Image © Renaissance Records 2008
Jane Relf from Out Of The Mist
Image © Island Records 1977
(08 November 2008) With all due respect to the band's most well known and prolific vocalist, Annie Haslam, who set the standard for all that were to follow, Jane Relf was actually the first woman of the British progressive band Renaissance. The inexperienced sister of the band's founder Keith Relf was called from Cornwall to sing with the all male band in London. She grew to become an astute and well established professional although the initial Mark I version of the band fell apart.
Jane continued to sing with Illusion, a progressive band built from the ashes of the original Renaissance, who released Out Of The Mist, Illusion, additional singles and finally the long lost recordings on Enchanted Caress. She recorded singles, sang for commercials and provided backing vocals to other projects, including Stairway, by the original Renaissance band members after her brother's untimely death.
Jane Relf Appreciation Society president Brian Williams has lovingly assembled an absolutely-packed, two-CD, 33-track compilation of her recordings, including the best possible production of a number of extremely rare tracks, demos and material from vinyl first time transcribed to compact disc. Entitled Jane's Renaissance 1969-1995 (Renaissance Records (USA) RMED 384, 2008). The album also chronicles origins of "Carpet Of The Sun" with two demo versions revealed first time in this compilation.
The first disc in the collection takes the listener through the very earliest days of Renaissance beginning with "Wanderer," "Island" and "Roads To Freedom." Songs are taken from the 'Mark I' Renaissance albums Renaissance (1969) and Illusion (1971). Three medleys, arranged by Brian Williams, bring further rarities to light. The disc includes tracks by Renaissance, Illusion and Jane Relf's solo work.
For many this first disc will be the first time that Jane Relf's solo tracks have been heard. These include the well arranged and accessible numbers "Gone Fishing," "My My Time Pass By," the medley of "There'll Be No Going Back" and "Carpet of the Sun," and "Without a Song For You." The medley that closes the disc is comprices exerpts from "Golden Thread," "Madonna Blue," "Isadora," "The Revolutionary," and "Candles are Burning."
The second disc begins with many of Jane's backing vocal or vocalise contributions to Louis Cennamo's Stairway album. It then continues to explore her work with Illusion. The final track is a denoised and unedited version of the "Carpet Of The Sun" demo that Jane sang. The six Stairway songs are in an early new age style and therefore contrast the balance of the material distinctly.
Inclusion of the second batch of Illusion material alongside early Renaissance in this collection clearly demonstrates how Illusion moved on from the Mark I and the Mark II band and also continues to demonstrate Jane Relf's vocal prowess. Illusion clearly made music more in line with the Britich sounds of the day. Rock songs, torch ballads and traditional pieces all work together on the disc and have been sequenced to demonstrate the producers' dedication to Jane Relf's work. Listeners will again learn to appreciate the occasional very close similarity of Illusion to Renaissance in the song "Face of Yesterday" (1977) and "Wings Across The Sea."
The compact discs are accompanied by a photo filled booklet and very thorough Jane Relf biography. While the artist has no official website or MySpace, there is a discussion group for appreciation society members. Click on the album cover above for further information. Jane's Renaissance is indeed a fanstastic two CD collection that commemorates the fine vocal work of the stunning Jane Relf.
With a wide vocal range, excellent power, crystalline tone and demonstrated ability to sing pop, rock, progressive and new age, she has had an incredible career.