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Renaissance (4)Turn Of The Cards

Tracklist

Running Hard9:37
I Think Of You3:07
Things I Don't Understand9:29
Black Flame6:23
Cold Is Being3:00
Mother Russia9:18

Credits (21)

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    Version DetailsData Quality
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Stereo
    BTM Records – RCA Ⓢ BTM 1000, BTM Records – RCA BTM 1000, BTM Records – BTM 1000
    +1 more label...
    UK & Europe1974UK & Europe1974
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Stereo
    RCA Victor – BTM 1000, RCA Victor – 26.21490Germany1974Germany1974
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    PRC Pressing
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    Sire – 9147-7502Canada1974Canada1974
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    RCA Victor – BTM 1000France1974France1974
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    BTM Records – BTM 1000Italy1974Italy1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, CassetteTurn Of The Cards
    Cassette, Album
    Sire – M5 6015US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Promo
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    BTM Records – BTM 1000, BTM Records – RCA BTM 1000UK & Europe1974UK & Europe1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    BTM Records – BTM 1000, BTM Records – RCA BTM 1000UK & Europe1974UK & Europe1974
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, 8-Track CartridgeTurn Of The Cards
    8-Track Cartridge, Album
    Sire – 7502 MUS1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    RCA Victor – BTM 1000Israel1974Israel1974
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Stereo
    RCA Victor – BTM 1000, BTM Records – RCA BTM 1000Israel1974Israel1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    RCA Victor – VPL 1-4012, BTM Records – BTM-100Australia1974Australia1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    RCA Victor – BTM 1000France1974France1974
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, CassetteTurn Of The Cards
    Cassette, Album, Stereo
    Dolby B
    BTM Records – BTM 1000, BTM Records – RCA BTMK 1000UK & Europe1974UK & Europe1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Stereo
    Monarch Pressing
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Club Edition, Stereo
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    BTM Records – BTM 1000, RCA Victor – 26.21490Germany1974Germany1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    PRC press
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Stereo
    PRC Richmond Pressing
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Stereo
    Sonic Pressing
    Sire – SAS-7502US1974US1974
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    BTM Records – BTM 1000, BTM Records – RCA BTM 1000UK1974UK1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    BTM Records – RCA Ⓢ BTM 1000 , BTM Records – RCA BTM 1000, BTM Records – BTM 1000
    +1 more label...
    UK & Europe1974UK & Europe1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1974, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    Sire – 9147-7502Canada1974Canada1974
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1975, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    RCA Victor – BTM-1000, BTM Records – BTM-1000Spain1975Spain1975
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1975, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    RCA – RCA-6299Japan1975Japan1975
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1975, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album, Promo, Stereo
    RCA Victor – BTM-1000Spain1975Spain1975
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1985, VinylTurn Of The Cards
    LP, Album
    RCA – PL70860Europe1985Europe1985
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1994, CDTurn Of The Cards
    CD, Album, Reissue
    Repertoire Records – REP 4491-WYGermany1994Germany1994
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1994, CDTurn Of The Cards
    CD, Album, Reissue
    TRC Records (2) – TRC 042Germany1994Germany1994
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1994, CDTurn Of The Cards
    CD, Album, Reissue
    MSI (2) – MSIF-7240, Repertoire Records – REP 4491-WYJapan1994Japan1994
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1996, CDTurn Of The Cards
    CD, Album, Reissue
    HTD Records – HTD CD 51UK & Europe1996UK & Europe1996
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 1998, CDTurn Of The Cards
    CD, Album, Reissue, Unofficial Release
    ООО "ДОРА" – JPCD UL 98179Russia1998Russia1998
    New Submission
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 2000, CDTurn Of The Cards
    CD, Album, Unofficial Release
    Private Area – SV-617Russia2000Russia2000
    Recently Edited
    Cover of Turn Of The Cards, 2000, CDTurn Of The Cards
    CD, Album, Reissue, Unofficial Release
    24 Bit Remasters – RNSCOLCD 005Russia2000Russia2000
    New Submission

