Saturday, 30 May 2015

Renaissance - Selftitled (Progressive Rock UK 1969) + Bonus Album



101 MB
Bitrate: 256
mp3
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

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). So, this is the PRE ANNIE HASLAM period of the band. Musically, I would say this debut album has significant contribution in laying strong foundation of progressive rock music altogether with King Crimson, ELP, Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. RENAISSANCE has its own identity than the others. This debut album sets an important milestone for RENAISSANCE music direction in the future.



The opening track "Kings and Queens" proves to be the landmark for future releases of the band. The structural composition of this song is of relevance with later releases compositions. This track is heavily influenced by classical music through its piano sound at intro part. It's a wonderful and dynamic piano play at intro. The drumming section enters nicely altogether with acoustic guitar fills. When the drumming style change to a jazzy kind of beat it reminds me to JON LORD's solo album "Sarabande". (Hey, this album should be in Progarchives page. It's definitely prog!). You may observe and compare it on the musical segment just before the male vocal enters the scene. I like the drumming style and piano when they accompany vocals. So dynamic. One other thing is that this track is melodious. This track is really prog to the corner! Yeah, it's a beautifully crafted song, I think!


"Innocence" has simpler composition than the first track. Piano still dominates the music. It has some jazz and blues component in its composition. Are you aware of Dutch's blues band CUBY + THE BLIZZARDS? If so, this track is composition-wise similar to the works of CUBY. I like the piano solo in the middle of this track. Excellent! (This piece has influenced the music of my home country band BADAI). The end part of this track reminds me to the musical nuances of King Crimson's "Lizards".

"Island" is again an acoustic guitar and piano based song with female vocal of JANE RELF as lead with male vocal as backing. The bass guitar play is dynamic throughout the track. Stunning. The inclusion of piano solo in classical style has made this track more attractive. "Wanderer" is a more uplifting track with great piano and harpsichord sounds. I like the melody of harpsichord just before and during the singing of JANE RELF. It reminds me to the kind of RICK van DER LINDEN of TRACE music. It's not the same, but the musical nuances are similar. This track has great melody!

The album is concluded fabulously with an epic track "Bullet" with 11:24 minutes duration. Again, the band gives a wonderfully crafted composition. This time the opening sound of piano is set to welcome the latin-like voices. KEITH RELF takes the lead vocal function backed with jazzy piano and drumming style. The overall composition of this song is more of in an avant-garde music, I think. It has high and low points with some musical exploration of sounds at the end of the track. I think this album is a masterpiece. 

There were two groups under the banner of RENAISSANCE. The first group included Keith and Jane RELF (vocals) and came from the YARDBIRDS ashes. The second and better known incarnation produced some of the best music that I have ever heard. Annie HASLAM's five octave range fit perfectly with the classical/orchestral rock (lot of piano playing & full symphony orchestra backup) created by the other members. The quick description I usually give is they are sort of like the old MOODY BLUES with a an incredible female vocalist. The soprano voice of Annie and the piano virtuosity of John TOUT allied to the beauty and refreshing melodies, the refinement of the arrangements gave their music its magnificent splendour.


Renaissance was the self-titled debut album by progressive rock band Renaissance.

Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, most notable for their 1978 UK top 10 hit "Northern Lights" and progressive rock classics like "Carpet of the Sun", "Mother Russia", and "Ashes Are Burning".

In January 1969, former Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty organised a new group devoted to experimentation between rock, folk, and classical forms. This quintet—Relf on guitar and vocals, McCarty on drums, plus bassist Cennamo, pianist Hawken, and Relf's sister Jane as an additional vocalist—released a pair of albums on Elektra (US) and Island (UK-ILPS 9112), the first one, titled simply Renaissance, being produced by fellow ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith.

The band had begun performing in May 1969, before recording had begun for the debut LP, mostly in the UK, but with occasional forays abroad, including festivals in Belgium (Amougies, October 1969) and France (Operation 666 at the Olympia in January 1970, and Le Bourget in March 1970, both in Paris). In February 1970, they embarked on a North American tour, but that month-long trek proved marginally successful, as, because of their Yardbirds credentials, they found themselves paired with bands such as The Kinks, and their new classically oriented direction did not always go down well with audiences.


