Audience: The House On The Hill/Lunch

The Hill’s alive, but Lunch is off.

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In a meeting of minds with new producer Gus Dudgeon, Audience’s third and fourth albums showed they’d gained confidence in experimentation while upping the melodic ante over previous proto-prog highlight Friend’s Friend’s Friend.

1971’s House is the British quartet’s pinnacle (7) and still holds up through tracks such as Eye To Eye, with its sassy jazz-blues strut, and the lively baroque instrumental Raviolé. The prog element is revived in the title track’s extended sax part, and the ballsy Jackdaw (which perhaps inspired ficticious group Stillwater’s Fever Dog from 2000 rock flick Almost Famous) telegraphs their commercial potential.

The sleeve design was classic Hipgnosis – a creepy, 1940s mise-en-scène that paralleled the music. Success beckoned, and Audience scooted off to tour the US with Rod and The Faces.

From that high comes the album where it falls apart: Lunch (5). Roxy, glam rock and Bonzos influences abound – Stones brass boys Bobby Keys and Jim Price are along for the ride too. The material is more eclectic – “our White Album,” says vocalist Howard Werth in the sleeve notes – but lacks cohesion, becoming throwaway on the Herb Alpert-esque Hula Girl and the terrible Party Games.

In Accord brings things back with some brassy Bowie punch, but after digesting the whole thing you’re still craving substance./o:p

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.