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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Renaissance - 1981 Camera Camera
Renaissance - 1981 Camera Camera

ARTIST: Renaissance
ALBUM: Camera Camera
SERIAL: SP 70019
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1988, Line Records (Germany), LICD 9.00042 * 1996 Repertoire (Germany), REP 4628-WY


LINEUP: Annie Haslam - lead & backing vocals * Jon Camp - bass, electric guitar, backing vocals * Michael Dunford - acoustic & electric guitars, backing vocals * Peter Gosling - keyboards, backing vocals * Peter Barron - drums, percussion, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Camera Camera * 02 Faeries ( Living At The Bottom Of The Garden) * 03 Remember * 04 Bonjour Swansong * 05 Tyrant-Tula * 06 Okichi-San * 07 Jigsaw * 08 Running Away From You * 09 Ukraine Ways


In the 1970's Renaissance delivered album after album of quality progressive rock on an astounding level. Highlighted by Annie Haslam's gorgeous soprano, records like 'Prologue', 'Ashes Are Burning' and 'Turn Of The Cards' I would pull out for a spin on a regular basis before even considering playing a Yes or Genesis LP yet unlike their contemporaries, Renaissance were never stadium contenders. Regional support in the United States, the Northeast to be specific and Europe were Renaissance hot spots, yet as the 'me decade' came to a close their popularity even in the most friendly of territories began to wane. Signs of change began with 1979's 'Azure d' Or', album, the first Renaissance release not to feature an orchestra it's actually my personal favourite from their catalog, but as expected it didn't do very well on the charts and the group it seemed were no more. Enter Nevada in 1980 comprised of Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford and Peter Gosling releasing a couple pop oriented singles that tanked, the group was understandably short-lived. A year later and low and behold a new Renaissance album appears on the decidedly new wave oriented imprint - I.R.S. Records with virtuoso bassist Jon Camp back in the fold. New label, new look and a new sound could we expect another prog masterpiece?

The Songs
No, can't say it is, in fact it's a mixed bag. First problem - Annie Haslam is not a pop vocalist and on 'Camera Camera' she sounds positively out her element sounding like a quirky Kate Bush without the material. Second, I'm not convinced the new wave movement needed Renaissance. The production is as dated as the dreadful sport coats worn by the threesome on the back cover. The songs are no great shakes either although there are a few that rise above the pop junk of 'Jigsaw' and 'Running Away From You' which should be avoided at all costs. Of the record's best 'Remember' is a haunting mid-tempo number, again very comparable to Kate Bush and I quite like the ABBA styled 'Bonjour Swansong' as well as the closing 'Ukraine Ways' which again explores the band's fascination with Eastern culture and is the closest to Renaissance of the 70's.

In Summary
A small club tour ensued with the release of 'Camera Camera' and a second album on I.R.S. 'Time-Line' went directly to the cut-out bins. Since then the Renaissance name has been dragged out in various reunions, solo efforts and tribute albums none of which has come close to the bands glory days. Your best bet is picking up their early records mentioned above, in particular 'Azure d' Or' for Renaissance at their very best.

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#1 | jefflynnefan on July 16 2008 03:18:58
I had this on cassette at the time. I agree that it is a mixed bag. Before Sarah Brightman and before Blackmore's Night there was Annie Haslam and Renaissance! I got into Renaissance around 1978 because Annie was Roy Wood's girlfriend for awhile. So I quickly picked up the albums Scheherazade and Turn of the Cards. They were different but I liked them. Annie did a solo album called 'Annie in Wonderland' that featured one of RW's best ever commercial songs he ever wrote called ' I Never Believed In Love'. It was a duet . The album also featured one of RW's most unusual songs called 'Hunioco'. A strange song but I liked it! If you've never listen to Renaissance I recommend you give them a chance, especially if you like Tarja.
#2 | trillion1999 on October 15 2011 20:16:58
The title-track with POMP-intro and Jigsaw are my favorites.I hope Time-Line has similar gems.rolleyes
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