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Audience Audience [Aka: The First Album] album cover
3.56 | 72 ratings | 9 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Banquet (3:47)
2. Poet (3:05)
3. Waverley Stage Coach (2:59)
4. Riverboat Queen (2:57)
5. Harlequin (2:35)
6. Heaven Was an Island (4:18)
7. Too Late I'm Gone (2:37)
8. Maidens Cry (4:47)
9. Pleasant Convalescence (2:30)
10. Leave It Unsaid (4:10)
11. Man on Box (3:05)
12. House on the Hill (4:05)

Total Time 40:55

Bonus tracks on CD releases:
13. Paper Round (3:41)
14. The Going Song (1:41)
15. Troubles (1:23)

Line-up / Musicians

- Howard Werth / acoustic guitar, vocals
- Keith Gemmell / clarinet, flute, tenor saxophone
- Trevor Williams / bass
- Tony Connor / drums

- Andrew Price-Jackman / arrangements (4,7,9)

Releases information

Artwork: Paragon Publicity

LP Polydor ‎- 583 065 (1969, UK)

CD RPM Records ‎- RPM 148 (1995, UK) With 3 bonus tracks
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REP 5026 (2005, Germany) Remastered with 3 bonus tracks
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC2494 (2015, UK) Remastered with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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AUDIENCE Audience [Aka: The First Album] ratings distribution

(72 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

AUDIENCE Audience [Aka: The First Album] reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars This London quartet recorded their debut album with the large label Polydor (Phillips), but for some reason the record got pulled from the stores soon after its release and is now a much sought-after collector's item. The album had received a first Cd reissue with the German TRC, but for some reasons, the album was only lasting some 28 minutes. Released again nowadays, the full album is present as well as three bonus tracks, but I am not positive of the legitimacy of this release or its label. Nevertheless it is nice to hear Audience's debut even if we are far from their next two albums, which are masterpieces of the British proto-prog scene. The lest we can say is that this album is a bit naïve (is that really a flaw) and lacks a bit musical direction (on the other hand, this.), but holds enough charm to allow its weaknesses go easily forgiven.

Audience developed a blues-derived proto-prog that had two main characteristics, guitarist Howard Werth's voice (which can sound like VdGG and Gnidrolog's voices) and Keith Gemmell's many wind instruments. Tracks like the opening Banquet (this has the power of future records), the superb Heaven Was An Island (with its great percussive intro leading to a sizzling sax and wild lyrics), the dreamy Maiden's Cry (plaintive yet riveting with its sax approaching VdGG's Jackson), the solemn Leave It Unsaid and a first version of House On The Hill are all excellent tracks indicating the greatness of their future oeuvres.

Other tracks like Poet (cool flute), Waverley Stage Coach (too bluesy), River Boat Queen (weird, not unpleasant but highly surprising with its strings in the background), Harlequin (a bit of a filler), the forgettable and brassy Too Late etc. are slightly weaker

The three bonus tracks do not really hinder the album's running (except for the closer that is really not of good recording quality - and its origin not explained), but do not add much in value either as they do not range in their better tracks. But in some ways they are related to the song Ebony Variations from their second albums by presenting an underlying jazz facet that surfaces now and again.

Yes this debut is hardly representative of Audience's blistering and sizzling hard-bluesy prog of their future Friend's Friend's Friend and its better-known successor House On The Hill. But if you loved those two albums enough, this one will also please you because the nascent Audience sound is there, with their power musical powers waiting to be unleashed. Because of this album's quick disappearance from the market, you will find many of the ideas getting a second chance (under different names mostly) over the following two albums, making this album sounds sometimes like a demo. Your call on this one.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of the most pleasent surprises Iīve had all year, when it comes to prog rock. I never heard of Audience before and what a shame that was.

Audience is a british band playing a blues based prog rock variant ( very american sounding really). Donīt let the blues scare you away though, as this is much more diverse than that. The music is pretty normally radio rock structured so itīs not here you find prog tendencies. Itīs more in the choice of moods and chord changes. The music is driven mainly by lead singer Howard Werth ( he has a very impressive voice. Very distinct) and the wind and brass player Keith Gemmell. In some of the songs ( River Boat Queen and Pleasant Convalescense) strings are the most dominant instrument. The three basic instruments bass, guitar and drums play really basic things, allthough the guitar does have itīs moments.

