A Song for All Seasons
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A Song for All Seasons
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The next to last album by Renaissance as a full-time, ongoing group, A Song for All Seasons was a courageous effort in its time, wearing its classically based progressive rock colors proudly on its sleeve amid the punk and new wave booms that were sweeping across the musical landscape. Vocalist Annie Haslam and pianist John Tout generated some memorably beautiful moments, ably supported by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor/arrangerHarry Rabinowitz. The first two tracks, "Opening Out" and "The Day of the Dreamer," ultimately promise a little more in the way of classically based lyricism than the album delivered; and the harder rocking moments are only fitfully interesting, despite the best efforts of bassist Jon Camp and guitarist Michael Dunford. But the pop tracks here, most notably "Northern Lights," "Back Home Once Again," and the acoustic guitar-driven "Closer Than Yesterday" are appealing on a level that was mostly new to the group. A few more numbers like those, interspersed with the more ambitious works on this album, and Renaissance might have found that wider following that always eluded them. But ultimately the album pulls in one or two too many directions at once, especially on the moody "She Is Love." For a finale, the title track, "A Song for All Seasons," (clocking in at almost 11 minutes) plunges us back into heavily orchestrated art-rock head-first and several yards deep, and succeeds better than most of the group's ambitious suites and song cycles of the second half of the '70s. The album has some gorgeous moments, but coming out at the end of the '70s, it was timed about as poorly as any LP ever issued, in terms of finding an audience -- which doesn't stop modern audiences from savoring its appeal or those moments, three or four decades on. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide
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There are two tracks that make this album worth owning. The first is "Northern Lights," a "single" that represented the group's biggest success in terms of radio play in Britain and their most popular "short" song since "Carpet of the Sun." The song is marked by a final chorus wherein Annie Haslam harmonizes with herself, a sound of which I never get tired of hearing. Similarly the title song, which closes the album, concludes with Haslam's soaring voice holding strong against the thunderous final rush of the orchestra. It is perhaps Renaissance's most symphonic song and if the orchestrations seem somewhat different from previous Renaissance efforts and yet somehow hauntingly familiar, it may well be because they were done by Louis Clark, who did similar work for the Electric Light Orchestra before losing his soul and doing the infamous "Hooked on Classics" albums.