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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 22 March 2017
My favorite album by the band, this edition has been remastered expertly so all of the glorious simple and complex passages can be enjoyed as they used to be on vinyl. Remastering deserves 5 stars.
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on 25 May 2017
Very good, excellent quality recording.
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on 12 July 2007
..and the sound is stunning. (Cat # REP 5079)
mini LP case with a nice insert, and UPC is on a sticker on the cellophane-not on the cover.
These were rather quietly released and much love was put into them.
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on 1 February 2003
"Turn of the Cards" is my favorite Renaissance album, although as I listen to them all in order I am struck by how it also perhaps the most atypical example of their progressive (nee classical) rock. Taken as a whole these songs are relatively unadorned. "I Think of You" is a relatively simple piece, ending with one of those wonderful high notes by Annie Haslam followed by some nice harpsicord work by John Tout. Likewise "Black Flame" begins with the simple elegance of an acoustic guitar (a reminder that the forthcoming "Unplugged" Renaissance album is not really breaking new ground for the group).
Of the two set pieces, "Running Hard" is most decidedly in this simpler vain, which has the overall effect of better showcasing Haslam's glorious voice. The other showpiece, "Mother Russia," shows that the group was paying attention to Russian dissidents (the song is dedicated to Alexander Solzhenitsyn) as much as they were Russian classical musicians and offers an emphasis on percussion quite usual for a Renaissance song in the driving conclusion. Again, Haslam's voice soars over and above, as well as through, the rhythmic progression of the music as proves that she does not need to be singing actual words to contribute to the beauty of a song.
Perhaps it is insightful to recall that in terms of Michael Dunsford's music, "Turn of the Cards" is the album that proceeds his most ambitious project, the Scheherazade cantanta. Whatever the reason, this is the Renaissance album that best showcases the vocal talents of singer Annie Haslam.
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on 24 February 2009
I like creative music and music with melody but I wouldn't describe mysefl as a "progressive rock" fan and I don't think this music IS progressive rock or experimental, it's simply good music. Vast orchestral arrangements with good melodies that interweave throughout the tracks give this album instant gratification bit with depth too. It reminded me of the earlier Kate Bush albums which I also love, and for me Mother Russia is up there with Wuthering Heights at the very top in terms of depth, feeling, meaning, production and melody.

On the remaster issue. Personally I never did like cardboard sleeves for CD's and prefer jewel cases. A fold out sheet with new sleeve notes is included and the on-disc printing is pretty too. The sound quality is better here, notably a little brighter and there is definately more stereo space but that said unless you compare this with the 2002 release one after the other then I doubt anyone would notice the difference.
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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2007
What _is_ it about this album?

I mean, I like Renaissance a lot, they tick all my prog boxes. Dense, symphonic song structures? Check. Soaring multi-octave feminine vocals? That'll be Annie Haslam then - check! Atmospheric and slightly pretentious lyrical conceits? Let me see: existentialism, the Cold War, mystical mumbo jumbo - check again! Already this album is scoring high. Plus, I like their other stuff: A Song for All Seasons is a delight, with that lovely one-off hit single they had (Northern Lights); Novella sounds great on a sunny Sunday morning; that Carnegie Hall live album works as a sort of Greatest Hits. But this album, "Turn Of The Cards"... this album is in a league of its own.

I came across this disk on vinyl back when I was at school and took a C90 cassette tape to college (with Genesis on the other side, I recall). Long after the cassette had frazzled I hungered after the disquieting arctic tones of this record, so back in 2000 I scoured the internet for a CD release. Slipping it into the disk drive I expected disappointment. It would sound naff, dated, a paean to my adolescence. But no! Out rolled that chilly, driving opener 'Running Hard' with its none-so-Seventies vocal chorus reminding me of the old Pearl & Dean ads in the cinemas. Sit back. Enjoy.

I can see from other reviews that I'm not alone in being won over by the cold, distant quality of the production on this album. It is truly unearthly, something from a far off time or parallel dimension. 'I Think Of You' replaces crashing piano chords with spidery acoustic guitar while 'Things I Don't Understand' builds to an awesome virtuoso performance from Annie, the combined effect of which is to trounce Bohemian Rhapsody in the operatic rock stakes. Then, of course, the Luciferian strangeness that is 'The Black Flame'. Brr-rr. 'Cold Is Being', leaning so heavily on its classical interpretation, is perhaps the weakest song in the collection, but is so dark, Nordic and bitter that it carries itself through on sheer polar intensity. Then the (melo)dramatic closer that is 'Mother Russia', catapulting us into the gulags of the Asian tundra. Somewhere, in the distance, Jim Steinman was taking notes and wondering how it would all sound if a fat bloke sang it to lyrics about girls and motorbikes.

Renaissance don't seem to have realised what they accomplished with this album and certainly never went near this territory again: the rest of their material is clever and sophisticated, frequently pretty, but eschews the sort of tombstone chill this recording gives off.

I've done my best to convey the subtle but compelling ambience of this awesome collection. Sure, it is and remains a Seventies prog output, with lots of "lah-lah-lah" vocal noodlings, part of the musical tradition that didn't so much catalyse punk rock as place an uncocked Uzi in its sweaty little hands. If you like angry little men with bad breath shouting to choppy guitars, you can walk right by this one: nothing to see here.

But if prog rock is among your guilty pleasures... like a bit of Mike Oldfield from time to time ... Clannad, they were good weren't they?... anybody remember Barclay James Harvest?... well look no further. This is an album that will grow old with you. Enjoy.
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on 14 May 2010
I bought this album on vinyl from a second hand record shop 25 years ago. I loved it then but hadn't listened to it for years. Since buying the album again on CD I've barely stopped playing it. Musically brilliant, its haunting melodies, enchanting and pure vocal, and the quality of the orchestration are simply superb. Cold Is Being (based on Albinoni's adagio) is probably the best blend of classical and progressive music ever. Renaissance were a much under-rated outfit - and this is without a doubt one of their best.
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on 9 October 2000
I first heard this album as a teenager, the best part of 20 years ago. I can now say that recording is one of those classic landmark albums. A sort of cross between Clannad and Genesis, there are 6 good tracks with RUNNING HARD, THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND and MOTHER RUSSIA being quite outstanding. In my opinion Renaissance have recorded about 12 great titles, 4 or 5 are here in the original studio recorded form. Look for other old Renaissance line-up albums - those sung by Annie Haslam - Song for all seasons, Ashes are burning being the best after this one.
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on 16 June 2010
The album that introduced me to Renaissance. How could you have a prog rock band with no lead guitar and the keyboards were piano more often than organ or synth? But it worked. Putting words to Albinoni's Adagio for strings is, on the face of it, prime pretentiousness, but you know what, it works. And sung so beautifully by Annie Haslam.
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on 20 October 2008
Other reviewers have summed this album up well. However, I think Renaissance were a band always searching for an audience. They werent prog and the arrangeements were too complicated for folk, so what were they? Carving a niche in a similar vein to Barclay James Harvest, who they toured with in the Seventies, they had a unique sound. A superb band of musicians, they suffered with record company deals and at the hands of another band who also used the name. Their music had the 'what the heck is this?' factor. Not sure what became of the others, but vocalist Annie Haslem still sings and paints in water colours in the States.

Some say that Magenta inherited the band's mantle, however, they have struck out in a new direction on their current cd, Metamorphosis.
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