This is not your average day prog rock, so donīt expect too much technical or symphonic sounding playing from Audience. What you get though is a well playing band with a very diverse style within their concept of bluesy prog rock. If you listen to this album, please donīt discard of it before you have listened to the first four songs, then youīll understand what this great band is capable of.

Iīll be looking forward to listening to the next two Audience albums, as I understand that they are the most praised ones from their discography. This one is a forgotten gem.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars You've been a great Audience

Audience's fifteen minutes of fame came when they released their masterpiece album, "House on the hill" on Charisma Records. They had however been around for some time before that, and this eponymous album, originally released by Polydor records, goes back to where it all started.

Deciding to adopt the name Audience, rather than persist with the laborious Lloyd Alexander Blues Band from whom they emerged, the band recorded this album in early 1969. "Audience" is a typical album by a band desperately trying to find their direction. That is not to say there is nothing of value here, there most certainly is. The unique voice of Howard Werth is not fully exploited, but songs such as the opening "Banquet" would have sounded OK on "House on the hill".

Thereafter we have the anonymous soft pop of "Poet", the upbeat folk blues of "Waverley stage coach" and the Stackridge (whom Keith Gemmell would later join) like folk parody of "River boat queen". The last of those is the most interesting, the arrangement having definite prog nuances.

"Heaven was an island" supposedly contains incisive political lyrics by Trevor Williams, but the slurred, semi-shouted vocal delivery of Werth makes them all but indecipherable. The track actually sounds rather Family like, with some jazzy improvised sax as the instrumental break. There are other early hints of the jazz rock which would come to the fore on later albums, especially through the wind instruments of Keith Gemmell.

"Maidens cry" reportedly inspired part of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to heaven", Audience having supported the Zepsters in 1969. The song is a fine, moody piece with notable harmonies and confident sax. The final track on the original album is an early version of "House on the hill", a song the band would substantially rework when recording their third album ("House on the Hill"). The version here is totally recognisable though, and one of the highlights of the set.

The recent and somewhat overdue CD release of the album (called "Audience, the first album") has a few additional tracks from the period. "Paper round" is a lightweight Traffic pop like number which features a nice change of pace midway. "Troubles" was the first song written by Werth, when he was 15 years old. Only the backing track was recorded around the time of this album, so Werth recorded the vocals for it in the mid 1990's for this re-release. "The going song" is a track from the incidental music recorded by the band for a film called "Bronco bullfrog", the music never having been previously released.

Incidentally, the version of "Too late, I'm gone" included here is not that which appeared on the original album, but one which features Mike D'Abo on piano. The inclusion of this version was at the behest of Howard Werth, who assures us that the differences are otherwise minimal.

In all, a mainly pop orientated debut, but one which contains regular and transparent indications of what would follow. The quality of the songs, the performances, and the arrangements all combine to confirm that this is an ambitious band with the talent to turn those ambitions into success.

Review by stefro
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
Review by Warthur
4 stars Somewhat more straight-ahead and simple than the more baroque and polished stylings of Friends' Friends' Friend or House On the Hill (an early version of the title track from which appears here), the debut album by Audience is still a confident bit of first-wave progressive rock that puts Keith Gemmell's saxophone and Howard Werth's idiosyncratic vocals and evocative lyrics at the heart of the Audience sound. If you've already taken in the superior followups, it still has plenty to offer, whereas if you are new to Audience it's a reasonable enough introduction to their sound, even if it isn't necessarily the absolute best one.
Review by DangHeck
3 stars Early UK Art Rock with American Roots and Blues?

[This will be a review for the 30th anniversary of this, Audience's self-titled debut (1999), featuring the 3 bonus tracks mentioned herein.]

Considered here on PA "Eclectic Prog", Audience were a UK band contemporary to other quick-to-the-draw early Proggers such as VdGG, Man, Affinity and Family; experimenting with song structures and various un-Rock sounds and instruments. Due, I believe, to some suggestion, likely from the wonderful Dereck Higgins, I had begun my trip into Audience's discography with 1971's The House on the Hill.

