The Renaissance Biography
Last updated: 03/16/2001 04:19:34 AM
The mainstream Renaissance lineup is most well known for their rich symphonic textures, stunning vocals and poetic lyrics. They released nine albums evolving and developing their style from 1972 to 1983, two anthologies and a live double album. A long-awaited album of rarities and a second two-album live set were released in the late 1990s. Their style mixed classical progressions with poetry and blended it with elements of rock, jazz and folk often embodying hauntingly beautiful and international themes. After a long period apart, the reunited to record an album of all new material which is expected to be released prior to the milennium.After a long period apart, the four of the band members reunited to record an album of all new material that is expected to be released prior to the milennium.
In The Beginning: 1969 - 1972
Renaissance's history actually begins in 1969, when -- after the breakup of the Yardbirds and a short stint as the acoustic group Together -- drummer Jim McCarty and guitarist/vocalist Keith Relf were joined by classically-trained pianist John Hawken who had earlier played with The Nashville Teens, bassist Louis Cennamo and Keith's sister, vocalist Jane Relf. They released the band's debut self-titled LP in 1969, produced by former Yardbird Paul Samwell Smith. The Renaissance album (also released as Kings And Queens in Europe) included two lengthy tracks and was dominated by Hawken's piano; it fused classical music and rock with eastern themes, elements of jazz and folk, inaugurating the group's unique musical style. The band toured extensively, feeling pressures as the Yardbirds had, but played some of the major rock venues of the day including the Fillmore in New York and San Francisco.The album hit the UK Top 75 at No. 60.
A second LP, Illusion, emerged from the original lineup in 1971 with just six songs and although initially released in Germany that year, it was not broadly released until 1973. Cornish poetess and friend of Jane Relf, Betty Thatcher came aboard to create lyrics for the tracks "Golden Thread" and "Past Orbits Of Dust." She would go on to provide Renaissance a lyrical foundation for their entire career with the exception of a final mainstream album and would continue writing with the principal performing artists afterwards as well.
Actually, the original lineup started falling apart prior to the second album's completion, giving rise to personnel and style changes over the next year before reaching a stable lineup. McCarty hated to fly and left the band in 1970 when they were about to embark on a European tour; Keith Relf and Louis Cennamo left shortly after to pursue a heavier style, eventually forming Armageddon. But before the original Renaissance had completely fallen apart, McCarty brought back his friend, guitarist and songwriter Michael Dunford to carry on and recruit new band members. Dunford had worked with John Hawken in The Nashville Teens and had been playing with the Plebs backing American artists but was introduced to the Renaissance lineup in 1969. Keith Relf and Jim McCarty opted for more of a background role where they could concentrate on writing songs.
When it appeared that there was not enough material to fill the second album, the original lineup got back together, without Hawken, but adding Michael Dunford to complete the Illusion album with the recording of "Mr Pine" in the summer of 1970. Session player Don Shin, with whom Louis Cennamo had played in James Taylor's backing band, joined the original lineup for the track "Past Orbits Of Dust" on electric piano. Hawken returned to lead the band while Dunford recruited vocalist Terry Crowe, drummer Terry Slade to replace Jim McCarty, and Neil Korner to replace Louis Cennamo on bass. This lineup -- Dunford, Hawken, Korner, Crowe, Slade and Jane Relf -- went on to tour Europe in September and October 1970.
After the Illusion album's drawn out completion and the European tour, Dunford and McCarty, still behind the scenes with Renaissance, continued to handle turnover in the band's lineup. Jane Relf quit after the tour completed in the fall of 1970 and was replaced by American female vocalist, Binky Cullom from late October to December 1970. John Hawken, dissatisfied with the new vocalist among other reasons, left to join Spooky Tooth and was replaced by keyboard player John Tout around the same time. Hawken later joined the Strawbs in 1973-1974.
Louis Cennamo left to join Colluseum and played on the Daughter Of Time album. He then put together Axis with ex-Jody Grind members, then joined Steamhammer which evolved into instrumental band Bogomas which ultimately folded in 1973. In February 1974 he met up with Keith Relf again; they left for America with ex-Steamhammer guitarist Martin Pugh. In Los Angeles they formed Armageddon with drummer Bobby Caldwell, rehearsed for several months and flew back to London to record an album only to break up immedately afterwards.
So by late 1970 all of the original performing band members had left and been replaced. A bootleg video shot in late autumn 1970 of a live Renaissance performance in Germany serves to commemorate this lineup and the significant transitions occuring at the time.
Further changes were needed so Renaissance manager Jon Michelle worked with Dunford and McCarty to fill in the new lineup. Melody Maker advertisements were placed for new artists including one for a female singer. Annie Haslam, a brilliant young singer with formal classical vocal training, a beautiful five-octave range and a vivacious personality, answered the Melody Maker advert and got an audition with the band where she met founding members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. Annie, who had been trained by Sybil Knight, the famous opera singer, learnt the Kings And Queens album back to front before the audition and her vocal performance of the song "Island" got her the job on New Year's Day 1971.
Annie's stunning voice would begin a transformation of the band and become one of the most recognised and well respected in the industry. The lineup of Annie Haslam, John Tout, Terry Crowe, Neil Korner, Terry Slade and Michael Dunford toured Europe extensively leading to further personal and acoustic transitions. Danny McCullough, Frank Farrell and John Wetton each took their turn at bass during the period. Keith Relf and Jim McCarty were still very much involved in the direction of the band behind the scenes and while Relf eventually became disinterested, McCarty remained involved until 1973.
Miles Copeland had met John Tout years before in Beirut when John was with Ruperts People; after making contact again, he took over as the band's manager and John Sherry became the band's agent in 1972. At that time Ed Bicknell, who later became Dire Straits successful manager, was one of the booking agents involved. The current group was disbanded and a new band was formed around Annie Haslam and John Tout while Dunford was asked to concentrate on writing. Copeland arranged further auditions; bassist Jon Camp was selected to replace Neil Korner and drummer Terence "Terry" Sullivan replaced Terry Slade. This lineup of Renaissance played 11 gigs in 14 days and then went into the studio to record what would become their first album entitled Prologue.
