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Audience - Lunch CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.83 | 52 ratings

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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!

Peter | 5/5 |


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