Renaissance
Illusion


3.5
great

Review

by e210013 USER (75 Reviews)
October 19th, 2015 | 38 replies


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Illusion represents the end of an era on Renaissance. We can call it the great album from the band that never was.

“Illusion” is the second studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1971. The line up on the album is Jane Relf, Keith Relf, John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Jim McCarty. The album had also the participation of Terry Crowe, Michael Dunford, Neil Corner, Terry Slade, Don Shinn and Betty Thatcher, on the lyrics.


Renaissance's second album proved to be hard to complete. Although "Illusion" is billed as the second album by the original line up of Renaissance, it's actually more complicated than that. In the late spring of 1970, as touring began to grind on them, the band gradually dissolved. The founding members did complete the first three songs and "Face Of Yesterday". But then the band began to fall apart, with McCarty, then Keith Relf, and then Cennamo, leaving in rapid succession. Then, Hawken made what would turn out to be a key personnel change, and organized a new line up to fulfil contractual obligations and completed the band’s second album which was left unfinished. So, apart from Jane Relf and Hawken, the new band mostly consisted of former members of Hawken's previous band The Nashville Teens. So, Hawken brought to the band the guitarist Michael Dunford. In turn, Dunford brought Terry Crowe on male vocals, Neil Korner on bass and Terry Slade on drums. This line up recorded "Mr. Pine" and hit the road with Jane. However, the original band was still under contract, so while Hawken toured, Keith Relf assembled the rest of the originals, with Cennamo bringing in pianist Don Schinn, to record the album’s closing track "Past Orbits Of Dust", a lengthy piece.

“Illusion” was also the beginning of Renaissance's protracted collaboration with poet and lyricist Betty Thatcher after co-writing two songs with Keith Relf and McCarty. She would work with the band throughout its entire classic period (1972–79) and beyond. Thatcher was brought to the band by her friend Jane Relf. This will be very important later, when Renaissance’s career started to take off. On a more positive note, guitarist Michael Dunford joined the band and would prove to be an important member in the songwriting department of the future Renaissance incarnation.

So, as we can see, “Illusion” had a very difficult birth and was a very difficult album in the history of Renaissance. Although the serious problems with the lineup for the bands second album, it hardly had any kind of effect on the music. “Illusion” can be considered almost as strong as their debut album, only partly with different musicians. On both albums the sound is identical and they both contain a fine blend of rock, prog, folk and classical music which make them mature releases. "Illusion" is an incredibly even record, although not as aggressive as their debut, “Renaissance”. The classical influences are also toned down concentrating more on the folk aspect of their sound. The four tracks initially recorded for the album "Love Goes On", "Golden Thread", "Love Is All" and "Face Of Yesterday" are probably the strongest material on this album. "Mr. Pine" has its moments, although it sounds is unfinished and not fully realized. "Past Orbits Of Dust" starts out as an excellent track, but soon devolves into pointless jamming and eventually just losing steam rather than really ending. Overall and despite what all I said, "Illusion" is an excellent album and every bit as almost strong as their debut, and just as flawed. The best moments of the album left no doubt about the potential and ambitions of the group, but they had still not yet managed to develop it into a totally convincing whole.

So, with “Illusion” ends the first era of Renaissance. With both albums and their subsequent releases, which aren’t as different as we could have thought, were launched the seeds for later female fronted progressive acts like Magenta, Mostly Autumn and Karnataka. Anyway, Relf and McCarty remained active with the band as non performing members with McCarty as a songwriter and Relf as a producer. Relf's continued involvement with the band was short lived, although McCarty would continue to contribute material as late as 1974. So, "Illusion" remained as of the Renaissance most obscure release, often not appearing in their official discography. We can call it the “Great lost Renaissance album”.


Conclusion: “Illusion” represents the end of an era. When the four surviving members of the original Renaissance reunited in 1976 after the tragic death of Keith Relf, he was electrocuted at home playing guitar, and the Renaissance name was still in use by their successors in the band, Annie Haslam and company, named the new band, Illusion. Their first album “Out Of The Mist”, included a reworking of the song "Face Of Yesterday", while their second album was simply titled "Illusion". By The other hand Hawken became a member of the Strawbs in 1974. However, this is another story. What really import is that "Illusion", can be quite a fascinating listen and it's really much more than a simple historical curiosity. So, while listening to both albums, I realized that the music they recorded doesn't differ that much from the subsequent albums that Renaissance recorded, and both contain enough progressive rock elements, as well.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (30)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
October 19th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As I promised, here it is the second part of my trilogy, the second and last album of Renaissance Mk. I, Illusion.

