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Renaissance Prologue album cover
3.76 | 532 ratings | 46 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prologue (5:39)
2. Kiev (7:39)
3. Sounds of the Sea (7:09)
4. Spare Some Love (5:05)
5. Bound for Infinity (4:17)
6. Rajah Khan (11:14)

Total Time 41:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Annie Haslam / lead (excl. 2) & backing vocals, percussion
- Rob Hendry / electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, chimes, backing vocals
- John Tout / keyboards, backing vocals, arrangements
- Jon Camp / bass, tamboura, lead (2) & backing vocals, arrangements (uncredited)
- Terence Sullivan / drums, percussion

- Francis Monkman / VCS3 synthesizer (6)
- Michael Dunford / arrangements

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis with Ronchetti & Day

LP Sovereign ‎- SVNA 7253 (1972, UK)

CD One Way Records ‎- CDL 57577 (1991, US & Canada)
CD Repertoire records - REP 4574-WY (1995, Germany)
CD HTD Records - HTDCD78 (1997, UK)
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REP 5110 (2010, Germany) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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RENAISSANCE Prologue ratings distribution

(532 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RENAISSANCE Prologue reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I bought this album back in the early 70s (attracted mainly by the "far out" cover art), then soon acquired copies of later LPs "Turn of the Cards" and "Scheherazade." I found the former to be disappointing (though "Mother Russia" is a great track), and the latter to be too overtly classical for my then teenage tastes. (I might well love Sheherazade now, but, alas, I sold it when my turntable and I parted ways....) In any case, "Prologue" is the only Renaissance album that I replaced on CD, and I was delighted to find it.

I find myself in agreement with Andre, an earlier reviewer, who wrote that Kiev (a beautiful song) and the title track were "highlights" of this album. I give the disc a higher rating, however, because I find that "Spare Some Love" and "Rajah Khan" are at least equally praiseworthy. "Spare Some Love" offers some positive advice (clearly expressed in the title) that we could all benefit from trying to follow. That it does so within the constraints of a catchy five-minute piece of prog/folk rock only makes its message the more palatable. The closing track, the 11+ minutes "Rajah Khan," however, is to me the most original and powerful song on the album. It opens with blistering electric guitar (a sound notably absent from later Renaissance releases) that segues into an Eastern-flavoured opus, with vocalist Annie Haslam (who possesses a truly wonderful voice) chanting atop excellent and varied music that is driven by the piano of John Tout and the guitar of Rob Hendry. The disc's other two tracks, "Sounds of the Sea" and "Bound for Infinity" are very nice in parts, but a tad uneven, and prevent me from giving this recording a five-star rating.

If you want to hear a harder-edged Renaissance, before their "classical" and later mainstream pop manifestations (a regrettable, if predictable path for prog bands struggling to survive at the end of the 70s), then give an ear to this unique CD!

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars a prologue and an epilogue

After the collapse of the original group, McCarty's back up plan obviously didn't last very long (check out the K&Q DVD to see why it didn't) either, the ex-Yardbirds gave it another go and kept Dunford, calling back external lyric-writer poetess Betty Thatcher, he built another group that would indeed record the album and play it live (this hadn't been, the case with the MkII), but still not be involved in the songwriting, Jim keeping a rein on that with Dunford. Finding Annie Haslam was a masterstroke enough and while keeping Dunford & Thatcher team, John Tout on keys, the group is now taking shape of the classic line-up that would go on to great success. Rounding out the line-up, John Camp (bass) and Terry Sullivan (drums) make the illusion (pun intended) almost a reality (thus making the album's title a little prophetic), with Rob Hendry on guitars, but the latter's sober contributions are rather minimal as Renaissance remains a KB-dominated band

Prologue was released in 72 on the small sovereign label and came with a splendid fantasy artwork mixing nature and technology, but unfortunately it only attracted North American crowds, so the band concentrated their efforts there. Musically McCarty kept the same line and philosophy and in many ways, you'd be hard pressed to hear much difference between the MkI and Mk III line-ups at this point in time, except that Haslam is much more present than Jane was on vocals. Opening (understandably so) on the instrumental title track (except for some vocalizing), Tout attacks with a piano solo much in the line of Hawken (this means between Prokofiev and Rachmaninov), before the band kicks in the typical Renaissance fashion, with Camp also doubling the piano as Cennamo had in the previous albums. The following track hints again at Russian composers, chanting the Kiev gates, even if at first the track is a little cheesy, the middle section moves frankly in complex (all being relative) prog territory.

Share Some Love could pass for a radio-friendly love folk ditty, but if you listen to the band's solid back up of Haslam's voicing of tepid Thatcher lyrics, you'll see that we're again in the typical Renaissance mould. The 11-mins+ Rajah Khan is rather different (the title is a hint) as there are some psych rock-raga remains (see Past Orbits on Illusion) and guitarist Hendry does provide some welcomed sonic changes, especially in the guitar intro and Haslam's more eastern vocalizing, even if not radically different. The quiet Bound For Infinity is also noteworthy, with probably Haslam's best vocal performance of the present album.

While the band's metamorphosis is not yet complete, Prologue is an all-important transitional album, certainly more essential (at least in the band's history) than Illusion was, and personally I prefer it to many of the upcoming albums, precisely because there is a different-sounding track (Khan), which won't happen again for a while.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first Renaissance album with Annie Haslam on the lead vocals. It is definitely a complex & refined piano oriented album, although the tracks are loaded with other instruments. The electric and acoustic guitars do not take so much room. The bass is not as powerful & bottom as on the next album "Ashes are burning", but it must all the same not be neglected. And more, this bass is very well played and quite refined. The other musicians provide excellent backing vocals, and Annie often just gracefully sings without word. The style involved is baroque piano. There are no orchestral arrangements. Surprisingly, apart the piano, the keyboards seem to be very rare here. The very good drums are used about 50% of the time. The last epic track, Rajah Khan, having much less piano, more guitar, has some irritating parts, like the psychedelic intro, made of unpleasant electric guitar sounds (Is the end a copied Ravel's Bolero part?). That is why I remove 0.5 star.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars All change

A slightly misleading title for this album, as it was actually the third release under the Renaissance name. In fairness though, the line up completely changed prior to the release of this album, which saw Annie Haslam take on vocal duties for the first time.

Renaissance were forerunners for present day prog bands such as Karnataka and Mostly Autumn, complete with predominantly female vocals. "Prologue" was a major step forward for Renaissance from their rather patchy debut album, containing as it does a number of very strong pieces.

The opening "Prologue", and the closing "Raja Khan" are similar, in that they are both essentially instrumental tracks, even though they have female vocals. There are no lyrics, the vocals merely leading the melody, the way they do on Pink Floyd's "Great gig in the sky" for example. Both are excellent tracks, well performed, and refreshingly original. The other tracks have more orthodox vocals. "Kiev", my favourite track, is somewhat unusual in the it has a male lead. The track tells a lovely story, bisected by one of Renaissance classically based piano pieces.

A superb album of lush melodies, full of originality, great song writing, and great performances. The LP sleeve is very original too.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Prologue for me was the best album by Renaissance in the seventies along with Ashes are Burning and Scheherazade. It has a perfect combination of piano and guitars, great vocal balancing between male and female and some good themes.' Sounds of the Sea' is so melancholic and Annie Haslam's vocals work a treat.' Spare some Love' really rocks. There is something about ' Bound for Infinity' which is quite intangible that makes it so perfect ( a bit like Dusk on Genesis , Trespass). The psychedlic ' Rajah Khan' makes for a climatic finish to the album with Haslam's chants giving the whole mood a supernatural feel. Excellent Prog rock with the undeniable classical influences.
Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Really good moments and really bad moments

I'd actually put the rating somewhere between 3 and 4 stars (closer to 3), as there is a lot to like on this offering from Renaissance - but, as has been observed, it is somewhat uneven.

