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The glorious voice of Annie Hanslam at its very, very best,
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Turn of the Cards (Audio CD)
"Turn of the Cards" is my favorite Renaissance album, although as I listen to them all in order I am struck by how it also perhaps the most atypical example of their progressive (nee classical) rock. Taken as a whole these songs are relatively unadorned. "I Think of You" is a relatively simple piece, ending with one of those wonderful high notes by Annie Haslam followed by some nice harpsicord work by John Tout. Likewise "Black Flame" begins with the simple elegance of Michael Dunford's acoustic guitar (a reminder that the forthcoming "Unplugged" Renaissance album is not really breaking new ground for the group). There was a period in my life when I could not decide if "Black Flame" or "Mother Russia" was my favorite song, and in the old days of vinyl it just became easier to play Side 2 of this album over and over again.
Of the two set pieces, "Running Hard" is most decidedly in this simpler vain, which has the overall effect of better showcasing Haslam's glorious voice. The other showpiece, "Mother Russia," shows that the group was paying attention to Russian dissidents (the song is dedicated to Alexander Solzhenitsyn and other Soviet dissidents) as much as they were Russian classical musicians and offers an emphasis on percussion quite usual for a Renaissance song in the driving conclusion. Again, Haslam's voice soars over and above, as well as through, the rhythmic progression of the music as proves that she does not need to be singing actual words to contribute to the beauty of a song.
Perhaps it is insightful to recall that in terms of Dunsford's music, "Turn of the Cards" is the album that proceeds his most ambitious project, the Scheherazade cantanta. Whatever the reason, this is the Renaissance album that best showcases the vocal talents of singer Annie Haslam, which is why it remains my personal favorite. "Turn of the Cards" only made it to #94 on the Billboard album charts, which may well make it the best album only to make it that high. Sooner or later each year I listen to this album again (this year I got an early start).