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Twelfth Night


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4 stars Before Geoff MANN came to ignite his magical charm into this band, TWELFTH NIGHT released a wonderful live album from the Target Club in 1981 with focus on instrumental prowess. This 4 song album has already been well spoken of and was perfectly characterized in the a review which suggested this album "is a timeless kaleidoscope of sound". Basically at this time in their existence TWELFTH NIGHT's sound most revolved around the spacey echoplex guitar work of Andy Revell and the keyboard laden drawls of Rich Battersby. Although all songs are excellent on this album I am partial to "Fur Helene" and the 20-minute epic "Sequences", which many consider the best bit they ever did. Considering the era of this recording the sound is quite good with little audience noise (except for in between songs). The recording was lifted from a vinyl album as a source as if you listen carefully you can make out the odd pop and tick, but in no way should interfere with your love for this album.
Report this review (#7425)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another remarkable performance by Geoff MANN, a natural front man, whose contribution has been recently pointed out, at the time of his commemoration, talking about his last important live on 1984. This latter a true testament for him!!
Report this review (#7426)
Posted Sunday, April 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Keep it live!

It's unbelievable to think that this is a live album when you hear the opening track "Fur Helene", which begins with the same "Mars" rhythm that Diamond Head used for the opening of "Am I Evil". Quickly, the Hillage-esque echo-drenched guitar and 6-string bass enter to provide a new sound and texture a little reminiscent of "Saucerful" era Pink Floyd, moving to a wah-driven riff that is utterly infectious, and the Twelfth Night style establishes itself.

Although the harmonic structure of Twelfth Night's material is not complex, and the musicianship just slightly above the average metal band - with token atmospheric keyboards, what makes TN stand out is the attention to detail they give to the bigger picture. This would initially make the Floyd comparision very strong, but Clive Mitten was one for through-composing all TN's material, and there is little sense of jamming which is what differentiates TN from psychedelia.

"After the Eclipse" is probably my favourite piece on this album, although "Sequences" was always the most popular live track - presumably because of its epic length. Each instrument's part in "ATE" is absolutely clear, and the build-ups are subtle and engaging. This is one of the few similarities TN had with Marillion, who were later to become the competition. Mitten's 6-string bass provides a melodic drive, using the entire range of the instrument in a sensitive manner, and the delay-driven bass solo in the middle is particularly atmospheric.

TN allow a lot of space in the music to allow the overall dynamics of the structures time to develop. The 100-strong audience in the tiny Target Club in Reading show an involvement which is practically tangible, as there is a noticeable pause between the end of the piece and the applause - I remember this gig well, but I'm not sure if that's me whooping in the background or not...

To describe the remaining two pieces would be to make the music sound the same, as it continues in the same vein. However, the point is the melodies and shifts in atmosperics. It's easy to hear TN's influence on bands such as the Ozric Tentacles in the beginning of "East to West", but they develop the track so well that despite my earlier observation that this is no space jam, it comes across as being totally natural and improvisational with a real feel for dynamic and drama in the music.

I'm not sure if it's because I've owned the three albums for so long, but I always see this as the first part of a kind of trilogy - "Fact and Fiction" being next and "Live and Let Live" rounding off the Mann era (even though there are no vocals on this album Mann was an honourary member of the band as their backdrop painter!).

This is being re-released on CD at the end of June 2004 - my advice is to buy it as an essential part of your (neo) prog collection. This will become an album to revisit for chill- out sessions for many years to come - it just never seems to age!

Report this review (#7427)
Posted Wednesday, June 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars TWELFTH NIGHT- "LIVE AT THE TARGET" (remastered version)...