The title track is a nice combination of piano-driven 1970's rock - almost archetypal! There is much here that reminds me of later Camel material (especially "Slow Yourself Down"), aspects of the music that echo some of the music from Jesus Christ Superstar (which is NOT a bad thing!), and piano playing that is obviosuly intended to mimic Rakhmaninov initially, but heads into Bach territory around 3:30 - which is a bit of a pity, as this gives a Spinal Tap feel that you can't take seriously. Around 4:00, Annie Haslams' vocal leads a sparse, jazz-like section that sounds like it might have been at home in one of those "art" movies that feature naked female vampires... you know, the ones we never watch... Overall, a very enjoyable, if uneven piece.

Kiev starts with another piano intro that has shades of Emerson. Again, the music takes on the piano-driven feel - a kind of half lounge jazz, half boogie, but very MOR. Good music for driving on a Sunday afternoon - if you can get over the semi Eurovision song- contest feel of the first few minutes. It does move into more progressive territory, in which the piano dominates, which has a kind of simplified ELP feel to it. Fortunately Renaissance stick to strong melodies and avoid too much dissonance. Unfortunately there are moments of vocal intonation which are somewhat on the flat side. The vocal textures are very good, with intuitive harmonies - although I find the over-using of the raised 3rd at the end of each phrase to be a little wearying; On the whole, this section trundles on nicely in a minor key, but the third is raised at the end of each phrase to make the final chord of the phrase a major chord. As a final gesture, this could have been made to work nicely, but as a recurring device, it loses momentum quickly.

Sounds of the Sea begins almost laughably predictably with recordings of waves, seagulls and boats, then the piano starts into a kind of pastoral ditty with plenty of 6ths to soften the overall tone. Annie Haslam's pure tones ring out beautifully, creating a pleasant serenity - intonation again tends to be an issue, even though she covers well will a little finishing vibrato. That said, this is a beautifully serene piece.

Intonation plagues Spare Some Love, which has a more conventional pop/rock song format to start with, but ventures off into a nice groove around 2:30, which the piano somewhat predictably picks up. This piece smacks of a band trying to find its own groove, and drags the album down as a whole, since you can feel that the band do not seem to be wholly into it.

There is a much stronger organic feel to Bound For Infinity, on which percussion is kept to a bare minimum for a very serene experience.

Finally, Rajah Khan opens with a heavy guitar providing a very psychedelic 60's middle eastern kind of feel, with feedback and basic Hendrix-style finger tapping. This is obviously all done for effect and not for some kind of virtuosic display, and works fairly well without venturing too far into Spinal Tap territory.The effect Renaissance seem to be looking for is not entirely successful - but taken in it's own right, this is an enjoyable piece, and enters a nice groove - although this style was more successfully exploited by bands of the psychedelic era.

All in all, a pleasant album, nice for chilling out to occasionally, but nothing that will really give the analytical mind much to feed on.

A definite 3-starrer, with consideration made to the stronger moments which lift this album slightly above the average.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A new start for the band is introduced with the dynamic Prologue track, a song with could be an introduction to the feelings and sounds of early 1970's also. John Tout's grand piano shimmers now with more grandiose power than the keyboards on the earlier records, and Annie Haslam's trained soprano voice reaches really celestial heights. Jon Camp's powerful bass lines elevate also among the trinity of instrumental characteristic factors dominating the sound of this newly formed group, along with the romantic and bombastic melodies of the compositions, forming a great stage for the virtuosic musicians to be displayed. The songs of the first album with the new musicians also reveal quite frankly the state of searching point for directions, giving birth for some peculiar experimentations visit the turntable. As for example the closer "Rajah Khan" is a singular composition on Renaissance's repertoire, droning a long voyage in psychedelic flavors from amplified guitar and wordless singing rejoicing in orientalist melodies, and having Curved Air's Francis Monkman visiting the open playing with his synthesizers. The second song "Kiev" is slightly naïve minor folk rock ballad, containing more adventurous instrumental middle section. "Spare Some Love" has some qualities hinting that the early albums of Yes had been listened and adored; Some instrumental movements and bass and drum maneuvers feel here really recognizable. The orchestrated "Time and A Word" album might have also been an inspiration for searching enlargement to the synthesis of classic symphonic music and folk-oriented art rock sounds. Both "Sounds of The Sea" and "Bound for Infinity" aim possibly to the easiest artistic choices, creating very mellow and lovely melodic surroundings for Annie's charming vocals. I personally feel open for these elevating pop prog gospels, and enjoyed this album maturing them as much as the following classic recordings of this fabulous group.
Review by lor68
3 stars This is the first album by Renaissance II after "Illusion", as well as their new definitive line-up with the remarkable "debut" of Annie Haslam, helped by Michael Dunford in the choice of the classical arrangements (often in the vein of Chopin and the music of the 19th century) , being supported even by the lyrics of Betty Thatcher, a remarkable poet. After all the present work is more ambitious in comparison to the old tunes belonging to the early line-up without Annie. In fact her first appearance was a true surprise, thanks to such an important project which attracted her, along with their purpose to improve the old immature style of the previous album. At the end They were able to accept the compromise between an elegant pop music-genre and the symphonic arrangement, in the direction of the folk/light symphonic progressive-genre, then developed within "Turn of the cards" and "Scheherazade". Therefore I think of "Ashes are Burning", whose affinity with "Prologue" is not a surprise (not only for the sounding-piano a bit "Rachmaninov-oriented"). In fact by means of this latter album They began to settle their own style, characterizing the best season of such a romantic folk-symphonic prog in England!!

It's an historical "witness" regarding the birth of a new era, so you can add another half star at least, perhaps four stars is the top evaluation if you consider the fantastic title track (the "quintessence" of true prog music) as well as the beautiful song entitled "Kiev" (note: the future "pearl" inside their album "Turn of the Cards" is entitled "Mother Russia" and it's a strange coincidence- obviously by considering Kiev part of the former U.S.S.R.!!)

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Following the break-up of The Yardbirds in early 1968 drummer Jim McCarty and guitarist/vocalist Keith Relf formed TOGETHER, an acoustic based group. This short lived then became RENAISSANCE in early 1969 with the addition of John Hawken (keyboard), Louis Cennamo (bass) and Jane Relf (vocal). Relf and McCarty virtually abandoned Renaissance and their places were gradually taken by fresh musicians who contributed and then helped form a whole new version of Renaissance - the band which then recorded "Prologue". The chief songwriters were acoustic guitarist Michael Dunford and Cornish poetess Betty Tatcher. The band also found a talented, operatic trained, vocalist Annie Haslam who later become the permanent lead singer that form the "sound" of Renaissance. [excerpted from CD sleeve notes; written by Chris Welch, 1995].

The music of Renaissance is most well known for its rich symphonic textures heavily influenced by classical music, stunning vocals, and poetic lyrics. The album opener "Prologue" indicates how strong the classical music influence (Bach) in this piano and vocalese style based composition. Practically there is no lyrics in this opening track and the music stream sounds like opening a "play" in any theatrical performance. "Kiev" is a nice and melodic song with classical touch featuring male vocal with some elements of blues music. This style of music is brought forward by the band to other seminal album "Scheherazade and Other Stories". It's a cool composition. "Sounds of The Sea" features Annie Haslam's melodic vocal in relatively slow tempo and classical music based texture. "Spare Some Love" is using acoustic guitar as opener and main rhythm section combined with piano and keyboard; augmented with percussion. Annie sings as lead singer with backing vocals by other band members. "Bound for Infinity" is a melancholic song featuring soft piano touch and transparent-powerful voice of Annie Haslam. "Rajah Khan" is a very interesting track which has middle east nuance through the use of mandolin by Rob Hendry (replacing Mick Dunford who was not in the band for "Prologue"). Curved Air's Francis Monkman fills the synthesizer solo in this track. Annie demonstrates her operatic talent through vocal line that is very ambient, with a floating style. Cool. It's probably the best track of this album.

