Trying to find ten songs by the group Renaissance alone is not an easy task. Renaissance was one of those progressive rock groups of the ’70s that just didn’t know how to make a short song. So most of their albums had about five or six songs on them, tops. And since not every one was a gem, as they tended to ramble at times, finding ten of the best was a lot harder than I thought. For those who don’t know anything about this group, you’ve missed some of the greatest music ever recorded.
Annie Haslam had a voice like an angel and there will never be another group like them. Sadly, they just never really made it into the mainstream and Annie has since left the music scene, disgusted with it totally, and is now an accomplished painter. Go figure.
Number 10. Mother Russia. A very haunting song in a minor key. This 9 minute plus tune comes off one of their epic albums “Turn Of The Cards” which was just an amazing piece of music in its own right. You’ll only find six songs on this album. Mother Russia was one of them.
Number 9. Northern Lights. This song was off of one of their later albums, “A Song For All Seasons.” By this time, Renaissance was trying to develop a more commercial sound. Their songs started getting a little shorter and it was actually possible to almost sing some of them. Northern Lights is one of their better somewhat commercial tunes.
Number 8. Camera Camera. This is the title track from the album of the same name. This song was even later on in their career than Northern Lights and they actually almost nailed a truly commercial sound with this song. At the same time they were also able to maintain their classic Renaissance sound. Camera Camera is a snappy upbeat tune. Something that was also very rare for Renaissance.
Number 7. Day Of The Dreamer. This song also came from their album “A Song For All Seasons.” This tune was also very upbeat but quite majestic. Day Of The Dreamer was actually one of the better songs to come out during the later part of their career. It is arguably the best song off of “Seasons.”
Number 6. Scheherazade. This is where it gets really hard to rank their tunes because what is left is just truly amazing. The only reason this tune, the title track from their five song album, is this low is because it is over 20 minutes long and parts of it do tend to drag a bit. But overall, this is just an amazing piece of music and a must listen to.
Number 5. Ashes Are Burning. This is the title song from their best album of all time. Make no mistake about it. This album is one of those rare gems that you’ll want to have with you if you’re stranded on a desert island. Ashes Are Burning is about 11 minutes long, which is why it isn’t higher up. Parts do tend to wander a bit but for the most part, this tune is a classic.
Number 4. Carpet Of The Sun. This song is also from Ashes. This is probably the closest Renaissance ever came to having a truly commercial song. Carpet is only about three minutes long, which is very unusual for them. It’s upbeat, catchy, has an easy chorus to remember, and Annie sings it like a dream. This is one of their signature songs.
Number 3. Things I Don’t Understand This song comes from “Turn Of The Cards” along with Mother Russia. This song was kind of a follow up to a song off of “Ashes” that you’ll see later on in this list. Things I Don’t Understand was another 9 minute plus epic that is truly an awesome piece of music. The finale is something that you must experience. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Number 2. Can You Understand. This song is also off of “Ashes” and is the first song I ever heard of theirs. I was immediately hooked. This is another 9 minute plus tune that doesn’t have a bad note in it. The classical feel of this song is so powerful that one can’t help but wonder if Renaissance was transported to us from another period of time. Can You Understand is truly one of the greatest songs ever written.
Number 1. Ocean Gypsy. This is the last song on side one of Scheherazade. Ocean Gypsy is one of those songs that just defies description. It is probably Annie Haslam’s finest moment as a vocalist. The feeling with which she sings this song can only be described as heart wrenching. The lyrics are haunting and the music is flawless. Ocean Gypsy may very well be the greatest piece of music ever written.
Renaissance recorded a lot of tunes that seemed to go on endlessly. At times you wondered where they were going with their music. Not all of it was easy to listen to. But when they were on, they were dead on.
There may never be another group like them again.