Michael Dunford wanted to focus on writing and production so he was replaced with young guitarist Mick Parsons. Tragically, Parsons was killed in an automobile accident right before the album was recorded so Rob Hendry was brought in last minute to replace him, only to leave not long after the album -- dedicated by Renaissance to Parsons -- was released.
The completed and finally almost-stable Renaissance lineup -- Annie Haslam on vocals, John Tout on keyboards, Jon Camp on bass, Rob Hendry on guitar and Terry Sullivan on drums -- released their first album, Prologue, in 1972. With six tracks evolving out of the original Renaissance sound to be more richly produced, it included two McCarty-Thatcher songs, two Dunford-Thatcher collaborations and two Dunford-written instrumentals with vocals but no lyrics. When asked how the band remained solvent during the period from when Annie Haslam joined and the release of Prologue, Michael Dunford replied, "the band toured just about everywhere."
Michael Dunford contributed significantly, working closely with Betty Thatcher to achieve success with Prologue. Earlier Betty Thatcher had sent her poems from Cornwall to Jim McCarty who would write songs around them. When Michael Dunford took over writing for Renaissance, he sent sheet music and demo tapes of his romantic songs to Cornwall where the poetess would add lyrics to them. They continued their collaboration through the post, writing the majority of the band's music in this legendary way. But Dunford would return in a larger role to play with the band later.
On The Frontier: 1973 - 1980
Still in the Renaissance background writing when he could with Betty Thatcher, Jim McCarty wrote songs, including a single recorded by Jane Relf entitled "Without A Song From You" b/w "Make My Time Pass By." These tracks eventually emerged on the unauthorised compact disc entitled Offshoots in 1992. McCarty formed a group in 1973 called Shoot whose only release, On The Frontier, featured a title track written by McCarty and Thatcher that Renaissance liked, and therefore included their rendition of it on their album Ashes Are Burning. It would be not be the last track from the duo that Renaissance recorded. John Tout, by then Renaissance's keyboard player, also "guest"-appeared on the Shoot album performing on the track "Old Time Religion." Jim McCarty's final contribution to Renaissance is his collaboration with Michael Dunford on the track "Things I Don't Understand" which appeared on the Turn Of The Cards album.
The new Renaissance lineup toured extensively beginning in 1973 to promote Prologue while the material for their next album was written. Rob Hendry departed after Prologue was released while Michael Dunford concentrated on writing new songs. Dunford recalls that Peter Finer played guitar with Renaissance during these tours.
Their second and even more successful album, Ashes Are Burning, released in 1973, included an orchestra brought in for the recording and although Andy Powell played electric guitar on the title track, the second album was generally more acoustic than the first album. Dunford's extensive acoustic guitar parts and the band's orchestral arrangements began to emerge as a key component of the Renaissance sound and the electric guitar was primarily set to one side. It would not return until years later. Dunford actually rejoined the band as their official guitarist prior to release of Ashes Are Burning, but his role as guitarist was excluded from the sleeve notes which were conceived and printed a long time prior to the release.
Miles Copeland formed BTM in 1974 and took Renaissance with him. In the USA the band changed labels to Sire for 1975's release of Turn Of The Cards. The album received a lot of airplay, and now highly successful across both Europe and North America, Renaissance had a loyal following that attended concerts accompanied by the philharmonic orchestras in Manchester, Birmingham, London and New York. The tour included a performance at the Royal Albert Hall and two other UK venues playing with the Royal Philharmonic. A 1975 British concert tour program, published in 1975 features lyrics to "Mother Russia" artistically hand-lettered by Annie Haslam, and commemorates their music and the musical moods of the day.
Renaissance also played with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. A double live album of their 1975 three-night sell-out Carnegie Hall performance was released in 1976 that featured the title track lasting almost thirty minutes from their then forthcoming album Scheherezade And Other Stories released later in 1975. The New York Philharmonic perfectly complemented Renaissance's vocal harmonies. As a hallmark of their success, WNEW-FM (New York) named Renaissance one of the top five artists of the year in 1975 (and would in 1976 as well) and Record World named them the Best Vocal Combination Of The Year in 1975. Many critics and fans alike consider Scheherazade to be one of the finest Renaissance albums, and one of the finest classical/rock fusion albums ever. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs released an "Orignal Master Recording" (LP) of the album in 1978 featuring a remarkable remix of the original master tapes. Michael Dunford realised the potential of the "Song Of Scheherazade" and formed his initial conce
pts for a musical based on this piece after seeing the audience reaction to it being performed live with a full orchestra.
The "ultimate" Renaissance performance was held in in Radio City Music Hall in December 1976 and featured the band rising to the stage in a brand-new yellow taxicab with Annie behind the wheel. Annie Haslam recalls, "The crowd was screaming, waiting for us to come out, and up we came, with me honking the horn. We got out of the taxi and six super-troopers came right up on us. It was fantastic." The staging was spectacular and a castle backdrop complimented the bands' attire perfectly.
The band continued touring and recording in an attempt to capitalize in their mid-1970s successes. Another label change was made, this time to the giant Warner Brothers Records. Novella, from 1977 included Jon Camp's solo vocals to some extent while still featuring orchestral arrangements and the beauty and range of Annie Haslam's voice which had developed significantly. Camp took more of a lead in writing the band's material introducing shorter songs and changes to the band's sound making it more electric and almost new wave-ish.
Annie released her first solo album entitled Annie In Wonderland in 1977, produced by Roy Wood who Annie was living with at the time just outside Birmingham. Recorded during a John Tout sabbatical, Annie's album charted in the United States for 13 weaks peaking at #167. Roy had gotten Annie to experiment more with her voice in the studio as evident in the song "Northern Lights" on the A Song For All Seasons album released in 1978. "Northern Lights" became a top 10 hit for the band on the UK charts and earned a Silver Disc award in 1978. Several versions of the single were released including a 7" picture disc featuring a lovely photo of the band's lineup. The album saw further changes, including the prominence of synthesizers and re-introduction of electric guitars, orchestral arrangements by ELO's Louis Clark, and the band's first outside producer, David Hentschel. The band left Miles Copeland and signed with the well-known New Jersey promoter, John Scher.