Highly recommended album that emerged during the glory days of prog music in the seventies. Keep on proggin'..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars I love to take a look at the previous reviews and ratings before writing a review! This album has an average rating of 3.55, only one person was very cynical and negative, the others gave a rating between 3 and 5 stars. My short relationship with Renaissance began early The Eighties when I bought the acclaimed 2-LP "Live at Carnegie Hall". It was not my cup of tea, too much piano and a too mellow sound. Due to the many positive reviews about this album on Prog Archives, I decided to order it. So twenty years later there was a renewed encounter with Renaissance their music. Well, I have to say that I was impressed by the wonderful classical inspired piano play and the warm and pleasant compositions but in general it's too sweet and mellow for me. I was very curious to the final track "Rajah kahn" because I'm always delighted to hear a blend of ehtnic/folk and prog. And I like the Indian raga's featuring the distinctive sound of the sitar (Howe and Hackett used a Coral electric sitar) and the tabla percussion. It starts well with the distorted, a bit Arabian sounding electric guitar but the integration of Ravel's "Bolero" and the high pitched vocals don't match with my idea of Indian music. I had preferred a more sultry climate with more room for the guitar. A strong moment is the VCS 3 synthesizer solo from Francis Monkman (once a member from the underrated Sky) but I'm a bit disappointed about this long composition. To me this is a good album, no less or more.
Review by Tony Fisher
4 stars This was the first album with the majority of the new line up in place, the band having undergone a total metamorphosis since the second album. And it's clear that the nucleus of greatness is there though not yet having reached its full potential. Annie Haslam's exquisite voice has purity, clarity and an incredible range, though some say she lacks a little in emotional variation, which may be valid. Melodically, the band rely heavily on John Tout's keyboard wizardry and his piano playing is of an exceptionally high standard, heavily classically influenced. The guitar is perhaps more prominent on this album than the successors, since Rob Hendry was replaced by composer in chief Michael Dunford after this album, and Rajah Khan benefits greatly from his playing, the best track on the album. Jon Camp's Rickenbacker often plays in the upper part of its range to fill out the sound. Most of the tracks are soft, melodic and soothing, Prologue excepted. This and Rajah Khan forego conventional lyrics and use the voice as a supplementary instrument, as Camel later did on the Snow Goose. It sounds wonderful. If you like music which is melodic and superbly played, like Genesis, Mostly Autumn or Camel, buy this. Those who like heavier, more experimental fare may want to look elsewhere. 4.25*.
Review by Zitro
4 stars 3 2/3 Stars

This is the album where the classic lineup is featured for the first time. Annie Haslem has a beautiful voice, had training for singing opera, and has an amazing vocal range. The music sounds a bit like the title of the band. The orchestrations are not yet featured, but the symphonic sound is already achieved here, thanks to the brilliant pianist. While the first 2 songs are brilliant, the rest can't keep up with that standard except for the strange closer.

Prologue is a great opener indeed! It is an instrumental (if you consider Haslem's do do dooos instruments). From the beginning, the song is already dominated by powerful classical piano. In almost all the movements (it's a very tight and coherent song that changes a lot), you hear piano and the bass loud upfront. I especially like the mellow part where Annie Haslem sings those loud (doo doos).

Kiev is seven minutes long, yet does not feel long. A male singer is evident here, but he also sounds very good and does not make you miss Annie. The chorus in which Annie sings wordless syllables is very pretty. There are plenty of musical breaks where the piano gets the spotlight (the one at minute 5 is my favourite). Wonderful Track! Easily my favourite from this album.

Unfortunately, the next three tracks do not reach the heights of Prologue and especially Kiev. Sounds of the sea is a very piano ballad that unfortunately suffers from being a bit too long. However, Annie Haslem sings beautifully here. I just think that putting "sounds of the sea" in the last 40 seconds is a bit unnecessary. "Spare Some Love" is a nice folk tune that transforms into a psychedelic jam that reminds me of Yes' first two albums(If Im not mistaken, they stole a bass riff). The folk returns and finishes the song. Bound for infinity is a mellow pastoral tune featuring piano. The last track Rajan Kahn is very unusual, yet captivating. It begins with a strange psychedelic guitar solo that does not feel out of place since the song is an rocker with sitars, tabla percussion, and plenty of chanting.

Very good album. It shows you show the classic line-up sounded at first. This album is like Nursery Cryme: excellent, but the best was yet to come in the next albums.

Highlights: Prologue, Kiev, Rajan Kahn Let Downs: Bound for Infinity

My Rating: B-

Review by b_olariu
4 stars This is not a bad album at all. Some wonderful tracks delight us with power ad smoothness. The leader John Tout is a master of keys,he did a great job again. One of the biggest key player ever, in my opinion. The beautiful voice of Annie Haslan, make us thinking how precious life is in a moment of time. The first track Prologue is the highlight from this one, but Rajah Khan is close. A strong album from the '70, and one who made Renaissance one of the greatest bands in prog music. 4 stars
Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Annie Haslam's Debut

Prologue is the sound of a band in transition. Members had come and gone with monotonous regularity as Renaissance strove for a settled line-up and their own place in the scheme of things. By 1972 none of the original band remained, though Dunford and McCarty were still actively involved behind the scenes. A new quintet of Haslam (voice), Camp (bass), Tout (keys), Sullivan (drums) and Parsons (guitar) undertook a brief tour before entering the studio to record their first album together, but sadly, young guitarist Mick Parsons was killed immediately prior to recording so Rob Hendry replaced him in the studio [Hendry left the band soon after recording the album].

Lovers of classic Renaissance will immediately recognise this material with its intricate piano flourishes, complex arrangements, lyrical bass runs and Annie's unmistakeable voice. Most of the elements are in place but with rough edges that would be honed to perfection on later albums: the sound is looser, less polished, and Annie's voice is not yet fully matured. Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the use of electric guitar, mostly as a rhythm accompaniment, only occasionally coming to the fore as a lead, but its absence would later be a key aspect of the definitive Renaissance sound. Likewise, there is no orchestra here and virtually no keyboard other than piano so the sound is much sparser than will be evident in later years.

Performances are dominated by piano, it is all over this album like a rash. John Tout's playing is exceptionally assured from big dramatic statements to delicate trills and subtle accompaniment. He reigns supreme as the spotlight instrumentalist, even more so than in later years. Camp's bass is also well to the fore, as it should be, full of light and inventive touches yet solid and dependable. Sullivan's drumming is excellent without being obtrusive - in other words, he does all the right things for the context without overpowering the rest of the band. Hendry's guitar work doesn't always gel, probably because he didn't have the benefit of touring with the band before recording. In places he sounds like he doesn't quite know what to do and I am not keen on the lengthy passage introducing Raja Khan. Annie's voice is already wonderful, but perhaps lacks fullness, a richness that would develop with time.