    Reviews

    • Seederman's avatar
      Seederman
      Generous package includes what is probably Renaissance's best album, bonus tracks, a solid 1974 concert, and 5.1 Surround Sound mixes. If you are familiar with the album and the band, this is a fine addition to your collection. If you are new to the band, you might want to stick to the standard single CD. The songs are excellent; "Black Flame", "Mother Russia", and "Running Hard" are all career highlights, and they sound great hear. The concert is what you'd expect; mostly faithful renditions of the studio tracks, but with a pleasing live ambience.
      • flowerbed's avatar
        flowerbed
        My copy is a real hodge podge. A UK BTM Records release with the big Britannia image on the label but with Anne Haslem's picture in same proportional size as the others and the etched info in the deadwax is Side 1: BTM 1000 A-1E AI AAV Side 2: BTM 1000 B-5E AI AH.
        • SlinkySavior's avatar
          SlinkySavior
          Excellent pressing on this reissue from Repertoire Records - silent and dynamic. Minimal packaging, protective inner sleeve. I don't have the original mix to compare but sounds wonderfully balanced to my ears.
          • robatsgh's avatar
            robatsgh
            Edited 2 years ago
            Every bloody copy of this I've ever seen has at least one chunk of regrind label embedded in it. I've given up finding one that plays totally clean. No wonder, as it was pressed at the tail end of the 73-74 oil embargo.
            • gpms's avatar
              gpms
              hello anyone
              this release has SRC logo on SideA runout and Winchester logo on SideB runout
              what does this mean for pressing and mastering I.D.?
              i am new to discogs but i have not seen this before
              i would appreciate any info or comments from more experienced users
              gpms
              • DigitalPiracy's avatar
                DigitalPiracy
                If you are curious about this band and are into progressive rock; This LP would be a good place to start.
                • crazyfrogman's avatar
                  crazyfrogman
                  Interesting that my own item have no leader tape on the both sides.
                  • danridge's avatar
                    danridge
                    What makes a band orchestral? Is it playing with an orchestra? On this 1974 release, Renaissance sure do a lot of that. Classical influence? Even putting aside that parts of this album, including an entire song, are classical quotations, Renaissance are inarguably classically oriented. But just because your rock band plays the main theme of the “Ode to Joy” on repeat at full blast for eleven minutes with a string section, I’m not necessarily going to feel comfortable labeling it ‘orchestral’. What the great symphonic composers all had was a great feel for the range of their ‘instrument’; music which feels orchestral demonstrates amazing instrumentation and arrangement. Master orchestrators can coax a sound never heard before by human ears out of a centuries-old ensemble, just in the way they instruct each individual to play. And so any band which uses the forces at their disposal in such a way that they seem to be more than the sum of their parts I would label ‘orchestral’.

                    As mentioned before, the forces that Renaissance have at their disposal here include an orchestra with arrangements by Jimmy Horowitz, as well as the core group of John Tout on keyboards acoustic and otherwise, Annie Haslam on vocals, John Camp bass and vocals, Terence Sullivan on drums and vocals, and Michael Dunford on guitars (specified as only acoustic!) and vocals (this is the seemingly arbitrary order of the band’s credits on the reverse of the cover, and I reproduce it here as a minor curiosity; I have no possible explanation for it other than possibly the order in which you’d miss the members if they weren’t playing?). I’ve heard bands do a ton with just the main instrumental section they’re bringing; they have four vocalists to work with; and, of course, an orchestra (with strings, winds, brass, tympani, and even harp, that I could hear). We’ll get to the question of whether their management of these forces is orchestral, but note: with so much going on, they will need to be, or else it’s going to be an absolute mess.

