We mentioned Illusion when we featured Renaissance on The Dinosaur Days recently. Illusion were put together by some of the original Renaissance members, although Keith Relf ( of The Yardbirds and Together fame, prior to forming Renaissance with drummer Jim McCarty ), died from an electric shock at his home as the band was being put together. Other members of Illusion were bassist Louis Cennamo, who'd previously been in the excellent but unfortunately short-lived Armageddon ( with Relf, Captain Beyond's Bobby Caldwell and Steamhammer's Martin Pugh ), as well as vocalist Jane Relf, Keith Relf's sister, drummer Eddie McNeil, keyboard player John Hawken and guitarist John Knightsbridge. Jim McCarty was also a founder member of Illusion, except that he had now left the drum stool in order to sing and play acoustic guitar. They released their first album, " Out of the Mist", on Island Records, in 1977. It was an amazing album of beautifully structed tunes and melodies, with Jane Relf demonstrating her class and excellent range. This second album, produced by The Yardbirds' Paul Samwell-Smith, was equally as good, with " Madonna Blue" being the stand-out track. Tracks were recorded for a third album, but the band split at the end of the seventies. These tracks were released on " Enchanted Caress", another fantastic album, which finally saw the light of day in 1989. Just to clear up a few confusing issues: The original Renaissance as mentioned above released an album called " Illusion" in 1972, which was their second and final album under the name of " Renaissance".( It was after this album that Renaissance's line-up changed completely, with the likes of Annie Haslam, John Tout, Terry Sullivan, Mike Dunford and Jon Camp coming in to replace the " Relf " line-up, and it was this line-up that took Renaissance to the highs that they achieved over the years ).
  

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Biography by Bradley Torreano
Illusion was started in the mid-'70s by former-Yardbird/Renaissance member Jim McCarty, as well as fellow Renaissance contributors Jane Relf (vocals), Louis Cennamo (bass), and John Hawken (keyboards). They drafted guitarist John Knightsbridge and drummer Eddie McNeil into the band and began to make progressive rock when it was one of the hottest genres in England. A self-titled release arrived in 1976, followed the next year by Out of the Mist. A third album was scrapped when the band broke up over the usual creative disputes and the growing disdain for progressive rock among the growing punk scene. The demos from these sessions saw the light of day in the '90s, which are notable mostly for having the last recorded appearance of former-Yardbird Keith Relf. Island Years from 2003 collected the best of their first two albums onto one CD. 

 

Jim McCarty
Louis Cennamo
John Hawken
John Knightsbridge
Eddie McNeil
Jane Relf

Renaissance

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Illusion - 1977 - Out of the Mist - 4/5

Illusion - 1978 - Illusion - 4/5

Illusion - 1996 - Enchanted Caress, Previously Unreleased Material - 3/5

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