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Renaissance - Renaissance CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 355 ratings

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2 stars After the Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarthy consciously wanted to produce a different type of music, more acoustic and more adventurous, in the vein of the extended material that was coming into vogue at the time. They recruited Keith's sister Jane, bassist Louis Cennamo, and keyboardist John Hawken. It turns out that this debut sounds like something between the Yardbirds and the yet unborn second coming of Renaissance. From that perspective this is a very interesting album, dominated instrumentally by Hawken's piano and Cennamo's crafty lines, but from a compositional perspective it is a dud. Moreover, the production is poor even for the period, the compositions are rambling and unappealing, and Keith Relf really can't sing. Even Jane is relegated to the sidelines most of the time.

This lineup did much better when they reformed as ILLUSION in 1977, and, as such, "Island" points in the direction of later tunes like "Isadora" and "Madonna Blue". "Wanderer" is a fairly short but impressive harpsichord workout. Not coincidentally, these are the tracks on which Jane sings lead.

If you thought that the Haslam Renaissance was a bit too structured and precious, or if you are an unabashed fan of John Hawken (later of Strawbs), then you might enjoy the level of improvisation and occasional grittiness found here, but otherwise this is purely one for the historians.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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