(All Album Reviews by jim1961)
I just have to say that this is possibly my favorite Renaissance album. The song selection is awesome and I find myself liking some of these versions over the original studio releases. These tracks were recorded between 1975-1978. It really captures them at their peak.
As of the time of the writing of this review, I am the only owner of this CD. I find this curious because King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents is pretty popular and this album comes from the same era as that one. Perhaps this is because no one knows about it. Well, lets break it down some more here.
Sound Quality: slightly inferior to King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents. There are moments when Annie's voice or John's keyboard peak the soundboard and distort the note. Also, occasional feedback problems and dropouts. But they are infrequent and donít take much away from the music to me.
Performance: first of all, this live CD differs mostly from King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents in that their is no orchestra. Itís just the five of them, which to me offers some things I like. Terry's drums are much more prominent and tight giving a more rock feel to it. The songs drive more and Terry is busier throughout the album as well. Jon is as good as ever. He doesnít do the extended improvisation on ďCan you Hear MeĒ that he does on King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents, but makes up for it on ďAshes are BurningĒ. The one disappointment here is that Michaelís guitar gets a bit buried by the other performers making him hard to hear when everyone gets playing hard. I think John Tout is outstanding here. He's doing a lot more than usual cause he's playing many of the orchestral parts on the keys as well. His piano work is as good as any work he has done. And Annie. Well she really seems to have command of her voice on these recordings. Iíve never found Annieís voice to be anything less than spectacular, and this recording is no exception. There are some moments where the mix seems to bring in the ambiance of the hall more, creating a sort of gothic effect. This effect is only there at specific times like during long vocal sustains. On one occasion, it clips the board and you sorta feel like Annie overpowered the electronics.
Conclusion: as with many or most live performances, you sacrifice some quality in the recording. But what I like most about live recordings is how they feel. There is an ambiance, a mood that makes you part of it. This CD brings you there and despite the technical flaws, makes it one of my favorite CD's Iíve ever heard. If your looking for engineering marvels, buy something else. But if you want to be captured in a moment with Renaissance, I recommend it!