Renaissance
Azure D'Or


3.0
good

Review

by e210013 USER (74 Reviews)
April 24th, 2017 | 16 replies


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is a transition album of Renaissance. It represents the beginning of the fall of a great prog band.

“Azure D’Or” is the ninth studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1979. The line up on the album is Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford, John Tout, Jon Camp and Terence Sullivan.


As many of us know, there were two groups under the banner of Renaissance with two completely different line ups. The first and original line up, released only two studio albums, “Renaissance” in 1969 and “Illusion” in 1971. The second line up of Renaissance spent several years touring, and recorded four studio albums, “Prologue” in 1972, “Ashes Are Burning” in 1973, “Turn Of The Cards” in 1974 and “Scheherazade And Other Stories” in 1975, while gracing many prestigious venues and stages. These venues and stages included Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on their debut live album “Live At Carnegie Hall”, which was released in 1976.

But, 1976 and 1977 were the years of the arising of the punk movement and consequently the years of the arising of great turbulence for progressive rock music, the years when many of their contemporary groups began changing their music, the years of the decline of the progressive rock. However, Renaissance managed to release even an excellent album, “Novella” in 1977 and a very good album, “A Song For All Seasons” in 1978, despite the seeds of changes begin to be seeded on it. But, in 1979 the things changed definitely with “Azure D’Or”. This was the first album where the band don't used an orchestra, where the band exclusively features short songs and where the long epic pieces where gone and is also the first album with the only full instrumental song ever released by the group. This was also the album where the band really gave in for the pressure of making more commercial music, and ended up with a complete sell out.

Finally and unfortunately, the period of the musical decline of Renaissance had begun too. To “Azur D’Or” is largely lacking the classical and progressive influences which made Renaissance’s earlier albums so distinctive. In their place, we have ten pretty straight forward melodic soft rock tracks. There appears to have been a conscious decision by the band to change direction, inspired by the commercial success of the “Northern Lights” single. As a final result, the usual Renaissance's trademark sound changes from more complex to more soft. But, despite all I said before, a number of other key ingredients are still here, like Annie Haslam’s wonderful voice, John Tout’s distinctive keyboards, and Michael Dunford’s guitar. The weakness is in the songwriting and in the track development. That said, the songs are still highly enjoyable to listen to. All in all, it’s a commercially orientated album with pleasant melodies and proficient playing. But unfortunately, it falls well short of the band’s finest workings.

About the tracks, “Azure D’Or” is filled with ABBA like pop songs such as “Jekyll And Hyde” and “The Winter Tree”. I really won’t deny that some of these songs certainly have solid hooks, but they’re definitively not progressive rock music. As the band had now also ditched the orchestra completely, and the task of creating some atmosphere and symphonic sounds was left over to Tout’s synthesizers, which was really a pity. As you can clearly hear on “Only Angels Have Wings” they were unfortunately of a very synthetic kind, and sounds almost like a joke when we compared it to the orchestral arrangements of their good old albums. Where the hell are the tasteful sounds that they even used on “Novella”? “The Golden Key” and the instrumental “The Discovery” are the only tracks here, with the slightest hint of what Renaissance used to be. Drivel like “Forever Changing” is so far from the classic Renaissance’s stuff, as it possibly can get, and the album as a whole, was the final nail in the coffin for Renaissance as a progressive rock band. They were not exactly the only band that ended the 70’s in this way, and as we know, they even managed to last longer as a progressive group than many of their compatriots. But anyway, it doesn’t get less sad for that reason.


