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Renaissance - Renaissance CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 355 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars The only negative thing that I can find on this debut album is the production. The sound quality is not very good, but the compositions and the excution are great. Extremely skilled musicians some of them coming from a totally different band as the Yardbirds were.

When I bought this album, coming from "Live At Carnegie Hall" I wasn't aware of their story, so I remember being very surprised to see that the bandmates were totally different from those I knew while the music was very similar and recognisable.

The opener is a long complex song that starts with a long piano intro. From when they start singing it's a bit hippy, we are in 1969, but when the singing stops and the bass opens a new section we here the mute singing of Jane Relf for the first time on a classical piano. Then percussions and bass lead to a piano solo, that later alternates with bass and drums. What we have here is a distinctive piece of Renaissance's music that will surprisingly persist after a total change in the lineup. Then the singing restarts. we have two stanzas and a chorus. Piano and classical guitar, then the coda. All those things in 10 minutes only.

Also on the second track the main vocalist is Keith Relf. The song is good. It has the classical influence that's typical of this band and great piano and bass parts. It's apity that the sound quality is so poor. It just lacks of continuity when changes from one section to another. The piano instrumental part and the following sung part have something of Mike Oldfield.

The B side starts with "Island". It's the first song to feature Jane Relf as lead vocalist. She's not so particular as Annie Haslam, but like her has a great high-pitched voice. The classical final is something that I know but I can't identify. I think is an arrangement of a piano sonata but I can't remember the author.

"Wanderer" sounds very familiar to those like me have discovered Renaissance in the middle of the 70s. Without reading the cover sleeve I couldn't imagine that it's not Dunford/Tout stuff. Jane is the lead vocalist here, too. As will happen 30 years after with Mostly Autumn, the girl sings really better than the guitarist.....

The closer is a complex track. "Bullet" is quite an epic starting with the Russian flavour that will later be characteristic of songs like "Mother Russia" to evolve in a bluesy-hippy song. The vocalist is Keith Relf. It's an acid track and his voice here fits well even if not nice as Jane's. There are similarities between this track and "Kings and Queens" from a musical point of view. This one is the most bluesy, strongly influenced by the Yardbirds sound. The central section pays a small tribute to psychedelia without losing the classical mood. A long unnecessary bass solo occupies a big part of the song. Parts of it are impressive, but it could have been cut down a bit. At the end of the bass solo it's pure psychedelia. Something that I really like, but hard fans of symphonic prog maybe don't. This is how the track fades out. What is missing here is a return to the main theme as in epic trahcs like Pink floyd's Echoes.

Regardless those little defects. this is an excellent album and still one of my favoruites from this band (even if they are two different bands really). Not yet at the heights of their most famous albums like Sheherazade, anyway an album that deserves its place in any collection.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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