Sunday, 22 January 2017

"Lunch" by AUDIENCE (2015 Esoteric Recordings 'Expanded Edition' CD – Ben Wiseman Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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AUDIENCE suited the eclectic roster of Charisma Records perfectly – their mixture of early-ELO/Lindisfarne/The Move dense melodic flourishes sat comfortably alongside their Prog musical label mates Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, The Nice, Jackson Heights, Atomic Rooster and Rare Bird.

Along with their uber-rare debut LP on Polydor Records in 1969 – Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red of the UK) have reissued all 4 of their albums onto expanded CDs – remastered from original master tapes – all with bonus cuts and involvement from Howard Werth of the band (see list below).

"Lunch" was their 3rd and last LP for Charisma before they disbanded due to musical differences (it actually troubled the American LP charts in July 1972 on Elektra Records rising to the lofty placing of 175). They regrouped briefly and successfully in 2004 and Audience retain huge affection amongst fans to this day (they were monster in Europe – Number 1 in Italy in fact). And you have to say listening to their long-forgotten music that Esoteric Recordings have done a top-notch job on these remasters. Here are the ladies who lunch details...

UK released 25 May 2015 (June 2015 in the USA) – "Lunch" by AUDIENCE is an Expanded 13-track CD on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2493 (Barcode 5013929459342) and breaks down as follows (45:50 minutes):

1. Stand By The Door
2. Seven Sore Bruises
3. Hula Girl
4. Ain't The Man You Need
5. In Accord
6. Barracuda Dan [Side 2]
7. Thunder And Lightnin'
8. Party Games
9. Trombone Gulch
10. Buy Me An Island
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 4th and last studio album "Lunch" – released February 1972 in the UK on Charisma Recordings CAS 1054 and July 1972 in the USA on Elektra Records EKS 75026

11. Grief And Disbelief – Previously Unreleased
12. Hard Cruel World – non-album B-side to the UK 7" single "Raviole" released November 1972 on Charisma CB 196. The A-side can be found on "The House On The Hill" album from 1971 (see list below)
13. Elixir Of Youth – Previously Unreleased

Recorded at Trident Studios in London and Produced by the legendary GUS DUDGEON - the album title was suggested by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis sleeve-art fame from the phrase "Ladies who lunch..." The softly sentimental gatefold artwork and inner sleeve of the original 1972 vinyl LP actually came from a knitting pattern and followed on in theme from that slightly 30s and 40s look the preceding album "The House On The Hill" had in April 1971. The AUDIENCE line-up for "Lunch" was Howard Werth (Guitar and Vocals), Keith Gemmell (Tenor Sax, Clarinet and Flute), Trevor Williams (Bass, Accordion and Vocals) and Tony Connor (Drums, Vibes and Marimba) with outsiders Nick Judd on Piano and the horn section on "Seven Sore Bruises", "Barracuda Dan", "Ain't The Man You Need" and "Trombone Gulch" provided by Rolling Stones regulars Bobby Keys on Tenor Saxophone and Jim Price on Trumpet and Trombone.

The 16-page booklet is coloured in the same tint as the original artwork (a nice touch) with 2015 liner notes by noted freelance writer and reviewer SID SMITH that features new interviews with Howard Werth. It goes into the history of the album, touring as the support band for the Faces in the USA (the song title "Trombone Gulch" comes from a flight over the Grand Canyon) and how they finally disbanded – tired and harassed by European authorities at Ostend. But the big news for fans is a 24-bit remaster from original Charisma master tapes by Sound Engineer BEN WISEMAN who has done loads of great work for a large number of reissue labels. The audio is wonderful – given clarity to those dense multi-layered arrangements.

It opens with "Stand By The Door" which comes at you like a strange mixture of Mott The Hoople meets Lindisfarne meets Roxy Music – Werth’s vocals sounding like the lovechild of Roy Wood and Lindisfarne's Alan Hull - while the Saxophones and layered vocals give it a lovely musicality. Charisma put "Stand By The Door" out as UK 7" single in late June 1972 on Charisma CB 185 with the album track "Thunder And Lightnin'" as its B-side but it did no business. A million miles away from Prog - the band jaunt it up with the cheeky-chappy "Seven Sore Bruises" which is more Rock 'n' Roll than "Foxtrot" by Genesis. I never liked the cod Hawaiian vibe (and whistling) of "Hula Girl" but the Americana The Band feel to "Ain't The Man You Need" is great – the nasal vocals impassioned and heartfelt. Side 1 ends with the accomplished Acoustic vs. Saxophone "In Accord" which feels like an outtake from the Move's 1971 "Message From The Country" album on Harvest.

Side 2 opens with a happy ditty – the 2:20 minutes of "Barracuda Dan" while the frantically paced "Trombone Gulch" seems to be hustling to be an American single albeit at one hundred miles an hour and terrified of heights. It ends on the 'money' song "Buy Me An Island" where a grumpy Werth shouts " ain't heard the half of it...and neither have I!" - our heroes longing to get away to sunnier places that are easier on the noggin (and once again the tune has that clever mixture of Acoustic Guitar duetting with the Saxophone and Vocals in a very Audience way). Charisma chucked out another Mad Hatter label 45 after the album – the Italian-sounding "Raviole" off the preceding LP "The House On The Hill" and released it as a single in November 1972. Its rare non-album B-side "Hard Cruel World" turns up here as one of the bonus tracks and it’s a great addition for fans. Both of the unreleased tracks are shockingly good in fact – both featuring prominent Flute from Keith Gemmell and the band’s trademark acoustic guitar mix (both very Jethro Tull in ways).

Sticks man Tony Connor joined Hot Chocolate, Trevor Williams did stints with Jonathan Kelly’s Outside and Judas Jump and has been a part of the Audience reunion gigs, Nick Judd joined with Chris Spedding and Free’s Andy Fraser (sadly passed away recently) for Sharks (did two albums on Island) - while Keith Gemmell moved into Stackridge and spent many years with The Pasadena Roof Orchestra. The band’s main man and principal songwriter Howard Werth released a solo album "King Brilliant" in September 1975 (Charisma CAS 1104) trading as Howard Werth & The Moonbeams.

Audience’s sound were never everyone’s favourite tipple if I'm honest (none of their albums charted in the UK) but this CD has been superbly done and made me reassess their music big time. A top job done and a must-buy for fans...

AUDIENCE Expanded CD Remasters on Esoteric Recordings:

1. Audience (1969 debut LP on Polydor 583 065)
29 June 2015 Expanded CD Remaster with 3 Bonus Tracks on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2494 (Barcode 5013929459441)

2. Friend’s Friend’s Friend (May 1970 2nd LP on Charisma CAS 1012)
29 June 2015 Expanded CD Remaster with 7 Bonus Tracks on Esoteric Records ECLEC 2499 (Barcode 5013929459946)

3. The House On The Hill (April 1971 3rd LP on Charisma CAS 1032)
25 May 2015 Expanded CD Remaster with 3 Bonus Tracks on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2492 (Barcode 5013929459243)

4. Lunch (July 1972 4th and final studio LP on Charisma CAS 1054)
25 May 2015 Expanded CD Remaster with 3 Bonus Tracks on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2493 (Barcode 5013929459342)

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