As they became even more well known, Renaissance was also sought after to do music for film and television. In a 1977 radio interview with Alison Steele, John Tout remarked, "Somebody wants us, I'm not quite sure who it is, I don't know whether Annie knows ... We're doing [music for a film version of] the book, The Last Unicorn; they are turning it into a full length cartoon film and they have asked us to do the music for that. And at the moment we are working on an English children's television drama series which is also very exciting ..." This television series was The Paper Lads. The opening theme, "Back Home Once Again," written by Jon Camp and Michael Dunford and recorded by Renaissance, was originally released in late 1977 as a 7" vinyl single backed with the track "The Captive Heart" from Novella. "Back Home Once Again" was also included on the 1978 album A Song For All Seasons.
The soundtrack for The Last Unicorn was eventually written and performed by the band America. It seems that the Renaissance role in the film disappeared sometime after the radio interview was originally aired. However, Annie Haslam further developed the music Renaissance conceived for The Last Unicorn years later into a solo piece entitled "Seashell Eyes."
Azure d'Or, released in 1979, is viewed as a turning point when Renaissance's music changed significantly and the band went in a different, more commercial direction. The symphonic epics were replaced by shorter tracks with many synthesizer overdubs and -- for the first time since the early days -- no orchestral instruments. While some songs might have joined the classics that Renaissance had done earlier, many fans were slow to take the change, and the album was viewed as being largely unsuccessful.
An Azure d'Or track listing published prior to the album's release in the Renaissance Appreciation Society newsletter included the song "Island Of Avalon," but it was missing when the album was released. Viewed by some critics as an excellent track, the band didn't devote their normal amount of time to it and therefore felt it wasn't good enough to include on the album. The song was eventually released in April 1979 as the b-side of the "Winter Tree" single which had been included on the Azure d'Or album. Some have never understood why the instrumental track entitled "The Discovery" made it onto the album while "Island Of Avalon," which is a much more typical Renaissance track with Annie Haslam's strong female vocal lead was left off.
Upon return from a short tour of Israel in 1980, eight-year veteran John Tout had grown tired of the music business and touring lifestyle so he left Renaissance and eventually pursued an alternate career with British Telecom. Most likely due to stress following his sister's death, Tout made a major mistake in a song during a concert and walked off stage, leaving the band to finish the set without keyboards. The band decided it couldn't risk that happening again so it was mutually decided that he should leave. When Terry Sullivan learned that his long time friend John Tout was sacked, he decided to leave the band as a matter of principle. Warner Brothers/Sire dropped the group after sales of Azure d'Or proved disappointing and after turning down several offers from other labels, Renaissance faced a very uncertain future.
All of the mainstream albums, with the exception of Prologue, charted the United States, with only Scheherazade and Novella breaking into the Top 50. Ashes Are Burning made it to #171 in 1973 with 4 weeks spent on the charts. Turn of the Cards spent the longest period -- 21 weeks in 1974 -- of all the band's albums on the charts reaching #94. Scheherazade and Other Stories made it to #46 but spent only 13 weeks in 1975 on the charts but was followed by Live At Carnegie Hall whose chart activity spanned 20 weeks during 1976. Novella followed reaching #46 during the 16 weeks it charted in 1977. A Song For All Seasons climbed to #58 during 14 weeks of charting in 1978. Azure d'Or achieved a spot of #125 during a 9 week chart run in 1979. The band's best commercial album performance in the UK was A Song For All Seasons, which charted at #35 in 1978.
Bonjour Swansong: 1981 - 1983
The remaining three members regained their individuality and started fresh having separated from their prior management arrangements. Jon Camp joined Roy Wood's band Helicopters. Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford formed a group called Nevada and brought Peter Gosling on board; Dunford thought Nevada could grow alongside Renaissance.
Nevada did some demos including "Mr. Spaceman," got a deal with PolyGram and released the singles "In The Bleak Midwinter" b/w "Pictures In The Fire" in 1980 and "You Know I Like It" b/w "Once In A Lifetime" in 1981 on the Polydor UK label. Of the four songs, all except "Once In A Lifetime" feature Annie Haslam's lead vocals. The band's sound and style -- although different from that of the Renaissance to date -- is similar to one that would emerge on Renaissance's final two albums in some respects. Lead vocals on "Once In A Lifetime" were provided by Peter Gosling; the song was completely different and is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's work. "In The Bleak Midwinter" got some airplay, charted at number 71 in the 8 January 1983 UK Top 100 and appears to have been one of the trio's favourites. This song was liked by audiences and the band alike and was performed live by Renaissance later in their career. The band's demo tapes contained enough for an album, however they were eventually lost in a tragic accident
and all that remains of the original Nevada sound are the two Polydor singles.
By 1981 Michael Dunford, Annie Haslam and Jon Camp wanted to get Renaissance back together so they enlisted Peter Gosling who had worked with Nevada for keyboards and Peter Barron for drums. A new, very different, Renaissance album entitled Camera Camera appeared later that year on Miles Copeland's IRS Records, home of groups such as The Police and The Go-Gos. Dominent popular trends in the music industry, coupled with the lack of orchestral work, damaged the album's appeal, but the songs worked quite well live, making three subsequent Renaissance tours extremely successful with fans coming out in large numbers to warmly welcome them back. Camera Camera actually cracked the Billboard charts for a short time, and was relatively well received by critics. The album charted in the USA at #196 spending four weeks on the charts in 1981.
The final Renaissance album featuring new material, Time-Line, came out in 1983 as a followup to Camera Camera. It was a completely new musical direction for the band and was the largest departure from their earlier orchestral style, including dance rock, ballad and progressive influences, but was still bound together by Annie Haslam's vocals. Betty Thatcher -- who had provided a lyrical foundation since the first Renaissance album -- departed, and Jon Camp took over the lyricist role on Time-Line, contributing to further changes. The album was constructed with the dense, rich production that had become the band's trademark. A furious debate amongst Renaissance purists ensued with one side favouring the earlier sound, and the other supporting the band's latest changes, including their rougher texture. The album didn't work commercially, and (despite several of the tracks being excellent pop songs) received the most scathing reviews of the band's history. Soon after, Annie, Michael and Jon found themselves bac
k as a threesome.
Not ready to give up, Renaissance placed another ad in Melody Maker and were inundated with around 300 replies. They recruited drummer Gavin Harrison and Mike Taylor in 1983. The Time-Line tour demonstrated that their fans' enthusiasm had not diminished one bit; Renaissance continued to play to packed houses. The touring wasn't enough to sustain interest in the group, however, and the two newest band members left after the tour. IRS Records was a 'New Wave' label where Renaissance was hopelessly out of place so IRS dropped the band in 1984.
At least three tracks recorded leading up to and during the Time-Line sessions weren't released with the album. "Africa" and "America" were finally released on the two CD Renaissance pseudo-box set by Repertoire Records entitled Da Capo with songs selected by Annie Haslam. A printing error in the liner notes accompanying this release revealed the name of a third unreleased track, entitled "Writers Wronged." "America" was actually pressed as the final track however the liner notes said the final track was "Writers Wronged." The second pressing of Da Capo has been done correctly and "Writers Wronged" is the final track.
Distant Horizons: 1984 - 1987
Renaissance soldiered on without a recording contract. Jon Camp left to join Cathedral, leaving the band without his distinctively melodic bass guitar for the first time in over a decade. Keyboard player Raphael Rudd and bassist/guitarist Mark Lampariello, both from the USA, joined Annie and Michael as the newest version of Renaissance and toured as an acoustic quartet from 1985 through 1987 when they finally called it a day and disbanded. Their final concert was held on June 6 at the Club Bené in Sayreville, New Jersey before a dedicated audience of friends and fans, many of whom had followed them since the early days. But that's not the end of the artists' history by any means.
In 1990 Sire Records (USA) released a Renaissance two-volume CD compilation (each sold separately) entitled Tales of 1001 Nights. These compilations did not include tracks from the last two albums, Camera Camera and Time-Line, but were accompanied by liner notes that referred to them. Volume I spanned the band's music from 1974 to 1976 and Volume II covered 1976 to 1979; Sire achieved six-figure sales in the USA and Canada on these Renaissance CD compilations with neither promotion nor marketing campaign. The CDs are reported to have sold 40,000 to 50,000 units and remain available internationally today. Actually, the first Renaissance CD "compiliation" was released in 1988 on Capitol Records; In The Beginning, was originally released in 1978 as a double LP but went highly un-noticed. The album includes the tracks from Prologue and Ashes Are Burning but "At The Harbour," "Rajah Khan" and "Ashes Are Burning" were edited.
During the 1990s all of the Renaissance albums were eventually released on the CD format in various territories. Clearly fans that followed Renaissance before have converted to CD and passed the word along to an ever emerging audience. Indeed, every Renaissance album is readily available in the CD format, and HTD Records (UK), OneWay Records (USA), Warner Brothers Europe and Japan as well as Repertoire Records (Germany) are heavily engaged in capitalising on Renaissance's following. Despite the renewed interest in the band's music, Warner/Sire (USA) has no plans to release the recordings they control as US domestic releases.
There is a long standing controversy over the timings on the Scheherazade and Other Stories LP. While the timings for each section of the piece match up with the breaks in the music, there is a discrepancy in the titles of each section between the record label and the album's accompanying lyric sheet. For example, the track that begins at 2:37 is called "The Betrayal" on the record label but according to the lyric sheet, the song is actually "The Sultan." Likewise, the song that begins at 10:10 is called "Love Theme" on the label, but the lyric sheet calls it "The Young Prince and Princess." This discrepancy has been carried through to the Sire/Warner 1001 Nights compilation, in that the track listed as "The Young Prince and Princess," while the same track that begins at 12:40 on the LP is actually "Festival Preparations." The perpetuation of this mistake stopped with Repertoire's 1995 release Da Capo where the track listed as "The Young Prince and Princess as Told by Scheherazade" is the actual track.
No Beginning No End: 1987 - 1997
Renaissance fans following the music press and internet web pages have known about further Renaissance and Nevada recordings and a forthcoming CD release including these was a popular topic of discussion. Radio broadcasts of both demonstration tapes and live concerts in the late 1980s revealed them to the fans. "The Animals Are Back," "Dreamaker," "No Beginning, No End," "Communication" and a different version of "Northern Lights" are among these. "Communication" was written by B. A. Robertson and Mike Rutherford from Genesis, however Annie Haslam was the first to record it. Unfortunately this recording, like several of the others, did not go beyond the demonstration stage.
"Dreamaker" features lyrics by Jon Camp and music by Michael Dunford; alternative lyrics for the song with a completely different theme were written by Betty Thatcher years later for the same music resulting in "Love Lies, Love Dies." Two versions were subsequently recorded and released -- one by Annie Haslam and the other by Michael Dunford with vocalist Stephanie Adlington. A third version finally emerged with lyrics by Jude Alderson in Michael Dunford's musical Scheherazade and was entitled "A Love So Pure." An Annie Haslam "Northern Lights" demonstration recording was also broadcast during this time period with "No Beginning, No End" also written by Michael Dunford with lyrics by Betty Thatcher Newsinger. An audience recording of an Annie Haslam live performance in 1988 revealed that "No Beginning, No End" actually began life as 'a new Dunford tune' named "Love Again and Again."
While there are many bootleg tapes of the band's live performances circulating in the fan community, only one of them appears to have been marketed commercially in that it was sold more or less on the open market in CD format. Entitled Live In London (1975), it is a live recording of the band performing tracks from Turn Of The Cards and Scheherazade at the London Hippodrome and appears to be a reasonably good quality transcription of a radio broadcast. Another bootleg entitled Moments Of Truth has been confirmed to be an alternative "release" of the same recording.
