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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Somehow something went terribly wrong on this album. After Friends and House , I think everyone expected this one to be their opus , their masterpiece , their apex ........ And then it hits you , the album is a conceptual one and therefore increases your expectations, only to be cruelly let down. I still have problems figuring what is wrong in here but I find Lunch hard to digest ( tooo easy!!!) but something is not working here and I will call it inspiration. This sounds as though , they were asked to do a concept album , by their label but the envy was not there. This is also their last album , so one can imagine that there was friction about this as they broke up. If you are a fan of their first three , you wil want to listen to this , but I have warned you.....
Report this review (#30891)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I was rather surprised to find the often-overlooked Audience listed on the Archives, because I have a hard time regarding the music that singer/songwriter Howard Werth and company make as progressive rock. Although the English band recorded on Charisma Records (in company with label-mates Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator), and despite the fact that '72's LUNCH was engineered by early Genesis engineer David Hentschel, I have always broadly classified Audience's distinctive music as folkish, rhythm and blues-based straight rock, with just a tinge of country.

Quibbling over categories aside, I am nonetheless glad for the opportunity to review an album that has long been a favourite of mine, in any genre. LUNCH is one of those perennially-treasured albums that I fondly revisit again and again.

The band's sound is driven by Werth's strong voice (somewhat reminiscent of CCR's John Fogerty) and acoustic guitar -- there are no electric guitars or synths -- and the tenor sax of Bobby Keys. Drums, bass, piano, vibes, marimba, trumpet, trombone, flute and accordion fill out the mix, and impart a joyful atmosphere to the proceedings.

Taste is a highly individual thing, but I can't understand why my fellow reviewer Hugues Chantraine has given this terrific disc such a poor rating. For the record, LUNCH is not a concept album, but simply a fun CD, and not one to take too seriously. This is perfect music for friends, good times and cold beer! I enjoy every song here, but some are particular standouts: The opener "Stand by the Door" is about as close as this album gets to "Progressive Rock," and gets under your skin (in a good way!) from the first listen, with its plaintive lyrics, infectious chorus, and superb harmony vocals. This magnificent song should have been a hit!

"Hula Girl" is a happy little ditty, replete with whistling, vibes and marimba, and sees Werth singing of his love for his "Polynesian queen." This number never fails to put a smile on my face!

"In Accord," with its double entendre title, is a masterful example of the songwriter's craft, and especially notable for its clever lyrics, which employ musical terminology to describe love: "I just have to tell you girl, that I'm in tune with you. You just tipped the scales my way -- saw your notes were true. Made my mind up now, you've got to come and sing with me. Something tells me by your tone, we won't sing out of key...." Werth's impassioned voice and powerfully strumming acoustic, accompanied by Keys' wailing and statacco sax, really shine here!

"Thunder and Lightning" is also a winner for me -- a passionate declaration of love that serves as another superb showcase for Keys' sax, and Werth's guitar and vocals. A fabulous song!

Next, the catchy music and lyrics of "Party Games" eminently suits its title, and the western-themed "Trombone Gulch" ably keeps the session moving at an up-tempo, joyous pace.

My overall favourite, though, brings this excellent musical repast to a regrettably early end: At over five minutes, "Buy Me an Island" is the longest selection on this all-too-brief recording, and finds Werth singing of his desire to escape the rat race: "I'm gonna buy me an island in the sun -- stay there till my days are all done. Life's gonna be coconut trees and swimming in the sea for me -- and no one's gonna take that from me." When Werth harmonizes "Da de-do-do, do-do do dooo" along with the sax for the superlative final minute, my heart soars along, and a masterpiece of classic English rock comes to a very memorable close.

Thus, I urge all to take another look at the LUNCH menu -- its offerings are actually quite tasty! Highly recommended indeed, for those fans of classic British rock who like to smile!

Report this review (#30892)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars It looks like Audience recorded their Love Bearch years before ELP. It may be a nice rock'n' roll album, but for those who was expecting a progressive magnus opus after so promising Friends and House on the Hill it is a big disappointment. Personally I found it more light hearted than Amazing Blondel's Mulgrave Street and Inspiration. Werth's voice is excellent as usual and he can play guitar, but apart from that you have nothing to listen to. If you are not a dedicated Audience fan, you can easily skip this record for good.
Report this review (#30893)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Still one of my favourite albums. There are very few groups that retain their freshness and can still excite after 30 years but Audience does it for me. I've been a pro. muso since the 70s, and listened to a LOT of music. While quite different to House On The Hill, Lunch is just as musically innovative. You need to realise they are different albums and should not be compared, one against the other. Lunch is not as dark as H O T H but still has you trying to work out what the lyrics actually mean. It will always have a place in my collection.
Report this review (#30894)
Posted Sunday, July 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know that Lunch should be classified as a progressive album or that Audience is a "progressive" group. Classifications of that sort restrictively set parameters that really shouldn't be considered legitimate and tend to invite undue and unfair criticism. This is especially so if a group is trying to develop an individual vision and style. Audience had a sound that was, compared to any other group I heard from that time period, on the whole unique. To classify them as prog suggests they should be compared to other early 70s acts like ELP, YES, Genesis, King Crimson, PFM... and although some titles might have stylistic similarities others certainly won't. Audience was a group that, with the advent of Lunch especially, defied categorizing of any sort. In that respect I suppose Audience would be progressive as their musical style pushed past parameters and expectations to create a sound that is both unusual and very tasty.

Progressive albums were at that time mostly concept albums and Lunch certainly doesn't fall into that category. It was/is essentially a collection of singles many of which stylistically bear some similarities but that hardly makes for a "concept album".

I can fully understand how someone who fell in love with House on the Hill might consider Lunch to be a disappointment as the overall style is entirely different. The waiter brings you a tunamelt when you were expecting pastrami on rye and you probably don't care if it's the best tunamelt in town it's still not your beloved pastrami on rye. Fortunately I appreciate variety and that's probably why I always enjoy Lunch.

Report this review (#30895)
Posted Friday, March 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars "Lunch" disappointed me. I expected something like "The House On the Hill" which is a brilliant blend of proto-prog and folk-rock and, well, "Lunch" has nothing to do with its predecesor. It was recorded only one year later but it seems that the whole inspiration of the previous album is gone away. In "Lunch" there are really no highlights, everything is vulgar and boring. It's difficult to understand the reason why the same band can produce two records so different as far as creativity is concerned because the elements we could find in "THOTH" are here (Werth fantastic voice and acoustic guitar playing, Keys and Gemell brilliant saxo...) but the whole thing just doesn't work. It's definitely not a prog album, not even prog-related (not even a good non-prog record), so if I were you I would avoid it.
Report this review (#50807)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars After a long hesitating I've finally decided to buy this album. Since I've read a lot of critics and reviews about this album, my approach was not to expect something of material similar to precedeing two albums. In doing so, I found this to be an interesting album.I prefer original recordings so I acquired an LP ; on the A side my favourite is the opener 'Stand By The Door' closely followed by closing track 'In Accord' ; on the B side these are 'Thunder And Lightning' and 'Party Games'. Pity that it was their last album, which I consider to be quite good - therefore three stars.
Report this review (#73759)
Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This was certainly anything than their best work and knowing and adoring their two previous masterly done albums one could easily be disappointed by listening to it. But nonetheless if not drawing too many comparisons, especially not with classic Prog releases "Lunch" was still a fine enjoyable and moreover a funny album. In some way this strange mix of folk, country, pop, bluegrass and brass rock can be considered quite unique and actually it's hard to find any reminiscences. In fact the only ones coming to my mind are Van Morrison or maybe Kevin Coyne at times and it's true there's little to be picked up here that could be of any interest for a Prog fan. A bit outstanding track is for me "In Accord" with great brass sound but songs like "Stand By The Door", "Hula Girl", "Thunder And Lightnin", "Party Games" or "Buy Me An Island" have their charm too and are a nice listen every now and then. This one doesn't get a regular spin by my player and I could only recommend it for running in the back if having a few beers together with friends, but for me it's still good for 3 stars!
Report this review (#100582)
Posted Monday, November 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars After some nice albums the group Audience made their most uninspired and average one. Lunch is a disappointment to every prog fan. However, as a whole, it is nice poprock easy listenable pack of songs and it's open to public, BUT...

