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Audience - The House On The Hill CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.89 | 102 ratings

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4 stars The only album by Audience that I've heard so far is an excellent brew of folk, jazz and blues-rock with the odd instrumental work out. Far from being the most complex of groups, The Audience relies on a mixture of rootsy charm and quirky arrangements to win you over. The melodic work of Keith Gemmell (who plays sax. flute and clarinet) and Howard Werth's lead vocals are perhaps most memorable elements of the group's sound, but what really sticks in my mind is that Audience makes music that makes me smile.

As the album is a general consistent affair, it's almost a shame to pinpoint distinct highlights, but from a progressive standpoint some songs do stand out. The opener Jackdaw begins life as a fierce melodic jazz-rock riff, then mutates into a pastoral flute and acoustic guitar reverie, before an extended fuzz guitar solo and a brief sax solo effort brings things full circle. Then there's Raviole which is full of exquisite classical guitar moments, on which Howard Werth shows no little skill ... he is aided and abetted by some sympathetic orchestral arrangements from the man who did the best string arranging I've ever heard ... Robert Kirby (who is responsible for the glorious strings on Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left album). The third real highlight is the dark frantic title track ... wild brass careening acoustic guitars, echoed vocals, darting flutes, a brief drum solo from Tony Connor ... this is a stupendous treat if you can get in the mood.

When it comes to the more straight-laced tracks, Audience is no less skilled. You're Not Smiling has a wonderful singalong chorus that could have packed the terraces during the glam era, and I Had A Dream is another wonderful song with a glorious gospel sound that is curiously catchy ... it's almost the kind of song that The Band might cut. Indian Summer is another mellow rootsy piece that has a joyous explosion of a chorus. Then there's an intriguing psychedelic "sinister folk" cover of Screaming Jay Hawkins' signature tune I Put A Spell On You.The driving, brassy Nancy and Eye To Eye, which really sounds like a spoof theme song of some 60s spy show, are probably the least memorable efforts, but they are not bad.

As I said, the one thing that stands out about The House On The Hill is that even though not all its components are experimental, the band almost never fail to put a smile on my face through the sheer quality of the music on offer. ... 72% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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