

This really isn't a particularly memorable effort for a band who would otherwise record several classic albums in their time. The fluid nature of the group's lineup and shifting musical direction are quite evident. It's no surprise the record was initially released only in Germany and wouldn't see a UK issue until several years later. For fans either of the MkI or the 'classic' lineup of the band this can't be seen as anything more than a transitional offering meant to honor a recording contract, and as such it merits not much more than two stars (out of five) and a tepid recommendation.


Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Despite having none of the band members that would make Renaissance a huge international success in just a few short years, the group's fist album managed to sound like a precursor to the blend of folk, classical and rock that became their signature sound. Here, on the second album, guitarist Michael Dunford joins the band on one track (Mr. Pine), but doesn't dispel the feeling that this is a band in disarray.

Keyboardist John Hawken's notes on the original LP declares that this album is the end of one band (Renaissance) and the beginning of another (Illusion). The album sound somewhat halfhearted, with only a few songs showing any of the spark of the debut. Mostly the songs are plagued with poor, repetitious lyrics, and little of Hawken's classically inspired keyboards that graced the first album.

The exceptions are Golden Thread, a folky song that shows off Jane Relf fine voice, Mr. Pine, written by Dunford, who will become a prime composer in the next version of the band, and Past Orbits Of Dust, an experimental piece that may not be to everyone's liking.

Besides the LP, I also have a tape of a later release of the CD that contains four bonus tracks. I warn you, beware. These tracks are very mundane, and if anything detract from the original album.

Even so, the best I can give this is 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Review by siLLy puPPy
2 stars This album wastes no time displaying its inferiority from the debut with the really weak and ordinary folk song 'Love Goes On.' Luckily it picks up on the next track which should have been the opener 'Golden Thread,' however I can't say i'm into Keith Reif's vocals this time around and even though this is probably the best song on this album it pales in comparison. Even the release of this album was confusing. It was only released in Germany at first in 1971 and then in 1973 in other parts of the world. Ironically in their native UK it wasn't released until 1977!!! Of course there are also two album covers.

The fact is that what we have here is what a band sounds like in the middle of total meltdown. Due to the fact that they hated touring the two founding members Jim McCarty and Keith Reiff jumped ship leaving the rest of the band to fend for themselves. That didn't last long as Louis Cennamo left next and John Hawken was left on his own to keep the band going by recruiting members from his previous band The Nashville Teens. Jane Reif is still here but she sounds lackluster and hardly any songs have the same musicians.

The fact is this sounds like one of those albums that's released years later as a leftovers package. This is just a mess and it sounds like various members just popping by the studio to record a few parts of their uninspired contributions on their own time and left for the producer to piece it all together after all the parts were on the table. Some of these tunes have potential but they all seem underdeveloped especially compared with the brilliant debut album that only came out two years before. Luckily after this turbulent time which is for forever documented as this album the band known as RENAISSANCE would continue the sound of the debut album without any of the original members and create more coherent albums. Definitely not the place to start exploring this bands discography.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 83

The original line up of Renaissance fell apart during the recording of this second album. Jim McCarthy was the first to leave. Then, he was followed by Keith Relf and Louis Cennamo who left the band to form a new group called Armageddon. John Hawken kept the band alive recruiting new members like Michael Dunford, but after several short lived transitional line ups, he also departed with Jane Relf. Later and after the disband of Armageddon, immediately after the tragic dead of Keith, the rest of the original Renaissance line up regrouped and formed a new band called Illusion. This new band released two studio albums "Out Of The Mist" and "Illusion" and also was disbanded in 1978. So, the new Renaissance group that would arise in 1971 is based almost in a completely new line up.

"Illusion" is the second studio album and the last of this line up of Renaissance and was released in 1970. It was originally released only in Germany. "Illusion" had a very difficult birth and was a very difficult album in the history of Renaissance. Despite the serious problems with the line up for the band's second album, it hardly had any kind of effect on the music. "Illusion" can be considered almost as strong as their debut album, only partly with different musicians. On both albums, the sound is identical and they both contain a fine blend of rock, prog, folk and classical music which make of them mature releases. "Illusion" is even an incredible album, although not as aggressive as their debut, "Renaissance" is. In my humble opinion, it's almost at the same level of their previous one, in terms of quality.