The long-awaited Renaissance rarities album of previously unreleased songs finally emerged through the collaboration of Michael Dunford and Annie Haslam. The music was recorded between 1979 and 1988 and fills a gap in the band's evolution, between the breakup of the mainstream band and the release of Time-Line. Songs From Renaissance Days, released first in April 1997 on HTD (UK) and in Germany and the USA later, features rare tracks including: "Africa," "Island Of Avalon, " "Writers Wronged," "Dreamaker," "America," "Only When I Laugh," "The Body Machine," "No Beginning No End," "Northern Lights" (1988 Version) and "You." The album's artwork used in UK and US releases was designed and produced by Annie Haslam.
Remixed by Michael Dunford with Annie Haslam's support, a a two CD set entitled Renaissance Live With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Parts 1 and 2, was published by King Biscuit Flower Hour Records in two 1997 releases. Part 1 was subsequently released in the UK. Originally made and used for radio broadcast, Michael Dunford points out, "it's not at all like the Carnegie Hall album, it's a bit rougher, and you get a real feel of the live show from it." The CDs include a two-hour concert recorded at the Royal Albert Hall during the band's Novella tour. Part 1 features a stunning orchestral arrangement of "Prologue" used to open the show. Harry Rabinowitz conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra throughout the concert. Part 2 includes the bonus studio track quot;You" and in the first pressing a live version of "A Song For All Seasons." The artwork for Part 2 states that a "Prologue" recorded live 28 July 1979 in Asbury Park, New Jersey should have apeared where "A Song For All Seasons" was actually pressed.
This error was corrected in the second pressing and where the live version of "Prologue" now appears.
Three classic Renaissance songs have been covered by other artists. A very true version of "Ocean Gypsy" is performed by Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night on the highly successful 1997 Blackmore's Night album Shadows Of The Moon. "Northern Lights" is performed in style by singer Judith Durham on her 1996 compilation Mona Lisas. A far less accurate rendition of "Northern Lights" is heavily reworked dance-oriented club mix on the 1998 self-titled Motorbaby album where it is sung by New Yorker Sharon Middendorf.
Seattle-based Faith & Disease, typically known for their etherial, gothically-oriented style, released two covers of a portion of Renaissance's "Ashes Are Burning." The first is a very accurate rendition in a studio performance lasting 2:54 on their 1994 album Fortune His Sleep. A live version from their 1996 album, Live Songs: Third Body is equally accurate, and lasts 5:25. The lead vocals tend to sound more like Jane Relf than Annie Haslam.
Where Are They Now?
In recent years, following the great success of many progressive '70s bands in reuniting and even, in many cases, continuing to tour and record on an ongoing basis, attempts were made to assemble all the original members from the most well-known Renaissance lineup. However, enthusiasm on the part of some was unable to overpower individual artistic persuits, views on the business and long-standing differences, so the best-loved version of Renaissance remained a closed book for many years.
In commemoration of progressive rock's link to classical music, London Records (Japan) released a series of CDs entitled Classics From Progressive Rock in 1997. Volume 4: Renaissance and Annie Haslam, from the series, features classical tracks used within Renaissance's and Annie Haslam's music. Included are the classical foundations of "Cold Is Being," "Prologue," "Kiev," "At The Harbour," "Song of Scheherazade" and several songs from Annie Haslam's Still Life album.
Drawn together in the summer of 1998, after an initial reunion of Michael and Annie to make a promo for the Scheherazade musical, four of the mainstream band lineup joined forces on an exciting new project. Originally planned as bonus tracks for albums containing re-mixes of earlier classics, the group -- Mike Dunford, Annie Haslam, Terry Sullivan, John Tout and guest Roy Wood -- made such progress in the initial rehearsals at Terry's studio in southern England, they elected to make an all new 10-track album. "The chemistry was unlike anything we had experienced since the early days of the band," Annie reported.
With Annie assuming the role of lyricist, the new songs, written by Michael Dunford, capture the classic Renaissance sound with contemporary instrumentation. Annie wrote, "the music is progressive, modern, and classical at the same time; I truly believe we have captured a new direction for the future of Renaissance. ... The band have no plans of touring, but if the right offer came along we would think about it seriously."
The album was recorded in two sessions at Astra Studios near Canterbury in Kent, England. Roy Wood (ELO) played bass and added production skills during the first session. As a result of other commitments, Tout and Wood were unable to participate in the second session. A talented keyboard player that could handle the sometimes complicated arrangements that have become Michael Dunford's trademark was required. Mickey Simmonds (Mike Oldfield, Camel, Fish), originally recommended by Terry Sullivan, was brought in to complete the keyboard work. Also recommended by Terry, Alex Caird, from Lee Sullivan's band Boa, completed the bass parts.
Annie Haslam's solo career has continued to develop and she has a significant loyal following around the world. In 1977 she contributed as lead vocalist to a multi-artist effort entitled The Intergalactic Touring Band also involving Larry Fast who would later perform on and produce one of her solo albums. Two years later she contributed backing vocals to the track "Dancin' On The Rainbow's End" on a Roy Wood album called On The Road Again. She made a similar contribution to the track "The Rain Came Down" on Wood's album Mustard released in 1975.
In 1984, following the release of Time-Line, Annie Haslam devised the original concept and teamed up with Louis Clark, who had conducted earlier orchestral arrangements on A Song For All Seasons, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Betty Thatcher to make the album Still Life initially only released in the UK and broadcast on the BBC; this album was subsequently reissued both in Japan and the USA. Annie's stunning vocals express Betty Thatcher's lyrics to highly memorable classical movements, some of which are accompanied by The Royal Choral Society. The album was engineered by Dick Plant who had done so for Renaissance's releases from Novella onwards.
Annie contributed vocals to a single entitled "So The Story Goes" which was released during the 1985 Christmas season as part of a 200-strong various artist group doing work for charity that called themselves "Philadelphia For Philadelphia." More than 10,000 copies of the single were sold and the producers were given awards for their work by local Philadelphia and Pennsylvania state government officials.