"Banquet" starts us off in a most bucolic way before rapidly bounding off into loudness. Fantastic rhythm section, from the warm, bouncing tone of the bass to the clanging of the drums. To my happy ears, what a great opening track to introduce their band to the world! A bit Hard Rock, a bit R&B and a tastefully artsy approach. "Poet" follows in a more definite pastoral way, with acoustic guitar and soft fluting. This track strikes me as lightly Roots Rock? A sort of countryside Americana in these bones? We return to surely English shores on "Waverley Stage Coach", no? There is some harmonica, reminding us of our American-Rock roots. Nice, classic track; at times reminding me of the Stones.

Then onto what I feel is lightly Beatles-esque, at least at first, "Riverboat Queen" continues in this Folk-Roots-Rock mix. Howard Werth, our lead vocalist, has quite the delivery. Not quite nasally; it's hard for me to place, though in its uniqueness, I quite like it. Sort of like a lost Brother Gibb. The final moments have these soft, though darting strings underneath other more or less unusual instrumentation. Truly, Roots Rock continues, though it were The Band or Van Morrison, on the rolling, bright "Harlequin". I think this was a very good track, but saxophonin' aside, I'm wary to call it "progressive". More groove and a heavier hand is involved on the next, "Heaven Was An Island". Phenomenally strong start. Super groovy, in fact, and a tad bluesy. There is definitely something Family-ish with this one, or perhaps it's early Jethro Tull. Vocally, again, like Van Morrison to my ears. Geeze-Louise! This saxophone solo is cool as sh*t! Absolutely nasty playing...

Huge shift toward Rock 'n Roll, like more than I was ready to handle, on "Too Late I'm Gone". Lucky for my precious ears(/s), it does take a sort of fun Dixieland turn throughout. It does rock pretty hard, too, specifically in its middle, featuring a sort of horn-meets-Wurlitzer(?) bridge section. Some may find this terribly annoying; some may be utterly shocked how much this little track is actually quite enjoyable, as I did haha. We get tossed back into a dark, gloomy reality of who I, and maybe you, thought Audience was on "Maidens Cry". A softer, fluted number. Only amount of interest it provided me was a shift to sax from flute. Who then was doing the sort of orchestral thing we find on "Pleasant Convalescence" before ELO? The proto-ELO The Move? The other proto-ELO band The Idle Race?! The wonderful Blossom Toes? Not so sure about that last one... Anyways, I loved this track. Fantastic post-Psych, early-Prog track. Oh man! And then the natural transition into "Leave It Unsaid"!!! Yeehaw!!! Talk about heavy without your normal Metal or Hard Rock instrumentation. Great vocals, and awesome instrumentation all around, including a... some kinda organ solo?! Hard to place what the hell I'm hearing, but I am so down! Post-solo, it shifts into some nice acoustic guitar and reeds interplay. This is definitely some great early Prog. So much going on. Best track? [Definitely.]

As we approach the close of the original release, we have the Psych-Folk of "Man On Box". This one has some lovely, light malletwork, too. Everything is working phenomenally together. Warm rhythm section matched with bright, almost Eastern-rooted keys and acoustic guitar. Pretty unique, I feel. Finally, we have "House On The Hill", a damn cool song. Remarkably familiar to me, as this was redone with a much longer rendition off of the later album of the same name. This is a great track. It has strutting guitar and bass, and that Champman-esque vocal warble I recall from that later version. Soloing here is saxophone heaven haha. Good God... So cool. All I can say right now is that the backend of this album is far stronger than what came before it.

For bonus material, we have "Paper Round" (a super playful track which turns Floyd-level dark), and two short numbers, "The Going Song" at nearly 2 minutes (apparently performed live) and the silly, again Dixieland, "Troubles" at just over 1.

True Rate: 3.5/5.0

Latest members reviews

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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#622922) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Monday, January 30, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A pretty unique sounding record and band for that matter. An interesting blend of folk, blues and jazz influences are all in this melting pot we know as AUDIENCE. The folky egde can be found in Howard Werth's classical guitar playing. As far as I can think he never went electric. The slightly ... (read more)

Report this review (#112199) | Posted by kingdhansak | Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This debut album released in late 1969 was really a peculiar creation regarding musical ambience of that time; music material comprised varied influences and elements from folk to rhythm and blues coloured tunes; the sound was marked by acoustic guitar, woodwinds and distinctive Howard Werth's ... (read more)

Report this review (#85606) | Posted by bsurmano | Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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