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Audience [Spain]

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Critics' Reviews

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It feels completely weird to regard Audience's self-titled 1969 debut album as an "art rock" album, or even stranger, "prog rock." Yet, along with In the Court of the Crimson King (the first album by King Crimson) and early Yes efforts, it is exactly that despite the fact that it is far more rockist and basic. But vocalist and guitarist Howard Werth wanted to be as far away as possible from the band's previous incarnation as the Lloyd Alexander Blues Band. So, along with reed and woodwind man Keith Gemmell, drummer Tony Connor, and bassist Trevor Williams -- yes, that one -- the band put their flutes and arty lyrics about poets and meadows first and got right to it. There is no psychedelia on these sides, though there is a certain amount of flower power in the laughable words. Audience were in the process of self-discovery here, and they fail as often as they succeed. Cuts like "Waverley Stage Coach" and "Harlequin" borrow wonderfully from the heaviness and imagery of the Move's best sides, while "Poet," "Pleasant Convalescene," and "River Boat Queen" are pure twee twaddle. [This is a mixed bag to be sure, and it's not certain as to why this set has been sought after for so long and commanded such high prices on vinyl. It's not for the music, which is nothing special. Nonetheless, the CD issue contains three bonus tracks from the same sessions that will have the confounding collectors salivating.] ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi