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Renaissance

DeLane Lea Studios 1973

Review by Gary Hill

This live album catches Renaissance in the period many might call their best. However you slice up their catalog, though, this is a great live disc. It captures their sound in style. It should be noted that there are a couple minor issues with the recording at a couple points in the set. Beyond that, though, this sounds quite good, but not great. It should be noted, too, that this special concert featured guest performances by Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash) and Al Stewart on one song.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Can You Understand

The build up here is beautiful, powerful and classic Renaissance. With twists and turns that holds it through nearly the first three minutes. Then it drops back to just vocals for a short time before working out to a balladic, folk prog type of arrangement to continue. We’re taken through a number of shifts and changes as this evolves. It’s classic Renaissance and delivered in style.

Let It Grow
This is less dynamic and progressive rock oriented. That doesn’t make it any less strong, though. It’s more of a straight line journey set in a psychedelic rock meets folk prog vein.
Sounds of the Sea
More of a pure progressive rock piece, this starts mellow and gradually builds upward. The recording has one or two glitches, but it’s not that much of a problem, really. This is quite a pretty cut and a great live performance. It really does develop into a powerful and soaring piece of music.
Carpet of the Sun
This classic piece of Renaissance folk prog gets a great live rendition here. It has all the magic of the studio rendition, but with a bit of a live groove feeling to my ears.
At the Harbour
Nearly the first two minutes of this are filled with a piano solo. Then it breaks to a mellow movement that’s almost acapella. The piece grows from there in a classic Renaissance way. It stays quite sedate and folk music based until around the five and a half minute mark. Then it grows into a soaring, but still restrained, classical music based piece for a short time. Piano takes it alone again after that, though, serving to bookend the song.

 

Ashes Are Burning (with Andy Powell and Al Stewart)

As the parenthetical indicates, this song features two guest performers. This jam is an incredible one even without that extra draw. Those two make this a really special and unique performance, though. This thing is such an epic number, working through more folk prog styled stuff and out into powerhouse jamming. There is another bit of recording glitch at one point on the track, though. Still, while disruptive, it’s short and quickly recovered from. The contrast between mellower sections and more rocking ones that is heard at various points in the number works really well.

Prologue
There are non-lyrical vocals here, but in many ways they are used more as instrumentation than singing. For that reason, I’d consider this to be an instrumental. It’s also a powerful piece of music that works really well. It’s dynamic, dramatic and very much pure progressive rock magic.

 
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