In the early Eighties the New Progressive Rock Movement emerged. The figurehead was MARILLION, their success was a boost to many bands, from IQ and PENDRAGON to SOLSTICE and WINTER. And TWELTH NIGHT, this maverick didn't sound like GENESIS and looked like glamrockers. But their music was great, in my opinion their album "Fact and Fiction" (from '82) is still one of the best neo-prog rock albums ever. A year before TWELFTH NIGHT had released a live LP (february '81) from a concert in the Target Pub in Reading. In the booklet of this remastered version CD you will read the story about this period with many fine details. The first time I heard this LP was at about the time that MARILLION had released their maxi-single "Market Square Heroes" also featuring the epic track "Grendel". These were very hopeful days because prog rock was on its way back. Most of the music on this CD is carried by the unique quitar work from Andy Revell: twanging, rhythm and soli, fiery, propulsive, sensitive and using lots of pedals like volume, wah-wah and echo. The interplay with Rick Butterfly is often compelling. TWELFTH NIGHT played their music instrumental, the absolute highlight is the epic track "Sequences" (later performed with vocals from the late Geoff Mann) with lots of shifting moods and sensational guitar soli, goose bumps! The bonus tracks "Afghan Red", "Freddie Hepburn" and "Encore une fois" are 'no fillers, all killers' and emphasize the very original and spectacular approach towards prog rock from TWLFTH NIGHT. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#7429)
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I Give This 5 stars because it is Essential to any one who collects Prog Music also i was there the night it was recorded, the target Pub was a small cellar venue in the heart of Reading under the Main Shopping Center it was a very Hot and Packed sweaty Night the Venue Packed out you could not even Move, what they Produced that Night is a All time Classic Prog Record and Sequences should go down in the annuals of Prog as a all time Classic, I still have the Vinyl to this day and its one of my most prized Vinyl , if you don't have this fine album then find it buy it download it NOW !!!
Report this review (#173047)
Posted Wednesday, June 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album makes me turn my attention from Heavy Metal to Pro Rock, back in the late '80s, when i listened to a Cassette tape copy that i borrowed from a teacher of Philosophy at my last year at School and I still listen to it (now the CD) from time to time (the Cassette was only '60 minutes long, one side with Godbluff / the other one with Live at the Target so everytime that The Sleepwalkers / Sequences passes the 5 / 10 minutes I have this strange feeling "mmmmm this sound new to me"). From the '89 to de mid '00s I was sure that "Live at the Target" was THE missing link between de classic Prog years and the neo prog movement.....but then, in the mid '00, I listened to the first Saga album and that appreciation have changed in favor of the Canadian band...anyway, that's another story. This album is a turning point, in my reltaion with popular music, not extremely demanding in the technical departament, but full of a new spectrum of sounds to my 17 years old ears, that this bunch of young lads deserved a far better fate than they got in the music bussines. Beware if you are thinking about a typical Neo Prog album, this is not, here the spacey elemet is very important at last but not least, a prog algum that has a drum roll in it IMHO is probably one I will like..., but if the album begins with a drum roll, it only can deserve a mastepiece status....5 stars
Report this review (#190034)
Posted Friday, November 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars An instrumental live album made just before influential vocalist Geoff Mann joined the band, 'Live At The Target' is one of Twelfth Night's most impressive and overtly progressive releases. By this point the band was made up of Brian Devoil(drums), Andy Revell(guitar), Rick Battersby(keyboards) and Clive Mitten(bass), and the four extended pieces they rattle through on this tightly-performed set show just what an un-compromising and ambitious live act Twelfth Night were in the early days of their sadly truncated career. Recorded in Reading circa 1981, 'Live At The Target' features a seminal version of one of the band's all- time fan favourites in the shape of the epic, 20-minute plus track 'Sequences', which takes up the entire second side of vinyl. Despite the fact that Geoff Mann would add vocals to 'Sequences' after joining the band several months later, the track seems ideally suited to the instrumental medium, giving each member time and space to shine. Keyboardist Battersby seems to be the dominant force throughout both 'Sequences' and the album, particularly on the excellent 'After The Eclipse' and it's equally impressive follow-on track 'East To West', demonstrating his penchant for haunting synth-and-keyboard melodies that give the album a mysterious and atmospheric overall sound. The only slghtly disappointing aspect is the fact that Andy Revell's lead guitar sometimes get's lost in the keyboard-and-bass heavy mix, but to be frank, it doesn't really detract from what is a thoroughly entertaining slice of early neo-prog. 'Live At The Target' may feature just four tracks, but each one is a compelling and carefully-crafted affair, with the lack of vocals bringing out the best in all four musicians. After their excellent 1982 studio album 'Fact & Fiction', 'Live At The Target' is Twelfth Night's next best release, charting the bands early development from punk-edged new wave art-rockers to fully-blown purveyors of epic neo-prog. Fans of Twelfth Night rate this surprisingly well-recorded mini live album very highly, and followers of early IQ, Marillion, Abel Ganz and Genesis will find much to admire. Copies of the most recent CD reissue are now incredibly hard to find but original vinyl copies, that contain a genuinely excellent recording quality, are not. Those with a bit of patience, however, will be glad to hear that, following the band's recent definitive edition remastering of their original tape album 'Smiling At Grief' and their 1984 mini-album 'Art & Illusion', the group are set to release a similarly jazzed-up version of 'Live At The Target' in early 2011. It should be well worth the wait. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#288008)
Posted Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Finding themselves without a vocalist (Geoff Mann hadn't joined at this point) but still confident after releasing two demo tapes, Twelfth Night decided to make their first self-released LP an all-instrumental affair. Since we're dealing with a live album recorded at a pub, the sound quality is a bit muggy, but not to an extent that obscures the obvious instrumental ability the band could command. At several points in the album the band settle into a sound which reminds me an awful lot of a heavier, more guitar-heavy version of Eloy's style from the same general time period, whilst at other points - particularly the darker moments in the epic Sequences - I'm reminded of a more accessible and melodic Van der Graaf Generator.