                    Before we get into questions of arrangement and performance, though, let’s look at the material that they’re working with. Just looking at the song lengths quoted in the track listing is enough to know that you can lump these guys in with the greater 70s prog phenomenon, with three nine minute numbers (and note that they can’t get anything done in less than three minutes’ time). However, their influences and style are refreshingly different from many of their famous contemporaries. For one thing, there’s relatively little blues influence here, and they can actually get by without a backbeat for long stretches of these tracks. They certainly have a fair helping of the classical influence which was in the air at the time, but they’re coming at it from a different direction from bands who seemingly just wanted to upset Holst. A lot of the influence seems to be from French impressionistic composers; rather than striking and strident German harmony, they have naïve Debussy harmony, with all the corners rounded off. And they can be jazzy, but sort of the way Ravel can be jazzy, with modal figures grinding against each other to create unusual chords. When they want something heavier, they go a bit Russian, using scales with striking altered tones in repetitive plodding builds. And the core of the songwriting seems closer to a simple but melodic folk style than heavy-hitting rock. Basically, they’re putting different weird stuff over a backbeat than their contemporaries, which alone makes them worth checking out if you’re into that sort of thing.

                    The actual songs, though, are largely quite simple. Two of the nine minute songs, “Mother Russia” and “Running Hard”, are essentially ABA(B)CAB. There will be some big introduction which warms up the orchestra, then it’s a two section song with the orchestra filling out the sound (and despite the somewhat novel harmony and other prog tricks, the core songs are quite simple, folkish things themselves); the bridge gets extended into some repetitive thing with the orchestra, then they come back with the song to end it. Of the two, “Mother Russia” hangs together thematically a bit better, and even so there isn’t necessarily anything concrete you could point to that holds the sections together. Any time you’re coming into or out of an instrumental section, there tends to be a big seam showing, and the arrangements don’t tend to reuse the themes they introduce. There are some well produced moments, such as the much less frantic, acoustic guitar-driven reprise of the A section in “Running Hard” coming out of the bombastic bridge; however it’s a bit much to swallow, that the huge, dramatic orchestral build you just heard had no meaning or purpose other than to exist and to make the verse sound cool when it comes in a lot quieter. Sure, this is music, what is any of it supposed to mean anyway? The hair raising end of the intro to “Mother Russia”, with its ominous march and trumpet calls is almost worse, as beyond not coming back or being reflected in any way later in the piece, it loses all momentum before unceremoniously jumping into the first verse. The point is, there are other bands who do a better job of giving their long numbers a self-explanatory and vital arc. With Renaissance, at least on this release, you pretty much just have to bank on getting lost in the moment and finding joy in the pure sound, because the structures don’t go much beyond putting one thing after another in a way that keeps the flow moving along; they’re mostly successful in that, but as I've mentioned, there are some unfortunate seams that show along the way.

                    And what of the sound? Well, a lot of the elements get a number of chances to shine. First, the band with four voices uses them all greatly to its advantage; Haslam’s excellent delivery of the lyrics is often padded out nicely with harmonies, and the four voices together are used well to fill out chords and even provide their own type of unique effect as if they are their own instrument (the end of the bridge in “Running Hard” is a good example, with the vocal lines playing off against the harp runs). What’s especially nice, and I only wish there was more of it here, is when Haslam gets an opportunity to sing during the instrumental bridges, blending high vocal parts in with the orchestra, as she does on the closing track of each side. At times, a comparison with the soaring, wordless soprano solos of Ennio Moricone’s scores is inevitable, and Haslam clearly has the chops to pull off that sound. Honestly, I just wish there was more of that, as her voice is the most unique and powerful asset the band have at their disposal.

                    The rhythm section of Camp and Sullivan is quite competent, and shine in the rarer heavy moments; they tend to get a bit lost in the shuffle of the bits where the orchestra takes over. Sullivan’s parts unfortunately underline the repetitive nature of these sections; I can almost imagine he’d have just liked to have a solid groove to play through more of this record, as he doesn’t take too many chances playing with the orchestra. He does, however, have some very nice beats to offer on tracks with less of the orchestra. His best moment might be his handling of the odd time signature in the chorus of “Black Flame”, showing that he can provide a strong groove without resorting to any kind of backbeat.

