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Twelfth Night - Art And Illusion  CD (album) cover

ART AND ILLUSION

Twelfth Night

 

Neo-Prog

2.69 | 33 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars So, having released one of the most important prog albums (ever!) and then managing to lose their vocalist, the next studio album was going to be very important for TN. They had said goodbye to Geoff with the double live album 'Live And Let Live' and they now had to introduce a new singer. Due to the current interest in the band they decided to release only a mini-album on MFN and to save some of their longer, more progressive, works for another album which they planned to have out at the beginning of 1985. And so it was that in August 1984 they recorded the five songs that were to feature on the album to be released in the October. This was their only album to make the national charts (hitting the heights of 83!) and gained acclaim for their punchy outlook. "Counterpoint" opens the album with gentle riffing and long held-down keyboards chords as the bass starts to drive the song along. This song lives on the strong rhythm section and soaring vocals which prove right from the off that even though Geoff was unique, they had a new talent in TN fan Andy Sears. While more straightforward, he had a strong voice with great range, and wasn't averse to putting in odd inflections that meant that he wasn't a straightforward rock singer.

The title cut is up next, a song already well known to TN fans, as it was a number performed by Geoff but not recorded. This has to be one of the band's bounciest numbers, full of energy and enthusiasm. Instrumental "C.R.A.B." showed yet again that the band had an extremely solid bassist in Clive Mitten while Brian pinned down the beat, which allowed Rick and Andy Revell to move away and move the melody around. "Kings & Queens" has probably the heaviest section on the album, although the introduction doesn't really give that impression. It cuts and changes, moving from dynamic rock to soaring vocals with a sparse background, solid from start to finish. "First New Day" is one of my favourite TN numbers, simple and pleasant, yet strikingly dynamic and hard-hitting at the same time. While the atmosphere is mostly in the music, it is the vocals that combine with it to give this song such a strong edge.

And this is where the album finished, but not now. What follows are the three tracks that the band were paid to record as demos by MCA in May 1984. If 'Art & Illusion' had been a full album then these would probably had been on it as well. These three were "Blue Powder Monkey", "Blondon Fair" and "Take A Look", two of which were re-recorded for 'XII'. The first of these has a rather lightweight guitar riff, and is not one of my personal faves. But that gives way to the very much Japan-esque "Blondon Fair". This is a classic in every sense of the world. This is total atmosphere, yet after the introduction seems to take on a life of its own. "Take A Look" comes in at 12 minutes, and not a second of it is wasted. Yet again this is one of their best ever songs, although this version sounds recognisably different to their later version, particularly in the vocals which were strengthened.

As if that wasn't enough, the album closes with alternate versions of four of the original songs. The booklet is crammed full of photos, information by Andy Sears and Brian, as well as all of the lyrics

kev rowland | 4/5 |

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