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Renaissance - Novella CD (album) cover

NOVELLA

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 394 ratings

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Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Aside from the 1969 debut which was essentially a totally different band bearing the Renaissance name, Novella, was, for all practical purposes, the first Renaissance album I ever bought, in 1996, for $1 (it was the true original US Sire pressing with ABC distribution). What I didn't realize was this album was never thought of in a high of a light as previous one, but after getting familiar with those albums as well, I really can't see why this is not as highly regarded. Try listening to Camera, Camera (a later offering from them, from 1981, never a good year for prog), that's pretty awful. Novella pretty much sticks to the same 1970s formula they did before, but to my ears it may have not offered anything new to the table that you hadn't already heard on previous albums. The opening song, "Can You Hear Me" simply blew me away. It starts off orchestral, but then the acoustic guitars kick in and Annie Haslam sings and it's pure heaven. The strange thing is I swore up and down I've heard this song years before I ever bought this album or even heard of Renaissance (or Annie Haslam, for that matter). At that time, me and my family were living in rural Oregon some 20 miles outside Eugene, Oregon (living like hippies complete with split-window VW microbus minus the Grateful Dead stickers) and getting their local FM rock station KZEL 96.1 (which is still around to this day) and there's a chance they had played "Can You Hear Me". Maybe that's why I swore I've heard that song before, but KZEL, like just about all the progressive underground FM rock stations after 1975, too succumbed to the commercial AOR format (you're far more likely to hear "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas in early 1977 on that station than you would "Can You Hear Me" by Renaissance).

OK, on to other songs, the rest of the album never reaches the mighty heights of "Can You Hear Me", on the other hand they are still very good songs, particularly "Midas Man" and "Touching Once (Is So Hard to Keep)". In fact nothing on this album makes me want to move the tonearm of my turntable, which is great. Remember: try listening to one of their albums of the 1980s, which are far worse, then come back to Novella. It's miles better. Renaissance newbies probably should try Scheherezade or Turn of the Cards as they're generally regarded higher, but Novella is still worth having, and oh, by the way, "Can You Hear Me" is by far my very favorite Renaissance songs.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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