"Illusion" has six tracks. The first track "Love Goes On" written by Keith is a very short song very simple and pleasant to listen to despite being a little repetitive on some parts. It isn't for sure one of the best musical moments of this band but I'm convinced that we are in the presence of a good song and a very decent song to open the album. The second track "Golden Thread" written by McCarthy and Keith is better than the previous song and is composed in the same vein and style of the previous album. It's a fantastic song where Jane shines with her vocal performance. It has a beautiful and lovely classical melody and has also a phenomenal piano performance and a beautiful choral work. This is without any doubt one of the highlights of the album and one of my favourite songs of this line up of Renaissance. The third track "Love Is All" written by McCarthy and Thatcher is another short song very simple and pleasant to listen to, in the same vein of "Love Goes On". It's, for me, better and more beautiful than "Love Goes On" and has beautiful vocal performance, a lovely chorus and a beautiful piano work. It's a song oriented to pop, but it's extremely beautiful and nice to listen to. The fourth track "Mr. Pine" written by Dunford is one of the most beautiful and sophisticated songs on the album. It starts as a medieval piece that turns into jazz and rock styles, and that, in the end, returns to the medieval style. This is really a truly progressive song with so many musical changes that it almost seems to be various songs into only one song. This is another highlight of the album and it's also one of my favourite songs on it. The fifth track "Face Of Yesterday" written by McCarthy is a slow piano based song and is another beautiful and pleasant song to listen to and where Jane has her greatest vocal moment on the album. Finally, she can show to us all of her great vocal talents and that at times she even makes us believe that we are in the presence of Annie Haslam. In reality, this is a great song with a superior and unforgettable vocal work of Jane. This is the kind of songs that can only raise the overall quality of any album. The sixth track "Past Orbits Of Dust" written by McCarthy, Keith and Thatcher is a completely different song from the others, as happened with "Bullet", the last song of their previous album "Renaissance". It's an extensive psychedelic piece of music with a jazz touch, very experimental, and like with "Bullet" it's also a little bit lengthy and boring to my taste. As with "Bullet", "Past Orbits Of Dust" is also my less favourite song on this album. Anyway, "Illusion" remains almost as good as their previous eponymous debut studio album.

Conclusion: I don't agree with most of the people about this album. Sincerely, I'm absolutely convinced that "Illusion" is an underrated album in the history of the progressive rock music. It's possible that in some musical parts, it isn't as brilliant as "Renaissance" is, but otherwise, it's in a certain and strange way, more balanced and cohesive than "Renaissance" is. "Illusion" remains as an excellent album, very melodic and with some great progressive parts, and the vocal performance of Jane is, in my humble opinion, better than on their previous debut album. It's truly a pity that during the most of the songs of the first two albums of the band, she was mostly confined in a subordinate vocal role and not in a more important role. She deserved much more, because he has a brilliant voice with a beautiful timbre. So, this is really a nice album with great moments that can't be missed by any true fan of the progressive symphonic style.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars A very odd album here. The lineup is a bit hodgepodge, however the tone of the album stays stronger throughout. Between simpler pieces such as Love Goes On, and um, Love Is All, we have one of the most fantastic epics from any version of the group, Golden Thread. Jane Relf's operatic vocals make ... (read more)

Report this review (#1385784) | Posted by fudgenuts64 | Sunday, March 22, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Nice album, I would say is a great leap from their 1969 eponymous album, sadly Keith Relf's Renaissance stays behind the shadow of Annie Haslam's. Michael Dunford gives his first shot in this album, and that's why I think is really special. Dunford wrote and played only on Mr. Pine, which cont ... (read more)

Report this review (#1011222) | Posted by MyDarling95 | Sunday, August 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars As with their debut album, the songs in Illusion are mostly piano guided music that flirts with jazz and classical. So far, it only means that the band has a style of its own. The problem is that Illusion suffers even further from two apparent opposite faults that the former album also presented ... (read more)

Report this review (#418996) | Posted by bfmuller | Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A strange album is this. In fact original Renaissance returned to the studio for their 2nd album but ... Not brought to an end. Or rather, they chose the band even though it must be said that material of this band was used by 2nd Renaissance. The band, in fact, disbanded during the recording s ... (read more)

Report this review (#372469) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Second & Second , Second Release and Second Best Renaissance , after Ashes , this Was One of the Most Simple & Captivating Albums , No Matter What Was the Reviews & Ratings Are , Annie Was Great by All Means , Different Kind of Voices but Both Have the Same Talent of Performing Classical P ... (read more)

Report this review (#294605) | Posted by trackstoni | Sunday, August 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Illusion is the second release by the first "era of Renaissance. Jane Relf has gotten exeptionally better on this album, as the first album she had a sqeeky sound to her voice. Which was unpleasent at times. She has a sort of dignified sound to her voice, once which I really enjoy! The song M ... (read more)

Report this review (#107782) | Posted by rainbow111 | Wednesday, January 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars First of all, this album is not as bad as it seems. But it was created in difficult conditions. The band was reforming several times and the turning point to the new and successful incarnation wasn't yet done. I personally like songs Mr. Pine and Past orbits of dust. Both are little bit experi ... (read more)

Report this review (#103905) | Posted by Hejkal | Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The second work of RENAISSANCE announced in 1970 "Illusion". RENAISSANCE had collapsed as a group before completing this work. It records on the guest musician such as M. Dunford for the contract implementation. The sixth tune is a jazz-rock masterpiece. The sound is a calm British rock that c ... (read more)

Report this review (#48468) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, September 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Very similar to the first album, but not as much as good. This is the last album of the first line-up of the band. There is a coda to this old line up, who re-formed under the name "Illusion" and recorded two other good albums, now re-issued on the same cd: "Illusion/Out of the mist". ... (read more)

Report this review (#19950) | Posted by | Monday, November 10, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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