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AUDIENCE

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Audience biography
Listed under Folk Rock, AUDIENCE consisted of Howard Werth, vocals/guitar, Keith Gemmell, sax/clarinet/flute, Tony Connor, drums and myself on bass. We ran from 1969 to 1972 and, although featuring acoustic guitar, were not exactly folky. I think we were more usually classified as art rock. When band folded, Howard joined The DOORS as replacement for Jim Morrison then went solo, Keith joined STACKRIDGE and later The PASADENA ROOF ORCHESTRA and I joined The NASHVILLE TEENS, then Jonathan Kelly's OUTSIDE. Tony joined HOT CHOCOLATE, where he has been ever since. The band has recently reformed with only one personnel change - that of John Fisher on drums.

We produced albums as per your list. A recent addition is "Unchained", which is a best-of with two additional unreleased tracks. The most lauded album was "House on the Hill".

: : : Trevor Williams (AUDIENCE), ENGLAND : : :


AUDIENCE was a London-based group that recorded their first album in 69 and had their eponymous debut pulled from the stores a few months after its release, which makes the album a major collectible (Cd versions were also hard to come by until a recent reissue). They got signed by Tony Stratton-Smith of the Charisma label ( GENESIS , VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, THE NICE and a few others) but although not a purely progressive group , they bore a lot of characteristics of the masters. Among which , a profound (and somewhat derangesome) singer whose voice reminds you a bit of PETER HAMMILL, a great wind players able to switch to from flutes to saxes and oboe and a bassist (who wrote the acknowledgement written above ) that doubled on KBs but those remain discreet.

Three more albums were released under the Charisma label , and Friend's Friend's Friend is easily their best although the much-better known House On The Hill is equal in quality , both featuring tight frenetic and high-energy rock but also virtuosity and inventiveness. No real long epics , but plenty of space for all musicians to expand themselves and minor classic tracks like "Raid" , "Jackdaw" , "Priestess" and "House On The hill" can be called minor classic in their own right. Then , the band seemed to want to take things a step further by adding three extra musicians ( a KbB and two reed men) writing a concept album that was supposed to be their crowning achievement. Sadly the album was only partially succesful and the band folded almost immediately after due to internal friction. Only a compilatio...
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AUDIENCE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

AUDIENCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.51 | 46 ratings
Audience
1969
3.60 | 53 ratings
Friend's Friend's Friend
1970
3.88 | 71 ratings
The House on the Hill
1971
2.73 | 35 ratings
Lunch
1972

AUDIENCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 3 ratings
Alive&Kickin'&Screamin'&Shoutin'
2005

AUDIENCE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

AUDIENCE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 4 ratings
You Can't Beat Them
1973

AUDIENCE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Bella Donna Moonshine
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Indian Summer
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
You're Not Smiling
1971

AUDIENCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Lunch by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.73 | 35 ratings

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Lunch
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by TerryDactyl

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.

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 Audience by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.51 | 46 ratings

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Audience
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Led by the idiosyncratic Howard Werth, Audience were one of those uncanny groups who were just so difficult to categorize, a prog-rock outfit in the same way that David Bowie was a pop star(the point being that yes, Bowie was a pop star, but he was also so much more; the same can be said of Audience). This was a truly singular outfit from a forward thinking era chock full of singular outfits, but even then somehow Audience stood out. Issued by Polydor in the summer of 1969, the group's self-titled debut exuded a far reaching sweep of musicsl styles, taking in everything from folk and blues to rock, jazz and psychedelic pop. It was't big seller, but it has become something of a cult favourite over the years as the group' reputation has steadily grown, original vinyl copies now worth a small fortune on the collector's circuit. Audience would issue four albums overall, with their debut followed by 1970's 'Friend's Friend's Friend', the following year's 'House On The Hill', and final album 'Lunch' from 1972, though it is this self- titled debut that is arguably the strongest. Ironically, 'Audience' is probably the group's least progressive effort, Werth and his line-up of Keith Gemmell(sax, flute), Tony Connor(percussion) and Trevor Williams(bass)instead favouring a kund of acoustic-electric hybrid sound, and much more more interested in spinning their mixture of good time folk, chamber pop and classical influences rather than engaging in extended solo's and complex musical arrangements. This makes for a highly-eclectic listen, and despite a couple of lightweight cuts - 'River boat Queen' simply doesn't work; then there's the naff and silly 'Harlequin' - one can only sit back and admire the breadth and scope of Werth' ambition. Highlights include the glorious bass-heavy twang of 'If Heaven Was An Island', a rocky, chest-puffing anthem Audience-style, the raucous folk-blues of 'Maiden's Cry' and, as a suitable closer, 'House On The Hill', a sparsely melodic slow-burner that would inspire the group's next album. Witty, rambunctious, brilliantly-played and full of character, this is the perfect introduction to the sounds of the late-sixties most inventive groups. It may not be to everyone's tastes, but that's what makes it so damn good. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014

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 The House on the Hill by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 71 ratings

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The House on the Hill
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In the vein of acts like Traffic and Gnidrolog, Audience combines the natural feeling of styles of folk and blues and the more musically engaging styles of jazz and classical. It's prog rock in a non-traditional stance, and that's what makes HOUSE ON THE HILL as exciting as other proggier albums.