The album is topped-and-tailed by a pair of lengthy Prog 'instrumentals' by Michael Dunford, of which the title track would remain in their repertoire as a concert favourite for many years. Both include Annie's voice as an additional instrument - they call it vocalese, singing without words - which works fine in a strange sort of way. Prologue, despite being credited to Dunford, is very much a Tout tour-de-force, heavily influenced by classical pianist-composers with a touch of jazz and containing some of his best playing. Rajah Khan is quite a different beast entirely. Named after a dog owned by a former bass player, it is awash with eastern influences and references, including an "Indian man dressed in white robes" playing tabla and Jon Camp playing a tanpura [a fretless stringed instrument used as a 'drone' in Indian classical music]. Rajah Khan is built around a main theme with Annie's vocalese and an eastern sounding chord-less riff, followed by a bridge leading to a jam section. This format is repeated a couple of times and works well, with each jam section featuring a different lead. Overall, a good attempt at a lengthy, almost psychedelic Prog instrumental, but I don't like the tedious 2½ minute electric guitar intro, nor a rather uninspired synth solo from Francis Monkman.

The remainder of Prologue features four conventional songs with lyrics by Cornish poetess Betty Thatcher. Kiev is a beautiful haunting melody sung by Jon Camp with gorgeous harmonies by Annie on the second part of the verse and bridge, but an up tempo instrumental break rather spoils the mood. Kiev's lyrics invoke an image of a sad Dr. Zhivago world of an old man kneeling in the snow by the lonely grave of his son 'Davorian'. Today, the seashore effects which start and finish Sounds Of The Sea are rather predictable, but not so in 1972. With very personal lyrics about Thatcher's affinity with the shore and sea, something with which I can identify, the song has a nice melody but its arrangement doesn't have enough movement and feels under-developed. At more than 7 minutes it is perhaps over-long. Spare Some Love is a straightforward song with simple lyrics, nice chorus and harmonies, and another contrasting middle break. Finally, Bound For Eternity has an almost folk-rock feel to it, with lively instrumentation trotting along happily to a very slowly sung melody before raising its game for a "ba da da" chorus.

Clothed in a weird Hypgnosis sleeve, Prologue's presentation is fairly minimalist - my CD is a Russian issue which may explain the numerous spelling mistakes in otherwise interesting notes by Chris Welch. At worst this is an accomplished album, a solid base-camp for Renaissance's assault on the slippery slopes of Prog, mostly displaying an astonishing maturity, showing great skill in songwriting, arranging and handling their instruments, yet at times exposing an endearing naivety. It is this naivety which gives Prologue its special charm, which makes it stand out a little from the remainder of their 70s output, and which makes up for the lack of lush orchestration.

Not quite a classic, but still highly recommended

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is somewhat overlooked in the catalogue of RENNAISSANCE. Nevertheless, "Kiev", "Spare Some Love", "Rajah Khan" and the title track should be included in any prog anthology. Annie's voice is wonderful, there are lots of "classical"- sounding piano, strong bass melodies and that wonderful raga-psychedelia of "Rajah Khan". For me this is a very, very good album, even if it sounds a bit dated at times.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Renaissance was one of the very few groups that the new incarnation of the former band gets so much better it completely overshadows its preceders in all aspects. It was only fortunate that every member of the original Renaissance would be replaced by such gifted, talented and creative musicians. But, as all Renaissance fans know, the new singer made all the difference. Annie Haslam is debuting here but she´s already soaring through the album like few vets would (or could) do. My God, what a beautiful voice! Best female singer ever to grace a rock band!

Many friends of mine at the time dismissed this album as not ´truly´ Renaissance album, since its sound is not really the classical acousticly driven music the group would achieve in the next offering, the classic Ahes Are Burning. Certainly the group was still trying to find their sound and the music here is still a bit hard edge, more electric here. Still even at such an early age I could sense I was hearing a unique and groundbreaking band. And Rob Hendry guitar licks are good, making one only wonder what they might sound had he stayed a little longer.

Highlights? all the songs, really. Its a matter of taste not of quality. Choose your pick. Mine are The title track, Kiev (the best Jon Camp vocal performance ever), Bound For Infinity and the simple, but effective, Spare Some Love.

A different record from the classic period, but a essential one. Maybe not as good as the next four albums, but still a must have for any prog lover. 4,5 stars.

Review by Matti
3 stars Here began the Annie Haslam -era of RENAISSANCE. I borrowed this LP in the summer of '90. [ EDIT: at the time of writing this review in 2007 I hadn't listened to the whole album in years, but now in February 2019 I feel I was too merciless on it. ] Folk-rooted Prologue showed the way the band was starting to develop with the new line-up -- although Michael Dunford appears on this album only as a composer; the guitarist is Rob Hendry at this point --, but I think this is rather weak, especially if compared to the more symphonic, seminal albums such as Turn of the Cards or Scheherazade and Other Stories. A "prologue" indeed, where the unique Dunford-Thatcher writing collaboration is only on its way to bloom.

None of the six tracks make it into my favourites list. The best known and perhaps the finest track is the opener 'Prologue' with wordless singing highlighting the impressive vocal range of Haslam. 'Kiev' is an OK folkish song not far from the style of the earlier Renaissance, as is the simple 'Spare Some Love'. The male vocals have never been Renaissance's strongest features. The calm 'Sounds of the Sea' (with exactly what the title promises) could have been developed into a more beautiful dreamy Song; there's a slight demo-like feel to this album here and there. 'Bound for Infinity' is a good serene song.

The 11-minute 'Rajah Khan' is the most ambitious one with its Eastern influences, but I find it slightly boring and pretentious. The next album, Ashes Are Burning, was another big leap forward. The best side of Prologue to me is possibly the fascinatingly weird Hipgnosis cover. Still, three stars deserved.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Prologue is the third album from Renaissance, but it really should be considered as a debut album as the lineup is totally changed from their previous album Illusion. The original Renaissance broke up after recording Illusion, so it is an entirely new band. Does it show/ hear ?

Well the style hasn´t changed much really. The music is still classical Piano driven prog rock with strong male and especially female vocals. IMO the music has lost some of it´s charm though. Much is now up to Annie Haslam´s beautiful voice. She is an outstanding singer, but I´m missing some exciting instrumental parts, which I felt there where more of on their two previous albums. Some of the vocal parts are a little too much for me. Too many ahs and la las instead of real lyrics ruin my experience somehow.

Standout tracks are Prologue ( where the ahs and the la las work well), Sound of the Sea which has a beautiful melody and outstanding vocal harmonies. The ending epic Rajah Kahn is the most progressive song on the album, it´s unfortunately also the one with the most ahs and las from Haslam. A little too eastern inspired for my taste ( Dead Can Dance fans should pay attention here).

I think the album is a disappointment compared to the two previous albums from Renaissance, but it´s an ok prog rock album deserving 3 stars. Hopefully the new Renaissance lineup will get better on the next couple of albums.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars On this album the only link to the first version of Renaissance is in the songwriters Dunford, Thatcher and McCarthy, none of whom actually make a sound. Dunford would be installed as guitarist on subsequent recordings, but here we have Rob Hendry, who does not have as much influence as his successor. John Tout and Jon Camp have both joined, Tout amply filling John Hawken's sizable shoes and Camp being a Chris Squire-influenced bass player and sometime vocalist who would subsequently impact the group's development.

The most impressive aspect of Prologue is how the band has integrated the best features of the earlier incarnation into their own nascent style. The music is far more engaging than virtually anything from Renaissance Mach 1, with plenty of confident classical flourishes and jazzy inflections on both "Prologue" and "Kiev". The fascination with the maritime begins here with "Sounds of the Sea", which thematically resembles an early "Ocean Gypsy". It is a bit too pretty and overly extended but still serves as the first showcase for Annie Haslam's plaintive style. Regarding Annie, it must be said that while her voice is not as naturally warm as that of Jane Relf, she does tug at the heart strings remarkably well for one with such superior technical prowess.

