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Renaissance - DeLane Lea Studios 1973 CD (album) cover

DELANE LEA STUDIOS 1973

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.14 | 15 ratings

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rogerthat
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Annie Haslam, vocalist of Renaissance, earned the sobriquet of Queen of progressive rock for her incredible exploits. But even she had to start somewhere. Given that her first proper band experience (excluding the cabaret band she was in earlier) was with Renaissance, she was still finding her feet in the early years. While her innate talent and classical training gave her a headstart, the contrast with her mid 70s peak is pretty stark.

As it is, unfortunately, on this album. On the face of it, the track selection alone should make this album, taken from a 1973 concert at DeLane Lea studios, a winner, even within the cornucopia of Renaissance live albums. Let It Grow, At The Harbour and Sounds of the Sea aren't on any official live releases of the band, though the former did make it to Annie Haslam's solo live album Brazilian Skies. Further, Andy Powell and Al Stewart guest on Ashes Are Burning, making it one of only two recorded live performances which have the guitar solo (the other being the Academy of Music concert).

But, as said above, Annie is yet to attain the sheer, frightening perfection she would only a couple of years down the line. There are pitch issues but I wouldn't mind them so much if not for another issue that really spotlights them: her attack. At this point, her attack is still a bit harsh and it makes her singing sound stiff (in comparison to what she would go on to do). If you were to compare her performance of Carpet of the Sun here to the one on Midnight Special in 1977, it is particularly evident. There was, after all, a point of time when even a singer as great as her was worried about getting it right. Ironically, this fear pushes her into committing more errors than she would in concerts from later on where she simply cut loose.

Not to worry, Annie's B minus game is still pretty damn good and the vocalese coda of Sounds of the Sea is especially gorgeous, with an unexpected twist at the end. There is also the mesmerizing coda of At The Harbour to savour. And as in so many other shows, she raises her game come time to perform Ashes Are Burning. The musicians perform their parts impeccably well and with feeling, which too forgives a lot. The sound isn't awesome but it will do. So what gives?

Just that there isn't a compelling reason to add one more Renaissance live album to your collection here. Not unless you are particularly fond of the rawness of bands in their early days, say like the popular music reviewer George Starostin. Me, I do like the rawness but only when it adds to the energy of the performance. Rawness can also mean hesitation and lack of confidence and there's more of that here. Renaissance gave better concerts than this one and plenty of them. But if you do get this album, you won't regret it.

rogerthat | 3/5 |

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