The first song is by far the best having at least some nice melody and refrain. After Stand by the door, things are going worong. Hey-hooray songs without really memorable instrumental passages attack a poor progressive listener who made such a mistake and buy this album. (In fact, my wife likes this album, sometimes easy rock songs are attractive for people, but not for prog fans)

There is not so much to add to this album. Two stars, because a lot of worse album exists, BUT better ones are also.

Report this review (#104997)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Stand by the door for a hasty exit!

While it is generally recognised that Audience's previous release "The house on the hill" was an excellent jazz/prog rock album, the views on "Lunch" are far more divided. "Lunch" should have seen Audience delving deeper into the jazz/prog sound they had created so well on tracks like "Jackdaw" and "House on the hill". Unfortunately, they made a very average album of pretty basic songs.

It all starts off brightly enough with "Stand by the door", a fine commercial piece with a strong refrain and some excellent vocal harmonies. The song is reminiscent of "You're not smiling" from the previous album.

Unfortunately, it's downhill from there on. Howard Werth's highly distinctive vocals are still here of course. While for many they were an instant turn off, there is no denying they were a major factor in the sound of the band.

"Seven sore bruises" is little more than a standard pub rock song, with strong retro feel. "Hula girl" is a light pop number with a pleasant but unremarkable melody. It is the sort of song you hear as background music at holiday camps! "Barracuda Dan" is another throwaway piece, this time a sort variant of ELP's "The Sheriff". "Trombone gulch" is a undistinguished romp. All these tracks are well under three minutes in length, a good indicator of the superficial nature of the album as a whole.

"In accord" finally sees Audience moving back towards "A house on the hill", being an altogether more substantial piece which may have later inspired the WATERBOYS. The brass section is particularly notable here, the piece having a heavy, ROXY MUSIC feel. "Party games", "Buy me an island" and "Thunder and lightning" try to offer something slightly more interesting, but they remain uninspired.

This, Audience's fourth release, turned out to be their last original album, the band's lifespan having been tragically short. The brevity of the album and the eclectic mix of mediocre songs indicates however that the tank was empty. In 2005, the original line up reunited for some live performances. Sadly, they were not supported by Genesis, as they had been in the early 1970's. It remains to be seen if there will be any new material from the band.

Report this review (#110732)
Posted Monday, February 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars If you've read my reviews of the first 3 albums, you can see that I have a real fondness for this band. It's such a shame that they couldn't produce great albums from start to finish. In this case they finished rock bottom.

When I got this album, I could not believe what I was hearing. I've never witnessed such decline in any other band. Most bands get worse over a period of years (GENESIS spring to mind), I just dont know what happened. By this time, Audience had ditched their unique sound partly due to the fact that they had taken on some not needed session musicians. The result is a batch of below par commercial songs, that more often than not, sound like novelty records. For some reason, Howard Werths vocals sound strained and irritating. Not one good track on the album at all, such a shame regarding the quality of the previous 3. Avoid at all costs.

Report this review (#112325)
Posted Friday, February 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Audience last album Lunch is not a favorite among the fans. Personally I like it almost as much as the two previous albums. Itīs a bit more diverse than those, but you can still hear that it is Audience playing. The style is a bit more soul influenced on this album though, just listen to a song like Ainīt the Man You Need.

Songs like Stand by the Door and In Accord are very good songs which reminds me of Audience great debut album. There are also some pretty horrible stuff here too Iīm afraid. A song like Hula Girl is really bad but generally the songs are really good. Itīs not the most progressive album youīll ever hear though.

The musicians are very competent and especially singer Howard Werth stands out with his in your face attitude. What a powerful singer. Keith Gemmelīs flute and especially sax is also very present on the album. This is usual business for Audience. They have hired a couple of more horn players on Lunch though which helps the more soulful feeling to emerge.

