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Plain and Fancy

Music gives soul to universe, wings to mind, flight to imagination, charm to sadness, and life to everything.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Audience - Friends, Friends, Friend (1970 uk, fantastic post-psych progressive rock)

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 its head with the first jamming jazz rave up, the nearly nine wonderful minutes of ‘Raid’. This is where ‘Audience’ shows 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 band’s 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 has the time of their lives giving out this very jovial turn round the pots and pans with Keith Gemmell given scope to play solos over the top of it all. You cannot help but tap along with a smile on your face.

The band then roars 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 have 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.
Mott the Dog

1. Nothing You Do - 4:38
2. Belladonna Moonshine - 2:40
3. It Brings a Tear - 2:55
4. Raid - 8:44
5. Rigth on Their Side - 5:24
6. Ebony Variations - 5:29
7. Priestess - 6:14
8. Friends, Friends, Friend - 3:28
9. The Big Spell - 3:03

*Howard Werth - Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
*Tony Connor - Percussion, Piano, Drums
*Keith Gemmell - Saxophone, Wind, Woodwind
*Trevor Williams - Bass Guitar, Vocals

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