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Audience: Audience (remastered)

Here we have the Cherry Red remastered edition of the 1969 debut from British art-rock band Audience, one of the more unique acts ever to grace the prog/psych/folk scene. Comprised of Howard Werth (electric classic guitar, vocals), Keith Gemmell (sax, clarinet, flute), Trevor Williams (bass guitar), and Tony Connor (drums, percussion, vibes), Audience combined the class of jazz, the earthiness of folk, pop hooks, swirling psychedelia, and the adventurous & quirky nature of the early progressive rock scene for a style that clearly stood out from the rest of the groups breaking into the mainstream during that time period. The bands success however was very limited before they called it a day a few years later after a handful of studio albums and tours. This debut was deleted shortly after its release (it did not sell well) and the original vinyl pressings are highly sought after on the collectors market. Cherry Red's reissue contains a remastered version of the original album, along with three bonus tracks.

Werth is an interesting and integral part of Audience's sound, as his high pitched and somewhat nasally vocals pre-date Guns 'n' Roses' singer Axel Rose by a good many years, and his electrified nylon strung classical guitar work is indeed very special and quite different from what you'd normally hear. In addition, Gemmell's reeds are often times run through a myriad of effects, such as fuzz, distortion, chorus, and wah-wah, at times sounding not unlike a rampaging Hammond organ or even electric guitar. While the band were not as fully developed here as they would become on subsequent albums, their quirky brand of folky, jazzy prog mixed with pop is ever charming, especially on tracks like "Pleasant Convalescence" , the soaring "Leave it Unsaid", "Banquet", and the almost Allman Brothers Band meets Van Der Graaf Generator strains of "Harlequin". "Too Late I'm Gone" is perhaps one of the albums more rock based songs, and "Maiden's Cry" has an R&B/jug blues feel to it, providing for one of their odder tunes here, but no less satisfying. Throughout, the guitar work of Werth is stellar, as are the reeds of Gemmell and the rhythms from Williams & Connor, plus the addition of strings on a few tunes adds a nice classical feel in spots.

Though Audience would achieve much loftier platforms on Friends, Friend's Friend's and House on the Hill, this debut is still plenty enjoyable, and shows a band still trying to find their way at a time when music was exploding in all sorts of different directions. Cherry Red has done a great job on the remastering, and there's a cool booklet included with all sorts of info on the band & the album.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing

  1. "Banquet"
  2. "Poet"
  3. "Waverley Stage Coach"
  4. "Riverboat Queen"
  5. "Harlequin"
  6. "Heaven Was an Island"
  7. "Too Late I'm Gone"
  8. "Maidens Cry"
  9. "Pleasant Convalescence"
  10. "Leave It Unsaid"
  11. "Man On Box"
  12. "House On The Hill"
  13. "Paper Round" (bonus track)
  14. "The Going Song" (bonus track)
  15. "Troubles" (bonus track)

Added: August 31st 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Cherry Red Records
Hits: 1543
Language: english

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