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Renaissance - Camera Camera CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.41 | 118 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars I guess I need to set the context. It was 1982 and I was in college. I had turned several friends onto Renaissance as much because of Annie's looks as her voice, let alone the music. The still-progressive FM station in Ottawa at the time started playing a new Renaissance album, their first in 3 full years, and the band was coming to town! We rushed to buy our tickets, they blew us away and we all posed with a "Camera Camera" poster in my dorm room. So no I can't be objective. But I must say, as impartially as I can, that this is a far better collection of songs than presented for "Azure D'Or", better composed, played and arranged.

For starters, there is very little of the flailing about instrumentally that we heard on Azure, the synthesizers are in proportion, the music is far less fey. The tunes are more muscular than we might expect from Renaissance, but it's all part of the facelift they were given by the hard edged 1980s image makers. It does not change one iota the depth of some of these tunes, and the catchiness of those that lack depth. The title cut is flashy sure, but also contains a lengthy instrumental section that shows the level of energy brought about, at least in part, by the addition of Peter Gosling on keyboards. Several other fairly long tracks would also be of most interest to people here, like the FM hit (where I came from) "Tyrant Tula", with its excellent guitars and bass. But the two sure winners are "Okichi-San" and "Ukraine Ways" that both bring back that delicious Renaissance air of mystery, not to mention Annie's trademark ohhhh exercises, a heretofore unexplored Asian overtone, and an eastern bloc sensibility.

Inasmuch as the shorter cuts are like revved up versions of the Azure fossils, they work very well, even "Running Away from You", and the "Northern Lights" clone "Bonjour Swansong". At least they are accessible. While "Fairies" and "Jigsaw" are both lame, the first being a new wave cacophony (even if it starts great) and the second a hard rock catastrophe, the album is more good than not, and is an excellent example of progressive pop for its time. It is certainly not the same band as the 1970s version, but a revitalized group showing they could look forward without trashing their past. Think of it as a digital version of Renaissance.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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