August 21, 2019

Few will question the pedigree of this landmark live album from a Renaissance who were at the very peak of their powers. Recorded with backing from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in June 1975, and released a year later, the original double vinyl album contained a virtual ‘best of’, in largely definitive versions as the orchestra complemented the band beautifully. Perhaps the side-long Ashes Are Burning was a little overstretched, but with the other side of disc two occupied by a marvellous near-half hour rendition of Song Of Scheherezade that could be forgiven, while the six tracks on the first disc are virtually flawless. Always the recommended starting point for new listeners, and for a great many fans the quintessential Renaissance album, there has still never been an expanded edition with new material. Until now, that is.

The third disc of this 3CD clamshell box contains a show recorded in early 1976 for the BBC. With the band still yet to release their next album, the tracklist is essentially the Carnegie album minus Ashes Are Burning and Can You Understand, but it is fascinating to hear this same material shorn of the orchestral arrangements, and it is another tremendous performance on its own terms.

The real bonus here, however, and the one to get collectors salivating, is the inclusion in the main album for the first time of the song Kiev, recorded at the Carnegie Hall shows but omitted from the album due to lack of space. This often overlooked classic from the Prologue album did appear as the B-Side of the Carpet Of The Sun single in the US, but has never appeared on CD before. Restored to its correct place in the running order, it is a beautiful addition, and worth the price of admission to collectors on its own. With an informative booklet including all of the original gatefold artwork also included, one of the greatest live albums of the ‘70s just got even better. For fans of the band, this is a gem of a reissue. For newcomers – oh my, have you got a treat in store!

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