For me the highlight is "Spare Some Love", which begins as a simple acoustic song before becoming quite the funky rocker in the midsection. I am very partial to the mix of Annie and the male voices in the chorus, and the sprinkling of lead guitar and punchy bass lines add to the impact. "Bound for Infinity" is a mellow one reminiscent of some of the material on Illusion, but, like "Sounds of the Sea", lacks a bit of excitement. The closer, "Rahan Khan" sounds good on paper, but is ultimately an unconvincing blend of the eastern and classical styles, with plenty of psychedelia thrown in. It is a lot more menacing than the Renaissance we knew or would come to know, but doesn't really do much with that aspect, perhaps partly due to all the wordless vocals. It was an approach they rarely took again, and for that I am grateful.

An uneven album with moments of magic and grandeur, this prologue to the new Renaissance suffers from some lazy songwriting both in the lyrics and the music. They would need to overcome these flaws to rise to the next level, which they subsequently did in a big way.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This must be unique (or at least an exception) in rock music. The whole line-up has changed between two albums! And the musical style as well. As soon as you have listened to the title track, you know that something else is going on. Inspired, fresh and melodic.

This album is indeed the "prologue" of a brilliant career. The typical "Renaissance" sound starts with this album. The classical and very much piano-oriented music is all here. I am just missing Annie during the first two songs in which she has more a backing than leading vocal role. But the great "Kiev" is still one of my favourite on this album. But there are plenty of highlights on this great album.

The beautiful "Sounds Of The Sea" (displaying indeed some seagull sounds) is another very pleasant and thrilling moment. On this occasion, Annie is fully in command of the vocal (finally). More "Renaissance" than this is difficult. Another highlight.

The band is right on track now. The compositions (mainly written by Dunford and Thatcher who were not full-time band members, the latter being in charge for the lyrics) are very well crafted. And I am completely biased by Annie's fantastic vocal part during another excellent song : "Spare Some Love".

She is definitely very influent in terms of band recognition. IMHHO, she incarnates brilliantly the wonderful sound that the band will impose for some years. Even a short and sweet tune as "Bound For Infinity" is emotional thanks to her brilliant vocal part. I told you, I'm biased, so be prepared for some raving reviews.

The central piece of this album is a long track (almost instrumental if you except the vocalizing work) which sounds slightly different than the rest. A harder and more guitar oriented track which is kind of a rarity for the band. Oriental influenced, it sounds at times as a Page improv (during the opening part). Percussion work is particularly well played. Maybe a bit too long and repetitive, but still a very good way to close the first truly "Renaissance" album.

Four stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Strange story around this band,formed in late-60's by ex-The Yardbirds Keith Relf and Jim McCarty and initially produced two decent Folk Rock albums.Between the two releases the band suffered from line-up changes with both founding members quiting after the first album and actually the second album features songs from both the old and fresh line- up.Around 1971 the driving force behind RENAISSANCE was Michael Dunford,as well as new manager Mike Copeland.The two men helped RENAISSANCE survive despite the presence of a total new line-up,headed by female singer Annie Haslam and pianist John Tout.Finally the third (but first with the fresh members) RENAISSANCE album saw the light in 1972 on EMI,with music composed by Dunford.

The turn of the band's sound to more Classical-inspired paths is evident from the excellent eponymous opener.Tout's classical piano battles with its jazzy middle section in a perfectly composed track with Haslam duplicating with a series of dreamy vocal chords.''Kiev'' seems like a ballad coming out of the band's first phase with nice mandolin and soft vocals,but that stands only until the middle,where Tout takes over again with some dramatic yet demanding piano passages.Great work by the rhythm section as well,while Hendry delivers a couple of nice electric explosions.I wish the band would maintain this high level until the end of the album.''Sounds of the sea'' is an exclusively piano-based atmospheric track,mainly composed around the voice of Haslam.Please notice the multi-vocal sections of this track,which remind me a lot of YES.Good but nothing extraordinary.

Time for the album's second round,which opens with ''Spare some love''.This is a track in a simple song format,featuring mostly acoustic instrumentation and carrying a typical late- 60's UK Psychedelic sound,but Tout saves it with his lovely piano.'' Bound for infinity'' features the best Haslam performance in a dreamy and romantic mood,obscure percussions by drummerTerry Sullivan,while Hendry's style is very close to the warm work of GENESIS' Anthony Phillips.''Rajah Khan'' clocks at 11 min. and starts with an Eastern- influenced opening section with deep bass,before Tout's piano and Monkman' synths transform it to a psychedelic trip.After the middle the track gets more adventuruous with some decent interplays,nice electric guitars yet maintaining its ethnic feeling.

The truth is I would love to see the band insisting on the style of the first two tracks,that means a piano-centered rock format with intricate passages and some sparse oneiric vocals.Still the album is very enjoyable and recommendable by a band getting really close to establish their own style.3.5 stars,a nice addition to your ollection.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very good "debut" album from this second (or third?) incarnation of the formely folk-oriented group, Renaissance. The opening, title, song, in particular, is masterful--one of my favorite Renaissance songs of all-time (and its live version on the "Live at Carnegie Hall" album is equally impressive). "Kiev" and "Sounds of the Sea" are good songs that will find perfection in later songs ("Mother Russia" and "Ocean Gypsy"). The band's overall shift to a classical music orientation is, IMO, a very welcome change. I will like it more in future when pianist John Tout lets go of his penchant for incorporation of known classical riffs and styles and begins composing from his own creative juices. The other great thing about this album: The World gets to welcome one untrained phenom who will shake people to the quick: I speak, of course, of prog's First Lady, Annie Haslam.
Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars Prologue: a title couldn't be more appropriate. The old Renaissance disbanded and disappeared. It's probably a unique case in the history: a new album is released under the name Renaissance, with no elements in the lineup that were present in the previous release, if we don't consider Michael Dunford that is credited as guest on Illusion.

The title track has the classical mood that made them famous, it's the first song featuring the incredible voice of Annie Haslam, and is one of the few songs on the Live at Carnegie Hall to be played with few or no arrangements respect to the studio version.

It is followed by "Kiev". Now the city is in Ukraine, but actually it was in the Soviet Union. This song makes the pair with "Mother Russia" appeared some years after, in stating the connection with the russian classical musicians of the 19th century, clearly evident in the piano section in the middle of the song. This is still one of my favourite Renaissance songs, even if Annie Haslam is not the lead vocalist. McCarthy is credited of the songwriting. Another little link between the two lineups.

"Sound of the Sea" is of course opened by waves and seagulls, then is mainly Annie's voice and piano. Not a great track, but good enough. Just a bit too long, and Side A is gone.

The a capella voice of Annie Haslam introduces "Spare Some Love". The song has a hippy flavour in the optimistic lyrics of the poetress Betty Thatcher. The bass and drums interlude in the middle followed by an acid guitar give it a little touch of psychedelia, but it's just a moment. I'm not the only one, probably, in hearing similarities with the YES in the bass lines and in the choirs.

McCarthy is credited also as author of "Bound For Infinity". This is the most folky song. I can imagine it played by Angelo Branduardi, even if Aniie's voice is not comparable, of course.

"Rajah Khan" is the longest track. It starts spacey even if a sitar can be heard initially, then a psychedelic guitar plays an oriental flavoured theme. This is just the intro. Two minutes and half and the song begins. The indian/arabic mood is emphatized by Annie's vocalisms. When the organ comes the oriental flavour is gone and we have a mix of Wakeman and a hippy community. The effect is absolutely not bad also because it played by skilled musicians. After the interlude it restarts from Annie's vocalisms and bass for another go of the main theme. At minute 7 a new section begins. tendentially classical, with frequent changes of pitch, then the guitar and later the drums lead into a section made of loops and recordings. Not enough chaotic to be defined psychedelic. When it stops the third run of the main theme comes to life for the last time. It could have been an epic with a bit of effort more in the songwriting. The coda is just a way to finish the track.

