Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mott's Mott's Mott
Kim Fletcher | Pattaya, Chonburi Thailand | 05/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When 'Audience' arrived on the rock scene in 1969 they had to create a whole new category of music, so that they could conveniently pigeon hole them, their sound was labelled `Art Rock'. The bands influence over the years could never have been imagined at the time. Their line-up defied the normal for a rock band, with a nylon strung acoustic guitar, saxophone, flute, with a more conservative back line of bass and drums, with Howard Werth''s unique vocals.
They played their first gig at the prestigious Marquee club in Wardour Street, London, England. After which they were immediately snapped up on a one album deal by the rather conservative Polydor Records. The album 'Audience'(1969) was a great critical success, but met with commercial indifference. Polydor unsure of how to treat the band withdrew their support. So when Tony Stratton Smith approached them with a view to joining Charisma Records they needed no second bidding. He'd only just set up the label at that point and had only recorded a couple of things with 'Rare Bird' ( Charisma first tasted success with 'Rare Bird's' one and only hit single 'Sympathy ' ) and the wonderfully monikered 'Van Der Graf Generator'. So 'Audience' were attracted by the idea of joining Charisma, because in many ways they were the first of the independent labels.
The approach from Charisma came after the band supported 'Led Zeppelin' at London's Lyceum ballroom in October 1969, and thereby hangs a tale. Listen to 'Maiden's Cry' from their first album and you may just be struck by a passing resemblance to a certain 'Led Zeppelin' classic. Howard Werth was later quoted as saying " I'm not the one to say that the basic chord structure is very similar to ' Stairway to Heaven' but I wrote it a couple of years before Zeppelin wrote their song" A similar coincidence occurred with 'I Had A Dream' a classic Audience song from their 'House On The Hill ' album which predated Bob Dylan's very similar 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door'. Anyhow be that as it may, several reviews of their support slot with Led Zeppelin awarded a moral victory on points to 'Audience'. As the gig had been promoted by Stratton Smith who suitably impressed with their support slot he immediately thought of them as an ideal band for the label he was planning.
Two bands that were to also join the fledgling Charisma record label and often support 'Audience' in concert, were to hit pay dirt for Charisma, they were 'Lindisfarne ' and 'Genesis'.
So with much expectation the band were given masses of studio time and allowed to go to work on their debut Charisma recording. Howard Werth ,he of the unique throat ,and nylon strung guitar , could certainly write a very memorable tune , Keith Gemmell was without a shadow of a doubt the finest reedman of the era , Trevor Williams although short of stature ,was positive proof of the old adage that good things come in small packages ,and is the rock edge to balance out the others jazz and folk leanings . Whilst behind the drum kit was Tony Connor, who in the tradition of all great drummers ,had a great sense of humour ,as well as a huge sense of adventure, his live drum solo's were always a highlight of the set .
All of Audience's sides are finely displayed on this recording ' Friends, Friends, Friend ' starts off with three fine ditties written mainly by Howard Werth with assistance from Trevor Williams. 'Nothing You Do' is a perfect opener a song of hatred that really musically slams you up against the wall from the outset, coming as quite a shock with Werth's snarled vocals and bitter chorus, the rhythm section is rock solid as Keith Gemmell makes his saxophone pace alongside the vocals until slowing everything down mid song for a solo, before closing out the song on the flute. A startling introduction. This is followed by 'Belladonna Moonshine ' with Howard Werth showing off some mandolin playing, why this song was not released as a single at the time is beyond me. 'It Brings A Tear ' is a classy early seventies ballad. Then everything is musically sat up on it's head with the first jamming jazz rave up the nearly nine wonderful minutes of 'Raid'. This is where 'Audience' show off their musical muscle .With Werth's vocals pitched in a very aggressive manner 'Raid' takes off at a gallop, as the lyrics rant about the Vikings, but this is really just an excuse for Keith Gemmell to puff out his cheeks and give at a good old fashioned rip up on the saxophone, mid section the bands jazz influences are given full reign in a freefall improvisation which allows each member of the band to let their freak flag fly. It does take a bit of getting used to, but once you get there it is well worth the journey. 'Right On Their Side ' is another stomping protest song, really quite stirring stuff. Completely changing the tone, you are next treated to an instrumental 'A' la Audience 'as everything including I should think the kitchen sink is rattled or hit, or shaken as the band obviously have the time of their lives giving out this very jovial turn round the pots and pans with Keith Gemmell given scope to play solo's over the top of it all. You cannot help, but tap along with a smile on your face. The band then roar into 'Priestess' the centre piece of their live set at the time , another tale of daring do , with a very up-tempo beat , Keith Gemmell introduces the Saxophone to the world of hard rock , 'Priestess is how 'Black Sabbath would of sounded if Toni Iommi had played the Saxophone,not the electric guitar . The title track is a beautiful song about life, which has the splendid lyric "I had a friend, who had a friend who knew a man, who didn't look unlike Toulouse Lautrec..." they just do not write lyrics like that anymore.
