Scheherazade and Other Stories (1975)
Remastered by Joe Reagoso 2010
image © Friday Music 2010
More Renaissance Reviews:
BBC Sessions (1999)
Live at the Mean Fiddler (2001)
Dreams and Omens (2008)
Song of Scheherazade (DVD) (2009)
Live at Carnegie Hall (2009)
Scheherazade and Other Stories (2010)
The Mystic and the Muse (EP) (2010)
More Annie Haslam Reviews:
Woman Transcending (2006)
Live Studio Concert (DVD) (2006)
Renaissance on the Internet:
Northern Lights Renaissance Website
Renaissance Touring Website
clockwise: Jon Camp, Michael Dunford, Terry Sullivan, John Tout, Annie Haslam
photo © Warner Bros Records 1975
image © Friday Music 2010
(22 July 2010) To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the amazing progressive/classic rock outfit Renaissance, Friday Music has released the exclusive CD/DVD package of their much loved 1975 classic Scheherazade and Other Stories (Friday Music (USA) FRM7510, 2010) along with the first-time released Renaissance music video DVD, filmed At Mill House and Bray Studios 1979. The release is in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Sire Records. The discs were manufactured by Warner Brothers' Rhino Entertainment Company.
Scheherazade and Other Stories is often cited as one of the more enduring and premier progressive rock albums of our time. Not only a Renaissance fan favorite, the album is also one of their biggest selling albums in their long career. This hit album netted the band significant airplay over the years, and featured several Renaissance classics like the hit single "The Vultures Fly High," "Ocean Gypsy" as well as the epic "Song Of Scheherazade," recorded with a complete orchestra. In addition to the tremendous remastered audio tracks of the band's landmark album, Friday have included a five track DVD with the band's promotional music videos for Azure d'Or from 1979 as a bonus.
The Scheherazade and Other Stories album first appeared on Warner Brothers' Sire label in 1975 in advance of the astounding double vinyl Live at Carnegie Hall set. Scheherazade was also the only Renaissance album released by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. It was a vinyl half-speed Original Master Recording. Enthusiasts of the band have long thought that the MFSL release was the very best recording of the album. Sadly and surprisingly, MFSL has never released the product on compact disc.
Prior to Friday's release, there were eight compact disc remasters of the album with varying quality. When first released by Germany's Repetoire, enthusiasts found the sound good but affectionados thought it muddy and lacking dynamic range. Subsequent jewel box and mini-LP sleeve releases had remastering attempts by both Repertoire and Japanese firms and provided some improvement. Under the radar, a small syndicate of Renaissance enthusiasts purchased a brand new MFSL vinyl album and with the help of a small studio made a very small number of restricted personal use only "needle drop" compact discs of the album's first plan with only limited retouching to remove a pop here and there. To date, the reference standard for the Scheherazade album has been the Originial Master Recording vinyl and personal use compact disc.
In this latest remaster, Joe Reagoso, who last year remastered Live at Carnegie Hall to Renaissance enthusiasts delight, has taken the original Sire/Warner Bros tapes and performed his magic once again at Friday Music Studios, Surf City, CA to create a version that is every bit as good as the previous reference standard. While the drums and percussion are not quite as bright as the MFSL version, the balance of the production is outstanding. The recording has the warmth, texture and dynamic range of the original vinyl but the purity only available on an audiophile compact disc. Often thought to be the best point for referencing the quality of a Scheherazade album is its most quiet passage ('the crickets') at very the beginning of "The Young Prince and the Princess." And here Reagoso's work shines brilliantly. Throughout the suite, orchestral arrangements perfectly complement Annie Haslam's crystalline vocals. Rock instruments are blended perfectly. The familiar tunes have had new life breathed into them, and this new standard is broadly available to audiences worldwide.
The DVD, Renaissance Filmed At Mill House and Bray Studios 1979, is an absolute must see video for long time enthusiasts. It features five of the band's well known songs recorded in the studio and in the soundstage format,. This is the first time these have been released commercially, properly discovered by the band in the Warner Music vaults. Although previously available, but unacceptable for proper viewing at YouTube, the DVD provides witness to the angelic and operatic vocals of Annie Haslam and the endless energy of Michael Dunford on guitars and vocals, Jon Camp on bass, John Tout on keyboards and Terry Sullivan on drums.
While the audio is good, don't expect its treatment to equal the CD part of this release. The DVD includes classics "Carpet Of The Sun," "Secret Mission," "The Winter Tree," "Forever Changing" and "Jekyll and Hyde." The DVD is however well produced -- far better than bootlegs that circulated previously -- with reasonable quality audio and full color video in also in acceptable quality. Careful listeners will hear a few problems with the master tapes that could not be overcome. Studio camera work for the production was done very well clearly revealing each of the musicians' contributions. The video tracks are also individually titled.
Friday Music and Warner Brothers have clearly established a new reference standard for Renaissance's Scheherazade and Other Storiees. Certain to draw attention from long time and new enthusiasts, this CD/DVD
combination clearly commemorates the band's prior work and
will establish further interest for their latest project that we expect later this year or early next. A review of their latest three-track studio recording The Mystic and the Muse is also online.