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Renaissance (Rock)

The history of Renaissance is essentially the history of two separate groups, rather similar to the two phases of the Moody Blues or the Drifters. The original group was founded in 1969 by ex-Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty as a sort of progressive folk-rock band, who recorded two albums (of which only the first, self-titled LP came out in America, on Elektra Records) but never quite made it, despite some success on England's campus circuit.

The band went through several membership changes, with Relf and his sister Jane (who later fronted the very Renaissance-like Illusion) exiting and McCarty all but gone after 1971. The new lineup formed around the core of bassist Jon Camp, keyboard player John Tout, and Terry Sullivan on drums, with Annie Haslam, an aspiring singer with operatic training and a three-octave range.

Their first album in this incarnation, Prologue, released in 1972, was considerably more ambitious than the original band's work, with extended instrumental passages and soaring vocals by Haslam. Their breakthrough came with their next record, Ashes Are Burning, issued in 1973, which introduced guitarist Michael Dunford to the lineup and featured some searing electric licks by guest axeman Andy Powell. Their next record, Turn of the Cards, released by Sire Records, had a much more ornate songwriting style and was awash in lyrics that alternated between the topical and the mystical.

The group's ambitions, by now, were growing faster than its audience, which was concentrated on America's East Coast, especially in New York and Philadelphia -- Scheherazade (1975) was built around a 20-minute extended suite for rock group and orchestra that dazzled the fans but made no new converts. A live album recorded at a New York concert date reprised their earlier material, including the "Scheherazade" suite, but covered little new ground and showed the group in a somewhat lethargic manner. The band's next two albums, Novella and A Song for All Seasons, failed to find new listeners, and as the 1970s closed out, the group was running headlong into the punk and new wave booms that made them seem increasingly anachronistic and doomed to cult status.

Their '80s albums were released with less than global or even national fanfare, and the group split up in the early '80s amid reported personality conflicts between members. During 1995, however, both Haslam and Dunford made attempts to revive the Renaissance name in different incarnations, and Jane Relf and the other surviving members of the original band were reportedly planning to launch their own Renaissance revival which, if nothing else, may keep the courts and some trademark attorneys busy for a little while. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Innocents & Illusions

