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Live Studio Concert, Philadelphia, PA 1997 (Live)

Annie Haslam

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Album Review

Annie Haslam, she of the crystal-pure voice and ethereal demeanor, opens this live performance with what was her first great vocal showcase, "Carpet of the Sun." The latter, virtually a Renaissance signature tune, is one of only three classic numbers associated with her one-time group to be included on the CD, a document of a live performance from Philadelphia in 1997. Originally done for Prism TV as a video piece, it's here as a CD in excellent sound, and Haslam in fine form, with a band featuring Rave Tesar on keyboards, Dave Biglin (who shares several songwriting credits) on keyboards, guitars, and vocals, and Joe Goldberger on drums. But for the uninitiated, or even for longtime fans, it would be difficult to tell where the Renaissance repertory leaves off and Haslam's solo material starts. The Haslam/Biglin songwriting team is just about as good at writing for Haslam as the Dunford/Thatcher team, with long, soaring melodic lines and high haunt counts, with elegant lyrics, all vividly executed musically by this band — and Haslam can still hit those high notes at the upper end of her register, as demonstrated in the second half of "Summon the Angels." She and Biglin also duet beautifully together on "Captive Heart," a number that owes a little bit to the classic Renaissance sound on Scheherazade & Other Stories, and which would, otherwise, be perhaps a bit too languid, were it not for the dual vocals and a superb keyboard solo by Tesar; "After the Oceans Are Gone" is a similarly impressive showcase for Haslam's high range. "Sleepless Mother" is an unusual uptempo number and an excellent acoustic guitar showcase. Some of the most interesting material on this CD, however, is saved for the bonus tracks, most notably the percussion-driven "What He Seeks," which is an unusual Middle Eastern-flavored number, co-written with Tony Visconti; and it leads into the finale, an excerpt from "Song of Scheherazade," which holds up astonishingly well as an excerpt and works exceedingly well in the context of this set, as a high point and a finale. This is a good band, if not quite as tight as Renaissance were at their peak, and the set is a fine one for showcasing everyone's strengths, from Haslam on down. Renaissance fans, and those who've simply heard of Haslam's legendary vocal prowess, will not be disappointed.

Biography

Born: June 8, 1947

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Best known for her long tenure as the vocalist for prog-rockers Renaissance, Annie Haslam was the product of a musical family — her father was an amateur singer and comedian, and her brother Michael was a mid-60s rock'n'roller whose career was managed by Brian Epstein. Still, her earliest interest was fashion design; only while at university did Haslam begin singing, encouraged by friends after spontaneously performing a rendition of the Mary Hopkin hit "Those Were the Days" at a local pub....
Full Bio
Live Studio Concert, Philadelphia, PA 1997 (Live), Annie Haslam
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