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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Live at Carnegie Hall (Remastered & Expanded)'
Artist - Renaissance

For those not in the know, Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit 'Northern Lights' and progressive rock classics like 'Carpet of the Sun', 'Mother Russia', and 'Ashes Are Burning'.

They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences.

Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslam's wide vocal range, prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesiser, and versatile drum work.

The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 1970s, and that region remains their strongest fan base.

The original line-up included two former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf's sister Jane Relf.

They intended to put "something together with more of a classical influence" and so Renaissance was born; and the band released a studio album in 1969, and another in 1971.

Subsequently, John Tout replaced Hawken on keyboards, followed by a period of high turnover of musicians until the "classic line-up" of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established; although none of them were in the original band.

They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger.

From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic.

The 1980s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987.

Two different offshoots of Renaissance existed at the same time at one stage in the mid-1990s. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however, they disbanded again the next year.

2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance, led by Haslam and Dunford, and since then the band has continued to record and tour.

They were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dunford in November 2012, but later Haslam stated that the band would continue touring.

The current line-up is not as English as the band's early period, with five U.S.-born members and one English-born member who lives in the United States and in April 2014, Renaissance released the studio album Symphony of Light.

On June 14th, 2019 Esoteric Recordings will release a newly re-mastered and expanded 3CD clamshell box edition of the aforementioned classic live album, Live at Carnegie Hall.

Released in 1976, the double album documented a series of sold-out concerts at the Carnegie Hall in New York City staged in June 1975, which saw highly gifted vocalist Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford (acoustic and electric guitars), John Tout (keyboards, vocals), Jon Camp (bass, acoustic & electric guitars, vocals) and Terry Sullivan (drums, percussion) joined by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Regarded as one of the finest live albums of the era, the album featured such classic tracks as ‘Ocean Gypsy’, ‘Carpet of the Sun’, ‘Mother Russia’, ‘Can You Understand’, ‘Song of Scheherezade’ and ‘Ashes Are Burning’ and is regarded among the finest works by Renaissance.

This expanded edition 3CD box-set has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and features six lengthy bonus tracks, including the very rare live performance of ‘Kiev’, recorded at the concerts and issued as the B-side to a rare promotional single by Sire Records in the USA only.

CD 1 - Live at Carnegie Hall
1. 'Prologue'
2. 'Ocean Gypsy'
4. 'Can You Understand'
5. 'Carpet of the Sun'
6. 'Running Hard'
7. 'Mother Russia'

CD 2 - Live at Carnegie Hall
1. 'Song of Scheherazade'
a) 'Fanfare'
b) 'The Betrayal'
c) 'The Sultan'
d) 'Love Theme'
e) 'The Young Prince and Princess as told by Scheherazade'
f) 'Festival Preparations'
g) 'Fugue for the Sultan'
h) 'The Festival'
i) 'Finale'
2. 'Ashes are Burning'

CD 3 - BBC Radio One "In Concert" (March 25th, 1976)
1. 'Prologue'
2. 'Running Hard'
3. 'Ocean Gypsy'
4. 'Mother Russia'
5. 'Song of Scheherazade'
a) 'Fanfare'
b) 'The Betrayal'
c) 'The Sultan'
d) 'Love Theme'
e) 'The Young Prince and Princess as told by Scheherazade'
f) 'Festival Preparations'
g) 'Fugue for the Sultan'
h) 'The Festival'
i) 'Finale'

With the New York Philharmonic augmenting them (especially filling out 'Scheherazade' beautifully), this live recording is actually one of the best live concert albums from the Progressive rock era and stands head and shoulders besides another of my own personal favorites, Yessongs.

Live at Carnegie Hall opens up with the song that opened up the Annie Haslam vocal era of Renaissance, 'Prologue', a piano and voice symphonic rock rush.

An offering from their at-the-time upcoming album gives the listener the beautiful mystical ballad 'Ocean Gypsy,' before the very rare live performance of ‘Kiev’ is finally included on this collection, with the fan favorite 'Can You Understand' taking us on a ten-minute progressive piano and bass ride.

Inclusive of Annie’s lyrical perfection and Dunford’s acoustic string swells it proves why Renaissance was one of the preeminent art rock groups of the '70s.

The folksy 'Carpet of the Sun' is next and then the music traverses into the two long-form epics from Turn Of The Cards: 'Running Hard' and the Russian ode to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 'Mother Russia' - forever the model of Renaissance’s classical influences.

The second of the three CDs opens with the-then premiere of 'Song Of Scheherazade' and opens with a somewhat longish “explanation” (lacking a libretto for the audience) of the story line. Complete with its nine parts, this is why the song tracks longer on the live version than on the studio release).

This second CD then rounds out with the magnum opus closer of the concert: a near doubled-length version of the epic 'Ashes Are Burning'. In truth, some enjoy this version far above and beyond the original studio track from the album of the same name.

That version ended with a fantastic solo guitar coda, courtesy of Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash) and the instrumental sections were tactfully restrained.

Here, the live version opens out with jazzy piano solo, a bass as lead solo that rocks the jazz club night out forays, and a synthesizer solo, all eventually leading to a Annie Haslam lead coda with voices that will haunt your dreams and raise the hairs on the back of your neck; before holding an exit note that proves hers was "The Voice" of the 70’s art rock era!

For, as I'm sure you will all agree, there is nothing, no one, comparable to her at the time, not by a long stretch.

Expanded here to now include a third disc that features the BBC Radio One "In Concert" from March 25th, 1976, a lot of what has been delved into before comes back around; and joyfully so, it has to be said.

Previously unreleased on CD, this sought after Carnegie Hall performance has been Remastered and Expanded to make this new release from Cherry Red one of the best from Renaissance.

3CD Box-Set Purchase Link