Renaissance
Renaissance


4.0
excellent

Review

by e210013 USER (103 Reviews)
October 15th, 2015 | 84 replies


Release Date: 1969 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The debut of Renaissance represents the starting point and a great surprise. Unfortunately, it's almost an unknown work. However, it deserves to be better known.

“Renaissance” is the eponymous debut studio album of Renaissance and was released in 1969. The line up on the album is Jane Relf, Keith Relf, John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Jim McCarty.


Many, including myself, first took notice of Renaissance with the release of their classic albums of the 70’s. So, most people only know Renaissance as a British symphonic progressive rock band that released amazing albums in the 70’s, such as “Prologue” in 1972, “Ashes Are Burning” in 1973, “Turn Of The Cards” in 1974 and “Scheherazade And Other Stories” in 1975, which are real great progressive beauties and are real highlights in the history of the progressive rock music. By the other hand, Renaissance's most recognizable characteristics were Annie Haslam's angelic voice, Jon Camp's pumping bass and John Tout's classical piano playing. However this is not really true. In reality, they started in the 60’s and recorded two albums, without Annie Haslam and the other follow band members, their eponymous debut album “Renaissance” and its successor “Illusion” released in 1971, with a totally different line up.

"Renaissance" was first released in 1969 and was mainly a showcase for the former Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. They were in search for a more progressive and experimental style than what they had played with their former bands and they wanted to try out new musical ideas on a much more ambitious musical project. They'd organized a new group devoted to experimenting with rock, folk and classical music, with Relf on guitar and vocals, McCarty on drums and supplemented by bassist Louis Cennamo, pianist John Hawken and Relf's sister, Jane, as an additional vocalist. They succeeded very well to blend all those different styles on a well sounding album. Their self titled debut mixed influences of rock, folk and jazz with some frequent quotations from various pieces of classical music. Despite be very good, it's quite an embryonic album compared to their classic albums from the 70's.

However, on “Renaissance”, the music seems almost miraculous in its ease of execution and inventiveness. The playing is precisely powerful yet delicate. The piano, bass, guitar, harmonica and drums are as tight as one could ever hope for. The vocal interplay between brother and sister, Keith and Jane, are superlatively integrated. Keith's voice is as soulful as it ever sounded, and Jane's soaring angelic melodies penetrate right to the core with their pristine beauty. This originating source recording laid the foundation for a totally new form of musical expression, the influence of which now permeates the music of the 21st century. Anything that came after had this work to use as a compass. So, in a certain way, the album is even more gratifying, than the next incarnation of the group that became so well known and appreciated by their fans.

Musically, the album borrowed liberally from the classics, as would later the other Renaissance albums, as well as incorporating elements of jazz, folk, avant-garde and late 60’s psychedelic rock. Dominating throughout is the virtuoso piano performance from the classically trained pianist John Hawken. So, on “Renaissance”, you can hear the masterfully piano playing by Hawken which has been slightly influenced by the classical masters composers like J.S. Bach. The band makes excellent use of varied rhythms and musical light and shade. The musical style on both albums became very successful. The voice of Jane Relf more or less resembles Annie Haslam's voice on the aforementioned albums. Not as good, but yet strong enough to keep the attention which also applies for the strong compositions. However and despite some seeds of the classic Renaissance sound were sown already here, unfortunately, it seems that it wasn't enough to make these albums of interest to others, than merely collectors and completists.


Conclusion: As I wrote, I only heard about the first two albums of the band many years later and after knowing the great albums of the band made by their classic and most known line up. Always was a great surprise and a great mysterious to me, that the same group could have two completely different line ups all over their career. So, when I bought the first two albums of the band, I must say that I became very pleasantly surprised with them. Thought I prefer the second line up, I really like both. About the Renaissance debut, it may not be as perfect as the classic albums of the second cast, but the play and experimentation of the band incarnation makes it easy up for it. All in all, their debut album is a wonderfully inventive album which has never gained the recognition it warrants as a cornerstone of the genre. If you have never had the time to explore early Renaissance, as I had, you might want to check this album out. I had not expected much when I purchased this album, but it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise to my ears. If for no other reason, every progressive fan should hear this album to further their understanding of how prog came about.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (50)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
October 15th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As there are no reviews about Renaissance Mk. I, the two albums are almost unknown and I saw some interest on Sputnik about them, I decided review both. So, I put their debut album now and the second will be put in the next week. However, I really think that both reviews must be seen as a whole, as the first and the second parts of a only work.

I also decided to make a third review of another album, which is somehow linked with both works. It will put it soon after the both Renaissance albums.

I hope you enjoy it, and as usual, criticism is always welcome.

KILL
October 15th 2015


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you rule so hard oh my god this album is so great, love the similar tempo it keeps throughout

shame the next one had nowhere near as strong songwriting i dno what happened!

e210013
October 15th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@KILL

Read my next review, in the next week, about their second album, and you see why. However, I think the quality of both albums are quite similar, despite the problems within the band.

Thanks man, for your comment.

KILL
October 15th 2015


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet bro look forward to it

shame no one will check this tho

e210013
October 15th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, dude. I think the same.

KILL
October 15th 2015


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

do you dig curved air? i'm a sucker for prog with female vocals. contraction too

e210013
October 15th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes KIll, me too. Probably one of these days I may do a review of one of their albums too.

MrSirLordGentleman
October 15th 2015


12241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hell yeaaaaaaaaah Renaissance p///////



Great review man, pos'd!

e210013
October 15th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks dude. I was pretty sure that you would like of the idea of review the first two albums of Renaissance.

Sabrutin
October 15th 2015


5886 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sweet, so people do care for the debut afterall. Pos

e210013
October 15th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, man. I'm also glad with that.

Jethro42
October 15th 2015


15578 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So, which one between Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, King Crimson or Renaissance is considered to be the very first progressive band...? The bets are opened ;)



Nice review, e21 but you have a few typos and grammatical mistakes here and there, but knowing English is -all like me- not your mother tongue, they are forgivable. My English is not enough sure to enumerate them all. But here is a pick;



''Always was a great surprise and a great mysterious to me''

You probably meant ''Always been a big suprise and a great mystery to me''



I found some others awkward sentences, but like I said, I'm not sure enough if them are faults or not, and I would even not be sure how to actually correct them.







Hovse
October 16th 2015


2702 Comments


omg

e210013
October 16th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, man.

TheIntruder
October 16th 2015


394 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm glad finally someone review both first albums of Renaissance. Good review also. Have a pos.

bnelso55
October 16th 2015


1321 Comments


Glad this finally got a review. Props and a pos!

e210013
October 16th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, Jethro. As you know, isn't easy to write in a foreign language. And as you know, I'm trying to improve my writing and I think I'm better now. Anyway, we aren't properly in an English grammar class. And I really think that it's a very impressive thing, some of we have courage to write in a different language of our mother tongue.

However, many thanks for your help and thanks for your pos.

e210013
October 16th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks bnelso55. I also think that this album deserve to be reviewed and known.

Anyway, I hope you read my next review, in the next week, about their second album Illusion.

Thanks for your pos, too.

e210013
October 16th 2015


2129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also thanks to you, TheIntruder.

It's always a pleasure to see Sputnik's members with the same interests and that can appreciate our work.

Also thanks for your pos.

TheIntruder
October 16th 2015


394 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's very interesting the to see an open discussion about the first prog band and the first prog album. I'm not an expert, but I think it is consensual to consider King Crimson and In the court of the Crimson King the first band and the first prog album. What do you think guys?



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