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Monday, June 6, 2022

Audience - Friend's Friend's Friend (1970 uk, fantastic post psych prog art rock, 2015 bonus tracks remaster)

Fiend's, Friend's, Friend was the second album by British art-rock band Audience, and first for Charisma Records. Now remastered by Cherry Red Records along with a host of bonus material, this sophomore release can now be discovered by those who might not have indulged in the bands eclectic and under-appreciated style back in 1970. Once again, the line-up of Howard Werth (lead vocals, electric classical guitar, banjo), Keith Gemmell (sax, clarinet, flute), Tony Connor (drums, percussion, piano) and Trevor Williams (bass, vocals) remained from the self-title debut, and the true sound of Audience seemed to be emerging in full force.

Williams' huge bass grooves kick off "Nothing You Do", as Werth's devilish vocal delivery (sounding a lot like Axel Rose) and Gemmell's jazzy tenor sax drive home the main melodies. A real fun tune follows, the folk based "Belladonna Moonshine", complete with a hook laden chorus and irresistible country-rock arrangements, while the near 9-minute "The Raid" sees the band launching into epic prog-rock territory for the very first time. Hints of Soft Machine, Van Der Graaf Generator, and early Yes pop up on this adventurous number, complete with rumbling rhythms, scorching sax, a lovely acoustic guitar interlude, and powerful vocals. "Right On Their Side" is a catchy pop/rock number, again featuring Gemmell's robust sax and Werth's gorgeous electrified classical guitar, and the instrumental "Ebony Variations" takes a quirkier, more classical approach (think Gryphon meets Gentle Giant), as soaring clarinet weaves around nimble guitar lines. The darker "Priestess" again hints at prog, and bonus cut "The Big Spell" sees the band in full rock mode for some scorching arrangements. The remainder of the bonus tracks are 1971 remixes of songs from the album, worth a listen but not overly different from their 1970 counterparts.

Cherry Red's remaster sounds great, and the CD booklet contains lyrics, artwork, photos, and info on the band & album. For those who might have missed out on the unique magic of Audience back in the early '70s, this is a good place to start investigating the band. 
by Pete Pardo, August 31st 2015

1. Nothing You Do - 4:39
2. Belladonna Moonshine - 2:44
3. It Brings A Tear - 2:55
4. The Raid - 8:47
5. Right On Their Side - 5:28
6. Ebony Variations - 5:28
7. Priestess - 6:23
8. Friend's, Friend's, Friend - 3:33
9. The Big Spell - 3:05
10.Nothing You Do - 4:39
11.Belladonna Moonshine - 2:41
12.It Brings A Tear - 2:55
13.The Raid (Keith Gemmell, Tony Connor) - 8:44
14.Ebony Variations (Howard Werth, Trevor Williams, Keith Gemmell, Tony Connor) - 5:29
15.Priestess (Keith Gemmell, Tony Connor) - 6:14
All Music and Lyrics by Howard Werth, Trevor Williams except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 9-15

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

1969  Audience (2002 remaster edition)
1971  House On The Hill (2015 Esoteric)
1972  Lunch (2015 Esoteric)
1975  Howard Werth And The Moonbeams - King Brilliant