Illusion were a British progressive rock band formed in 1977. They released two albums, Out of the Mist (1977) and Illusion (1978) on Island Records, before folding in 1979. A third release titled Enchanted Caress (made up of demos for a proposed 3rd album, from the late 1970s) was released in 1990.
Illusion were intended to be a reunion of the original line-up of Renaissance (whose second 1971 album was titled Illusion), but singer and guitarist Keith Relf died before the project was realised. Thereafter, the band’s new lineup featured Louis Cennamo on bass, John Hawken on keyboards, Jim McCarty moved from drums to play acoustic guitar and share vocals with Jane Relf, while Eddie McNeill replaced him on drums and John Knightsbridge (from Third World War, and later of Ruthless Blues) played lead guitar.
In 2001, McCarty, Cennamo, Hawken and Jane Relf reunited once again to record Through the Fire, an album of new material, under the bandname Renaissance Illusion. (wikipedia)
After the encouraging results of their debut album, Illusion went back the following year to record their second effort, the self-titled album that came with a superb artwork, much reminiscent of the Renaissance debut album and we also see the return of another ex-Yardbirds, Paul Samwell-Smith on production. One of the main difference between the rival line-ups is that Illusion has a real electric guitarist, even if his presence is less felt in this album than on Out Of The Mist.
Opening on the superb almost 7-mins Madonna Blue, with its absolutely fabulous instrumental second part and a superb guitar solo, the album is off to a great start. McCarthy sings the following the west-coast CSN&Y-ish Never Be The Same track, while the soft-spoken Wings Across The Sea is a double vocal effort and is right in the usual target’s bull’s eye. Starting almost like a Tangerine Dream track, Cruising Nowhere is a splendid track that could’ve been a future avenue to venture on, showing that Illusion had indeed more songwriting tricks and talent in their bag than their rivals did.
There is quite a difference in the with Louis’s Theme – a very mellow/soft and lengthy track, somewhat even quieter than any then-contemporary Renaissance track- and Man of Miracle that could’ve hinted to what a third album might have sounded but Punk killed that idea. Man Of Miracles (a track going back to the early Renaissance days) is again starting on unusual synth sounds and is again superbly soft-spoken, much like Louis’ Theme. The closing 8-mis+ Revolutionary is another escape into a different symphonic realm, and a rather successful one, even if you have to raise the volume to get most of its beauty
If their debut OOTM was definitely ogling in the Renaissance direction, this second self-titled album is definitely aiming well beyond that restricted spectrum that their rivals were trapping themselves in. Indeed Illusion’s second album is anything but soporific, despite having half of its album in a very quiet and soft atmosphere that requires full attention and a good set of headphones. Renaissance fans might prefer the Mist album, but this one is definitely more adventurous. (by Sean Trane)
Louis Cennamo (bass)
John Hawken (keyboards, synthesizer, harpsichord)
John Knightsbridge (guitar)
Jim McCarty (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Eddie McNeil (drums, percussion)
Jane Relf – vocals)
01. Madonna Blue (McCarty) 6.47
02. Never Be The Same (McCarty) 3.18
03. Louis’ Theme (Cennamo/J.Relf) 7.43
04. Wings Across The Sea (McCarty) 4.49
05. Cruising Nowhere McCarty 5:01
06. Man Of Miracles (K.Relf/McCarty/Hawken) 3.28
07. The Revolutionary (McCarty/Hawken) 6.15