Tacked onto the end of the CD release is a bonus track of ' The Big Spell' which has been left in it's Mono recording , but quite honestly should of been left off as it does not add anything to this collection.
Although all the songs are of excellent quality , and the musicianship excellent , the band were allowed to produce the recordings themselves this was perhaps a mistake , as a crisper production would of given the whole collection a better sheen. Charisma showed their naivety in allowing the band too much freedom, a mistake that was not repeated when the band returned to the studio the following year under the production guidance of Gus Dudgeon to produce their masterpiece ' The House on the Hill' ( 1971) .When this did not produce the expected commercial success , the band lost it's focus ,producing one more album, the rather unsatisfactory 'Lunch'(1972) before disbanding to pursue other projects , Howard Werth had a reasonably successful solo career, Keith Gemmell formed 'Sammy' who quickly folded ,and he then pursued a highly lucrative session career , which was the path also followed by Trevor Williams whose bass playing crops up on many albums , including those by Jonathan Kelly. Tony Connor joined 'Hot Chocolate' where he occupies the drum kit to this day.
Thirty two years later three of the original Audience got back together again, unfortunately ,due to his heavy work schedule Tony Connor could not participate in the fun of the reunion, but an able replacement was found in skinsman John Fisher.Playing to packed houses all over Europe, hopefully this will inspire them to one more recording session . Give the Audience what they want I say.
Mott The Dog.
Audience - Friend's Friend's Friend
Joseph Turvey | Leicester, England | 01/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have known this record for many years, and it still has a lot to offer on each listening. Beautifully balanced, it leans from hard bluesy rock (Nothing You Do) to ballad (It Brings A Tear) to spaced out jazzy meanderings (Raid, Priestess). New listeners may find the vocalists voice grating, but the sheer musicianship and innovation sees it through. In all, a decidedly well balanced record."
Be Patient and You'll Love It
F. Jager | Dallas, TX, USA | 01/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a prog/pych records junkie. I buy just about everything labeled prog/psych and give it a spin. First time around I listened to this CD I was not patient enough to see what the record has to offer jumping from the song to song listened to about minute also to get the feel for it and I was not very impressed. I thought to myself, it has annoying vocalist, not very original themes of the songs, kind of simple structured music. Other day I gave it another spin in my car kind of as a background music until I hit middle part of the CD. The songs Raid, Right on Their Side and Priestess just blew me away. First I could not believe I was listening to the same CD. Particularly 8+ mins Raid is an outstanding piece of music I played again and again and again... From quite average start to the song, suddenly pops up one of the most beatifull sax improvisation in all progressive music. Keith Gemmell has delivered the clinic of world class sax playing making this record worth the money just for this little gem. The record then continue with similar arrangements in the next 2 songs though the sax was replaced by woodwind in one case and the improvisation is not as exciting as the one on Raid. Well give it a spin and see for yourself."