Annie then moved to the United States and re-joined forces with keyboard player Raphael Rudd and guitarist Mark Lampariello to form The Annie Haslam Band and secured a deal with Epic Records. Her debut album on Epic self-titled Annie Haslam was produced by Larry Fast in 1989 with Denny Bridges doing the engineering. Justin Hayward's Moody Blues sound emerges several times in the album but most notably in the track "The Angels Cry" that he worte and performs with Annie and her band. The album has a more adult contemporary feel than her earlier work but Annie's vocals carry it to explore a further range and depth of her talent. The album went largely unnoticed, except by her fans, because Epic failed to promote it.
Raphael Rudd and Mark Lampariello went their own way touring with a group of other talented musicians afterwards. Raphael Rudd went on to record an album entitled Skydancer that includes a tremendous vocal track by Annie Haslam entitled "Seasons" recorded in August 1989. The album was released in Japan in 1991. Raphael Rudd's 1996 double CD set entitled The Awakening includes the Skydancer tracks on the one CD and work recorded with Annie Haslam, Pete Townshend, Phil Collins and others in 1978 on the other CD. Annie's vocals are featured on the album's tracks from the 1978 recording including "Seasons," "Willow Song" and she also sings "The Awakening" with Pete Townshend. Writes Raphael Rudd, "I knew that this magical project was complete when Annie Haslam of Renaissance agreed to lend her tremendous vocal talents to "Seasons" - a piece I had written with Annie in mind. As these things go, fate also dealt me a continuing relationship with Annie when I joined Renaissance in 1983. We even performed "Seasons" to
gether for several years on tour."
During 1988, Annie Haslam contributed to a multi-artist studio effort featuring the poetry of Sir John Betjeman set to music by Mike Read called Poetry In Motion which was eventually released in 1990. The album was produced by Rod Edwards, who also worked with Annie on the demonstration recordings that ultimately led to her deal with Epic Records. On Poetry In Motion, Annie sings an unusual song entitled "Hunter Trials" which was recorded in Read's conservatory (due to the excellent acoustics) on a very hot day, wearing shorts, using the Rolling Stones' mobile recording studio parked just outside Read's home. Read said he was so happy with the result that several of the other tracks for the album were recorded in the same manner. Justin Hayward is another one of the many musicians involved on this album. "Hunter Trials" was actually broadcast to a Philadelphia audience during a radio interview with Annie Haslam in 1988, almost two full years prior to the Poetry In Motion release.
The Annie Haslam album was released in Japan as Moonlight Shadow on Virgin Records. A high profile music video of the title track was made in a church setting to promote the album in Japan. Her later promotional tour there was very well received. She was very popular and this led to the 1991 Japanese CD re-releases by Sire/Warner-Pioneer of Renaissance's Novella, Azure d'Or, A Song For All Seasons and Annie In Wonderland. It also led to the Japanese CD re-release by Apollon International of Still Life. Annie collaborated with Akio Dobashi on his 1990 Virgin Records Japan release Fox. Annie emerged writing her own poetic lyrics and went on to perform with typically stunning vocals on four of the album's ten tracks accompanied by Dobashi. A music video of the track "Lost In Love" featuring Annie was made to promote the album in Japan.
Singing better than she believed she had ever done before, Annie survived the breast cancer she was treated for in 1993 and then got back into business with a band called Annie Haslam's Renaissance. She wrote poems and Tony Visconti put them to music and likens it to how Thatcher and Dunford "used to work in the old days." Visconti also co-wrote six of the tracks.
The album resulting from the collaboration is entitled Blessing In Disguise. Released in 1994, it has fourteen songs and spans the entire range of Annie's musical abilities including tracks with a texture reminiscent of Renaissance's earlier work and those that go on beyond where the band left off. Both Betty Thatcher-Newsinger and Michael Dunford contributed to Blessing In Disguise in co-writing "Love Lies, Love Dies" also performed on The Other Woman by Dunford and another vocalist. Betty Thatcher-Newsinger also wrote lyrics for "The Sweetest Kiss."
The song "Love Lies, Love Dies" uses essentially the same music as the earlier "Dreamaker" released on 1997's Songs From Renaissance Days, making it another example of songs the artists have performed the same melody with multiple sets of lyrics. The music was used again in Michael Dunford's Scheherazade musical with lyrics by Jude Alderson in the song "A Love So Pure." Another pair is "Save Us All" from Still Life and "Cold Is Being" from Turn Of The Cards which both use Albinoni's "Adagio Giazotto" as their musical foundation.
Annie Haslam's 1995 recordings include her single "Lily's In The Field" and, on the Yes tribute,Tales From Yesterday she sings "Turn Of The Century," both with Steve Howe; she also recorded the track "Ripples" for the Genesis tribute Suppers Ready. All three of these were recorded with David "Squiggy" Biglin on keyboards and were engineered by Denny Bridges both from Annie Haslam's Renaissance.
Annie tours extensively and adores performing at intimate venues where she can chat and interact with her fans from the stage. She has been very active in a charity that helps Bosnian orphans and organised a sold-out multimega-artist benefit concert. The 1995 track, "Lily's In The Field," written and perfomed by Annie Haslam with Steve Howe and arranged by David Biglin, was sold as a limited edition CD at the Benefit Concert for Orphan Children in Bosnia - Hercegovina held in New York on 21 November 1995. A special dedication to Alison Steele was made by Annie Haslam in the concert brochure and posters promoting the event. Annie and Alison grew very close over the years and Alison's support of both Renaissance and Annie Haslam's solo career was evident in the amount of promotional airplay she gave their music as well as the frequent interviews conducted on her "Nightbird" radio broadcast in New York City.
"Lily's In The Field" is Annie's second release performing with Steve Howe. The two decided to do an album together and recording has been underway in the UK and USA since the summer of 1995; live performances of some of the new songs have been very well received by their fans. The project is expected to complete and result in an album release eventually.
Annie Haslam switched management to The White Dove Organisation in 1996 where she has an exclusive contract today. At this writing, Annie is recording a new album with her current lineup, and although some of the songs have already been completed, the album does not have a release date.
