Spring Deals Automotive Children of Blood and Bone New-season heels nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Stream your favorites. Amazon music Unlimited. Learn more. All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Fire TV Stick: $29.99. Offer ends 3/26/18 Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon TheGrandTour TheGrandTour TheGrandTour  Echo Dot Fire tablets: Designed for entertainment Kindle Paperwhite AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop now TG18PP_gno

on March 19, 2007
Ever since i first heard of Renaissance I knew i'd more than likely love the band; proggy stuff fronted by a female singer with lots of medieval overtones? Check. And sure enough, when I finally heard Renaissance by way of 'Turn Of The Cards' I knew I had to buy the album eventually. Just a stellar piece of progressive rock.

Where the problem arises is that in my haste to purchase the album, I made the mistake of assuming the logical fallacy of chronological snobbery. Namely, I ignored the previous editions being offered as I assumed that such copies (made around '94) wouldn't be exactly remastered. So, under this assumption, I bought this edition which was published in 2006, which I felt would probably be adequate in sound quality (I avoided the mini-LP version that was also listed because I tend to never touch any of my cds that are housed in those). At anyrate when I finally got the cd in from Amazon I was absolutely appalled to see what my $12 had gone towards.

The front looked fine enough, but the back gave me my first indication that there was something wrong afoot with this edition; along the bottom was in big red letters: oldies dot com. Annoying I thought, but whatever. However, when I finally opened the cd itself there, ATTACHED to what should have been a cd booklet (which actually was only 1 double sided page with the artwork on the front & band on the back) was a mail-in service form for oldies dot com. This might have been fine had it been an advert that you could throw away, but it was melded together with the cd artwork itself and I actually had to cut it out to be rid of it. It was also around this time that I noticed that in the bottom left corner of backside insert (behind the cd) was a HOLE in the insert itself.


I've worked in the used cd industry myself as it turns out and cds with a hole-punch in the back insert generally mean a promotional copy/other such thing and that you shouldn't buy it back for anything close to full value. Now I recognized that same HOLE in my NEWLY PURCHASED CD. Needless to say I am at a total loss and absolutely DO NOT RECOMMEND this edition in any way/shape/form. Had I not already opened the box/cd & had thrown away everything else, I would be shipping this back to Amazon.

Coincidentally, the mail-order insert I cut out said towards the top, "Collectibles Records is the largest and fastest growing independent reissue label in the US"

For the sake of music lovers everywhere I hope not and would encourage any true lover of music to avoid ANYTHING put out by Collectible Records/oldies dot com like the Plague.
55 comments| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
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!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 25, 2017
Fantastic music
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 15, 2017
If you love Renaissance this album is a must in vinyl. Having seen them live several times in recent years I have come to admire their earlier works and Annie's voice. This is a concept album that tells a story.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on October 19, 2008
Ever since the "punk revolution" turned critics away from what they heard as the pomposity of the progressive rock of the 1970s, Renaissance have been generally ignored by the music press and others and when discussed seen as a symbol of the worst aspects of the 1970s. Even in a book I read that attempted to reconsider progressive rock Renaissance were derided as romantics who idealised a long-gone age on grounds of their lyrics - some of which were seen as supportive of the ancient feudal culture of Europe.

It really surprised me - born in 1977 three years after "Turn of the Cards" came out - to find how well-known Renaissance were in their own time at least on the East Coast of the United States, where they were a major drawcard on college campuses.

Listening to "Turn of the Cards" today, it actually sounds more visionary than dated (as progressive rock is supposed to). Opener "Running Hard" has a piano line that purists no doubt consider too close to classical music, but the drumbeat is so simple that accusations of excessive virtuosity are groundless. The lyrics express a quiet desperation for a lost innocence, a common theme at the time, but hardly are as backward-looking as critics have suggested and indeed express the most genuine sadness.

"I Think of You" is, contrastingly, quite pure pop, but is so romantic and poetic it clearly stands out from the crowd, and Haslam's voice is rivalled in its eroticism only by Essra Mohawk on "Primordial Lovers". The third track, "Things I Don't Understand" is the most "progressive" song here with its multiple parts and Haslam trying a less melodic vocal style. At times it is not easy to follow, but like everything Renaissance did it has a beauty that compares to the best of the "pastoral" singer/songwriters and in the middle Haslam anticipates Lisa Gerrard's chanting by fifteen years.

The second side - as indeed on Ashes Are Burning - is markedly darker than the first. " Black Flame" is the nearest thing to conventional "rock" here but the unsettling chants and the quiet-to-loud dynamics - though not with the emotion of 1990s post-rock or indeed Van der Graaf Generator - are enough to make a listener want to listen again and again despite the sense of despair. This sense is compounded by lyrics that in the most utterly poetic manner known express the futility of fighting in Vietnam. "Cold Is Being", in which poet/lyricist Betty Thatcher adapts Tomaso Albioni, is a stark and deep meditation on ecological catastrophe that manages to be more effective than anything on the topic.

