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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Turn of the Cards

Review by Gary Hill

This isn’t my favorite Renaissance disc, but it is quite a good one. It was the last of the older style of music from them. Pretty much everything from Renaissance is strong, so you can count this among that set. It’s got some classic songs, that’s for sure. There’s not a weak track in the bunch, but there are a couple I like better than the rest.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Running Hard

Starting with classical piano, that holds the cut for a time. That piano turns more toward jazz after the first minute or so, but continues as the only instrument. Eventually we’re taken out into fast paced, but very symphonic progressive rock. The cut is energized, dramatic and powerful. We’re taken into a fast paced, classically oriented movement after the vocal section completes. It has a bit of a jazz vibe on hand, too. It drops down to a mellower segment for the next vocals. It begins to intensify that particular arrangement as they continue onward.

I Think of You
A shorter more straight-line piece of music, this is so pretty. It’s like folk turned progressive rock more than it is anything else. It has some hints of world music at times in the melodies.
Things I Don't Understand
This is a real epic piece. It has a soaring, folk prog movement, but then works out to more classically oriented stuff. Yet, it keeps changing several times. The vocals really create a lot of majesty and magic on this piece.
Black Flame
The first minute and a half or so of this is very classical in nature. Still, it has plenty of folk prog in the mix, too. The vocals join after this extended introduction and it gets more into the folk-influenced prog sounds. The piece continues to build from there. I particularly like the mellower movement later in the tune.
Cold Is Being
Organ opens this. The vocals come in with just that backdrop. It continues with a real classical element. The singing almost feels like a poetry recital, just sung. That basic arrangement is the full arrangement for the entire piece.
Mother Russia
Piano in a very classical style starts this. Then it gets intensified and other instruments added, but the classical mode is still the driving force. It gets kind of a driving soundtrack sort of impetus as it continues. It really has a lot of energy and power. It’s dramatic. Then it ends. It drops to a folk styled arrangement for the first vocals and builds from there. This gets so powerful as it continues with the prog elements serving as the counterpoint to the mellower, folkier movements. After building way up, they drop it down to a mellow, classical section and begin to work forward from there. Haslam’s vocals come over like  a songbird after a time. The composition builds instrumentally with a classical prog vibe. There is a climax with non-lyrical vocals. Then the song proper is reborn and we’re back into that direction.
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