Think of Audience as Gnidrolog's rhythm section (that good) with Van der Graaf Generator's woodwinds and a unique lead singer with a distinctive voice and plays strictly acoustic guitars. The delicacy of the acoustic guitars mixed in with the thrust of everything makes a near perfect sound balance that few can match. Maybe that explains the relative obscurity of Audience; the sound, while great, was hard to categorise, and that seems to have made it difficult for Audience to achieve even cult status.

On this particular album, the North Americans again get the better bargain much like on MOONTAN. Sure, Europe got the snappy ''Eye to Eye'', a great song in its own right and better than ''It Brings a Tear'', but the order on the NA release is better. I know there isn't much of a difference, but ''Indian Summer'' does not sound like a track that should close the record; it opens the record on the NA release, much more suitably too. The slow moving yet epic ''Jackdaw'' doesn't sound like an opener to me. I know I'm being nitpicky, but still?

HOUSE ON THE HILL can thrust power when it needs to; the title track is a perfect fusion of blues, rock and folk with an extended jam session at the right spot. The saxophone solo with two echoes is quite imaginative, and it's a few years before Mr. Freddie tried that when singing about prophets. There are also calmer, quieter bits as offsets. The beautiful rendition of Screamin' Jay's ''I Put a Spell on You'' is a slice of freshness to a normally sinister piece (it still kind of sounds that way), and classical buffs will enjoy the interceding orchestra on ''Raviole''.

There are times when HOUSE ON THE HILL compromises the two dynamic levels. ''You're Not Smiling'' executes this near flawlessly. The softness of the verses crescendoing into that haunting vocal/sax line is pure music euphoria.

It's hard to rate an album like HOUSE ON THE HILL on a prog site, but it belongs here and it's one of the better albums of this genre. The country-fied ''Nancy'' is the only blemish I could find (either version, it's on both), and even then, Howard Werth's vocal delivery saves the song. Highly recommended.

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 The House on the Hill by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 71 ratings

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The House on the Hill
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is a wondeful little gem that should be re-discovered, probably the most important effort by Audience.

The band doesn't use any keyboards' sound. The structure of music is based on guitars (acoustic mainly) and, above all, a SUPERB gruff saxophone (and clarinet) playing that reminds the typical VAN DER GRAAF mood, as it's evident up to the powerful opening number "Jackdaw". The album sounds eclectic, folky, baroque, periodically turning into avant-garde and jazz.

Some reviewers have linkened "I Had A Dream" to Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heavens Door" which was written - from what I know - in 1972 or 1973, quite some time after Audience's track (so to say how far Audience's influence spread). Other highlights are "Raviolé" (beautiful folk and classical arrangements) and the pleasant "Indian Summer" (nice flute).

The title track is simply stunning with those alternatings between crispy vocals and mad saxes, with slow interludes, flute, drums' solo, excellent bass playing.

This record was certainly written and composed during the golden hours of the early seventies: highly recommended.

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 Audience by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.51 | 46 ratings

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Audience
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars Audience is the 1969 debut album by British art rock band Audience. It was deleted shortly after its release and is now collectable in its original vinyl version. I've the CD version made by Akarma.

The debut of Audience does not contain real Progressive. In fact it is composed of 12 songs, all more or less progressive, but plain and simple. I like this kind of music, since it is not easy POP but neither Rock, stopping half way between POP and Rock. The addition of flute, tenor sax and clarinet plus a good Blues song is is the feature that I like to listen in this type of music. Audience, than, is not a band that plays covers as Affinity (for examples) and that is to build a personal and non-trivial. Defect, rather obviously, is that although magic and feeling are still intact, we understand that music is from 1969, because even with breaths of Prog Blues and Beat, although not very obvious.

But if you love early prog and try something really mature in early Prog you can not find yourself in your hands this CD.

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 Friend's Friend's Friend  by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.60 | 53 ratings

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Friend's Friend's Friend
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars At first hearing I didn't like the sound of this band at all. The album opens with rocking songs somewhere between folk and blues-rock; the sound is a bit messy and the vocalist sounds like a bad, less expressive version of BEGGARS OPERA vocals. Acoustic guitar and banjo can be heard a lot, keyboards almost missing. But further down the album I started to get the idea of this little known band in the Charisma label. Their ace in the sleeve is the sax/ woodwind player Keith Gemmell, who has a wide spectrum in handling his instruments. Well, the vocals may also be a trademark but I personally don't like them much. Howard Werth uses some mannerism that makes comparisons to VDGG's Peter Hammill and FAMILY's Roger Chapman, but with notably poorer results, I think. Also Lindisfarne is mentioned here. Indeed, AUDIENCE really sounds like a Charisma band!

