In 1977, the English classical/rock band Renaissance embarked on a brief three-city tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Harry Rabinowitz. After performances in Birmingham and Manchester, the final show (at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall) took place on October 14th, and was recorded by the Island Mobile Studio for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. "Playing the Royal Albert Hall was a dream come true for all of us," says Annie Haslam. "All of our families were there in special private boxes, to see us perform with the Royal Philharmonic, one of the best orchestras in the world."
This second part of the concert continues with "Running Hard" (from 1974's Turn of the Cards), "Midas Man" (from 1977's Novella), "Mother Russia" (from Turn of the Cards), "Touching Once (Is So Hard To Keep)" (from Novella) and an extended improvisational performance of the band's traditional finale, "Ashes Are Burning" (from 1973's Ashes Are Burning). "Prologue" is an extra track taken from another live performance, and the final song, "You, Pt. 1 & 2," is a bonus studio track.
Since the band's final dissolution in 1987, Michael Dunford says, "I've been working on a musical entitled Scheherazade, which is very loosely based on what we did in Renaissance a number of years ago. We've retained a couple of musical things from what we did on the album, but it's completely different, writing and working in musical theater." Dunford began the project with original collaborator and longtime Renaissance lyricist Betty Thatcher, but is now working with playwright Jude Alderson and co-composer Richard Brown, musical director of the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican in London, and hopes to be doing workshops by this summer. In 1995, Dunford also released in England a new album of collaborations with the now-Betty Thatcher Newsinger as The Other Woman by Renaissance (HTD Records). It included a remake of Renaissance's hit single "Northern Lights," and featured new musicians and vocalist Stephanie Adlington, whom Dunford had met while recording demos for Scheherazade with students from the Royal Academy of Music.
Annie Haslam actually began her solo recording career the same year as this Royal Albert Hall concert with 1977's Annie in Wonderland (Sire), produced by her then-fiance, the legendary Roy Wood. "It was great fun. I experimented with more with my voice than I had ever done. I learned a lot from Roy about singing techniques and he was the first one to talk me into multi-tracking my voice, which I had been reluctant to do with Renaissance. When we did our next album (A Song for All Seasons) I triple-tracked my voice on "Northern Lights," which I wouldn't have done otherwise, and it became a top-ten hit in England."
In 1985, in England, Spartan Records released Still Life, an album of classical themes with Haslam singing lyrics by Betty Thatcher, arranged and conducted by Louis Clark, with Royal Philharmonic and the Royal Choral Society. "It was an idea I had come up with," says Haslam. "I had heard Bach's "Air On A G-String" one day on the radio and started making up words to it. So I called Betty Thatcher and she thought it was a great idea and called Lou Clark, who said he'd love to do it." The album finally saw a U.S. release on One-Way Records in '96.
By 1989, Haslam was officially on her own and released Annie Haslam on Epic in the U.S., produced by Synergy synthesizer-whiz Larry Fast. Haslam says, "The highlight was to work with (Moody Blues') Justin Hayward and record his song 'The Angels Cry'." Hayward added vocals and acoustic guitar to the track. The album also featured Mike Oldfield's "Moonlight Shadow" and Haslam's first original composition, "Celestine." It was issued in Japan in 1990 as Moonlight Shadow by Virgin Records. In 1994 Japan's Apollon Records year released Blessing in Disguise, credited to Annie Haslam's Renaissance and produced and partly co-written by the legendary Tony Visconti. The album saw U.S. release on One-Way in 1995.
Renaissance regrouped in 2000 to record Tuscany, and played one gig in London before heading to Japan for a short tour. Haslam, however, announced that the reunion would be short-lived, and the tour stopped short after Japan. The past few years have seen Renaissance release several live albums from an archived collection, though the original lineup does not work together any longer.