Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Archivist: Renaissance - A Song For All Seasons

As Bob Harris is today, so was Alan Freeman back in the 1970s, my favourite source of music. Alan 'Fluff' Freeman's Saturday Show was the stuff of legend back in the day. He introduced me to so much great music. One of the bands I first heard on his show was Renaissance. I was instantly drawn to their introduction of classical themes into their music. Much as The Moody Blues had done with their early album Days Of Future Passed.


Renaissance were formed in 1969 from the ashes of The Yardbirds when Keith Relf and Jim McCarty formed a band whose influences included rock, folk and classical music. By 1971 after several personnel changes, Annie Haslam & Michael Dunford were in the band and that's when things started to take off. Between 1971 and the release of A Song For All Seasons in 1978, Renaissance released several albums - Prologue, Ashes are Burning, A Turn of the Cards, Scheherazade and Other Stories & Novella. 
All of the albums built on the previous one and their sound grew grander and more symphonic and lush.  But, from the 4 or 5 track albums that had been released previously, A Song For All Seasons contained 8 tracks of which 3 were of single length.
I must confess that I did have a bit of a teenage crush on Ms Haslam and the purity of that voice didn't help.
I even got a request of a Renaissance song played by Alan Freeman after I sent him a picture of Annie that I had drawn with a song request on the rear of the paper. It is out in the broadcasting ether there somewhere.
Back Home Once Again was used as the theme tune to the ITV tv programme, The Paper Lads, it was released as a single and became a minor hit.
Almost exclusively written by Michael Dunford and bassist Jon Camp, A Song For All Seasons became Renaissance's most successful album. And it produced their biggest hit single, the brilliant Northern Lights
Here is a live broadcast from 1977 - a year before A Song For All Seasons - where they play some of their best known songs up to that point.
Annie went on to release several solo albums outside of Renaissance.
Renaissance are still performing today. Although Annie Haslam is now the only member of that classic line up of the band. Sadly, Michael Dunford, who was the other long term member who was still in the band passed away in late 2012.
They released a new album in 2013 called Grandine Il Vento, which draws on the classical, folk and rock influences of their salad days.
Twitter - @MysticAndMuse
photographs courtesy of Renaissance Facebook & Website

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