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Audience - Audience [Aka: The First Album] CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.60 | 63 ratings

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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
stefro | 4/5 |


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