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Renaissance, featuring Annie Haslam, has had a cult following from their first album in the late 60's through Annie's la test recording in the year 2000. All of their albums have be en big catalog sellers throughout the years. This is the U.S. CD debut of the album. Originally released in 1977 with two different album covers, this is the original, very first cover. Digitally remastered. 5 tracks. 2001 reissue.
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The apex of Renaissance' work is "Live at Carnegie Hall." This is but an echo of that work and here everything is easily in within grasp of the performers. You get a lot less orchestration and a lot less wide open stretches of music without lyrics here. It would fit a little better in a soft rock FM format than most Prog Rock would. Still, it has the Prog Rock sensibility of having a whole album filled with music that shares a whole lot of the same rhythmic and harmonic qualities. It's not just a collection of songs.
I'd gone something like twenty years without hearing this album, and I was delighted to hear it again. Anyone who loves either soft rock or prog rock owes themselves a listen to this album.
For me the high points of the album involve the glorious singing voice of Annie Haslam. I love hearing her harmonize with herself in "The Captive Heart," while the closing of "Touching Once..." gives the singer another one of those awesome high notes she powers through from time to time. That particular piece is also interesting because it represents so many diverse musical styles, from the band's traditional fascination with Russian composers to the incorporation of jazz. The orchestrations by Richard Hewson are centrainly another step closer to the classical tradition than on previous albums, but are impressively integrated into the band's music. Again, Renaissance kept producing lengthy works that would make their music impossible to get into rotation on the radio but keep their hardcore following happy and content. Plus, there is just something classy about the cover art that seem so perfectly suited to the group and its music
JUST LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM. It rocks.
As for the content, people have differing opinions. I happen to think it is one of their best. Listen to it and decide for yourself.
The only bone i have to pick with this reissue is that the original ABC/Sire artwork was used instead of the WB/Sire artwork. I think the original artwork was rather ugly, but that's just my opinion. What really counts is the music, right?