Recordings of Annie Haslam's music also circulate among the fan community. One of the most recent include her performances with the band Sojourn and feature a selection of Christmas carols. One very high quality bootleg CD was offered "commercially" entitled Waterfalls Of Sounds. It is a recording of a live performance by The Annie Haslam Band in September 1990 and includes several well-known tracks from the Renaissance albums and the Annie Haslam album. In 1997 another unauthorised album entitled Mother Russia emerged. It sounds like an audience recording of an Annie Haslam concert performance and was made at the Nihon Seinen-kan in Tokyo, Japan, on 25 March 1991.
Sojourn opened for Annie Haslam many times, including a concert at the TLA in Philadelphia in June 1996. Like the band October Project, Sojourn is very fond of Renaissance and Annie Haslam's music and was signed with Mercury Records but had to change their band name to Grey Eye Glances for legal reasons. Unfortunately, October Project split up in the summer of 1996, largely disappointed by lack of support by their record company. Annie Haslam introduced Terry Sullivan to October Project in one of their outstanding live performances. After an early 1996 Philadelphia performance that Annie attended, OP's lead vocalist Marina Bellica asked a fan how she liked the concert; when she heard that Annie was in the audience, she exclaimed, "You mean Annie Haslam was really in the audience and heard me perform ... wow!!"
In what is becoming a regular event, Annie holds a Candlelight Concert during the Christmas holiday season. Like those at the clubs in the northeast held throughout the year these concerts are highlighted by songs spanning her entire career. The Candlelight Concerts however have featured special performances by Raphael Rudd and her band's unique rendition of poplular Christmas carols. Tony Visconti was a guest performer at the 1995 Candlelight Concert and appears with Annie from time to time.
Plans for a Brazilian tour were initiated in late 1996 following Annie's 21 June performance at the Bottom Line in New York. Annie and David "Squiggy" Biglin wrote a new song entitled "Brazilian Skies" and recorded backing tracks for it. Annie, Squiggy and their expert soundman Denny Bridges subsequently traveled to Brazil in March 1997 and played four shows to sellout crowds, in São Paulo, Rio De Janeiro and Pétropolis, organised by long-time fans Luiz Octavio Drummond and Carlos Edmar. The concerts featured songs spanning Annie's entire career, including "Let It Grow," Brazil's favourite among the many Renaissance classic tracks performed. Digital recordings were made during the shows for a live album that includes some of Annie's newest songs -- "Seashell Eyes," "Summon The Angels," "Sometimes," and the all-new "Brazilian Skies" -- amongst other classics. Squiggy recorded backing tracks for six songs which worked well to add texture during the concerts and on the live recordings. A full review of
the concerts including set lists can be found within the "Reviews and Interviews" index of the Northern Lights website. The album Annie Haslam Live Under Brazilian Skies was released in January 1998 on White Dove Records. It features both Renaissance classics and many of Annie's previously unreleased solo tracks she wrote with members of her band. Annie returned to Brazil with her full band and played to packed 3,000-seat venues in 1998.
In late 1998, Annie signed a management deal with Rick Korn who was formerly the manager of rockability king Carl Perkins who passed away in January 1998. In early 1999, Annie announced a plan to record a country album of Carl Perkins songs as well as songs by Carls' daughter Debbie and sons Greg and Stan. Annie remarks, "I never realised how talented Carl was, and when you hear me singing his songs, and also songs written by Debbie, Greg and Stan (new ones that haven't been heard yet) you will wonder how could they write something so perfect for my voice without even knowing me." A release should emerge in mid-late 1999.
Michael Dunford's story is another significant branch of the Renaissance history. He and Betty Thatcher-Newsinger were a significant driving force behind Renaissance during the period 1972 through 1983 and wrote the majority of the group's material. Initially developed with Betty Thatcher-Newsinger in 1988, but then completely revamped with Jude Alderson and Richard Brown in the 1990s, Michael's musical and stage interpretation of Scheherazade resulted in a full length and widely acclaimed 1997 Showcase production.
In a session recording tracks for the new musical featuring lyrics by Betty Thatcher-Newsinger, Michael met an American vocalist named Stephanie Adlington. Michael called Stephanie a few weeks after the sessions and asked her to record a new demo of "Northern Lights" and then recorded the first demos for the album that would become The Other Woman. He and Betty Thatcher-Newsinger wrote new music and lyrics during 1994 and the new album was released in the UK and Europe early in 1995.
Stephanie Adlington grew up in West Virginia to the sounds of The Doobie Brothers and The Eagles and watching old musicals from the '50s and '60s like The Music Man and Oklahoma!. She's a Renaissance fan whose favourite song is "Ocean Gypsy," and calls herself an '80s child, loving most of the music from that period. Stephanie completed two years at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York before realising that she needed to continue her classical study while having the opportunity to perform music theatre and commercial music/pop which is what led her to complete her education at the Royal Academy Of Music in London.
On The Other Woman, Michael plays acoustic guitar and he is joined by Stuart Bradbury on lead guitar, Dave Dowle on drums and Phil Mulford on bass. The new lineup is completed by Andy Spiller on keyboards and synthesizer programming who has also produced the album. Spillar also arranged "Dance Of The Masks" for the musical. The Other Woman contains a remix of "Northern Lights," shares a song common with Annie Haslam's Blessing In Disguise entitled "Love Lies, Love Dies" and has been produced more commercially than previous Renaissance releases.
The track "May You Be Blessed" on The Other Woman actually features the same musical foundation as Part 1 of the previously rare Renaissance track "You" now available on the Songs From Renaissance Days CD. It is yet another example of the multiple versions of Michael Dunford's compositions.
Ocean Gypsy, recorded by Michael Dunford, Stephanie Adlington and guest musicians, was released April 1997 on HTD Records. The album features acoustic versions of favourite Renaissance songs from the mainstream era plus newly recorded tracks "Star Of The Show" and "The Great Highway." Ocean Gypsy departs significantly from The Other Woman and returns to a more progressive-folk-rock genre of the mainstream era with more contemporary arrangements of classic mid-1970s Renaissance tunes. It features Michael Dunford on guitar, vocals and harp with entirely new arrangements and Stephanie's vocals.