                    Tout is actually the one pulling a lot of the weight in creating the sound for this record, and he’s all over it. Besides filling out the harmony and rhythm with his piano playing, he’s able to out-pluck Dunford with his harpsichord, and on tracks that the orchestra sits out, it’s his duty to fill out the sound with organ. It’s hard to tell in a record with so many instruments, but I believe there may even be some synth in there. Dunford’s acoustic guitar is crucial in the moments you’d expect, the quieter ones where the bands folk side is most prominent. His insistence on the instrument does provide some problems for a band which, for the most part, is trying to create quite a smooth wall of sound throughout. Basically, and acoustic guitar is a strummy, strangy instrument, and is quite percussive. “Things I Don’t Understand” is a fun track because it shows what the group can do without the orchestra behind them (and a lot of what they can do is overdub Tout). Dunford has some nice moments, but his strumming through the chords in some sections just throws off the smooth sound they’re going for and interferes with the groove that Sullivan and Camp create. Dunford is actually out for long stretches of the album, but he apparently wrote all the music, so I’m sure he’s not too worried.

                    Now, just in talking about the core group of the band, the orchestra has to come up a little because a lot what each player is doing is trying to interact successfully with it, but let’s see how the orchestra fares in interacting with the band. Horowitz’s arrangements are certainly competent; there are no clunkers from the pit which disrupt the even flow of the music. However, they are also not really adventurous or striking, which isn’t too surprising when your job is to fill out the songs of a folk rock band. But the way the songs are put together, there are several long passages that lean entirely on the orchestra. These sections subsequently don’t have quite the variety to maintain interest all the way through; you’ll notice them repeating a few times before they finally wind down. “Mother Russia” has several great moments with the orchestra, and they integrate especially well with the song sections because of the bombastic counterpoint they’re allowed to provide. The conclusion I have to reach is that Renaissance is not the consummate band to define the word ‘orchestral’. They have their struggles, and they’re playing with forces that, at least for this release, somewhat escape them. However, note also one of the shorter tracks without orchestra, “I Think Of You”. For the most part, it’s a well executed, simple song, but by the end they’ve overdubbed so much of Tout that the wall of sound is indistinguishable from what you get with the orchestra, and it ends up disappointingly muddy.

                    One thing I haven’t mentioned which does provide them with a bit of a boost is Betty Thatcher’s excellent lyrics. These have a very poetical bent, and so you get lines which seem like they’d stand fine on their own, with nary a triumphant “Yeah!” in sight, which suits the band quite well, although in one or two spots the meter is a bit tricky (the chorus of “Things I Don’t Understand” just has the band spitting syllables at an unmannered rate). Her lyrics use simple and direct metaphor which is a lot more accessible than the abstract and absurd, or baroque and stuffy, lyrics you sometimes have to tune out in prog epics. Thatcher deserves special mention for “Cold Is Being”, an arrangement of a famous Tomaso Albinoni piece for organ and voice. Putting words to an old, recognizable classical tune while your keyboard player accompanies you is pretty much a party trick, but Thatcher’s lyrics just about justify the piece’s inclusion; while she normally manages sad or longing without descending into the morose, here she puts together a dirge whose words you might expect to see in a severe Victorian spinster’s needlepoint. “Black Flame” is also a standout moment lyrically, and is probably the best track on the album, with a slightly shorter, more coherent form, and some great playing all around. This is a release with a lot of interesting things to offer, and some of them are worth the price of admission just to see something a bit different. However, issues throughout with the production, as well as the band’s less than nuanced approach to composing their longer tracks, prevent it from living up to its potential.

                    Let’s just take a quick look at the cover; it’s a nice little Hipgnosis design, and the tarot cards are fun to look at. No lyrical reproduction which would be quite nice, but the credits off to the sides at the bottom let you enjoy the artwork without getting in the way. Maybe that’s why they leave off a few important credits, such as Albonini, and which orchestra is all over the record, so that’s a bit of a shame.

                    Watch for: I’ve actually covered a LOT of the material from the record, and there’s no extra fun or clever moment I really want to spotlight; however, one thing you might try is reversing the sides of the album when you listen, though I normally would never suggest messing with the artist’s presentation. “Black Flame” makes for a really strong opener, and while it has its problems, “Things I Don’t Understand” has the most interesting approach to a longer form on the album, making it a good closer, much more so than the predictable “Running Hard” and “Mother Russia”, which in this running order get smushed together in the middle. Plus, Tout’s intro quotation for “Running Hard” is a great way to open up the second side.

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