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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

on 11 April 2014
This is music that doesn't easily fit into an easily explained single genre, which of course is mostly a good thing.
I remember them vaguely from the early to mid 70's but for whatever reason i have always categorized them (in my head) as folk. However when reading Stephen Lambe's book 'Citizens of Hope and Glory-The Story of Progressive Rock' i was surprised to see this album highly recommended as "neo-classical prog rock" so i took the plunge and bought it.
Having listened a few times now i can just about see the prog-rock reference but for me it's more in the vein of symphonic/pomp/folk and although a good album i'm not (yet) totally convinced by it.
Only 4 tracks but one is nearly 11 minutes and the piece de resistance, the title track, nearly 25 minutes.
I think the folkiness comes from Annie Haslam's beautiful voice as she could easily be the singer for Steeleye Span or Fairport Convention etc.
The opener 'Trip to the Fair' has a dramatic piano (an instrument used extensively throughout the album) introduction lasting 3 and a half minutes and sounding at times a lot like Keith Emerson, and also includes an hysterical laugh before settling down into a lovely ballad with hints of jazz and a fairground sounding ending.
The next 2 tracks 'The vultures fly high' and 'ocean gypsy' are more standard affairs with the former having a rockier tone and the latter being more orchestrated although both are quite catchy.
I actually prefer these first 3 tracks and can't get that excited over the closing multi-faceted piece 'Song of Scheherazade' as although technically very clever i've never really been a lover of strings/orchestras and i thought they were too invasive.
I'd give 3.5 stars if i could or 7 out of 10.
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on 6 January 2015
It seems an eternity ago that I bought Renaissance's first LP (vinyl), but I have always wanted more of their music and yet somehow, over the years, I have only bought one other album. However, a few days ago I sampled this digital album on Amazon and really liked the sound of the album, it reminded me just how good this band were. Ocean Gypsy is particularly brilliant and brings into focus why Progressive Rock was so wonderful. The other tracks all have their own style, with traces of Folk/Rock, moments of classical music and some wonderful singing by Annie Haslam, and the piano at the beginning of trip to the Fair reminds me a lot of their first album. The final track, which lends it name to the album title, is perhaps the epitome of Progressive Rock - an extended storyline set to music and Renaissance do this really well.
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on 19 January 2016
This was one I played all the time when it was first released, I always enjoyed listening to the classical record my mum had, 'Scheherazade' by Rimsky-Korsakoff and I love the dramatic sound. So when this was released, just the title got me intrigued and that was it. If you can it's worth listening to Rimsky-Korsakoff first and don't compare it to this album. The other three tracks are equally as pleasing to listen to. I'm a bit eclectic with my musical taste and love Rock & Classical and most things in between.
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on 9 September 2017
First saw this performed live in Coventry while at the Lanchester Poly '75/'76. Bought the vinyl, played it for years, recorded it and then wrecked the disc. The recording wore out so had to buy a cd instead. Still a superb album which always has something different for the listener, depending on mood and the weather.
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VINE VOICEon 12 March 2004
Over the years I've dusted off my Renaissence vinyl collection on several occasions, reminding me of the occasion when I saw the band perform at the Apollo, Manchester sometime in the early 80s. Musically, they were always highly competent and professional, never gave less than good value and were capable of reproducing their studio act on stage to an uncanny degree, given that this was before the age of PCs and tapes on stage. Live music played by live musicians, plus the distinctive voice of good old Annie Haslam from Bolton.
And the specialism of Renaissence was not 3-minute pop songs but epics in size, scale, grandeur, and especially time. A Renaissence special might start at about the 9 or 10-minute mark (Running Hard, Touching Once is so Hard to Keep etc.), and sometimes lasting as long as the 20+ minutes of Scheherazade on this collection. That apart, there is a 10+ minute Trip to the Fair, a fine piece of music with a spooky interlude towards the end; the slightly nondescript Vultures Fly High; and a haunting melody called Ocean Gypsy, with Annie supported by a phalanx of strings.
One of the songs they performed live on stage was an extended - that's right - version of the aforementioned Vultures, and frankly I wished they'd stuck to the shorter version. In fact, the band often performed at their best on comparatively brief numbers and simple arrangements like So Cold is Being Lonely, but that is not a lesson they learned easily. The fans of 70s neo-classic rock liked to spread out, and that's what they got.
This is not to criticise Renaissence, just to say they were a product of their time and deserve every credit for that. I don't think this is their best effort, but it's dripping with all the ingredients that make the band unique and memorable!
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on 10 March 2018
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on 18 August 2008
This was the first album I ever purchased by Renaissance. Because I was always a fan of progressive rock, a band with a female singer was intriguing to say the least. Annie Haslam on vocals, John Tout on keyboards and piano, Jon Camp on bass, Michael Dunford on guitar with Terry Sullivan on drums did not ever dissapoint. I still play this album (vinyl) on occasion. It opens up with a haunting melody about a trip to a fair that is more out of Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" than any good time. The song "Ocean Gypsy" has been covered by Candice Night and Ritchie Blackmore and their band "Blackmore's Night", proving the enduring quality of work here.

The Sheherazade suite was the entire side of side 2, and as a body of work in itself provides the listener with a kaliedescope of musical imagery that truly transports you into another time. For those who were unaware, Annie had one of the most unique vocal traits, having a range that spanned five octaves. The average singer has a range of about 2-3.
That was complimented by the songs that were written by Michael Dunford and Betty Thatcher. This songwriting team was sadly, one of the most underrated in music, and were one of the best!
I love hearing when younger people get turned onto this type of music. This band could also replicate live what they did in the studio, which was rather remarkable considering the multilayered sound that was favoured to showcase Annie's voice.
This album, and band is well worth checking out.
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on 29 July 2017
Great album, speedy delivery, nothing but a satisfied customer here.
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on 22 October 2017
very good
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on 29 June 2013
This album is divided in two, the first part contain three songs. They are are very nice, with the exception of Ocean Gypsy, which is a great song with cool singing from Annie Haslam. But the real diamond here is Song of Scheherazade, which is a multi-part suite. Long, complex and heavily influenced from classical music. Annie is in top shape here, her vocals are amazing, she is a great singer with beautiful voice.

Scheherazade is a Masterpiece which worth acquiring the album alone, a great addition to any prog collection
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