Insider Gossip
  Monthly Hot Picks
  Book Reviews
  CD Reviews
  Concert Reviews
  DVD Reviews
  Game Reviews
  Movie Reviews
  The Home of WAXEN WARES Candles!
  Check Out Anne Carlini Productions Now!!
  NEW! Crystal Gayle
  MTU Hypnosis
  NEW! Ellen Foley
  Elise Krentzel (Author, Under My Skin)
  Nicolas Cage [The Unbearable Weight ...]
  Sony Legacy Record Store Day [November 2022]
  Michigan Siding Company for ALL Your Outdoor Needs

6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 50th Anniversary: Ashes Are Burning - An Anthology
Artist - Renaissance

For those not in the know, Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit Northern Lights and progressive rock classics like Carpet of the Sun, Mother Russia, and Ashes Are Burning.

They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences.

Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslams wide vocal range, prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesizer, and versatile drum work.

The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 1970s, and that region remains their strongest fan base.

The original line-up included two former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relfs sister Jane Relf.

They intended to put something together with more of a classical influence and so Renaissance was born; and the band released a studio album in 1969, and another in 1971.

Subsequently, John Tout replaced Hawken on keyboards, followed by a period of high turnover of musicians until the classic line-up of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established; although none of them were in the original band.

They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger.

From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic.

The 1980s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987.

Two different offshoots of Renaissance existed at the same time at one stage in the mid-1990s. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however, they disbanded again the next year.

2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance, led by Haslam and Dunford, and since then the band has continued to record and tour.

They were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dunford in November 2012, but later Haslam stated that the band would continue touring.

The current line-up is not as English as the bands early period, with five U.S.-born members and one English-born member who lives in the United States and in April 2014, Renaissance released the studio album Symphony of Light.

Symphonic Rock Recordings is pleased to announce the release of 50th Anniversary: Ashes Are Burning - An Anthology Live in Concert, the wonderful new 4 Disc CD, DVD and Blu ray set by Renaissance.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the formation of Renaissance, vocalist Annie Haslam and band performed a series of concerts with an orchestra in the USA in October 2019 featuring a set list which included songs which had never been orchestrated or performed with an orchestra before.

The most memorable concert took place at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA on 12th October 2019.

This sold-out concert saw the band perform a set which included such classics as Carpet of The Sun, Ocean Gypsy, Running Hard, Day of The Dreamer and A Song For All Seasons and also saw a special guest appearance by Renaissance founder Jim McCarty who performed on the song Island and the epic closing piece Ashes Are Burning.

CD 1
1. Carpet of The Sun
2. Ocean Gypsy
3. Running Hard
4. Midas Man
5. Symphony of Light
6. Island (with Jim McCarty)

CD 2
1. Opening Out
2. Day of The Dreamer
3. Mystic and The Muse
4. A Song for All Seasons
5. Ashes Are Burning (with Jim McCarty)

Blu-ray + DVD
1. Carpet of The Sun
2. Ocean Gypsy
3. Running Hard
4. Midas Man
5. Symphony of Light
6. Island (with Jim McCarty)
7. Opening Out
8. Day of The Dreamer
9. Mystic and The Muse
10. A Song for All Seasons
11. Ashes Are Burning (with Jim McCarty)

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 am sure there is much more to it behind the scenes, but to my mind it is strange that Michael Dunford contributed acoustic guitar and nearly all the music, but is not credited as a full member of the band.

This truly magical evening of music (complete with a string and brass section) audibly opens on Carpet of The Sun, which is simply just an enticingly majestic piece, and with Annie in the spotlight for most of the duration, and proves to be the most perfect of opening bards.

With classics like Ocean Gypsy, Song For All Seasons, and the epic, Doctor Zhivago-quoting title track, this live show (recorded in Annies hometown State of PA), let alone the original album from where this show was culled, continues to pay heed to the fact that Renaissance are still one of the finest progressive rockers of that, any quite possibly this generation!

Add to that there are two (2) discs - Blu-ray + DVD - of high resolution and multi-region enabled of the show and boy, are they all that and more re: visual quality and grading.

The packaging is a clamshell, multi-disc phenom and opens up to be a rather delightful item to own (complete with each disc being housed inside slip sleeves with original, and exclusive artwork by Annie herself emblazoned on the front of each) especially given that the price for it is not all that cheap, of course.

And being that the package was actually created via an online fundraiser, those who paid a little more get their collective names written on the inside of the main booklet, which is rather nice for them.

In closing, this is a beautifully orchestral live recording - culled from an album that in 2015 was listed at #31 in Rolling Stones 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time - that captures the spirit of the band just perfectly, and as for Annie, well, she still sounds like she is as young as she ever was!

This 4-disc set captures this concert over 2 CDs and a concert film on both DVD and High-Definition Blu ray multi region formats (featuring a stunning 5.1 Surround Sound mix).

50th Anniversary: Ashes Are Burning - An Anthology Live in Concert is a perfect celebration of a legendary and treasured body of music.

Official Purchase Link