Disc 1

1. Kings & Queens

2. Innocence

3. Island

4. Wanderer

5. Bullet

6. Island (Single Version / Bonus Track)

7. The Sea (Bonus Track)

Disc 2

1. Love Goes On

2. Golden Thread

3. Love Is All

4. Mr. Pine

5. Face Of Yesterday

6. Past Orbits Of Dust

7. Shining Where The Sun Has Been (Bonus Track)

8. All The Fallen Angels (Bonus Track)

9. Prayer For Light (Bonus Track)

10. Walking Away (Bonus Track)

x

Track List: Azure D'or

1. Jekyll And Hyde

2. The Winter Tree

3. Only Angels Have Wings

4. Golden Key

5. Forever Changing

6. Secret Mission

7. Kalynda (A Magical Isle)

8. The Discovery

9. Friends

10. The Flood At Lyons

Comments

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rayking57
remember listening to this group thanks to Allison Steele the night bird on WNEW-FM in New York
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Sentimental blast from the past!
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rcar141046
Love you, Annie!
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lindam530
Just LOVE their music...have since the 70's when they touched my soul for the very first time...espec i a l l y Scherezade
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kdpflugrad
Nice music
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Reviewers don't need to be fawning fans, but this person either does not listen or does not appreciate that which is Renaissance. I am a classically- t r a i n e d string bassist, and I hear things in their arrangements that are just head and shoulders above many of the other prog rockers of the same era.If he truly believes that the Carnegie Hall live recording is lethargic he should realize the number of fans it garnered, including me! This seems to be poorly researched! Saw them live 1981-awesome !
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Annie Haslam has (or had) a FIVE (5) active vocal range, not three(3). This information is readily available ; you don't need to make these things up w/o any data or facts. It's called "research. "
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Annie had truly a exceptional voice, they had a free concert in Wilmette , Illinois, wealth suburb of Chicago,in 1980's I believe, and the crowd was transfixed. Great band, unbelievably didn't experience greater success.
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What happened to Novella ?@ 1975 I think
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Pandora is missing at least 1 CD b4 Ashes Are Burning
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Annie used to hang out at NEARFest almost every year selling her artwork. Then they finally played there in 2012 just before Dunford passed. They were a great group who created excellent music. I saw them with Caravan in 1977, and in 1982 at Club Bene, both in New Jersey. Their bio needs to be updated and expanded. They were worth it.
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No mention of Betty Thatcher, the author of their wonderful song lyrics?
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Mother Russia, Black Flame, Prologue are among my favs!
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The reviewer was more concerned with the size of the band's following and record sales than the true quality of its music. Anne Halsam has the voice of an angel. The encore of the live album, "Ashes Are Burning", is one of the most outstanding performances of progressive rock ever. Unfortunatel y , their music really has to be heard on the original vinyl records to be truly appreciated because, in more than a few cases, the transfer from analog to digital CD was poorly done (to be kind!). Right th
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Brilliant music - deeply reflective and passionately soulful with classical reverence. One in a lifetime gift to humanity.
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ken3275491
Not very often you read such beautiful statements about some of the last true musical artists. Mine would be,... Last minute notice, drove very fast to the lakefront in chicago and watched these great musicians perform at their best, on a beautiful night, with a great friend. I was so moved I cried.
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They need to update this review - I've seen the band at least 5 times n the last 10 years. Back In 2012 they were to play in Lakewood NJ the weekend of Hurricane Sandy - that night the show was canceled and a few weeks latter Mike Dunford died suddenly - too soon.
Report as inappropriate
Wow, that bio gives this wonderful band short shrift, and sells way short the soaring works they released during their prime. From Prologue to Academy of Music Live set, it was pure brilliance. If there were a Mt. Rushmore of great prog bands, Renaissance would be right up there with Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, YES and Gentle Giant. Then again, maybe its my east coast pedigree showing....
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This should be updated to include the death of Dunford in 2013, sadly just as the band was preparing an ambitious tour. Annie focuses on her artwork nowadays, but a new version of Renaissance is touring, again mostly in East Coast venues where it was most popular.
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One of the greatest bands of all time. Annie's voice will take you to places in your mind that you've never been
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All I can feel is an intense rush of love through me when I listen to them. And add nostalgia to that and the tears of joy still flow.
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greenbergj7
I SAW THEM AT CARNEGGIE HALL AND MY FATHERS PLACE IN LONG ISLAND
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greenbergj7
ANNIE IS AN ANGEL HER WORK WITH STEVE HOWE IS EXCEPTIONAL
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Annie I will love you eternally
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What a voice! They were never able to write catchy hits as we're bands such as yes and genesis, thereby never matching the success as the big progressive bands of their day.
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joes629
I saw her at the Sellersville Theater just before Christmas, I still don't know what the top of her range is. She is amazing!
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We saw them in Collingswood NJ just before Michael passed away. I look forward to seeing the new guitarist. This is always my favorite autumn winter music.
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I usually think of the south england lush countryside or extremely older manor houses,etc which may be haunted
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Very beautiful voice Annie has,especial l y in their heydays.Anni e what sway back and forth and side to side in such a sweet gentle fashion,AND very beatiful
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A very creative folk-art rock-classic a l band and Annie Haslam's voice is one of the greatest in popular music...they never got the credit they were due for the complex musicianship and lyrics...and Annie's voice is angelic !
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I saw them in concert in the 1970 o they were great her voice is so beatuful
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t0037
Renaissance was really in a class by themselves. Some great compositions and Annie's voice is the icing on the cake. Prologue, Ashes Are Burning, and A Song For All Seasons are super albums. Contrary to the somewhat derogatory comments in the Pandora bio, Live at Carnegie Hall was also a great album. I saw them live twice in the late 70's. Both performances were good, but the first one, in Rochester's Auditorium Theater was really excellent because it was in place designed for great acoustics.
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Try 5 Octave range. Not 3
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Love this band awesome!
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jsfix88
One of my favorite songs, EVER, Mother Russia!
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bacody7
Saw them in early 80's was pregnant with my 1st child, I always remind her that this was her first concert...
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jayflux
Not mentioning Carpet of the Sun is like talking about Yes and not mentioning Roundabout.
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Saw the reunion show with Mike and Annie. You can see some of Annie's art work in various New Hope PA art galleries
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At the time, they were good as Moody Blues. Ashes are Burning and a Song of all Seasons remain my keeper. I still listen to the Renassance with Annie. 30 years later.
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Great musicianship and songs!
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Something on music TV reminded me of Scheherezade and I wiki'd through the memory bank to find Renaissance and the album Live at Carnegie Hall (1976). What a great album. Just ordered the CD online; can't wait!
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I seen them mid '70s at a small theater in Buffalo NY, same place i seen the Tubes and the Strawbs
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Saw them four times back in the '70's in New Jersey. Amazing shows. I hadn't realized Michael Dunford had passed away, very sad news. I also met them, very nice people.
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gwhaia1954
Saw them at Toad's Place in New Haven. Never saw so much mary jane being passed around as I did that night. Was a short set as Annie was sick but very memorable. What a beautiful voice.
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Thank u pandora.purc h a s e d their dvd. Terrific.ann i e has one of the best voices I ever heard. Live at Carnegie hall is a classic
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Saw them several times in the NYC area back in the 70s. They still sound good and I can't believe I still remember most of the words. RIP Michael.
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Have see them many times, a couple album jackets signed. Last was just before M.Dunford passed. Great band.
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We saw them in Jersey last October, was wonderful. They still got it!
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Wow, I can't believe I am listening to Renaissance! I haven't heard this since the early 70's, what a treat!
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chris.puleo
Had the pleasure of being the person who booked them in the old rec hall at Penn State. One of my favorite backstage moments.

Paco 78
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