"Turn of the Cards" closes with its centrepiece, the Solzhenitsyn tribute "Mother Russia", where Haslam's beautiful voice perfectly matches the serious, sober music about Stalinist repression. John Tout's piano and the orchestration on "Mother Russia" are so like Tori Amos' Winter (itself a masterpiece) that one images Tori must have listened when young. The quiet interlude expresses with simple folk accompaniment the void that Stalinist repression produced like no other piece.

No doubt the "punk" and rap revolutions have made music like "Turn of the Cards" with its romanticism, poetry and classical borrowings completely uncool. Yet, beneath this veneer is music of a soft simplicity that is as dark and brooding as anything in more fashionable genres and which many later female artists - no doubt without ever hearing it - tried to emulate. "Turn of the Cards" is beyond all else a record that requires people to discount purism and prejudice to reveal a genuine classic.
11 comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on June 1, 2006
This is the penultimate album from this ever-changing group of British musicians. Probably the most successful ensemble responsible for what I would consider as the best of the groups recording output in their brief history. This particular albums' (it was originally produced on vinyl) release was timed to be synced with their US Tour in 1974. Synonymous with the confusing musical direction of the times, their tour was the platform by which the launch of two notable seventies groups occurred; Kiss and 10cc. If there was ever a more divergent touring group, this was probably it. Interwoven strains of classically influenced music, tempered by harmonies and balance arranged by a carefully orchestrated rock ensemble which included traditional piano and contemporary synthesizer among others. All of this classical influence punctuated by lyrics that represent the very essence of the self-discovery of the times all done with a trace of nostalgic longing. This can be best heard in such tunes as "Running Hard," I Think of You," "Black Flame," and "Mother Russia." A delicate and intricate overlaying of vocal harmonies is also noteworthy in a number of compositions such as "Running Hard," and "Black Flame." I would consider this the one "must-have" recording to obtain out of their complete discography. Although, highly touted as another milestone recording from the group the album; "Sheherazade," was a dismal disappointment to me. If you only want to get one Renaissance recording to sample the best of their work, "Turn of The Cards," would be the obvious choice.
22 comments| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
HALL OF FAMEon September 27, 2000
"Turn of the Cards" is my favorite Renaissance album, although as I listen to them all in order I am struck by how it also perhaps the most atypical example of their progressive (nee classical) rock. Taken as a whole these songs are relatively unadorned. "I Think of You" is a relatively simple piece, ending with one of those wonderful high notes by Annie Haslam followed by some nice harpsicord work by John Tout. Likewise "Black Flame" begins with the simple elegance of an acoustic guitar (a reminder that the forthcoming "Unplugged" Renaissance album is not really breaking new ground for the group).
Of the two set pieces, "Running Hard" is most decidedly in this simpler vain, which has the overall effect of better showcasing Haslam's glorious voice. The other showpiece, "Mother Russia," shows that the group was paying attention to Russian dissidents (the song is dedicated to Alexander Solzhenitsyn) as much as they were Russian classical musicians and offers an emphasis on percussion quite usual for a Renaissance song in the driving conclusion. Again, Haslam's voice soars over and above, as well as through, the rhythmic progression of the music as proves that she does not need to be singing actual words to contribute to the beauty of a song.
Perhaps it is insightful to recall that in terms of Michael Dunsford's music, "Turn of the Cards" is the album that proceeds his most ambitious project, the Scheherazade cantanta. Whatever the reason, this is the Renaissance album that best showcases the vocal talents of singer Annie Haslam.
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 5, 2001
With "Turn of the Cards," the Annie Haslam fronted version of Renaissance changed its approach a bit and as a result really hit its stride.
After a sound that was rooted in keyboards dominated "Prologue," and "Ashes are Burning," the band went with amore orchestral sound and their next two albums, "Turn of the Cards," and "Scherazade," excelled and became arguable the two greatest albums of the so called "progressive rock" movement.
Renaissance had always taken the genre in a more acoustic sounding direction than did better known acts such as Yes, or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and this could be part of the reason they never achieved the same level of commercial success as those bands did. But "Turn of the Cards" is a masterwork. The orchestral touches only help to further fleshes out the strong melodic appeal of songs like "Black Flame," or the stark, somber mood of "Cold is Being," and they drive home the power on the nine minute closing epic "Mother Russia" a tribute to Soviet dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Both stark and ornate, "Turn of the Cards" found Renaissance coming fully into its own, and 70's "progressive rock" never sounded so good.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on June 4, 2007
Nothing new to say here. If you like prog rock with a touch of classical/magical/psychedelic and performed by real musicians and one incredible voiced lady, then this and Scheharazade need to be your next music purchases. Also, one of my favorite album covers of all time.

Thank you, Repertoire Records.

No outtakes or lyrics included.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 30, 2016
The opening piano passage is wonderful. The album seems to go over the top in the quality of the songs. Highly recommended for people interested in classical based rock with female vocalist.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse