reaching for the sky
Media Condition: VG+
Sleeve Condition: VG
Genre: Rock, Electronic, Synth-pop
Notes: 1980 release. Made in Holland. Plays very clean, record could be graded NM-. Regular wear on jacket and some yellowing from age.
If you like: Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, this album is equally iconic in its own right (especially the song, “Lay Me Down”) and well-deserving of your time.
About: Renée was formed in 1977 from the basis of the band René and The Alligators–of which René Nodelijk (guitar) had been the mainstay since its inception at the end of 1959–and the talents of René’s wife, vocalist Anja Exterkate (also known by her stage name, Renée...to make things confusing). Anja and René were the only permanent fixtures of the band, supplemented by an ever-changing lineup.
In 1978, their eponymous debut–a rock n’ roll revival album made up entirely of covers, styled à la Blondie, courtesy of Exterkate’s sugared yet sharp vocal treatments paired with rumbling guitars colored in a near pop-punk sensibility–was recorded and the single “Sweet Nothin’s” reached the Top 40 and made an impression in Belgium, Germany, Austria, and East Germany. This success impressed their label and gave Renée the opportunity to record original compositions; working as a partnership, Nodelijk composed music and Exterkate penned lyrics. The group re-released Renée under the title Ready To Rock and Roll. Their first album of original material, Reaching For the Sky, followed in 1980–the result was a glorious shift away from rock and roll to a successfully executed experiment in early new wave synth-pop. Here, Exterkate’s fantastic floating vocal deliveries shimmer amongst a lush backdrop of delectable, new wave and disco and funk-influenced pop grooves.
Unfortunately, CNR did little to promote the album’s singles and they did not do as hot as their early ones. Still, Reaching for the Sky was a relatively successful album in Europe and in the UK and Renée was even invited for several television appearances before the band broke up.
Why it’s worth your time: If not for the prowess of the synth-pop musical stylings of Nodelijk, Reaching for the Sky is remarkable for the shimmering, sweetly airy and synchronously cutting vocals of Renée (aka Anja Exterkate).
As a package, the album is made up entirely of earworms that will leave you singing along to in your head–on the way to the beach–long after you’ve left your turntable at home.
A favorite track: Lay Me Down