Beginning in the late spring of 1970, as touring began to grind on them, the original band gradually dissolved. Relf and McCarty decided to quit performing, and Cennamo joined Colosseum. Hawken organised a new line-up to fulfil contractual obligations and complete the band's second album, Illusion, which was left unfinished.

Apart from Jane Relf, the new band consisted mostly of former members of Hawken's previous band, The Nashville Teens – guitarist Michael Dunford, bassist Neil Korner and singer Terry Crowe, plus drummer Terry Slade. This line-up recorded one track, "Mr Pine", a Dunford composition, and played a few gigs during the summer of 1970. Meanwhile a final recording session brought together the original line-up minus Hawken, with Don Shin sitting in on keyboards, and produced the album's closing track "Past Orbits of Dust". The now completed Illusion was released in Germany in 1971, although not released in the UK until 1976 (Island HELP 27). The album marked the beginning of Renaissance's long-standing collaboration with poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger as lyricist when she co-wrote two songs with Relf and McCarty.

The two remaining original members left in the autumn of 1970; Jane Relf was replaced by American folk singer Anne-Marie "Binky" Cullum, then John Hawken left to join Spooky Tooth and pianist John Tout replaced him. 

There is an extant video (released on the DVD "Kings & Queens" in 2010) of that line-up performing five songs on a German TV program (Muzik-Kanal). 

The plan at the time was that Keith Relf and Jim McCarty would remain involved as non-performing members – Relf as a producer and McCarty as a songwriter. 

Both were present when singer Annie Haslam successfully auditioned in January 1971 to replace the departing Cullum (who would later marry drummer Terry Slade and is currently a massage therapist in the UK). While McCarty would go on to write songs for the new band, Relf's involvement would be short-lived. Dunford soon emerged as a prolific composer, and continued the writing partnership with Thatcher, who would go on to write most of the lyrics for the band's 1970s albums.

01. "Kings and Queens" Relf-McCarty-Hawken-Cennamo 10:56 
02. "Innocence" Relf-McCarty-Hawken-Cennamo 7:07 
03. "Island" Relf-McCarty-Hawken-Cennamo 5:58 
04. "Wanderer" Hawken-McCarty 4:02 
05. "Bullet" Relf-McCarty-Hawken-Cennamo 11:21 

Bonus CD Single Tracks:
01. "Island" 03:39
02. "The Sea" 03:05

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Renaissance - Illusion (Progressive Rock UK 1971) 




Size: 127 MB
Bitrate: 256
mp3
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

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. 


*** Biography ***
There were two groups under the banner of RENAISSANCE. The first group included Keith and Jane RELF (vocals) and came from the YARDBIRDS ashes. The second and better known incarnation produced some of the best music that I have ever heard. Annie HASLAM's five octave range fit perfectly with the classical/orchestral rock (lot of piano playing & full symphony orchestra backup) created by the other members. The quick description I usually give is they are sort of like the old MOODY BLUES with a an incredible female vocalist. The soprano voice of Annie and the piano virtuosity of John TOUT allied to the beauty and refreshing melodies, the refinement of the arrangements gave their music its magnificent splendour.

My favorite RENAISSANCE albums are "Ashes Are Burning" and "Turn of the Cards". I also recommend "Novella", "Scheherezade and Other Stories" and "A Song for All Seasons" are must haves. I would add "Live At Carneige Hall" and "King Biscuit Hour Parts 1 and 2" as their 'prime' material. Plenty to fill a day with class, power and ethereal delights. The best introduction to the band would be the "Tales of 1001 Nights" compilation, which together contain of the band's best material from 72 through 80. Also the very first album from '69 is essential. After 1979, the band moved towards a more pop direction, like many other bands did in the late 70's.

01. Love Goes On (2:51)
02. Golden Thread (8:15)
03. Love Is All (3:40)
04. Mr. Pine (7:00)
05. Face Of Yesterday (6:06) 
06. Past Orbits Of Dust (14:39)

Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
or
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
.

5 comments:

juan manuel muñoz said...

mi disco favorito de Renaissance. Muchas gracias. Saludos

acuarelamusical said...

Gracias

acuarelamusical said...

Gracias

Anonymous said...

J'adore Renaissance. merci

bikerock67 said...

Amazing!
Thank You!