The advent of so-called “progressive rock” in the late 1960’s and 1970’s added a whole new category to modern music, which spurred innovation and excess in almost equal dimensions. It was my musical milieu of choice in my younger days, and many of the groups and performers of that era remain standard-bearers in my personal collection. (In other words, I’m a stick-in-the-mud, musically speaking. Yes, guilty as charged. Get over it!)
One of the super-groups of that time was Renaissance, from Britain. They combined elements of the hippie culture, drugs, folk music, rock, and even orchestral, classical influences, making them almost impossible to categorize except in terms of themselves. I can’t say I liked their music as much as other performers like Yes, Mike Oldfield, Jethro Tull and others, but they certainly developed a major international following, which has remained faithful to this day.
Here are three of their songs, two chosen because of their major success, and the third because I like the Arabian story cycle “One Thousand and One Nights” and I’ve enjoyed much of the music based on it. We’ll begin with their hit “Carpet of the Sun”.
Another hit for Renaissance was “Ashes are Burning”.
Finally, from their album “Scheherazade and Other Stories“, here’s the title song that took up the entire second side of the LP, “Song of Scheherazade”. Section titles and themes may be found at the link above. This is a live performance from Carnegie Hall in 1976.
It was a different time, then, I guess, compared to today . . . but its music has lasted. I wonder how popular it’ll remain when the last of us who grew up in that era have passed? It’s not the sort of thing that attracts many young people in our era. (There again, their music isn’t the sort of thing that attracts me, so fair’s fair!)