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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Turn Of The Cards [3CD+DVD Box-Set]'
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, following that aforementioned hiatus of some years, the reformed Renaissance undertook live work, performing much praised concerts in the USA and Japan in 2010 and 2011.

On March 27th, 2020 Esoteric Recordings (via Cherry Red Records UK) will release a newly re-mastered and expanded four-disc clamshell box edition of the classic album, Turn Of The Cards by the great band.

Released in 1974, the album was an artistic triumph and heralded the band’s commercial breakthrough in the United States.

This expanded edition has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and also features an entire concert at The Academy of Music in New York City on May 17th, 1974 (with a 24-piece orchestra) over two bonus CDs which has been newly mixed from the original 16-track master tapes.

It includes live versions of songs from the album, along with classics such as ‘Can You Understand’, ‘Carpet of the Sun’, ‘Prologue’ and a 25 minute version of ‘Ashes Are Burning’ featuring guest Andy Powell (of Wishbone Ash) on lead guitar.

The fourth disc is a DVD (NTSC / Region Free) which features a new 5.1 Surround sound and high-resolution stereo mix of Turn Of The Cards.

The set also includes the previously unreleased song ‘Everybody Needs a Friend’, recorded during the sessions for the album and the rare single edit of ‘Mother Russia’.

Oh, and if all that wasn't enough, this spectacular new release also features an illustrated booklet with a new essay featuring interviews with Annie Haslam, Terry Sullivan and Jon Camp.

CD 1: Turn Of The Cards (1974)
1. 'Running Hard'
2. 'I Think of You'
3. 'Things I Don't Understand'
4. 'Black Flame'
5. 'Cold Is Being'
6. 'Mother Russia'

1974's Turn Of The Cards was the fifth Renaissance album, and once again, it's a masterpiece of classical/prog rock. Once more, the band's music is magically lush, sweeping and magnificent, with Annie Haslam's goddess-like voice leading the way.

All six songs are outstanding, played and sung to perfection by Haslam and performed to extreme precision by guitarist Michael Dunford, et al.

I mean, if you don't know now, I'll say it again: Renaissance were / are a phenomenal band who deserved a much bigger worldwide audience then what they had.

Their music is just that entertainingly good and this Turn Of The Cards is yet another simply brilliant album from Renaissance.

Listening to it here again on this newly remastered edition, I'm loving their sound all over again. Nothing has changed down the years for we still hear those interwoven strains of classically influenced music, tempered by harmonies and balance arranged by a carefully orchestrated rock ensemble - which included traditional piano and contemporary synthesizer among others - today in music that has "borrowed" from their sound down the years.

With all of this classical influence punctuated by lyrics that represent the very essence of the self-discovery of the times all done with a trace of nostalgic longing, cuts such as 'Running Hard,' 'Things I Don't Understand' and the excellent 'Mother Russia' all still reverberate within today's world.

CD 1: Bonus Tracks
7. 'Everybody Needs A Friend' (Previously unreleased - Recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley on March 23rd, 1974)
8. 'Mother Russia' (Single Edit) (Previously Unreleased)
9. 'Things I Don't Understand' (New Stereo Mix)
10. 'Black Flame' (New Stereo Mix)
11. 'Mother Russia' (New Stereo Mix)'

With Turn Of The Cards such a beautifully crafted album, expertly sung and played album, filled with lush, orchestral progressive pop-rock that's guaranteed to sweep you away, it was obvious that their live performance of it would be just as musically enticing.

Listening to it here on this newly remastered edition, and Haslam's vocals are just as exquisite, as lushly ornate as they ever were now live.

Keyboardist John Tout uses the acoustic piano exclusively with some minor organ and harpsichord work, and does not use synthesizers at all on this recording (if they are used, they are buried deep in the mix).

Electric guitars are also absent, which further emphasizes the classical approach. Perhaps the only thing missing from this recording is the "tap-tap-tap" of an impatient conductor tapping his baton on the stand!

It is only John Camps bass work and to a much lesser extent, Terence Sullivan's drumming that lend the rock aspect to the compositions. I might add that Terence Sullivan is a very sensitive drummer (he is more of a symphony percussionist) and engages in a dialogue with the acoustic piano rather than bulldozing over it.

This is largely attributable to his emphasis on cymbal/high-hat/snare work rather than heavy beats on the bass drum/floor toms.

Overall, the pieces on Turn of the Cards include three short works that range from three minutes on up to just over six minutes ('I Think Of You,' 'Black Flame,' and 'Cold Is Being') and three longish pieces in the near-ten minute range ('Running Hard,' 'Things I Don't Understand,' 'Mother Russia').

Played live, as I'm sure it was also in the studio, there are some absolutely beautiful and haunting moments on this live set, including my own personal favorite, 'Cold Is Being' -- which is based on Albinoni's excessively melodramatic Adagio for Organ and Strings in G minor.

CD 2: Live at The Academy of Music, NYC, May 17th, 1974
1. 'Can You Understand'
2. 'Black Flame'
3. 'Carpet of the Sun'
4. 'Cold Is Being'
5. 'Things I Don't Understand'
6. 'Running Hard'

CD 3: Live at The Academy of Music, NYC, May17th, 1974
1. 'Ashes Are Burning'
2. 'Mother Russia'
3. 'Prologue'

DVD: Turn Of The Cards - 5.1 Surround Sound & High-Resolution Stereo Mixes
1. 'Running Hard'
2. 'I Think Of You'
3. 'Things I Don't Understand'
4. 'Black Flame'
5. 'Cold Is Being'
6. 'Mother Russia'

3CD+DVD Box-Set Purchase Link

Renaissance Touring @ Facebook