I've been wanting to write about Renaissance for a long time, but honestly never had the confidence that it would go over. A classical prog rock band with a soprano for a lead singer and songs about wizards, gypsies and Russia seemed like a hard sell on these pages. But I have loved this band since I first found my uncle's copy of "Ashes Are Burning" while flipping through his records in 1974, and then the deal was sealed when I got to see them live at Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum soon after.
Annie Haslam's voice is a miracle of nature. And though the band has never truly "rocked," they were played on rock radio quite often in their heyday. The pop melodies of songs like "Carpet Of The Sun" and "Spare Some Love" over these lovely, sweeping, majestic arrangements created a band like no other. And if you are a sucker for harmony as I am, songs like "Sounds Of The Sea," "Northern Lights" and the band's legendary "Ashes Are Burning" should hit the spot.
Renaissance lost their way after the best selling "Live At Carnegie Hall" album, but there are songs on just about every record worth your time.
Haslam still tours under the name, though the last original member Michael Dunford passed in 2012. I saw them play live twice right before Dunford died, and Haslam sounded as she did in 1975.
There's a Spotify playlist below for those willing to dive in.