In brief "Prologue" and "Kiev" ar egreat songs, mature enough, but the rest of the album is averagely good. 3.5 stars really, but I'm not feeling comfortable enough to round it to four.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars So here is the album that introduced Annie Haslam to the prog world, and I have to say that this is personally my favorite Renaissance album. Unlike their next few highly praised albums (which are certainly worthy of praise), here we have the band playing as an actual prog rock group without the added orchestral instrumentation, and as a result there is a sense of exhilaration and young vibrancy within these songs that display a band doing as much as they can with what they have, especially concerning the opening title track.

The song Prologue is quite a thrill ride, with some fantastic bass rhythms, Annie hitting some glass-shattering high notes and that groovy acid rock guitar that kicks in at times. Some complain that the guitar gives the overall sound a dated feel, but since I'm quite a fan of those fuzzy guitar tones I have no problem with this. If it sounds like a product of its time, well, it was a hell of a good time for music, don't you think?

The album has a nice variation of styles and even a bit of adventurous experimentation to boot. There are a couple of gorgeous ballads, including Sounds Of The Sea with its gorgeous chorus (another prime Annie moment). Spare Some Love is a groovy acid-tinged prog-pop number with a catchy hook and that 60s guitar during the chorus. Kiev and Rajah Khan definately fit the definition of "progressive", with Kiev's fantastic instrumental break during the middle portion of the song, and Rajah Khan's trippy eastern vibe with strong musicianship.

Although there are those who say Renaissance's golden age started with Ashes Are Burning, I personally consider this a worthy part of their classic era, a prologue yes, but definately every bit as vital as the next few releases. And yeah, I dig the fact that they still had some cool 'rock' to go with their 'prog' on this album. Great stuff and absolutely essential.

Review by Warthur
4 stars A bizarre little album, resulting from a period of total chaos in the Renaissance lineup, sees a group of entirely new performers on the record - none of whom wrote any of the songs performed! All the songs on here were either composed by Jim McCarty or Michael Dunford, with lyrics by band lyricist Betty Thatcher; Jim had left Renaissance never to return by this point, whilst Dunford had joined after the completion of Illusion, then left before the recording this album, before rejoining after this one (they coaxed him back by having him guest on electric guitar on Ashes Are Burning, before he bowed to the inevitable and became a full time member by the time of Turn of the Cards).

This, then, is a transitional album that sits partway between the classical-influenced symphonic prog of the former lineup and the folk-tinged symphonic rock of the classic lineup. The biggest difference between the sound here and the one which would be unfolded on Ashes are Burning is that Rob Hendry plays electric guitar - adding a roaring solo to spice up Spare Some Love - whilst Michael Dunford would tend to use the acoustic guitar during the classic Renaissance period.

The standout performances from here are from John Tout, whose piano work keeps everything hanging together from the start of the title track to the very end of the album, and of course Anne Haslam, who proves herself to be both a capable successor to Jane Relf in those sections of the album that are reminiscent of previous Renaissance albums and a powerful vocalist in her own right.

Indeed, it's Haslam's magnificent voice which really helps things come together and blast the previous incarnation of the band into history, because whilst the vocals on their first two albums were just fine, they weren't on Annie's level. Bound For Infinity, without her vocals, be a mere filler piece; it's her vocal performance which saves it, and a lesser vocalist wouldn't have been able to do so much with it. That said, it would only be on subsequent albums that Haslam would be able to work with material that was tailor-made to take best advantage of her vocal capabilities.

As well as feeling clearly transitional when compared to what Renaissance would produce on subsequent albums, Prologue also risks feeling a little dated next to what other prog bands were doing at the time - perhaps because of the reliance on material cooked up for the old band, they feel like they still have one foot in that more psychedelic-oriented era of prog from 1969-1970, and not so much in the more polished and advanced era which was being showcased on the 1972 output of Yes, Genesis, or Gentle Giant. (The Indo-Prog-inflected Rajah Khan heightens this.)

Really, the album is as much an epilogue as a prologue, drawing a line under the previous era of the group. It's perhaps best to consider this new Renaissance a different band who happens to have the same name and some sensibilities in common with the band that made the self-titled album or Illusion - clearly they thought of themselves that way, since archival live releases have shown that as early as 1973 the band would be putting on live sets which included no pre-Prologue material whatsoever.

After the mayhem that had engulfed the band and transformed it into this completely different lineup, this album was crucial - had it bombed, I can't see how the band could have continued. So it's fortunate for us all that it's a great success, and whilst it isn't in the top rank of Renaissance albums, I'd say it's a welcome change of course that provides much-needed consistency after Illusion, which was mostly hit-and-miss with a strong emphasis on misses.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars So here is only the third Renaissance studio album and already the front lineup is devoid of any original members. Vocalist 'Binky' Cullom and pianist John Tout had replaced the last vestiges Jane Relf and John Hawken respectively around the same time the band's second album 'Illusion' was being readied for German release. But Cullom would be replaced by Annie Haslam in early 1971 and though Tout would remain the rest of the players on that album were bounced by manager Miles Copeland shortly after Haslam joined.

By the time the band reentered the studio they had gone through a succession of bassists and settled on Jonathan Camp to fill that position for this album. Guitarist Mick Parsons, a young up-and-coming guitarist had been signed by Copeland but died shortly after in an auto accident and was replaced by another young and relative unknown guitarist Rob Hendry. Tout has said that Hendry's presence felt "jarring" to him and it wouldn't be long before Michael Dunford, who had continued to write songs for the band including two on this album, was asked to return to play acoustic guitar. Terence Sullivan was recruited on drums through Melody Maker following Slade and Cullom's departure (they later married) and following a brief stint with a touring drummer whose name the rest of the band can't even recall today. And although Betty Thatcher had been primarily an acquaintance of the Relfs she continued to expand her role as lyricist for the band, penning the words to all but the title track and closing "Rajah Khan" which were both Dunford compositions.

Speaking of "Rajah Khan", most of this album is quite a bit lighter and less folk-oriented than the first two Renaissance albums with the exception of that track, which is by far the longest song on the album and much like "Past Orbits of Dust" on 'Illusion' in that it seems to be highly improvised although does come off as more organized than 'Dust' which had clearly been included as filler.

The band hadn't quite hit their stride as a Haslam-fronted entity by the time they recorded 'Prologue' but the differences between this and the last lineup/album is striking. Haslam clearly owns center stage on most of the songs and the dominance of Romantic era- inspired piano is mostly gone here. The band had also begun to reveal an odd and mostly unexplained fascination with Russian music and themes, as evidenced by the song "Kiev" and the opening piano piece on the title track which borrows heavily from Chopin's 'Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw' written in tribute to the November Uprising.

Like the four tracks on 'Illusion' that were written by the Relf/McCarty-led version of the band, these tracks have as much popular music influence as they do folk, and overall the movement away from the MkI version of the band's classical/folk bent is even more pronounced on this album. While Tout continues in Hawken's shadow to deliver strong piano passages in classical style, the emphasis is clearly more on creating songs with some popular appeal than on the purely experimental music-making Relf and McCarty had in mind when they first formed the group.

"Sounds of the Sea" is probably the closest the band gets to a folk-rock composition with its strong use of Haslam's vocals, light harmony backing and piano amped enough to hear it but clearly intended to play second fiddle to Haslam's singing.

The group also started to show some interest in unusual meters and odd notes, particularly on the two Russian-themed songs and "Spare Some Love" which also combines brief solo passages of bass and guitar along with exceptionally strong piano and bass sequences in the second half of the song.