In the next week I will put a third album to close what I called a trilogy. If you don't mind I prefer to not reveal now its name to be a surprise. What I can say is that it has somehow a link with both works of Renaissance and deserve to be known.

I hope you enjoy it as happened with the other, and as usual, criticism is always welcome.

Keyblade
October 19th 2015


24810 Comments


very good job, glad you're doing these renaissance reviews man

e210013
October 19th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Keyblade, you're very welcome to my reviews.

Jethro42
October 19th 2015


15005 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah guitarist and composer Michael Dunford was already recruted by this early Renaissance formation.

Have you noticed that we find an exact same keyboard segment in Mr. Pine and in ''Running Hard'', the opener of Turn of the Cards?

My fave song here is by far ''Golden Thread'', and it's the song that is the most similar to Annie Haslam's era, thanks to the classical piano playing and the vocal harmonies.

Review was well written, but again, I can detect some awkward sentences and some typos, but I think you never edit your reviews, so I won't name them.

Hovse
October 19th 2015


1996 Comments


My fave song here is Golden Thread too but Face of Yesterday is close
good rev pos'd

Jethro42
October 19th 2015


15005 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah ''Face of Yesterday'' too, you're right. It contains great, melodic vocals. And I heard that melody before, God knows where... Maybe it comes from a classical piece.

Sabrutin
October 19th 2015


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Agreed with Jehtro about the typos, but still I like the review. Very interesting too, pos'd.

Digging: Necromandus - Necromandus

Jethro42
October 19th 2015


15005 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Review is vastly informative, so it reads like if it was taken from either Wikipedia or from a band's biography. Pos'd anyway.

Sunnyvale
October 19th 2015


701 Comments


Haven't heard this album, Renaissance rules though. Nice review as well.

e210013
October 19th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Sunyvale, you're welcome man.

e210013
October 19th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You are welcome too Sabrutin. Thanks man. About the typos, you know, English isn't my mother tongue.

e210013
October 19th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Once more, thanks Hovse for what you said man. Yes, Golden Thread and Face of Yesterday are my favourite too. However, Mr. Pine has also some great moments.

TheIntruder
October 20th 2015


298 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like both albums. Glad both finally got a review. Great review man, have a pos.



e210013
October 20th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Once more, thanks The Tntruder. You will always very welcome man.

KILL
October 20th 2015


80846 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dude u should review annie in wonderland

e210013
October 20th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kill, you mean Annie In Wonderland of Neuschwanstein?

e210013
October 20th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ Jethro:

Sorry man, but I only heard Turn Of The Cards, again, today. For some years I didn't do that. Sincerely I never had noticed that. And yes, probably you are right. There are some similarities.

About the best song on Illusion, as I said to Hovse, Golden Thread and Face of Yesterday are my favourite too. However, Mr. Pine has also some great moments.

About some awkward sentences and some typos, is what I told you before. I always check my reviews several times before I put them on Sputnik. However, is what I said to you. It's very hard to me see some of them. I'm trying, but what is most important to me is that the people on Sputnik enjoy my reviews, despite those problems.

Jethro42
October 20th 2015


15005 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Look at Mr Pine at 2:07, and Running Hard at 5:14. and you'll find identical parts.

As for your awkward sentences and your typos, they are not plenty, and they don't make the difference, but you have some in each and every reviews you're putting on. But like I said, you don't seem to be interested in correcting your mistakes, so I don't see why I'd enumerate them.

Have you noticed that there is a way to edit your reviews? In your profile, under your profile pic, You click on ''Edit my reviews/albums''.

Jethro42
October 20th 2015


15005 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well I can tell you about some that I've seen.

-At the 2nd para; ''to fulfil'', you meant ''fulfill''

-Here's a contradiction; "Past Orbits Of Dust", an epic piece.'' but you said in the 4th para, that "Past Orbits Of Dust" starts out as an excellent track, but soon devolves into pointless jamming and eventually just losing steam rather than really ending''. So the song is not epic anymore?

-At the 5th para; ''...which aren’t as different as we could thought'' would be ''as we could think''

I also think you wrote too much about the line-up shifting, and that kind of informative stuff. Informations are good, but to a certain extent. Those who don't know Renaissance at all, don't need to know about those details. At least you speak pretty much about how the music sounds

These are the most blatant. I probably found some others, but I'm not sure enough since all like you, English is not my mother tongue. Keep on writing, dude.





e210013
October 20th 2015


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah. You're right with the contradiction. What I wanted to mean is that is an epic piece because is a lengthy track. It's clearly my less favourite track on the album and isn't an epic piece due to be a great piece.

''...which aren’t as different as we could thought'', is really what I wanted to meant.'' . What I should have written was, ''...which aren’t as different as we could have thought''

Ok. Thanks dude for your help.



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