A chronological look at the later years of Renaissance
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This second volume in the 1990 Renaissance retrospective, also known as the "Green" one, covers the progressive (nee classical) rock group's work from 1977-79. There are three tracks from the "Novella" album and two each from "A Song for All Seasons" and "Azure d'Or." The tracks from this last album, "Jekyll and Hyde" and "The Winter Tree," clearly evidence the radical change in the group's sound when synthesizers replaced the orchestra in the background. I would much rather they had gone back and included two other songs from the other albums than provide these somewhat painful reminders of the group's decline. The other five tracks are clearly the best from those two particular albums, especially when it comes to showcasing the soaring vocal talents of Annie Haslam. Especially enjoyable are the awesome full-powered high note at the end of "Touching Once (Is So Hard To Keep)" and the multi-tracked harmonies of the final chorus of "Northern Lights". The final track is the 23:47 live version of "Ashes Are Burning" from the celebrated Carnegie Hall concert double-album. Although this is the one track in the collection that is chronologically out of sequence, it is the perfect song to end the collection since "Ashes" was Renaissance's celebrated encore piece, wherein each group member had amble room to do a solo. Even with this addition, most fans would agree the first volume is more of a total delight from start to finish.It has been ten years since the "Tales of 10001 Nights" set was released in the explosion of "greatest hits" albums that defined the start of the movement towards CD. Apparently sales were brisk enough to warrant the individual albums now being released overseas. Hopefully we can get past this import nonsense and be able to update our Renaissance record collections on this side of the pond."
An excellent collection from a unique group
A. C. H. Bergh | 07/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the companion CD to 1001 Nights, Volume One. If you've got the one, you'll want to have the other: together, they present an excellent picture of this unique band.I've already posted a review on the first volume, so I'll not repeat myself here. Suffice it to say that this volume focuses on the band's output from the almost legendary "Live at Carnegie Hall" (which features the 23 minute version of "Ashes Are Burning", also to be foun here) to the disappointing "Azure d'Or". This wasn't the band's heyday (with the exception of "Carnegie" and, perhaps, the studio album "Novella"), but there is still a very great deal to enjoy."
Listen to this Loudly...
Dworkin Gork | Skay Jubal, The Last Castle in Ann Arbor, Michigan | 03/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If for no other reason, acquire this to gain access to the live (and long) version of Ashes Are Burning. This alone is worth the price of admission. I chanced to see this group when they were alive and well and this song says all. A wonderful blend of intensity and nary an elecrtic guitar (save the bass) to be heard, yet there is nothing lacking. The vocals are suburb. This group influenced everyone including King Crimson, Yes and Genisis. Even Frank Zappa had kind words. Unfortunate that they went away and the liner notes explain this quite fully. Fortunate that this survives in CD format for anyone with interest to enjoy. And, should you be able, do turn up the volume."
The only CD you'll need for compression tests...
Dworkin Gork | 06/10/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"don't buy new speakers without running Ashes Are Burning. between the awesome bass solo, and the high treble of Annie Haslim's spectacular voice, you'll exercise the full range of musical possibilities. this song always gives me goosebumps. rennaisance is such an original band. they're the only one's i've ever heard that have made orchestral rock really work... and does it ever! if you want something interesting and out of the ordinary, this CD won't disappoint..."
Strictly for Progressive Rock aficionados
Breyel | MALAYSIA | 05/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If one's musical inclination lies in the fusion of folk, rock and classical music, then "Tales of 1001 Nights -- Vols. I & II" by Renaissance should resonate comfortably with you. Similar in musicality to Mannheim Steamroller, but interwoven with thoughtful lyrics from Cornish poetess Betty Thatcher, many of the masterpieces which brought international acclaim to this seventies 'art rock' group are faithfully represented here, both in their Carnegie Hall and studio recordings between 1971 and 1979. While the inclusion of "Rajah Khan", "The Flood at Lyons" and "Sisters" would have been nice additions to either of these albums (or perhaps another album a la "Tales of 1001 Nights -- Vol. 3"), it is nonetheless an absolute delight to hear many of Michael Dunford's skillfully crafted compositions, Annie Haslam's soaring vocals, John Tout's classical interpretations on keyboard, Jon Camp's lead bass and Terry Sullivan's percussion preserved on two CDs for future generations. Though critics often label Renaissance a 'pretentious' progressive rock band, one should consider their musical repertoire in the context of instruments available and musical styles other bands had covered up to this time, in which case one will then realise the innovation and intelligence of these meistersingers."