The late Betty Thatcher gets some mention here as well even though she was never a member of the band. Her legacy as lyricist for some of the most famous Renaissance songs is well-deserved, but on this album the words she wrote for the middle four songs are fairly shallow compared to later works, although in the end it doesn't really matter since Haslam's rich delivery gives them deeper meaning then their raw semantics would indicate.

There seems to be a shadow of the former band's legacy hanging over these songs, something many members of both assemblages have acknowledged over the years. That would be definitively erased when "Ashes Are Burning" really launched the Halsam/Tout era, but for now I have to say this is a good but not exceptional offering from the group. Three stars definitely, but the best was yet to come.


Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is the debut album of a fabulous seventies symphonic prog group, yet the third album from Renaissance. Strange, isn't it?

The original Renaissance, an offshoot of The Yardbirds, release a fine simphonic/psychedelic album in 1969. The band fell apart before the second album was released, and Michael Dunford, a guitarist that appeared on one track of that second album, somehow ended up with the band. And while he doesn't appear on this album, he wrote and arranged many of the songs on this album.

Confused yet?

Don't be. This album marks the beginning of the hugely successful period for Renaissance. This is partly because of the writing skills of Dunford, and the exceptional musicianship of the new band members, especially keyboardist John Tout and bassist John Camp. But the primary reason, I believe for their success is the addition of Annie Haslam. Her voice is easily one of the finest ever heard on record. Her clarity and precision are unmatched by any vocalist, and she also manages to instill a warmth in everything she sings.

As far as the songs, Prologue is an excellent introduction to the new lineup. Mainly an instrumental, it also has wordless vocals that accompany the exciting symphonic track. Kiev, written by thr band's original drummer, Tim McCarty, is spectacular also, and contains some themes that appear in the group's later hit Mother Russia.

After that, there is a slight dropoff, but the songs are still quite good, a blend of folk and symphonic, and very pleasing to the ears.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars It seems like other forces were at work keeping this band together during all the turbulence surrounding one member after another boarding and disembarking the musical carousal known as RENAISSANCE. Strange indeed that both founding members and even the second wavers were now gone yet had written enough musical material to nourish the bands coffers leaving this album with no songs written by anyone on it. The management of this band was in control and decided that this sound was worth developing. That sound being based around the classically trained piano skills of John Tout and the newly acquired vocal talents of Ann Haslam.

I can't think of a more appropriately named album than PROLOGUE for a band such as RENAISSANCE after all the turbulence of their lineup. It simply signifies a new beginning and almost the RENAISSANCE we all know. Not quite the classic lineup but Anne Haslam makes her debut here and what a fine performance it is. She more than shows her capabilities of replacing Jane Reif. Unfortunately this album really seems like a PROLOGUE to the following RENAISSANCE albums and feels like a teaser of what's to come. A damn good album but not a classic. These songs just don't seem as melodic and developed as the following albums that successfully utilized the perfect fusion of symphonic orchestration into their mix.

One of the strangest tracks in the RENAISSANCE canon and the best song on this album although seeming out of place is the outstanding song "Rajah Khan." This is a track that I wish the whole album sounded like and sounds like an Indian inspired melody introduced by heavy psych guitars followed by Ann's enchanting wordless vocalizations. There are many interesting developments in this 11 minute plus song which at times I find the bass reminding me of Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, a band I would never associate with RENAISSANCE. The vocal textures and Indian mood feel like a prologue to the grander idea fully unleashed on SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES. 3.5 rounded up

Review by FragileKings
4 stars Renaissance is a band with a peculiar early history. Founded by Keith Relf and Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, the band recorded two albums while experiencing considerable line-up changes. Relf decided to remain on as a producer and McCarty as a writer, and a new line-up was put together with Annie Haslam on vocals and Michael Dunford soon taking over the writing job, teaming up with poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger. The Yardbirds alumni left and the manager re-organized the band and they prepared to record their first album, 'Prologue'.

The strengths of this album and indeed this new Renaissance are Annie Haslam's five-octave voice, John Tout's superb piano work, and the collaboration in song-writing between Dunford and Thatcher-Newsinger. I also find the bass is well in place and certainly of the progressive mould, as well the drums and percussion suit the classical tendencies of the piano-based music.

The opening track is a real seventies piano rocker with some great grooving bass over which some classically inspired piano is played. Annie provides a melody of 'do-do-do's, which can be a bit tiresome a times mostly because it makes me think of seventies hippie rock that could have been used in a Wrigley's gum or Coke commercial. But the music is quite a ride and it gave me a shiver the first time I heard it.

My favourite track is the next one, 'Kiev'. After a lovely classical piano intro, it turns a little dark before settling into the folksy piano and rhythm groove that carries the song. Bass guitarist Jon Camp takes the lead vocal here though Annie joins in for the chorus. The middle section features a galloping rock rhythm section and hectic piano playing. Classical themes race neck in neck with the rhythm section. The lyrics tell a story of a simple man living in or near Kiev. I feel there is also a bit of an Eastern European flavour to the music in parts.

The last track for side one is a slower and beautiful piece for piano and vocals. Annie truly is given the chance to showcase her vocal talents for the first time here and is accompanied by some harmony vocals from the male vocalists. The percussion is not heavy handed and only comes in to add some dramatic effect when required.

We start side two with 'Spare Some Love', another bell-bottom swaying seventies hippie tune with the piano still at the forefront. There's a short 'proggy' section in the middle with the bass and drums and a bit of electric guitar. Once more, the bass guitar really stands out at times.

'Bound for Infinity' is another slow piece but with some pleasant highlights and dramatic moments. Annie's voice sounds brilliant, and there is some clean electric guitar that actually comes closer to centre stage here than what we've heard so far.

The final track is really a step away from the classical piano-led music so far. 'Raja Khan', named after a dog, opens with an electric guitar instrumental that bears an Indian flare and resembles early Tea Party (a Canadian outfit that appeared in the 90's). The main melody segments of the song are very rhythm-oriented and include 'vocalese': more singing without words. Annie still sounds spectacular. There's a synthesizer solo here, the first one on the album, and the bass guitar is again rumbling along. The music turns more piano prog-like, similar to 'Kiev' and then there's a kind of experimental part before returning to the main sequence of the song again. For the final stretch, a rock theme carries us home.

Though the album is not as streamlined in sound nor as highly rated as some of their later albums, I'm of the opinion that this is a very strong beginning for this new Renaissance. It is quite an enjoyable album to pick up from time to time and give a spin.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 265

'Prologue' is the third studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1972. However, it can be considered the first studio album from Renaissance Mk. II. The original Renaissance's band released two studio albums, 'Renaissance', in 1969 and 'Illusion', in 1971. After the disbanded of the original line up, in 1972, Annie Haslam and John Tout remained to building a new band, although they never have been part of the original line up of the first Renaissance's version.

So, the reborn line up of Renaissance, started with this first or third studio album, as you wish, and is constituted by Annie Haslam (lead & backing vocals and percussion), Rob Hendry (vocals, guitars, mandolin and chimes), John Tout (backing vocals and keyboards), Jon Camp (vocals, bass and tamboura) and Terry Sullivan (backing vocals, drums and percussion). The album has also the participation of Francis Monkman (synthesizer), as a guest musician.

