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Music / Renaissance

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The original lineup: Louis Cennamo, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, John Hawken, and Jane Relf.
Renaissance are a Progressive Rock group whose long career has two distinct phases.

They originally formed in 1969 from two former Yardbirds members, singer Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty. The other members included bassist Louis Cennamo, keyboardist John Hawken, and Keith's sister Jane Relf, who shared lead vocals with her brother. However, this version of the band broke up during the recording of their second album, Illusion. Hawken finished the project by bringing in several guest musicians, including guitarist Michael Dunford; he then left, but not before recruiting vocalist Annie Haslam.

This transitional version of Renaissance, featuring Haslam and Dunford, underwent still more personnel changes while completing two albums, Prologue and Ashes Are Burning. However, by 1974's Turn of the Cards, the band's best-known, longest-lasting lineup had been assembled: Haslam, Dunford, John Tout on keyboards, Jon Camp on bass, and Terence Sullivan on drums and percussion. The new Renaissance kept the Classical Music influences of the original, while adding distinctive characteristics such as the five-octave range of Haslam and the orchestral accompaniment, giving, along with the classically-inspired songwriting, a symphonic quality to their music.

Studio Discography:

  • Renaissance (1969)
  • Illusion (1971)
  • Prologue (1972)
  • Ashes Are Burning (1973)
  • Turn of the Cards (1974)
  • Scheherazade and Other Stories (1975)
  • Novella (1977)
  • A Song for All Seasons (1978)
  • Azure d'Or (1979)
  • Camera Camera (1981)
  • Time-Line (1983)
  • Tuscany (2001)
  • Grandine il Vento (2013)

Turn of the Tropes:

  • The Band Minus the Face: An extreme example, since over time the entire original lineup was replaced.
  • Epic Rocking: Several examples, the biggest being the side-length "Song of Scheherazade".
  • Male Band, Female Singer: With Annie Haslam as lead vocalist, and Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, John Tout, and Terence Sullivan rounding out the group in their heyday. Downplayed in the Relf lineup, with Jane and Keith Relf both providing lead vocals, the latter also playing guitar.
  • New Sound Album: A succession of them in the late 1970s and early 1980s: First, A Song For All Seasons, which reintroduced electric guitars after several albums without them; next, Azure d'Or, which lacked any longer pieces and eschewed the orchestral backing typical of Renaissance in favor of synths; then, Camera Camera, which landed squarely in the New Wave genre; and Time-Line, which moved into 1980s pop rock.
  • Revolving Door Band: In the early days of the band. They went through sixteen members, including replacing the entire original lineup, before settling on the classic lineup (whose members featured from Prologue and which became official on Turn of the Cards).
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: Pretty much a given, as they are, after all, one of the biggest Symphonic Prog bands around.
    • "Island" (incorporating Beethoven's Pathétique Sonata) on Renaissance.
    • "Cold Is Being" (based on "Adagio in G minor") on Turn of the Cards.
    • They nearly got into hot water for this trope on "Can You Understand?". A short section straight up quotes "Tonya and Yuri Arrive at Varykino" from Dr.Zhivago, composed by Maurice Jarre in 1965. Dunford assumed that it was an old russian folk tune and therefore public domain.