Haslam replaced Jane Relf, who, together with her brother, Keith, who had previously been a member of The Yardbirds, formed the band in the late sixties. In fact, from Renaissance's third album onwards, none of the original line-up remained ( they would later surface in " Illusion "). Keith Relf was another one of music's tragedies, dying by electrocution in March 1976. Renaissance are still around today, in one form or another., and have a proud spot as one of art/prog rock's best ever bands. ( Renaissance is the subject of this week's Dino quiz number 136. What is up for grabs is a copy of "Renaissance - Tales of 1001 nights Vol.1 ', an 11 track compilation, courtesy of CD Collection in Alberton City, Alberton. The question is: "Keith Relf was one of the founding members of Renaissance. Which band did he leave to form the band - was it Steamhammer, The Yardbirds or Armageddon? " Visit their website.

Renaissance - Opening out, taken from "A Song for all Seasons", released in 1978, their eigth album. The original Renaissance was formed in the late sixties by former Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty and guitarist Keith Relf. They were joined by Relf's sister, Jane, on vocals, bassist Louis Cennamo and keyboard player John Hawken, ex- Nashville Teens. Their debut self-titled album, released in 1969, was an interesting mix that embraced elements of folk, classical and rock. A second album, called "Illusion", was recorded in 1971 but never released until the early nineties! Illusion, in fact, was to be the name of the new band started by Relf, Relf, Cennamo, Hawken and McCarty, when they collectively left Renaissance in 1971. A whole new line-up moved in and this was to become the Renaissance that was admired and respected as one of Art/Classic rock's best bands.The band's major songwriters were Michael Dunford and poetess Betty Thatcher, and in Annie Haslam, Renaissance had a vocalist who had few equals. Her range and power were astounding. At the time this album, "A Song for all Seasons", was released, the line-up included bassist Jon Camp, Dunford on guitars and vocals, John Tout on keys and Terry Sullivan on drums, a line-up that was pretty much constant for most of the band's career. They were apparently awesome as a live act, as is well demonstrated on their stunning "Live at Carnegie Hall" album, released in 1976. The early eighties saw a depleted Renaissance ( Sullivan and Tout having left the band ) release two albums with various other musicians, including Wolf/Trace and later Marillion drummer, Ian Mosley and keyboard player Nick Magnus ( Steve Hackett ), but it was the early-to-mid seventies era Renaissance that was extremely popular, especially in the US. They are apparently still around today, in one form or another.

Renaissance - Song of Scheherazade, the title track of their 5th album, released in 1975. We've featured and covered Annie Haslam and the guys many times in the past on the Dinosaur Days and in these pages in the past, so we won't repeat their history again here. What we will tell you is that this track, taking up side two on the original lp, is one of the best conceptual numbers you're likely to find on any album, and it's fully orchestrated to boot. The track is based on the story of Scheherazade and the Sultan, sometimes r eferred to as "Tales of 1001 Nights". The only way Scheherazade could keep her head on her shoulders was by telling the Sultan a different story every night (so much for getting a bit of leg or listening to music together!). This album shows this classy UK progressive band at their near best, with vocalist Annie Haslam never sounding better. If there ever was a list of essential progressive rock albums to look out for, "Scheherazade" must s urely be one of them. There is a new Renaissance album available. Watch the new releases page for a review of "Tuscanny" soon.  

(If you have more info on this band, please e-mail us)


Biography by Bruce Eder
The history of Renaissance is essentially the history of two separate groups, rather similar to the two phases of the Moody Blues or the Drifters. The original group was founded in 1969 by ex-Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty as a sort of progressive folk-rock band, who recorded two albums (of which only the first, self-titled LP came out in America, on Elektra Records) but never quite made it, despite some success on England's campus circuit.

The band went through several membership changes, with Relf and his sister Jane (who later fronted the very Renaissance-like Illusion) exiting and McCarty all but gone after 1971. The new lineup formed around the core of bassist Jon Camp, keyboard player John Tout, and Terry Sullivan on drums, with Annie Haslam, an aspiring singer with operatic training and a three-octave range.

Their first album in this incarnation, Prologue, released in 1972, was considerably more ambitious than the original band's work, with extended instrumental passages and soaring vocals by Haslam. Their breakthrough came with their next record, Ashes Are Burning, issued in 1973, which introduced guitarist Micheal Dunford to the lineup and featured some searing electric licks by guest axeman Andy Powell. Their next record, Turn of the Cards, released by Sire Records, had a much more ornate songwriting style and was awash in lyrics that alternated between the topical and the mystical.

The group's ambitions, by now, were growing faster than its audience, which was concentrated on America's East Coast, especially in New York and Philadelphia — Scheherazade (1975) was built around a 20-minute extended suite for rock group and orchestra that dazzled the fans but made no new converts. A live album recorded at a New York concert date reprised their earlier material, including the "Scheherazade" suite, but covered little new ground and showed the group in a somewhat lethargic manner. The band's next two albums, Novella and A Song for All Seasons, failed to find new listeners, and as the 1970s closed out, the group was running headlong into the punk and new wave booms that made them seem increasingly anachronistic and doomed to cult status.

Their '80s albums were released with less than global or even national fanfare, and the group split up in the early '80s amid reported personality conflicts between members. During 1995, however, both Haslam and Dunford made attempts to revive the Renaissance name in different incarnations, and Jane Relf and the other surviving members of the original band were reportedly planning to launch their own Renaissance revival which, if nothing else, may keep the courts and some trademark attorneys busy for a little while. 


Annie Haslam
Jim McCarty
Pete Baron
Jon Camp
Louis Cennamo
Peter Gosling
John Hawken
Keith Relf
Jane Relf
Terence Sullivan
John Tout
Michael Dunford

The Strawbs
Jethro Tull
Pink Floyd
Gentle Giant
Procol Harum
Barclay James Harvest
It's a Beautiful Day

If you have any contribution to make to this band or something to add, email me - Japie Marais.


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Renaissance - 1969 - Renaissance - 3/5

Renaissance - 1971 - Illusion - 3/5

Renaissance - 1972 - Prologue - 3/5

Renaissance - 1973 - Ashes Are Burning - 4/5

Renaissance - 1974 - Turn of the Cards - 4.5/5

Renaissance - 1975 - Scheherazade and Other Stories - 4/5

Renaissance - 1977 - Novella - 2/5

Renaissance - 1978 - A Song for All Seasons - 2/5

Renaissance - 1979 - Azure d'Or - 3/5

Renaissance - 1981 - Camera Camera - 3.5/5

Renaissance - 1983 - Time-Line - 2/5

Renaissance - 1990 - Tales of 1001 Nights, Vol. 2 - 4/5

Renaissance - 1990 - Tales of 1001 Nights, Vol. 1 - 4/5

Renaissance - 1995 - The other Woman - 2/5

Renaissance - 2000 - Day of the Dreamer - 4/5

Renaissance - 2001 - Tuscany - 3/5

Renaissance - 2002 - Blessing in Disguise - 4/5

Renaissance - 2002 - Midas Man - 4/5

Renaissance - 2005 - In the Land of the Rising Sun, Live in Concert - 4/5

Renaissance - 2006 - British Tour '76 - 4/5



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