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Thread: Featured Album: Renaissance - Illusion

  1. #1
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Featured Album: Renaissance - Illusion

    http://www.progarchives.com/progress...62842016_r.jpg


    Renaissance - Illusion

    illusion.jpg

    Tracks Listing:
    1. Love Goes On (2:51)
    2. Golden Thread (8:15)
    3. Love Is All (3:40)
    4. Mr. Pine (7:00)
    5. Face Of Yesterday (6:06)
    6. Past Orbits Of Dust (14:39)


    Line-up:
    - Jane Relf / lead (1,5,6) & backing vocals, percussion
    - Keith Relf / guitar (excl. 4), lead (1) & backing vocals, producer
    - John Hawken / piano & keyboards (excl. 6)
    - Louis Cennamo / bass (excl. 4)
    - Jim McCarty / drums (excl. 4), lead (2) & backing vocals
    With:
    - Terry Crowe / lead vocals (4)
    - Michael Dunford / guitar (4)
    - Neil Korner / bass (4)
    - Terry Slade / drums (4)
    - Don Shinn / electric piano (6)



    Here is what Finnforest (AKA Jim ) had to say about it on Progarchives
    No illusion here...don't miss this beauty

    If you've even been confused about the two line-ups of Renaissance and how the story played out, you need to look no further than our band page here which has a forum thread called "A Renaissance confusion" written by Joolz which spells out this complete history in full detail. This first version of the band which produced the first two albums is considered somewhat illegitimate by some fans of the famous second line-up. In a way, the feel of the albums is bit like that of the Yes discography, where those first two Yes albums are often overlooked by casual fans. And like those first two Yes albums, the first two Renaissance albums stand on their own, delivering music that by all means should appeal to Haslam-era fans and symphonic fans in general.

    I prefer this second album just a bit over the debut and the music seems a little more consistent and Jane's vocals a little bit more confident. There's plenty here to enjoy for symphonic fans: long lush piano and keyboard workouts, great guitar and bass playing, and the delightful vocals of Jane Relf. While perhaps not as technically note perfect as Haslam, I actually prefer Relf's singing voice as I find it less dry and just as suited to the music. The album has two short poppier tracks (Love Goes On, Love Is All) that may have been made for radio and granted these will seem silly and dated to young ears. They have a clear hippie, period feel to them though I've come to enjoy them. The other 4 tracks range from 6 to 14 minutes in length and vary from average to quite impressive on the quality scale. "Golden Thread" may be my favorite with John Hawken's phenomenal piano playing and lovely classical melodies. "Face of Yesterday" is more of the same, very beautiful singing with great bass playing. On the 14 minute "Past Orbits of Dust" they are perhaps their most experimental trying out slightly jazzy guitar and bass parts and some spacey jamming. They will also throw in some hand percussions, vocal experimentation and wrap them in a heavier package.

    On the recording and creation of this material original bassist Louis Cennamo would recall "We were just pushing the music in any way that we could.it was very creative and we were free to take the music in nearly any direction we wanted. John's classical training was the basis but the rest of us explored any ideas that added to the sound. John and I worked very hard to add many new interpretations to the melodies and ideas that Keith and Jim brought to the rest of the band. Some of their ideas were quite developed when they brought them to us but some were not. So, John and I were free to create the kind of elaborate melodies that were so integral to the sound of Renaissance. Other times, everyone would just experiment and we'd test any and all ideas that came to us. The band was getting on quite well and we were developing a strong bond and admiration for one another. It was a beautiful time really -- one which I look back fondly on. I find the quality of the music on "Illusion" as beautiful, varied, and interesting as the stuff that would come later though to be fair I've only heard some of the Haslam-era stuff. The Renaissance Records CD issue features pretty good sound quality for the period along with a band history. 8/10




    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  2. #2
    Just as good as the debut. Really like a lot of this one, especially the long on Orbits. Line cd for me.

  3. #3
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Wasn't Illusion the Featured Album just two weeks ago?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    Wasn't Illusion the Featured Album just two weeks ago?
    I think that was Isotope, with an album with the same title.

  5. #5
    I remember buying this LP in the 80's and was confused about the different lineup on Mr Pine, not knowing about the complex lineup changes of the early Renaissance.

  6. #6
    A very fine album.

