Overture to a new direction.
After two albums at the turn of the 70s, the listless Renaissance, featuring remnants of The Yardbirds, were dying of whimsy. Cue a wholesale line-up change and an overt classical direction, immediately evidenced by the Chopin references on the opening title track, courtesy of pianist John Tout.
This new direction also encouraged singer Annie
Haslam to step out from the shadows and explore the potential of her high, pure voice. It would take a couple of albums before she became a key part of the band’s signature sound, but you can hear her gradually growing in confidence over the course of the aptly named Prologue.
Bassist Jon Camp takes the vocals on the Russianinfluenced Kiev before Haslam makes her presence felt on the ethereal Sounds Of The Sea. The acoustically driven Spare Some Love, with its vivid harmonies, is the track that best illustrates the shape of sounds to come (the edited single remix is included here as a bonus track).
There’s nothing here that will make the band members wince in retrospect, not even the 11-minute Rajar Khan with its Indian idiosyncrasies and Haslam’s shrill, wordless vocals. It was recorded in 1972, for goodness’ sake – you could get away with almost anything!