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Twelfth Night - Collector's Item (1991) CD (album) cover

COLLECTOR'S ITEM (1991)

Twelfth Night

 

Neo-Prog

4.08 | 37 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Any of both editions of this Twelfth Night compilation "Collector's Item" (and I think I've read somewhere that there was a double release or something like that. well, maybe I'm wrong) is a proper introduction to most part of the essential back catalogue of the band, in case one doesn't dare or doesn't have the chance to purchase any of the original albums. The latter was my particular personal case (regarding the edition with 'Sequences' in it), and let me tell you that this "Collector's Item" was such a prog pleasure for me while Fate was yet to put 'Fact and Fiction' in my hands. Aware of the pioneering role that TN had fulfilled during the prelude to and dawn of the British new wave of symphonic rock (even predating and inspiring the earlier compositions by IQ, Marillion and, perhaps, Pallas), the Geoff Mann-era songs comprised here revealed a powerful mixture of musical ambition and post-punk urgency within a consistent progressive work frame, plus some techno-pop friendly sensibilities settled in among the Mini-Moog leads, organ emulating synths and Gilmour-meets-Latimer guitar solos. 'We Are Sane' incarnates the myth of Mann's abundantly theatrical singing, extended instrumental excursions and clear melodic ideas instilled with energetic dynamics. The same goes for 'Sequences', a whole 16+ minute epic that regrettably never met its studio version, but live renditions take account of its amazing combination of stamina, drama and pomposity. This anti-war track can easily be described as the missing link between Genesis' 'Epping Forest' and IQ's 'Human Gateway'. The 'Hurry lads' portion is an incredible exhibition of rocking power in a bizarre mixture of Psychedelic Furs and Di'Anno-era Iron Maiden - go figure! The longest epic is the one recorded during the brief Mann-era reunion in the late 80s: 'The Collector' is perhaps the best TN epic ever. and it also suffered from having an official studio version until the recording of a couple of bonus tracks for this compilation. The succession of motifs is coherent, with a linkage of climaxes and more constrained interludes that proves quite effective: Mann's commitment to dreams for a better world from his Christian faith is properly delivered in the final paragraph, concerning the importance of the one thing that is not for sale (Heaven) as opposed to the vanity of purchasable things. 19 minutes of pure symphonic glory, be it classic, neo o retro - at this point, it doesn't matter. The other bonus recorded by the Mann-era reunited line-up (it wouldn't take many years before Mann eventually succumbed to cancer) is a new studio installment of TN's pacifist anthem 'Love Song', with a better sound production and the addition of some extra nuances, compared to the original "Fact and Fiction" album. The Andy Sears era is also well represented: there is the purely neo 'Art and Illusion', the architectural epic 'Take a Look', as well as the eerie new-romantic friendly moods of 'Brand New Day' and 'Blondon Fair'. If 80s Genesis was so determined to become a pop-rock band, these latter two tracks represent the right aim to their quest, not what they did in those embarrassingly Genesis-entitled releases. Anyway, let's not get out of focus. The other "Collector's Item" edition sacrifices 'Sequences' for 'The Ceiling Speaks' and 'Deep on the Heartland'. The former is one of the last songs recorded (and not included in a proper album) with Mann still as a frontman, and boy, what a great song it is: in few occasions like this can the massage of Christianity be translated into rock in such an exciting fashion. The moderately complex rhythm structures, the punchy dual guitars and the coherent vibe of this song easily equal the stamina of IQ's 'Awake and Nervous' or the colorful power of Marillion's 'The Web'. A great product of a restless era of new progressive rock, just like 'The Collector' and 'Sequences'. These three tracks alone make any of the "Collector's Item" editions a valid item in any good prog collection.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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