This is the second release of Renaissance live material in the last twelve months and fans must be thrilled that so much of the previously unreleased archive is at last seeing the light of day. The first seven tracks appear to be from a single 1978 concert and the final two sound like they have already been on the BBC Sessions CD that was released last October.
The track order is as follows:
1) Can You Hear Me Call Your Name
2) Carpet Of The Sun
3) Day of the Dreamer
4) Back Home Once Again
5) a. Can You Understand b. The Vultures Fly High
6) A Song For All Seasons
8) Ocean Gypsy
9) Running Hard
The sound quality is generally better than BBC Sessions without the excessive reverb and mastering problems, although the extreme high frequencies seem to be missing. However, this could be due to the age of the recordings. The best thing about the album is the first live release of "Back Home Once Again" and "A Song For All Seasons," although the latter appeared on the second Albert Hall CD by mistake without the intro section. This version, however, is complete and sounds fuller and better mixed.
This live version of the song "Day of the Dreamer" is different from the one on BBC Sessions CD for two reasons. This version is just the band on its own without the added strings and percussion and it's fascinating how John Tout handles the complex arrangements, sometimes using just piano to give a different effect from the original. Terry Sullivan similarly adds tympani with great results. Also there is an added vocal section which links the loud staccato section to the slower part of the song.
"Back Home Once Again" is a real treat to hear in this only live version. Terry had changed the drum part so the song flows better and there is a quaint keyboard section where John plays the chorus melody. Just before the end section Annie adds a very serene vocalise which make the symphonic finale all the more effective. This version of "Back Home Once Again" is a little gem which fans of the band will be thrilled to have in their collections.
"A Song For All Seasons" is also quite different from the original. The band were not afraid to let their individual instruments take the place of the original orchestral parts and the results are quite different. The intro section has Mike Dunford's electric guitar playing some of the orchestral lines along with John Tout's Choir Mellotron. The special icing on the cake however is Annie's vocalise of one of the main melodic themes. The whole band sounds like they are pulling together to reproduce the power of the original version and Jon Camp produces a particularly strong bass part on the punctuations. The sound on this track is superb with everything clear to hear.
The verse and chorus sections have John Tout bringing his orchestral keyboards into play as well as playing some great piano. Because the studio versions of some Renaissance songs feature Annie's overdubbed voices, it is interesting to hear which notes she chooses when there is only one of her and on the quiet instrumental section she yet again sings a beautiful vocalise of the main melody. The only part which doesn't quite come off is the "We fall while aiming so high" section where possibly some dodgy vocal mixing upsets the delicate balance between Annie and Jon's voices.
Day of the Dreamer reveals yet more of the classic lineup live repertoire to both new and older fans of the band and is an important piece of the band's history. The CD cover is on the arty side showing a boy and girl lying on open books apparently daydreaming about ships, swans, butterflies and fish. Even stranger are the sleeve notes apparently written by Annie in the third person? Nevertheless this album is about the music and of that there is no contest.