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Audience – House on the Hill

Review: 062
Date: 11 Feb 02

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Keith Gemmell – Tenor Sax, Clarinet and Flute
Howard Werth – Electric Classical Guitar and Vocals
Trevor Williams – Bass Guitar
Tony Connor – Percussion and Vibes

Tracks Listing:
1. Jackdaw
2. You’re Not Smiling
3. I Had A Dream
4. Raviole
5. Nancy
6. Eye To Eye
7. I Put A Spell On You
8. The House On The Hill
9. Indian Summer

 


“The House On The Hill” was probably Audience’s most celebrated album and was their first collaboration with the very famous and trendy Gus Dudgeon (who came to fame with his work with Elton John) as producer which proved to be a meeting of complementary minds and humour lasting through the next Audience album and Howard Werth’s solo career.

Audience was a band whose appeal is as fresh today as it was when they were influencing the hippest scene of the early seventies. They were described variously at the time as a “Progressive”, “Underground” or “Art Rock” outfit, although their uniqueness actually defined any pigeonholing, but their influence was wide spread.

Audience was formed in early 1969 from the remnants of a psychedelic/soul band known as “The Lloyd Alexander Blues Band”. Their original concept was based around Howard Werth’s strong powerful voice and unique electric nylon strung guitar, plus the blaring echoing sax and flute of Keith Gemmell. Together with the underpinning heart beat of Trevor Williams’ stomping bass and Tony Connor’s inventive drum work (his live drum solos had to be seen to be believed).

The initial musical spark was built around a mixture of highly incongruous styles, including medieval folk, bossa nova, soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz.

It worked well, but soon developed into something of its own whilst getting louder and more suited to the larger venues at which they were increasingly being asked to play alongside such acts as Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and many more.

By the time of “House On The Hill” (1971) Audience were at the peak of their creative style. Opening song “Jackdaw” is a truly powerful track with Werth’s vocal complemented by Zappaesque Fuzz bass and clarinet from Gemmell.

A lot of people have likened the moody spine tingler “I Had A Dream” to Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heavens Door”. However, when you realize that it was written and recorded quite some time before Dylan’s classic, it becomes quite apparent how far Audience’s influence spread.

Though Audience disbanded before they could consolidate the huge success they so richly deserved, their name and reputation has lived on through those initiates around the planet who were fortunate enough to see them live or listened to their original vinyl releases before they were finally on C.D.

Howard Werth’s voice pairs well with Keith Gemmell’s ubiquitous gruff sax. Much of their overall strategy was later to find success in some of the music of Roxy Music and David Bowie.

“House On The Hill” is one of the early seventies golden moments. Listen and enjoy.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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