  7. #7
    This one was a freaking mess, but it featured two exquisite songs: the Keith feature “Golden Thread” and the Jane-led “Face of Yesterday.” The latter was so fine, Illusion did a revamped version (which, apart from featuring a real string section—no Mellotron required—doesn’t seem to differ greatly from the original version here). The middle section of “Mr. Pine” (which in general feels like two completely different songs haphazardly smashed together) later got developed into a song from the Annie years, but I forget which. And I do kind of like “Past Orbits of Dust” but even I must admit it’s needlessly longwinded.

    In general, if you need your Jane Relf fix, I’d recommend the debut Renaissance or Out of the Mist over this, though.
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    Member thedunno's Avatar
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    I had completely forgotten this album so I had to replay to remind myself.

    A nice album with mellow melodic songs. It really needs some 'spice'. Maybe there is a little bit in the last track but by then I have already fallen asleep.

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    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    The middle section of “Mr. Pine” (which in general feels like two completely different songs haphazardly smashed together) later got developed into a song from the Annie years, but I forget which.
    "Running Hard".

    Such a weird album, from a band going through a truly bizarre phase. Go look up "transition" in the dictionary and there'll be a picture of this lineup(s). In some ways the music here is very much "of its time" and unremarkable, but in others it's on par with the debut. Every time I hear it I think it's better than it should be given the chaos surrounding everything at the time.

    Oh, and another excuse to post these great old videos...



    Last edited by Paulrus; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:57 PM.

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    Pt 2 videos

    Last edited by Paulrus; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:57 PM.
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    Pt 3 videos

    I gather this lineup was only together for one short tour, but long enough to get in front of cameras on the continent. I'm pretty sure many of these songs, like "Face of Yesterday", were in the setlist in the early days of the MkII (Annie) era.

    Last edited by Paulrus; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:58 PM.
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  12. #12
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Now I know why I couldn't find these videos...
    You did, and I cannot view them because of the country I'm in. wall.gif

    I chose to feature Illusion, precisely because it's a controversial album.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    Now I know why I couldn't find these videos...
    You did, and I cannot view them because of the country I'm in.
    They're on Jim McCarty's YT channel. Maybe if you search there directly.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  14. #14
    It's a fine album, but it pales in comparison to the debut, which deserves a place in the golden library of progressive rock - not only as a very early example of fully fledged prog, but also in terms of outstanding songwriting quality. There is no Kings and Queens, Innocence, Island on Illusion. Also the long composition Past Orbits of Dust somehow misses the mark, I love the use of Hohner Clavinet but the potential isn't realised in a decisive and coherent way in my opinion.

    It's funny that I ignored both these albums' existence for many years, despite owning and loving all albums from Prologue to Song for all Seasons. At least the debut was a huge surprise for me.

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    I am a Haslam-era fan but had never heard this album before today. Based on the clips above, I think they had good ideas but didn't know how to put them together. Nice piano parts, some strong individual melodies, but nothing makes me particularly want to hear it again. I can see why this lineup didn't last.

    Somehow with Annie and company on board everything seemed to gel very quickly and the rest is history. Of course, it required a highly unusual 100% change in personnel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Of course, it required a highly unusual 100% change in personnel.
    If you're talking about the group that recorded the debut, yes. But some of Illusion (and the band featured in the old footage) included two key players in the MkII lineup: Michael Dunford and John Tout.

    It seems like original pianist John Hawken acted as a sort of recruitment agent for the band during this transitional period. He was the connection to Michael Dunford and bassist Neil Korner, both of whom had also been in The Nashville Teens with Hawken although apparently never in the same lineup! Dunford had left TNT well before Korner arrived (someone needs to take on the task of creating a Wikipedia page for Michael Dunford).
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    In general, if you need your Jane Relf fix, I’d recommend the debut Renaissance or Out of the Mist over this, though.
    Totally agree. Even if the original line-up had finished the album, it wouldn't have been as good as their debut.
    The Illision group albums are fine (given the years they recorded their two albums), but don't raise my hair in the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    It's a fine album, but it pales in comparison to the debut, which deserves a place in the golden library of progressive rock - not only as a very early example of fully fledged prog, but also in terms of outstanding songwriting quality. There is no Kings and Queens, Innocence, Island on Illusion. Also the long composition Past Orbits of Dust somehow misses the mark, I love the use of Hohner Clavinet but the potential isn't realised in a decisive and coherent way in my opinion.

