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4.2 out of 5 stars
13
4.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 September 2015
This remains an important album for me as it was one of the first strictly prog/classical cross over albums that I enjoyed and mainly for the excellent track Island which remains one of my favourites of this particular genre. This might be very early Renaissance but it does set out a style and template for future albums. Jane Relf's voice on Island is just about as good as it gets, blending in beautifully with the backing. It's an album that attacks almost from the off with Kings and Queens opening with a classical arpeggio feel although Keith Relf's vocals are not all that strong. The original line-up was soon to disintegrate, however, and re-align itself with something rather more permanent. At times this sounds a bit fiddly, but the playing is sharp and progressive even if it does steal from numerous classical genres. There is certainly enough light and stage to make it an important album of its time despite the fact that it only charted very low down.
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on 8 April 2016
I did not personally like this album. It lacked the style and composition of later albums but then we all have off days.
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VINE VOICEon 8 January 2009
The first album from Renaissance, before they transmuted into a soft-rock AOR band, was composed and played by former members of the Yardbirds and is a fantastic mix of classical piano music with what later came to be known as "prog rock" (once Keith Emerson got hold of it and gave it a bad name).

(NOTE: the other members of the Yardbirds formed some minor league band called 'Led something...' and faded into obscurity - or maybe not!)

This was my first introduction to the glories of classical piano, and the tunes from this first album have haunted me ever since the early '70s.
Fabulous vocals from Jane Relf, brilliant keyboards from John Hawken and delicious bubbling bass lines from Louis Cennamo.

A very successful mix of Classical themes and Rock music - at least on this first album. There was a second one (Illusion) which appears to be more a collection of half-rehearsed demos and outtakes. I thoroughly recommend the first album.
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on 2 June 2004
Whilst the new comer to the legendary Yardbirds' line-up, Jimmy Page was the one who took the band's name only to quickly evolved into Led Zeppelin. In the meanwhile, the majority of the Yardbirds became Renaissance.

However, as Renaissance they had largely abandoned R'n'B and instead discovered Beethovan in the company Jim Hawken. As a result their music was a sophisticated hybrid of "Beethovian blues rock". As memories now fade it is difficult to remember whether this album or King Crimsons "Court" was released first in 1969, (and both by Island Records, and "Court" being only a couple of digits lower in Island catlogue numbering). So nowadays when debates comes up about the first true prog album, "Court" is often cited, when in fact the eponymous Renaissance album was originally released about the same time.

Back in 1969 undeground or progressive music fans recognised both albums as ones introducing new ideas played at the highest levels of musiciansship and on well-recorded LPs, - which had only been suggested by the likes of the Moody Blues'" Days Of Future Past", (who were largely ignored in the UK as album-artists at the time) - or more roughly presented by Nice.

Renaissance were picked up by the overground media, and so became more than just a band with an underground following. In particular, the previously straight Jim Mossman, presenter of the new BBC 2 TV's art series broke the rules and had this group of "pop musicians" on his show to discuss and play their music. The public became aware that young, long haired musicians were capable of making more than just 3 minute hits, that were normally forgotten 3 months later. Renaissance and this album opened doors, to be pushed further open with Crimson exposure to the masses through the Rolling Stones Hyde Park free show.

A groundbreaking album, indeed a seminal album: nothing like it had been heard before. Hawken's piano work here is a loud echo of a Beethovan piano concerto played forte, with a sprinkling of the blues Yardbirds had developed and Jane Relf's lovely voice (which I much prefer over Annie Haslam's). As the track listing suggests, there are a couple of long pieces, adopting the so-called symphonic prog structure and allowing these tunes to develop into 10 minute complex arrangements. And the artwork, a picture of Icarus's fall, long lingered in the mind.

As a footnote: This line-up of Renaissance did start to record a second album "Illusion" soon afterwards, some of which was previewed on a BBC Radio One live gig. That album was to be belatedly released. Keith Relf moved on, formed Armageddon, joined Medicine Head and alas died in a tragic accident. They lost the name and found themselves now as Illusion, in competition to the new variant of Renaissance.
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on 3 January 2008
I originally heard and bought this album when I was in my teens. For whatever reason, whether it was because I deemed it to be no longer fashionable, or perhaps because I was just tired of it, I disposed of it a few years later. Even though I'd not heard the album for over thirty years, some of the tunes would still occasionally surface in my head. With this in mind, when I saw it at a bargain price on Amazon, I decided I had to buy it again.
Having just played it this evening, I have to say that if this album were to be released today, it would cause a sensation. There are more ideas crammed into its five (admittedly lengthy) tracks than many of today's bands would come up with in their entire careers. It encompasses everything from rock, to classical, folk, a hint of jazz, and even some early ambient-style music. OK, so some of the classical passages have been plundered, without much alteration, straight from the likes of Beethoven, but the overall effect is never less than mesmerising.
This album certainly doesn't seem to have dated anywhere near as much as some of its contemporaries, partly because of its standard of production, but also because its musical ideas did not, in the main, become cliches of the "progressive rock" genre. Listen to the final track, Bullet, for example. Throughout its duration, you can hear echoes of 90's bands like Primal Scream, hints of Robert Fripp's guitar solo from King Crimson's Moonchild, but this time played on the bass, and a precursor to the kind of ambient sounds that Tangerine Dream would come up with a few years later.
If you're not familiar with this album, but want to hear something interesting and adventurous, and are not put off by the "prog" connotations, then I heartily suggest you buy it now.
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on 4 September 2009
Yes; of its era but very listenable even now. Some elements might be considered precious today, but the majority of tracks are really lovely. Jane Relf's voice is almost ethereal on "Wanderer"...........that alone made this a worthwhile purchase for me :-)

Not for everyone: suited me sir!

Graham
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on 29 December 2016
Wasn't really what I was looking for. But good service.
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on 27 January 2007
This has to be one of the first real experimental albums which try to embrace rock music with the culture and pure musicianship of the classics. By the time the first track (Kings and Queens) has ended, you will wonder what has hit you! Then wonder how you managed to live your life so far without this mind opening music.
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on 16 August 2013
I saw Keith with Renaissance at the Marquee in late 1969. Their style was unique. I already have the vinyl album but haven't played it for ages. The cd takes me back to the Marquee gig - superb musicians and, for the era, innovative arrangements plus Louis being silly..
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on 12 December 2016
item mint/great service/thanks
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