'Prologue' has six tracks. The first track is the title track 'Prologue' and was written by Michael Dunford. This is clearly one of the highlights of the album and is also, in my humble opinion, one of the best songs written by them and it's also one of my favourite songs too. This is essentially an instrumental song, despite it has female vocals, but there are no lyrics and the vocals only singing the melody. Musically, this opening song shows us how strong the influence of the classical music on their music is, and indicates clearly which path the band would follow in the near future. The second track 'Kiev' written by Betty Thatcher and Jim McCarty is another great song and is extremely beautiful. It's somehow an unusual song because the singing is lead by a male voice. Musically, it's a tradition based piano piece of music which became a classic piece on Renaissance's musical catalogue. It represents the type of the music that the band would forward in the future and where the better example of that is, without any doubt, their greatest masterpiece, their sixth studio album 'Scheherazade And Other Stories'. The third track 'Sounds Of The Sea' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is a very beautiful piano ballad and where Annie Haslam sings wonderfully. Some reviewers consider that it suffers from being very long, especially the last part, which isn't properly much necessary. Sincerely, I don't agree with them and I think that the song flows naturally and beautifully along it. Personally, I think it has one of the Annie Haslam's best vocal performances and every time I hear this song I feel this is a perfect song and full of emotion. The fourth track 'Spare Some Love' written by Betty Thatcher and Michael Dunford is also a very good and interesting song, but, in my humble opinion, is a little bit inferior to the previous three songs. It's a song with an unusual musical introduction because the song starts with acoustic guitar instead of piano, as is usual. It's also another extremely beautiful song with the perfect and clear voice of Annie Haslam very well accompanied by all members of the band and also by a nice choral work. However and although an indisputable quality of the song, I think it lacks to it some of the musical complexity that the group had already accustomed us all over the album. The fifth track 'Bound For Infinity' written by Betty Thatcher and Jim McCarty is another song sung beautifully and wonderfully by Annie Haslam. It's a mellow pastoral ballad very simple, nice and melancholic featuring soft and nice piano and a transparent and beautiful voice. It's a song that shows us the perfection between two worlds, the world of the voice of Annie Haslam and the world of the piano of John Tout. This song also shows us why Annie Haslam became as one of the brightest stars in our progressive rock world. The sixth and last track 'Rajah Khan' was written by Michael Dunford. This is the lengthiest and the epic track on the album and represents the most complex and progressive song on the all album. It represents also probably the most ambitious and the best song of this album and consequently it represents also its highest musical moment. As like the opening track 'Prologue', it's basically an instrumental song with no lyrics, but where we can hear female vocals merely leading the melody. This is the most original and powerful song on the album with some influences of the Oriental music, according with its title. This song had the addition of Francis Monkman from Curved Air on the synthesizers. This is a wonderful closing track to this magnificent piece of music.

Conclusion: 'Prologue' is, without any doubt, a great album and is almost perfect. The songs 'Prologue', 'Kiev' and 'Rajah Kahn' are truly masterpieces, but unfortunately the other three aren't, especially 'Spare Some Love' which is, in my humble opinion, as I wrote before, a little bit inferior to the others. However, 'Prologue' is an excellent start for this new reborned line up and a fantastic prologue to their most classical musical manifestations. 'Prologue' is with 'Ashes Are Burning' and 'Scheherazade And Other Stories' my first three contacts with their music and I must confess I love these three albums. So, 'Prologue' was a beloved album by me, since the first minute, and even after so many years and when I know almost all the others, it represents, even today, one of my favourite works of Renaissance.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars Starts off Well... The first album with Annie Haslam, and thus of the "classic" lineup, this album is a mixed bag. Interestingly, they sequenced the tunes basically in order of their quality, from best to least. So, the first song "Prologue" is the best, and would become a staple of their live sh ... (read more)

Report this review (#1706951) | Posted by Walkscore | Friday, March 31, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8/10 Wow! What a great way to immerse yourself in this fantastic band. I have to say that lately I have heard a lot stuff "modern", but behold, you discover that not hear all that is good about the 70s. Renaissance has been one of the most renowned progressive rock bands, but I just started t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1052305) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, October 3, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Prologue" opened the beginning to mark II Renaissance and it is among the finest by the band. Annie Haslam's shining soprano vocals are brewed with lots of rich classical piano, acoustic and electric guitars, rhythmic bass, not to mention wonderful backing vocals, to produce a very unique sound. ... (read more)

Report this review (#479007) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The first album of 2nd Renaissance is a good Prog album played by a good band (Tout, Haslam, Hendry, Camp, Sullivan) without Mick Dunford that is present only as songwriter. Musically this album is still similar to 1st Renaissance album and not only because are present 2 McCarty/ Tatcher penne ... (read more)

Report this review (#372533) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The piano announces and then comes a soft voice, beginning this shows the power vocalist, the songs have not literate, but the vocal instrument is marked by jumping on thirds and fives. The bass upward chords and we come to Kiev, the piano is still striking, but the voice work is the highlight of ... (read more)

Report this review (#325264) | Posted by yermandu | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What is this a prologue to, exactly? Oh's a prologue to the GOOD albums. Renaissance - Prologue (1972) Overall Rating: a really low 12 Best Song: BOUND FOR INFINITY It's a rock synthesis of love and freedom, baby. Oh hells, it's just an album! I'm just a man, just a simple man ... (read more)

Report this review (#291777) | Posted by Alitare | Saturday, July 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second Renaissance is a completely different enterprise than the first one, though it carries some influences brought by Jim McCarty and Michael Dunford, the only ones who were involved with both formations. Annie Haslam, John Tout, Jon Camp and co. are, with permission of the play of words, a r ... (read more)

Report this review (#233754) | Posted by bfmuller | Friday, August 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Few albums start as well as this one.You're immediately mind-blowed by the cover art,and as the record starts to spin,we hear a grand piano descending introduction,with highly effectable first cold notes. It's the start of the brand-new Renaissance,out of the ashes of a completely different ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#203419) | Posted by Gustavo Froes | Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Scintillating folky psychedelic nuances are recalled on Renaissance`s debut as a newly re-formed band on 1972`s aptly titled Prologue. Virtually devoid of electric guitars and keyboards which were becoming staples of English art rock bands in the early `70s, incandescent fairy tale female vocals a ... (read more)

Report this review (#189988) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Thursday, November 20, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As a 17 years teenage in the 70's , i would give all Renaissance releases between 1969 & 1978 , A 6 stars really , BUT , now i have to use another equation to review all these albums . There was no doubt that Renaissance gave a precious gift for the world of progressive ... (read more)

Report this review (#167550) | Posted by trackstoni | Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I bought this album, I mean the vinyl, more than twenty years ago. I did not know anything about the Renaissance. I think I was attracted by the strange image of the jacket. Later I listened all the first period Renaissance's album (till Novella), but I must confess that I continue to prefer this ... (read more)

Report this review (#150758) | Posted by Fargue | Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was my first full album by Renaissance, having heard the two 1001 Nights compilations previously. You might think that I wouldn't like this one as much, seeing as how much of their best material was gathered on those compilations. But surprisingly, I loved this album the first few times I ... (read more)

Report this review (#114578) | Posted by infandous | Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The first album of the new Renaissance is really a good effort. The improvement of material and musicianship is obvious (than on Illusion album). Yet, the best was about to come. This album also has problem with the ballance of material. There are great songs like Prologue, Rajah Khan (the mos ... (read more)

Report this review (#103916) | Posted by Hejkal | Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first work of newborn RENAISSANCE of announcement in 1972 "Prologue". It is a work that became the starting afresh point of the group. The feature is Crystal Voice of Annie Haslam. It is a sound with a fantastic, classical grace and freshness. Moreover, the work in the old RENAISSANCE age ... (read more)

Report this review (#43632) | Posted by braindamage | Sunday, August 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars A weak album by progressive standards - too much folkish influences, sprinkled with some Rachmaninov-sounding piano, but it does not really fuse with the sound. Songs uninspired and boring, longer songs relying on jams rather than on real development. Shorter songs poppy and folky. Haslam's v ... (read more)

Report this review (#19965) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Tuesday, June 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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