    It's funny that I ignored both these albums' existence for many years, despite owning and loving all albums from Prologue to Song for all Seasons. At least the debut was a huge surprise for me.
    I personally have more respect for the ex-Yardbirds line-up, because they invented the "Renaissance formula". And I have some ill-at-ease feelings with McCarty (since he seemed to be the main actor in the project) trying to reproduce the formula with the intermediate group (with Binky singing) and then the MkII (with Haslam singing). I enjoyed the fact that the later line-up did try to change a bit the formula with Prologue (going more psychedelic), but unfortunately (IMHO), they chose to ape the debut album formula xith Turn of The Cards, which (again IMHO) was going backwards and playing it safe.
    Somehow, I think that Renaissance was some kind of "franchise" based on a concept and I've always been uncomfortable with that.

    TBH, the Haslam-Dunford era album I prefer is Prologue, because it still had some rough edges and a sort of rawness that would disppear from Cards onwards. Ashes is also right up there, but from Cards onwards, they retirn to the debut album sounds, which I have

    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    I am a Haslam-era fan but had never heard this album before today. Based on the clips above, I think they had good ideas but didn't know how to put them together. Nice piano parts, some strong individual melodies, but nothing makes me particularly want to hear it again. I can see why this lineup didn't last.

    Somehow with Annie and company on board everything seemed to gel very quickly and the rest is history. Of course, it required a highly unusual 100% change in personnel.
    Well, it took the Haslam line-up two full albums (IMHO) to achieve what the debut album managed right from the bat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulrus View Post
    If you're talking about the group that recorded the debut, yes. But some of Illusion (and the band featured in the old footage) included two key players in the MkII lineup: Michael Dunford and John Tout.

    It seems like original pianist John Hawken acted as a sort of recruitment agent for the band during this transitional period. He was the connection to Michael Dunford and bassist Neil Korner, both of whom had also been in The Nashville Teens with Hawken although apparently never in the same lineup! Dunford had left TNT well before Korner arrived (someone needs to take on the task of creating a Wikipedia page for Michael Dunford).
    Were the future second line-up some kind of mafia called TNT??

    I know there are British similar cases, when most of the Chicken Shack line-up invaded Savoy Brown (starting with Street Corner Talking)... and of course the way ex-Nucleus members gradually became the majority in Soft Machinewith the arrival of John Marshall.

    In some ways that also happened with Procol Harum and Jethro Tull, where the old amateur band members were gradually introduced in the successfull band.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    Were the future second line-up some kind of mafia called TNT??
    Sorry, I was too lazy to spell out The Nashville Teens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I know there are British similar cases, when most of the Chicken Shack line-up invaded Savoy Brown (starting with Street Corner Talking)... and of course the way ex-Nucleus members gradually became the majority in Soft Machinewith the arrival of John Marshall.

    In some ways that also happened with Procol Harum and Jethro Tull, where the old amateur band members were gradually introduced in the successfull band.
    Zounds! Sounds like a job for a Pete Frame family tree diagram!
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  19. #19
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    In some ways that also happened with Procol Harum and Jethro Tull, where the old amateur band members were gradually introduced in the successfull band.
    Procol is my favorite example of that, as the 1970-71 Brooker/Trower/Copping/Wilson lineup consisted entirely of former members of the Paramounts. (Apart from non-performing member Keith Reid.)

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    I had never explored the early released from this band until a few years ago. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this album. Different from what came later, but still very good.

  21. #21
    I prefer the debut over this one. Yesterday I played the debut and today this one.

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    I have never listened to their first two albums. My bad. Maybe I'll go listen to the debut now based on this thread....
    Prog's Not Dead

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    I have the Innocence comp, which is the first album, and a handful of tracks from the same time period. I love it. The Kings & Queens DVD is also a must.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by miamiscot View Post
    I have never listened to their first two albums. My bad. Maybe I'll go listen to the debut now based on this thread....
    You'll love it

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulrus View Post
    It seems like original pianist John Hawken acted as a sort of recruitment agent for the band during this transitional period. He was the connection to Michael Dunford and bassist Neil Korner, both of whom had also been in The Nashville Teens with Hawken although apparently never in the same lineup! Dunford had left TNT well before Korner arrived (someone needs to take on the task of creating a Wikipedia page for Michael Dunford).
    Also important pieces in the Renaissance puzzle are Jim McCarty (who continued composing songs for the Mk. II lineup as late as 1974) and Jane Relf (who befriended long-time lyricist Betty Thatcher while she was living in Cornwall).
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

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