Conclusion: “Azur D’Or” is the sound of a band in transition as it searches for a future, and is, in a certain way, the last album from the classic 70’s line up. It’s something like a hybrid, combining familiar elements from the band’s past with some that would define their future, mixed with a sizeable dollop of post Gabriel’s Genesis era. Immediately apparent is the lack of any longer tracks, the absence of an orchestra for the first time since “Prologue”, and a preponderance of electronic keyboards. More subtle is the increased use of electric guitar, an absence of those rich group harmonies and a liberal sprinkling of some more poor songs. However and despite my pervasive negativity, there are many things to admire here. Still, “Azur D’Or” is an enjoyable and pleasant experience from a talented group of musicians who continue to perform at a very high personal level. Collectively though, the magic that created such great albums has eluded them and has definitely gone. Anyway, this is still a good album, but definitely, it’s inessential.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (22)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
April 24th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As I promised, here it is my review about "Azure D'Or". With this album, definitely the great magic of Renaissance's music has gone. However, this is still a good album. But above all, we still have the incredible and beautiful voice of Annie.

Your comments are very welcome.

TheIntruder
April 24th 2017


273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Another review of Renaissance. Great. Especially in this case. It's the first one. Another nice review man. I will check the album later. Meanwhile have a pos.

e210013
April 24th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, Intruder.

Despite it isn't properly a great album, I hope you enjoy it a bit, as I do.

TheIntruder
April 24th 2017


273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I hope so too. I'm checking it now. It seems nice.

Jethro42
April 24th 2017


14932 Comments


Nice and informative review as you use to do, bro. I've seen little mistakes, at the first paragraph, you start by saying ''As many of we know'', I think ''As many of us know would fit better. Also, at the end of the second paragraph, you wrote ''...it's was also the first album...'' You surely meant ''it was''. I also notice you often repeat about the absence of orchestration. So maybe try to reduce these statements.
I think your rating is really fair. Review also reads like a 3/5. I think it's your lowest score since you write reviews. It makes for a good change ;)
I listened to the album twice. I remember ''Golden Key'' to be a great song. I will give it another spin, but I already know it's gonna be not more than a 3/5 from me.

Divaman
April 24th 2017


1213 Comments


Nice job again, e. I love the way you're filling in some of gaps in terms of albums that need and deserve reviews.

Digging: Zola Jesus - Okovi

e210013
April 25th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ Jethro

Thanks, bro. You're right, I made some few mistakes, indeed. I correct it right now and I changed the text a bit due to some repetitions about the absence of an orchestra. I think its beter now.

About the album and as I wrote on my review, “The Golden Key” and the instrumental “The Discovery” are the only tracks here, with the slightest hint of what Renaissance used to be.

About the rating, 3.00 is really the best for this album. In relation to my lowest score on a review, it's right. This is due because I prefer to review great albums instead the others. However, this won't be my last time. I'm sure about it.

e210013
April 25th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ Diva

Thanks. I like to do both things, review the albums I love which are very known and the less lucky albums, despite many of them are great and I love too. But don't worry, I'll bring here some other less known works, very briefly. Somehow, it's the same you are doing with many other artists, especially in the 80's. Nice job too, dude.



Sabrutin
April 26th 2017


4428 Comments


Pos, it looks like this album may be better than what I fear. For some reason I really like the cover artwork

Digging: Paradise Lost - Medusa

KILL
April 26th 2017


80846 Comments


u rock e21431564312

think i checked this once

TwigTW
April 27th 2017


2655 Comments


After listening to this, I better understand what you were getting at in your last Renaissance review. (and now say more directly in this one, "sell out"). This is a pleasant listen, but I doubt I will take the time to listen to it again.

Digging: The Necessaries - Event Horizon

e210013
April 27th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ Sabrutin

Yeah, this isn't really a bad album and the cover art is nice, indeed.

Thanks, man.

e210013
April 27th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ KILL

Maybe you must check it again. It's not bad indeed. Too much pop but not bad.

e210013
April 27th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ Twig

Ok, dude. It's really pleasant but as I said on the end of my review, it's really inessential.

TheIntruder
April 27th 2017


273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The album is cool but as you said, is inessential. It's very different from their earlier stuff. Still is pleasantly listenable. but it is only a good album.

e210013
April 27th 2017


1447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I completely agree with all you wrote. Thanks for you share your thoughts about it.

Cheers, bro.



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