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Renaissance - Scheherazade And Other Stories CD (album) cover

SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

4.31 | 1038 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Renaissance was a bit late to the ambitious side long suite table, most contemporaries having tried this once or twice by the mid-1970s. Those bands had a lot more complexity in their favour, so Renaissance opted for a slightly different approach. Rather than try to invent a new religion, they took a renowned fairy tale and set it to music, basing the lyrics on the story. More about that later.

Side 1 kicks of with the understated "Trip to the Fair", a rare track in which John Tout's piano totally steals the show from Annie's voice. Not that she fails, but just that his workouts are absolutely riveting. Even the lyrics impose, with their somewhat science fiction influenced story line about a trip to the fair that is more like a deserted city than a place to lose oneself in the crowd. "The Vultures Fly High" is a new style for Renaissance, albeit typically melodic, as it presents a rocking more cynical side, without a trace of the usual romance. It could be aimed at music critics who appear hell bent on destroying "serious" bands. "Ocean Gypsy" is the best known entry here. To compare it to the earlier "Sounds of the Sea" is to clearly see how much this band had matured in just 3 years. The chorus and instrumental break extend the "Mother Russia" ideas and would be revisited later, including on the "Scheherazade" suite.

The "song of Scheherazade" is really a collection of related songs and instrumentals that are sometimes spellbinding but also sometimes mundane and repetitive. The band's reach appears greater than its ability, but, having said that, the mere attempt may be enough to qualify this as compulsory for some prog fans. I nonetheless feel that the album is a minor slip up for Renaissance, and recommend the newcomer start with the two previous albums before entertaining thoughts of the Sultan and his storytelling muse.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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