Title - 'Ashes Are Burning: Remastered & Expanded'
Artist - Renaissance
Formed in 1969 by former Yardbirds members Jim McCarty and Keith Relf, by the 1971 Renaissance had undergone a series of line-up changes and had evolved into a completely different band from the one that had recorded the albums Renaissance and Illusion.
By June 1972, Renaissance had signed to EMI's Sovereign label and had settled into a line-up featuring the highly gifted vocalist Annie Haslam.
Featuring such classic material as 'Can You Understand', 'Carpet Of The Sun', 'At The Harbour' and the epic title track (featuring Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash on electric guitar).
Released in October 1973, Ashes Are Burning would establish Renaissance as one of the finest symphonic progressive rock acts.
This Esoteric Recordings edition has been remastered from the original Sovereign Records master tapes and adds a previously unreleased thirty minute live performance for BBC Radio One's In Concert programme in 1974 (recently discovered in the archives).
1. 'Can You Understand'
2. 'Let It Grow'
3. 'On the Frontier'
4. 'Carpet of the Sun'
5. 'At the Harbour'
6. 'Ashes Are Burning'
7. 'Can You Understand' (Live -BBC Radio "In Concert" 1974)
8. 'Let It Grow' (Live -BBC Radio "In Concert" 1974)
9. 'Ashes Are Burning' (Live - BBC Radio "In Concert" 1974)
In truth, Ashes Are Burning is my favorite Renaissance album for I just adore their combination of folk, rock, and classical music.
The songs by Michael Dunford (music) and Betty Thatcher (lyrics) have great melodies but sadly as Renaissance had such a small following in the US this wondrous album only reached #171 in the US Album Charts of that time.
I discovered the band while at college in 1975 and liked their unusual sound and so when this album was recorded in 1973 they had already made three other rather excellent albums beforehand for us fans to enjoy.
After 1979, the band moved in a more pop direction, but weirdly enough their '70s records have not really dated all that much as they are all mostly acoustic.
Annie Haslam was/is a superb singer with a unique voice and John Tout played the piano rather than a synthesizer, which was unusual for a prog band.
However, and I'm sure there is much more to it behind the scenes, but to my mind it's strange that Michael Dunford contributes acoustic guitar and nearly all the music, but is not credited as a full member of the band.
Look out for a superb electric guitar solo at the end of the title track, from Wishbone Ash's Andy Powell if not only for the fact it is the only electric instrument on the album; apart Jon Camp's bass guitar.
In closing, this is a beautiful album and in 2015 was listed at #31 in Rolling Stone's "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time."
The booklet features a new essay and exclusive interviews with Annie Haslam and Terry Sullivan and fully restores the original album artwork.
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