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Audience - Friend's Friend's Friend  CD (album) cover

FRIEND'S FRIEND'S FRIEND

Audience

 

Eclectic Prog

3.61 | 52 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really.

Their second album with its stupendous psych artwork gatefold sleeve was really a small masterpiece that is sadly and criminally under-rated and shadowed by its equally excellent successor House On The Hill. Audience was never a full-blown progressive rock group in the strict sense of whatever definition everyone tries to find, but almost everything they did write is adventurous enough to guarantee that progheads will love and adopt them, and certainly this album. The three characteristic that define their sound is that they are without a keyboard player, the have a very talented front man playing many wind instrument (including saxes, flutes, oboes etc.) and a lead vocalist/guitarist with a very uncommon voice. This might be the key factor for you to enjoy the band because Werth's voice is an acquired taste, but if you love Colin Goldring (Gnidrolog), Roger Chapman (Family) or Peter Hammill (VDGG and the voice-sax combination will remind you of them often), you will have absolutely no problem getting used to it.

From superb and charming It Brings A Tear to the very energetic (but still partly acoustic) Right On Their Side to the frightening and poignant Raid (and its almost 9 minutes of blood curdling sinister but fascinating ambiances) to the demented Priestess, every one of these songs fit each other except one. The gifted but totally out-of-context Ebony Variations is a showcase for Gemmel's superb talents but is filled with jazzy and folk feels, quite enjoyable track in itself but unfortunately not suited for this album. But this is the only "flaw" (if you can call this superb digression a flaw) in the continuity of the album. Appealing most to progheads will be the two longer tracks Raid and Priestess, the title track (Werth has even a bit of early Van Morrison intonations in his voice) and the finale Nothing You Do (with its infectious bass line) are of high calibre.

As I mentioned above, this absolute gem is completely over-shadowed by its successor The House On The Hill but by no means is FFF any inferior to their third album. I might even consider this album more even and constant (in spite of Ebony Variation) the its more famous follow-up. Sadly after those two superb albums, they set about to write what was supposed to become their magnum opus concept album called Lunch with an expanded line-up (two other reed player) but things went quite wrong and the band broke-up soon after its release and nothing outside a contract-filling compilation was heard of them. Until recently that is!!! In the last couple years Audience has reformed with three of its original members and have been touring the British Isles and are apparently still together (see the link to their website).

The early 70's were a great time for young and adventurous musicians and the era was favourable for the record industry (and the small subsidiary labels) to allow so many groups to releases obscure albums, so numerous in those years that it was simply impossible to promote every group. Then will come the first oil crisis, which will modify Europe's living habits and kill many groups that had not yet broken through! But at least, it leaves the joy to progheads to discover real hidden, buried and forgotten gems such as this one!

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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