(08 August 2009) Thirty four years following the band's most notable performances at New York City's Carnegie Hall, Friday Music have reissued a remastered version of the two LP gatefold album Renaissance Live at Carnegie Hall (Friday Music (USA) FRM 2108, 2009). Although the album has been issued as a CD several times in other territories in raw and remastered form, this is the first domestic North American release of the set.
This so-called Anniversary Edition was skillfully remastered by Joe Reagoso from the original Sire/Warner vault tapes recorded on June 20, 21 and 22, 1975. Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the CD tray liner reveals Friday Music's plans for remastered releases of Scheherazade and other Stories and Annie In Wonderland during the summer of 2009. This Friday Music remaster comes on the heels of their successful release of the Dreams & Omens live album in 2008.
The Friday Music release is the fourth version following the original Renaissance Live at Carnegie Hall LPs we have listened to. The first pressing by Repertoire is known for its overall muddiness and lack of dynamic range. The second and very expensive Japanese pressing on Arcangelo, complete in the mini-LP gatefold package is the loudest of the lot and perhaps offers the most clarity, overall brilliance and separation of the instruments. A third, most likely counterfeit, Russian 24-bit remaster picture disc version was likely made from a needle drop to pristine vinyl and exudes all the warmth that a listener would expect from the production process.
The Friday Music Anniversary Edition not only the best priced version but it offers tracks that are near clarity of the Japanese release with the audible depth improved through the production process. It lacks a tiny bit of clarity and the volume of the Japanese mini LP gatefold and the overall warmth of the Russian production.
All that said, this remaster has been accomplished with tremendous and painstaking skill and outstanding quality. The effort required to obtain access to the original master tapes and implement the long string of tedious processes to make the best of them shines through in every one of the songs, most notably, the "Scheherazade" suite and "Ashes Are Burning" renditions that grace the second CD. Also treated delicately and with rare precision are "Carpet of the Sun" and "Can You Understand."
The album's opener from Renaissance's album of the same name "Prologue" seemed to share an edge of the muddiness of the Repertoire release and "Ocean Gypsy" did not come out as well as "Running Hard." This is clearly an album for old Renaissance fans as well as new ones. It is a very good remaster and only completists or long time collectors will every hear the difference between the different versions available in the second hand market place. The
vinyl records will provide the truest representation of the sound back in the day. Therefore a search for either the Russian or Japanese remastered editions is exclusively for diehards.