RENAISSANCE: DeLane Lea Studios 1973 (CD on Purple Pyramid Records)
This 2014 release features 51 minutes of classic progrock music recorded live at DeLane Lea Studios in the UK in the Fall of 1973.
The band line-up was: Annie Haslam (on vocals), Michael Dunford (on guitar), Jon Camp (on bass), John Trout (on keyboards), Terence Sullivan (on drums), with special guests on one track Andy Powell (from Wishbone Ash) and Al Stewart.
Renowned for their progressive folk rock in the Seventies, Renaissance's tuneage reach a puissant state that laces intensity with a reverent devotion.
Haslam's beautifully lilting voice is a signature element of the band's sound. Her vocals combine powerful levels with sensuous articulation, resulting in a lovely resonance perfectly designed to communicate the songs' fanciful lyrics.
The keyboards define a great amount of the melodies with their sweeping waves and grand chords. Piano constitutes the majority of keyboard presence, but certain prog key touches can be found throughout the tunes.
The guitar introduces a holistic seasoning with strummed acoustic riffs of a fragile-yet-compelling nature. But searing electric pyrotechnics can be heard in the finale of "Ashes Are Burning."
The bass delivers a sturdy foundation of undulant rumbling. At times, the bass offers lead melodic threads instead of the usual rhythmic undercurrent
The drums provide suitable locomotion with commanding rhythms that tremble with a regal touch. On occasion, layers of complex cymbals bestow the music with a shimmering character.
These compositions are magical and their luster holds steady after all these years. (We call that "timeless.") Mixing delicate chords, a majestic state is achieved and maintained. An amazing aspect lies in the fact that the band mainly employ acoustic instruments to establish the momentous epic stature exemplified by this music.
The recording is crisp and loyal, professional quality that will delight new and old fans.
RENAISSANCE: Academy of Music 1974 (double CD on Purple Pyramid Records)
This 2014 release features 89 minutes of rich progrock recorded live with an orchestra at the Academy of Music, New York, on May 17, 1974.
The band line-up was: Annie Haslam (on vocals), Michael Dunford (on guitar), Jon Camp (on bass), John Trout (on keyboards), Terence Sullivan (on drums), with special guests on one track Andy Powell (from Wishbone Ash) (on electric guitar) and NYC radio DJ Howard Stein (on additional piano).
Recorded a year later, this live gig displays the band's growth and mastery of their quasi-romantic signature sound.
Haslam's voice is at its prime: rich and haunting and evocative of realms and ambitions that dwell primarily in humanity's dreams. Her vocal resonance captures a sweetness that supplants darling with ardor.
It's uncommon in rock music to use the bass as the lead string instrument, but here, the lush bass frequently adopts a more prominent position, contributing fertile lead riffs with emphatic verve. The result is a wondrous buzzing luster to those molten chords.
The guitar (still mostly acoustic) provides a folksy element glittering amid the rest of the fiery instruments. The strummed chords convey an organic passion.
The keyboards are lush and often dominate the spotlight as far as communicating the melody goes. Nimble-fingered application and grand sweeps of piano lend the music a regal character.
The percussion is resolute and determined to inject sultry propulsion to the fluid tunes. The rhythms are often complex and always driving.
An orchestra lends the music a crowning touch of majesty, supporting the rock instruments with an air of lofty accomplishment. The strings lift the audience into a cloudbank of heavenly definition. The horns supply a haughty edge to certain passages.
These compositions are classic examples of the band's aspiration to create a musical genre that combined medieval folk and progressive rock. The songs shine with an appealing grandeur, sliding from pleasant riffs into enthusiastic pinnacles with infectious grace. While the overall mood of the music seems peasant and pastoral, the subjects of the songs are all modern.
The 19 minute long rendition of the song "Ashes Are Burning" is worth the price of admission with its profusion of dazzling instrumental solos.
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