All in all itīs an ok album, but really not too recommendable. I will always listen to their great debut instead of this. 2 stars is all I can give.

Report this review (#160953)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very surprised to see the negative reactions to this record, which contains at least 4 of the best songs the band ever wrote (In Accord, Thunder and Lightning, Ain't the Man You Need, Buy Me an Island) despite some clunkers (Hula Girl). It is their most cohesive and least "proggy" -- there are no extended arrangments as on FRIENDS or HOUSE. Adding well-known US studio musicians Bobby Keys and Jim Price to supplement band member Keith Gemmell's brass looked like a transparent record company ploy but it actually works quite well, adding additional heft to the already amazing work by Gemmell. Howard Werth's cackling vocals have never sounded better suited to the material. It seems as though someone coaxed the band into penning songs like "Trombone Gulch" or "Barracuda Dan" for commerical appeal, but it happens that the songs are good. Any fan who's enjoyed the first 3 records should be advised to get this.
Report this review (#231701)
Posted Saturday, August 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I don't always do what my records tell me to do. Let's get this straight, I might be crazy but I'm not THAT crazy. Yet, there was this one day when I was standing by the door whilst listening to this album, because, frankly the first track on it is more or less a command to do just that, so I decided to play along to see what would happen. Well, what happened was...exactly...nothing. But, another time I was standing by the door and listening to this album and I saw an incredibly beautiful sunset, sky all pink and purple and yellow and orange, fluffy stringy clouds hanging over the mountains, all marshmallowy and then there was the moon lording over the whole thing and I felt truly blessed that I had, in fact, stood by the door because this record told me to. That story has absolutely nothing to do with the record and what it sounds like and if I think others would enjoy it, or even more importantly, if I enjoy it. Well, here's the answer to those most important questions of all....

I enjoy the bejeezus out of this album. No, it is not nearly as good as "House on the Hill" and it probably isn't as good as the first two either, but it's a decent album, still light years beyond alot of other things and at least darn interesting.

See, the problem I have with Audience, that no one ever points out on here or anywhere as far as I can tell, is that this band is not strictly speaking "normal." Well, what do I mean by that? First of all whatever form of this music is, what it was when it came out, to my ears this sounds like a grunge band, think Soundgarden or Mother Love Bone specifically, and that it's very pop and seventies instead of dank and nineties, but the gist of the music is very similar. Which is kind of weird to think since Audience weren't exactly an electric guitar band. I guess this isn't exactly a problem, just one of those other things, like doing what my records tell me, that make me feel a little touched, ya know? THEY DO SOUND VERY GRUNGE! I promise it's not a delusion!

Also, they sound less grunge on this album than on "House on the Hill" which is roughly 3.1415926 times better than this album. Still a good record though, a spin every couple months should be enough to charm the pants off a camel and the toes off a sloth. Works good with substances should also be another disclaimer (raises glass of kool-aid and tokes on a hookah filled with a non tobacco herbal mixture of basil, oregano, sage, and ((sigh)) hair...) Honestly close to a 3.5.

Report this review (#1177989)
Posted Thursday, May 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a new reviewer to a site that I have been reading for many years, I would just like to say that I disagree with the negativity towards this album. At the time I remember it being viewed as a disappointment mainly due to the fact that it wasn't a continuation of 'House on the Hill'. 'House' had that trippy prog feel, yet this has a poppy, brassy, feet on the ground vibe to it, as some bands realised that the hippy trippy thing had been played out. There are some wonderful songs (Thunder and Lightning, Stand by the Door) and the lyrics at times have that American country feel (Barracuda Dan, Trombone Gulch etc) Howard Werth is in fine voice and all musicians are on top of it. Whilst I now find the first two albums dated and unlistenable, and I agree that 'House' is Audience's finest moment, this is a very werthwhile (not sorry) album that does not deserve the bad rap.
Report this review (#2435900)
Posted Saturday, August 8, 2020 | Review Permalink

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