Stephanie has developed her style significantly, adding warmth and a different texture to several classic songs. Of the new songs, "The Great Highway" is similar in style to what the band was doing in the 1970s but with a more contemporary feel; lyrics are by playwright Jude Alderson, a close friend of Stephanie's from the Royal Academy Of Music who is also working with Michael on the Scheherazade musical. "Star Of The Show" is a classic ballad with vocals and piano only. The other seven tracks span Ashes Are Burning to Scheherazade, and like the new tracks feature orchestral arrangements provided by Richard Brown, Michael's co-composer for the Scheherazade musical, and musical director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 1998, Mooncrest Records (UK) released a 16-track compilation of Michael Dunford's work with Stephanie Adlington drawn from The Other Woman and Ocean Gypsy albums entitled Trip To The Fair. The title track, which is recorded on Ocean Gypsy, was omitted by the label in the compilation.
The Scheherazade musical made significant progress during 1997. Michael Dunford's dream for the show became a reality when a stunning five performance Showcase Production was staged 17-20 December at London's Royal Academy Of Music with Poppy Tierney performing the part of Scheherazade.
A limited edition Scheherazade Musical Promotional CD with songs from the musical was released in October 1997. Included were Annie Haslam's rendition of two tracks entitled "Remember Me" and "In The Stillness Of The Room" from the musical. Also featured on the CD are workshop versions of "A Love So Pure," which is sung to the music of "Dreamaker" and "Love Lies, Love Dies" as well as the classic Renaissance-sounding instrumental "Dance Of The Masks," arranged by Andy Spillar. The track "Future Brides" although included on the Promotional CD was actually cut prior to the Showcase. An entirely new interpretation of "Northern Lights" was performed by Poppy Tierney in the live Showcase performance. "In The Stillness Of The Room" resembles the "Young Prince And Princess" movement from Renaissance's "Song Of Scheherazade."
During the Showcase run, the Friday 19 December 1997 performance was designated "Renaissance Fan Evening" by the producers and fans from the all over the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and the USA joined Michael Dunford and the rest of the creative team during the interval to discuss the show, the music and future plans. Special guest Terry Sullivan was there to see Michael's dream come to life and to meet Renaissance fans as well.
The Showcase has been viewed as a huge success. Discussions about producing a concept album with recordings made during the Showcase performances are underway. The project secured financial backing in 1998 and following the rewrite stage, the Musical is expected to open in London's West End in late 1999.
Tout, Sullivan, Camp
Terry Sullivan and John Tout have recorded some demos. Terry is actively writing and recording again and would like to release an album of their music. While firm arrangements have not been made, the lineup is being filled in with other musicians and a female vocalist while a record deal is being sought. Terry hopes to come back into the progressive music scene and provide a new audience and the existing Renaissance fan base with a sampler of new music they have written. Annie Haslam stays in touch with Terry and Christine Sullivan and they remain good friends.
Terry Sullivan's sons are also both active musicians. Terry's son Lee is the drummer with Boa which features Jasmine and Steve Rodgers on vocals. The singers' father is Paul Rodgers from the band Free. Boa's first album, The Race Of 1000 Camels, was released on Polystar (Japan) in July, 1998.
Jon Camp surfaces from time to time in the fan community and music press. An interview with him was published in the Renaissance fan newsletter Opening Out during 1998 that was subsequently posted on Northern Lights. A Yes-like five-track demo recording made in 1986 by Camp with Joe Lynn Turner, Mike Taylor, Raphael Rudd and Jeff Seitz has been circulated in the fan community but went no further. Four of the track titles are: "Feels Like London," "I want To See You," "Pretending" and "It's All Right." The fifth title remains unknown.
Camp was keen to reunite the band and contacted Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford and Terry Sullivan several times in an attempt to assemble the mainstream Renaissance lineup. However, significant differences between the artists prevented his participation in the 1998 reunion sessions. Terry Sullivan believes Jon will return to the music scene eventually and confirmed earlier that Jon is still in the business.
A John Tout interview was also published in Opening Out in 1998 and subsequently posted on Northern Lights. John continues to be in and out of music as a result of various commitments he has outside the business but, based on the results of the reunion sessions, he's still very much a spirited keyboard player and musical artist.
The Original Renaissance: McCarty, Relf, et al
The conclusion of the original Renaissance thread, begins with news that Keith Relf died tragically, electrocuted while playing his guitar at home in 1976 during the initial stages of recording material for an album under a new band name; in fact some of these early tracks appear on the album Enchanted Caress discussed below. Relf suffered with asthma which was compounded by his heavy smoking and some believe that it was Relf's overall physical condition that caused what might have been only a shock to others to be enough electrocute him. Hawken was later reunited with Cennamo, McCarty and Jane Relf in 1977 after Renaissance had reconstituted with the mainstream lineup. Although the precise stories on the subject differ, the name Renaissance went more or less peacefully with the new lineup and their evolving sound. But the reunited people needed a name for their band so became Illusion and subsequently released two albums, sharing some acoustic similarity with the mainstream Renaissance, entitled Out Of The M
ist and Illusion. Material was recorded by the group for a third album in 1979 entitled Enchanted Caress that was not formally released until 1990; it was re-released in 1997.
In 1998, Mooncrest Records (UK) released a compilation of the original Renaissance's rare recordings called Innocence. The CD includes two previously unreleased bonus tracks, entitled "Prayer For Light" and "Walking Away," dating from the same period. They were written by Jim McCarty and were used as part of the soundtrack for the 1971 film Schism.
Louis Cennamo and Jim McCarty remain active in music today recording as Stairway. Their album Moonstone features a lovely track with Jane Relf on vocals called "Aquamarine." Jim has also recorded a very different solo album entitled Out Of The Dark with Jane Relf on backing vocals and has also released two albums as part of the Pretty Things/Yardbird Blues Band both via Demon Records.
An unauthorised release entitled Offshoots was released in 1992. It features several live recordings of the Original Renaissance and features two Jane Relf songs originally released on a 7" single amongst other rarities by the original band members.
Bio above is from www.enteract.com/~nlights/lib/renhist.htm, recommended by Miss Elais