Album's highlight is the 8-minute 'Raid' where saxes show their magic, and on the whole the album is better in the latter half. At times the music comes close to the more jazzy/ meditative/ impressionistic moments of VDGG with its wailing saxes or woodwinds, and that's when I like it the best. Another good song is the effectively dramatic 'Priestess'; the lyrics repeat "priestess... murderess..." However there are some rather poor compositions, and none that could be considered excellent, especially from prog's point of view. The only instrumental 'Ebony Variations' remains quite boring. Maybe their following album House On The Hill (from which I've heard one track) is better, even though some think this one is their best. But being an album from the year 1970, definitely not one to ignore completely.

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 The House on the Hill by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 71 ratings

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The House on the Hill
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A fantastic little album which uses the flute, clarinet and sax stylings of Keith Gemmell to great effect, fans of early prog should not be put off by the fact Audience don't use keyboards - this has a big, lush sound worthy of any of the band's competitors like Rare Bird or Van der Graaf Generator - though with a bit more jazz influence than either. Howard Werth's vocals are powerful and haunting, and work especially well on the accusatory Jackdaw and the eerie title track. The album isn't perfect - I thought Eye to Eye was a bit underbaked (and, indeed, early US editions of the album left it off in favour of a track from the previous album) - but otherwise it's a great little gem from the early prog era, one which I'm surprised hasn't achieved more attention.

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 Friend's Friend's Friend  by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.60 | 53 ratings

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Friend's Friend's Friend
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Audience on this album come across much like Charisma Records' answer to Family - a psych-prog band with a vocalist with a distinctive and energetic style. Musically speaking, Audience have much more jazz and folk influence than early Family, but Werth's powerful delivery really does put me in mind of Roger Chapman's vocal mannerisms. It's a good match to the music, which manages to get far darker and heavier than you'd expect psychish folk-jazz to get - especially on the menacing and accusatory Priestess. Audience seem to be comparatively forgotten compared with other Charisma stalwarts like Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, or even Rare Bird or Lindisfarne, and this is a real shame; they certainly deserve recognition for their contributions to early prog. Four stars.

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 The House on the Hill by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 71 ratings

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The House on the Hill
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by Dark Nazgul

4 stars Doing great prog without keyboards is possible.

A very good album from this group of the famous Charisma Records (the label of Van Der Graaf Generator, Genesis and Lindisfarne). The music is a sort of contamination, done with great elegance, of different styles (blues, jazz, classical, american folk and country music). No keyboards here, so nothing is bombastic or pompous: acoustic guitar is the lead instrument and saxes and vocal parts are very important too.

The amazing voice of Howard Werth, that reminds an american bluesman, is perfect for pieces like Jackdaw (the best song of the album and in my opinion a masterpiece of progressive rock), Nancy and the fantastic cover of the classic of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, I Put A Spell On You.

In every song there is a great use of wind instruments by Gemmell, and Van Der Graaf comes immediately to mind. But notice that we are miles far away from the experimental music of Peter Hammill and his band, because most of the songs are very catchy and melodic (You Are Not Smiling, Nancy, I Had A Dream).

Maybe not a masterpiece but I really can not find weak moments in this album. Maybe you'll like it at first listen and, I know, for prog lovers this is not ever a good thing, but I also think you'll never find it boring and you'll play it for a long time.

Rating: 8/10.

Best song: Jackdaw

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 The House on the Hill by AUDIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 71 ratings

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The House on the Hill
Audience Eclectic Prog

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars I picked this album up after reading a praising review on AllMusic.com back in 2003 and I was really surprised since it was my first experience of this great band!

The album begins with a real in-you-face sound of Jackdaw which pretty much summarizes everything that you have to know about this band in order to appreciate the rest of the performance. Soon the music turns to the softer side with You're Not Smiling, I Had a Dream and the wonderful acoustic instrumental called Raviole! After that the material comes back to the album opener territory with Nancy and the weird but nevertheless enjoyable performance on Eye To Eye. The last three tunes are here to guide the listener towards the album conclusion which consists of a Folk-cover of I Put A Spell On You, which fortunately enough isn't expanded into a 20+ minute jam-session, followed by the great album title-track and the sweet Indian Summer.

I really recommend this album to fans of Prog Folk ŕ la Jethro Tull...Whoops! Audience is now considered to be Eclectic Prog although I personally don't see the connection since The House On The Hill is in my opinion highly representative of the Prog Folk-movement of the '70s. Did I mentioned that there is a flute player here? But I guess that there is only one way for all of you to find that out!

***** star songs: You're Not Smiling (5:12) Raviole (3:38)

**** star songs: Jackdaw (7:28) I Had A Dream (4:17) Nancy (4:14) Eye To Eye (2:30) I Put A Spell On You (4:08) The House On The Hill (7:27) Indian Summer (3:16)

Total Rating: 4,21

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