Top positive review
turn over this card and behold your wonderful adventure
on May 18, 2012
I was supposed to review Turn of the Cards last summer... and then again this winter... but I kept getting sidetracked by pointless stuff. So *now* I'm ready to review it.
What a classic. I give this album nothing but the highest praise. It's really difficult to choose a best Renaissance album but this one absolutely HAS to be in the top 3. Annie's vocals and... oh wait a minute. According to the notes *everyone* in the band is singing backup vocals! What? Really? I can't think of any other band where this has happened!
"Running Hard" is INCREDIBLE! The dramatic and eerie piano build-up in the beginning soon reveals that this is not some kind of classical imitation but rather, classical influences intended to develop into an entirely different monster. Once the beat gets going and Annie's vocals come in, oh boy. Then the tune becomes really *really* awesome. Annie's vocals sail and weave through the orchestration taing place in the background, and... the pace never slows down or approaches anything near disappointing (which is a popular problem I have with most music that attempts a similar approach- boredom rearing its ugly head eventually). A perfect song the entire way through and the fast pace in the middle assures that *anyone* can appreciate it.
"Mother Russia" has an intro that reminds me of somewhere enchanted, such as getting lost in the woods and finally finding the open fields and the feeling of mystery that you're not where you thought you'd end up. Then however, something BAD rolls over the hills! This all occurs during the adventurous 2 minutes of instrumental music taking place in the beginning. Annie's vocals then promptly come in and the dramatic and highly melodic nature of the orchestration soon follows. The chorus sounds like it only feature two notes repeatedly going back and forth but it feels totally fitting and not undeveloped or anything. You know the "Red blood, white snow, so cold, so true, Mother Russia she cries for you" line. Again though, not a complaint because it's awesome. Only Renaissance can turn simplicity into brilliance assuring we don't even feel the need to pay attention to such songwriting choices. Annie then howls near the 5-minute point and it sounds so chilling and fitting for a Russian theme. The piano playing has more emotion than I'm able to convey into words.
"Black Flame" has an eerie Pink Floyd-like way of opening the song (I'm thinking "Hey You" in particular) but the chorus is AWESOME! The way Annie sings the line "I'm not to blame I didn't see the black flame" makes me almost cry with excitement. It's REALLY good. Actually the melody sort of reminds me of the one from Hawkwind's "We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago". No way Renaissance were listening to those guys, however. Two VERY different bands! "I Think of You" contains a pretty melody and "Cold Is Being" is just... unusual. The church organs are really cool and the melody is dreamy and chilling.
"Things I Don't Understand" has a really cool intro with the jerky/jazzy way Annie sings the vocal melody. The "la la la" section is just as memorable and the devastatingly beautiful "oh oh oh" male chorus that follows. Talk about a band where every member knew *exactly* what they were doing- this is it! Shortly after the 5-minute point, we experience a touch of heaven with the way Annie is able to hit all the right, high-pitched notes and the piano sprinkles just makes the experience perfect. The piano and vocals at the end leaves more than a lasting impression. A very strong note to end a superb track on.
What a song... what an album! I recommend picking it up right away, without delay!