Ashes Are Burning

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Ashes Are Burning
Cover design by Hipgnosis
Studio album by Renaissance
Released October 1973
Recorded April–August 1973
Studio De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley, UK
Genre Progressive rock, symphonic rock, psychedelic folk
Length 40:39
Label Sovereign (UK)
Sovereign/Capitol (North America)
Sovereign/Harvest (Germany)
Regal Zonophone (Italy)
EMI (rest of Europe and Japan)
Producer Dick Plant and Renaissance
Renaissance chronology
Ashes Are Burning
Turn of the Cards
US release cover
Renaissance - Ashes Are Burning.jpg
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]

Ashes Are Burning is the fourth studio album by the British progressive rock band Renaissance, released in 1973 (see 1973 in music). It was the first of several Renaissance albums to feature an orchestra playing along with the band on some songs.


Michael Dunford, who had been working with Renaissance in a composer-only role, had rejoined the band by the time this album was released. However, he wasn't officially part of the band when the album package was designed, so he doesn't appear in the cover photos and is listed as a guest musician.

The song "Can You Understand?" uses a quote from "Tonya and Yuri Arrive at Varykino", a theme from Maurice Jarre's score for Doctor Zhivago.[2] According to David Samuel Barr, a friend of the band who wrote the liner notes for the Tales of 1001 Nights compilation, Dunford had thought this melody to be a public domain Russian folk tune.[3] Because of confusion over the Jarre quote, some live collections (including Live at the Royal Albert Hall : King Biscuit Flower Hour Vol. 1[4] and some unauthorised releases) mistakenly credit "Can You Understand?" entirely to Jarre. "Can You Understand?" is also cited by Jon Camp as being a case where he and John Tout made major compositional contributions without being credited for them.[5]

The song "On the Frontier" was previously released (also in 1973) by former Renaissance member Jim McCarty's band Shoot. It was the title track of their only album.[6]

An early demo of "Carpet of the Sun," with a vocal by Jane Relf, was released in 2008 on the compilation Jane's Renaissance: The Complete Jane Relf Collection, 1969-1995. This demo version includes a verse which is not heard in the final version; however this verse is printed on the Ashes Are Burning LP's inner sleeve. (The verse begins with "Come along and try, looking into ways of giving. Maybe we will try, find a dream that we will live in".) "Carpet" is the only Renaissance song that has been released in both Jane Relf and Annie Haslam versions.

It was the band's first album to make the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at No. 171.[7]

In the Beginning reissue[edit]

In 1978 Ashes Are Burning was reissued, together with the preceding album Prologue, as a double album called In the Beginning. While Prologue was reissued in complete form, the Ashes Are Burning song "At the Harbour" was edited down to 3:07. This was because a change in copyright laws in the interim had changed the status of certain early 20th century works, including Claude Debussy's La cathédrale engloutie, excerpts of which begin and end the full version of "At the Harbour".[8] The 1988 CD version of In the Beginning (on one disc) had edited versions not only of this song, but also of "Ashes Are Burning" and of one Prologue song.[9] The early-1990s CD reissue of "Ashes are Burning," on One Way Records, contains the full-length version of "At the Harbour". The album was re-issued on CD in its original form by Repertoire Records in 1995.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Michael Dunford and Betty Thatcher, except where noted.

Side one
1."Can You Understand?" 9:51
2."Let It Grow" 4:14
3."On the Frontier"Jim McCarty, Thatcher4:55
Side two
4."Carpet of the Sun"3:31
5."At the Harbour"6:48
6."Ashes Are Burning"11:20



  • Annie Haslam – lead and backing vocals
  • John Tout – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Jon Camp (listed as "John Camp") – bass, co-lead vocals on track 3, backing vocals
  • Terence Sullivan – drums, backing vocals, percussion

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Michael Dunford – acoustic guitar
  • Andy Powell – electric guitar solo on track 6
  • Richard Hewson – strings arrangements on tracks 1 and 4


  • Dick Plant – producer, engineer
  • Richard Goldblatt – assistant engineer
  • Hipgnosis – cover design


  1. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Renaissance – Ashes Are Burning review". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Classical pieces recorded by progressive rock groups"
  3. ^ "Yahoo Groups". Yahoo!. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  4. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Renaissance – King Biscuit Flower Hour review". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Jon Camp Interview 2012".
  6. ^ Renaissance Discography
  7. ^ "Ashes Are Burning Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  8. ^ Liner notes from the 1990 Tales of 1001 Nights compilations
  9. ^ The History Of Renaissance