It can't quite attain classic status because the muggy production does cause issues, but it's still a startlingly good album and a reminder that many neo-prog bands - and this was always true of Twelfth Night in particular - could create musical performances that are easily the equal of their influences.

Report this review (#567730)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
4 stars Shortly after the release of 'The Electra Tape', singer Electra departed which meant that the band had a recently released tape for sale which featured a vocalist, but were now an instrumental outfit again so they need to have some product available that featured this sound. This time they were going to move away from cassettes and instead release a record, and the decision was taken to record two gigs from The Target in Reading on 15th and 16th January 1981. From these tapes they would then select the best songs and that would be the album done and dusted. This 'Definitive Edition' release finds the original four songs on the first CD, with another nine on a second. To me the highlight is "Sequences", one the band's most powerful numbers. I only came to this album some time in the Nineties having already been familiar with the vocal version and I was amazed at how the guys told an incredible story without the use of lyrics (and 20 minutes long to boot) and how little the arrangement changed when Geoff became involved.

The sound is really good, especially considering that here was a local band with little money doing everything on a shoestring budget, and it certainly doesn't sound as if this recorded more than 30 years ago. There is a vibrancy and power to their music that means that the listener becomes involved in their world. The bonus songs on the second CD definitely add to the overall package, although there is some variance in the recording quality, and one of these is from early as 1979. I have always loved "The Cunning Man" with its hypnotic keyboard passage, and the version here from 1980 is great. These days this album is often overlooked with people heading straight to the recordings featuring Geoff or Andy Sears but this is well worth investigating.

Report this review (#840580)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unique instrumental neo-space prog

Neo-prog lover or hater, please listen to this story...

One upon a time, a few years before the emergence of GENESIS-influenced neo-prog bands, a group of musicians wanted to explore new musical territories. Just after the departure of singer Electra McLeod, TWELFTH NIGHT was an instrumental unit, without a vocalist. They gave many concerts, two of them were recorded the 15th and 16th of January 1981, at the Target pub in their home town of Reading. Only four tracks were kept, mastered and released a month later as "Live at the Target".

No matter you like or dislike neo-prog genre, this is no GENESIS-influenced music like Marillion or IQ here. Instead, the band pursues the musical explorations of 70's trippy echo guitars compositions, reminiscent of Steve Hillage and Manuel Göttsching, by adding more melodic elements and approach of the nascent 80's decade. Fully instrumental, the result is magical, unique and dreamy. These unreal tunes will transport you to another world...

As soon as you hear "Für Helene"'s enchanting introduction, you know you're in for something special. This opener is a powerful space rock piece, supported by Andy Revell's Hillage-esque guitar. Mindblowing! "After the eclipse" is what vocal-less neo-prog music should be. Driven by synthesizers, this track possesses a beautiful keyboard melody, accompanied by bass and guitar, alternating soft, touching and rocking passages. My personal favorite from the record.

With its mystical opening, the echoing neo-space-rock "East to West" sounds haunting, heroic and even a little gothic at times. Another good composition, with various atmospheres. In a similar vein, "Sequences" is longer but lacks a bit of coherency. Somehow uneven, the first third contains good and also some boring passages. A cool and mysterious atmospheric interlude then unveils a wild cosmic guitar solo, until this 20 minutes suite ends on a magical and melancholic tone.

The 2004 double CD definitive edition is strongly recommended, as it features 9 previously unreleased tracks from 1979-1981, for more than 70 minutes of music, still entirely instrumental. "Afghan Single" and "Für Helene I" are studio recordings, the rest being live material. The included booklet is also very nice and holds many informations and photos.

Despite a sound quality not always perfect, "Live at the Target" is a forgotten little gem that deserves attention. Although the band hadn't released any studio album at the time, these live recordings prove TWELFTH NIGHT was already more creative than the 'classic' neo-prog bands that will come a few years later. There is originality and personality here, as if space-rock linguistic elements were used to paint an unknown oneiric world, whose entrance door would be the window from the cover art...

The recording period enhances the impression of uniqueness, as the dawn of the 80's were both a transitional and interrogative period both for the band (without any vocalist, after Electra McLeod's departure and before Geoff Mann) and the progressive genre in general. "Live at the Target" still remains a singularity, an anomaly in the fabric of musical space-time, difficulty explainable...

Give it a listen, even if you're allergic to neo-prog. Highly recommended to fans of Steve Hillage, Manuel Göttsching's "Inventions For Electric Guitar", space rock or... neo-prog.

Look at the window and fly through this enchanted night...

Report this review (#1592348)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 | Review Permalink

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