1997 Repertoire reissue of their 1983 & last studio album, featuring lead singer Annie Haslam and 10 commercially accessible tracks, mostly composed by bassist John Camp and guitarist/ songwriter Michael Dunford. Includes ... more »'The Enter- tainer', from the 1995 compilation 'Da Capo'.« less
1997 Repertoire reissue of their 1983 & last studio album, featuring lead singer Annie Haslam and 10 commercially accessible tracks, mostly composed by bassist John Camp and guitarist/ songwriter Michael Dunford. Includes 'The Enter- tainer', from the 1995 compilation 'Da Capo'.
E. Bukowski | New Castle, PA United States | 08/17/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Without a doubt, this is the worst Renaissance studio album you could possibly buy. At this time, they had degraded to an 80's pop combo and somehow didn't notice that most of their 80's peers were doing the styles they were trying out much better than they were.
Yes had enormous success changing their style because they still made great music, as well as Genesis. Even Gentle Giant made a decent new-wave influenced 80's album (Civilian) despite it being unnoticed by the general record buying public, and King Crimson at this time sounded nothing like their former selves, yet updated the style to fit with the times while sticking to their forward-thinking ideals.
Renaissance, however, did not have such luck making the transition to one of the worst periods of rock music. Any listen to their classic material would tell you why. At least Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant "rocked" within the hearts of their somewhat dissonant, complex songs. Renaissance always took a more pastoral, acoustic approach, and had orchestral accompaniment most times. To try to transition to new wave and synth-pop from their old style would have been (and was) one of the most jarring transitions you could possibly ask for.
At least Camera Camera was entertaining. At this point, they were trying to incorporate their old, "classical rock" approach with the new wave ideals, and at this point they were doing both well although the clash of styles was somewhat jarring. With "Time Line" they made the full transition, and the end result was downright ugly. The album is full of sequenced drums, cheesy basslines, and ugly 80's synths. This goes without mentioning that sonically, as well as melodically, most of the album is disposable. They also managed to include on the album their most repulsive piece of music ever written, which is the Jon Camp sung "Auto-Tech."
Like any other Renaissance album, the album is not without its merits. "The Entertainer" is a very pleasing little ditty, and features Annie hitting some stratospheric notes that will remind you of the Renaissance of old. It's almost depressing in a way because it's still nowhere NEAR the Renaissance of old.
That is the only song that even comes close to their old sound, and with it's corny 80's production it is still pretty far-removed from their old stuff. "Orient Express" is my favorite, totally cheesy, totally 80's, but in that "so bad it's good" kind of way. It has a good chorus, and a really cool funky bassline which is capped off by a menacing synth-based outtro. Plus, Annie does these great screams at the end of the chorus which end in notes that couldn't have possibly been sung by anybody else. It's bizarre, bad, and totally cool all at the same time.
"Richard The Ninth" is another very catchy song, very generic, but it gets stuck in your head as bad as any other pop song that you can't stand but sticks with you anyways. "Electric Avenue" also features some really cool funky electric piano stuff on the chorus, but not much can be said about the rest of the song. "Chagrin Boulevard" could have been a pretty song if it weren't for the generic 80's sound.
One thing of note, both the biggest pros and the biggest cons about the album are Annie's vocal performances. Hell, it's Annie fawkin' Haslam, so that is the one and only selling point of the album for me. Her voice alone carries even the worst of this lacklustre collection. Unfortunately, it is NOT the Annie Haslam of old. On most all of these cuts, she sounds tired, lifeless, uninspired. She's not even always on pitch! If there were ever an example for a phoned in performance, this album is it.
Had several of these songs been on their classic albums, they would be great. Below-average delivery and horrid production drag what little good material is on this album to the bottom of the pond. At least "A Song For All Seasons's" bloated, dead body floated towards the top of the pond with the lily pads, this tripe sinks even below where the catfish lurk.
It's a pathetic and sad reminder of what the 80's did to once-great, important artists. Paul McCartney anybody?
In a nutshell, the album can be a fun listen for a truly hardcore Renaissance fan, who will be amazed by the sheer badness of it all. Since I got it, I've played it all the time and laughed, and cried at how good it COULD have been, at least parts of it, had the material been written years before its time. If you want a good example of a simplified, poppier Renaissance, Azure D'Or would be your only good bet. If you want a good example of 80's pop music, check out any of it besides what Renaissance had to offer. If you're new to the band, save this one until you already have everything else (including live albums) that you can buy by the band. They didn't lose their record contract over this album for nothing, keep that in mind.
Renaissance In The Eighties, Not Bad
JOHN SPOKUS | BALTIMORE, MARYLAND United States | 03/16/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For the longest time I was afraid of this one, because it has the worst album cover in history. It looks like a bad Top 40 record! Although not as grand as their 70's work, it's still very progressive, with a slightly updated keyboard sound,plus electric guitar and hardly any acoustic stuff or big orchestration here. Annie's vocals are still by far the best by a female singer in prog rock. Jon Camp displays some of his best bass playing here. For Marillion fans, Ian Mosley is on drums on some cuts! I acually think that Renaissance sounded more progressive with this material than what some of their peers(Genesis, Yes) were doing with their material at the same time. I'd give it an extra half star if I could, because it's just not quite a four in the scope of their body of work, but still worthwhile."
One last grasp at commercial appeal
happydogpotatohead | 03/06/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"With their previous effort "Camera, Camera" failing to sell, Renaissance made one last attempt at casing in on the synthpop craze that was so big in the early 80's.The horrific cover photo was enough to scare off all by the most devoted of their fans and aside from the undeniably catchy "Richard IX" there was little here to appeal to the commercial audience they were so desperately trying to attract.As a result this was the final album for the band that has already been reduced to a trio."
Not their best
happydogpotatohead | New Orleans, LA USA | 09/11/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Commercial and overproduced, Renaissance's last album is not their best moment. It seemed to bear little resemblance to the neoclassical group that did "Scheherazade" and "Ashes are Burning." The sound is very 80's, digital, and dated, and the songs sound like leftovers from the Motels or any of the subpar synthpop bands of the decade. Annie Haslam's voice is the only thing of note here, and it's wasted on these dreadful songs. You would be better advised to buy any of their first four albums to hear them at their best."
A number of catchy songs not long progressive works
K. Cooper | Phila. area | 03/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No one was putting out long rock jams in the early 1980's and progressive bands like Renaissance were no exception. Southern rockers like the Allman Brothers and jam bands like the Dead were no exception. Record companies at the time must have viewed the longer pieces as dated. Yes was able to adapt to this chnaging landscape with 90125 and this is Renaissance's work in that mode. It's the second album with just the core trio and it is step up from Camera Camera, which is their least appealing work. It's still Annie doing most of the singing and she could sing anything and make it sound good. This is really an enjoybale record if you go in with the mindset that there are no "Ashes Are Burning" or "Mother Russia" type pieces. I will say John Tout on keyboards is missed but I think the band came out of the studio having done what they set out to do (or possibly were told to do.)"