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Twelfth Night - Live and Let Live - The Definitive Edition CD (album) cover

LIVE AND LET LIVE - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION

Twelfth Night

Neo-Prog


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kev rowland
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5 stars At the end of the Seventies a band formed at Reading University, initially as an instrumental group and then with a female singer. Electra didn't last too long and after reverting to an instrumental outfit the band then recruited long-time friend Geoff Mann as singer and so the die was cast. All these years later I still can't understand why Geoff, Andy Revell (guitar), Clive Mitten (bass/guitar/keys), Rick Battersby (keys) and Brian Devoil didn't make the breakthrough they so richly deserved. In 'Fact and Fiction' they released one of the finest progressive rock albums of all times, but never managed to pass through the door recently opened by Marillion. By the middle of 1983 Geoff was starting to question his role in the band, and whether he should follow a different calling. Some of his lyrics had been Christian in nature, but few outside the band would have know just how important he felt his religion was to him. And so, he decided that he had to leave the band (and eventually became a C of E minister before passing away way too young) but in a totally amicable manner.

Everyone agreed that they needed to record a live set, but also knew that they could only afford to record enough music for a single vinyl album, so 45 minutes. Certain epics would have to be included, so small instrumentals had to be played to get the timings correct. On 4th and 5th November 1983 they played their last two gigs with Geoff at the Marquee (massively sold out) and that was that. Originally it was to be released on their own private label, which would have had the catalogue number TN007 so hence the title, but during mixing (which took place the week after the gig ' but no overdubs), they were approached by MFN who then licensed it.

Although the band had paid only for certain songs to be recorded, the guys running the desk were so into what they were hearing that after the second gig they presented the band with a two track recording of all of the encores, and some of these were used when Cyclops reissued the album in 1996, but still it wasn't a complete record of what transpired.

Now in 2012, F2 Music have made available a double CD which uses all available sources to present what fans would have heard if they were there that night. This includes recordings from the gigs, soundchecks, VHS film and a version of 'The Collector' that was recorded a month earlier. The whole lot was given to Karl Groom to work on the levels and place everything into the correct running order. So, although you may feel that you have heard this album before I can guarantee it won't have been like this.

If I had to choose a set list from this era of the band it would be pretty close to this. All of the epics are here, and even now hearing the whistle on 'Sequences' sends a chill down my back as the band go over the top into no-man's land. It is strange to think that this already existed as an instrumental long before Geoff was involved as to me this is something he really owned. 'The Collector' is one of the most visual of all of their songs, and to hear it in this environment is just brilliant. It was never recorded in a studio when Geoff was in the band, but thankfully that was rectified when the compilation 'Collector's Item' was worked on in 1991. How about 'Human Being' with the lines 'If everytime we tell a lie a little fairy dies, they must be building death camps in the garden' or the way that the crowd know all the words to very song, even to the introduction to 'Fact and Fiction' or the way that 'Love Song' is the fitting end. The final song Geoff would sing while a member of the band.

Of course Twelfth Night didn't end there, Andy Sears was recruited and more great music ensued before they called it a day. But the band are now active again and are gigging, albeit with a slightly revised line-up, have released some great archive albums, and have worked with Dave Robinson of F2 on some brilliant reissues, of which this is the finest. As well as the great music there is an extended booklet with details of what happened, all of the lyrics, wonderful photos etc. If ever anything was an essential purchase this is it, and if I could give this six stars instead of a maximum five I would. www.twelfthnight.info

Disc 1 1. The Ceiling Speaks recorded 4 November 1983, first released on the original Live and Let Live vinyl album in 1984 2. Human Being recorded 4 November 1983, previously unreleased 3. The End of the Endless Majority recorded 5 November 1983, remixed from the original 16- track tapes, this remix version previously unreleased 4. We Are Sane recorded 4 November 1983, first released on the original Live and Let Live vinyl album in 1984 5. Deep in the Heartland recorded 5 November 1983 (soundcheck), previously unreleased 6. Fact and Fiction recorded 5 November 1983, first released on the original Live and Let Live vinyl album in 1984 7. The Poet Sniffs a Flower recorded 4 November 1983, first released on the original Live and Let Live vinyl album in 1984 8. The Collector recorded 27 October 1983, previously unreleased

Disc 2 1. Afghan Red recorded 4 November 1983, previously unreleased 2. Sequences recorded 5 November 1983, first released on the original Live and Let Live vinyl album in 1984 3. Creepshow recorded 5 November 1983, first released on the CD reissue of Live and Let Live in 1996, remastered from the original 2-track tapes 4. Art and Illusion recorded 5 November 1983, first released on Geoff Mann's Recorded Delivery CD in 2003, remastered from the original 2-track tapes 5. East of Eden recorded 5 November 1983, first released on the CD reissue of Live and Let Live in 1996, remastered from the original 2-track tapes 6. Aspidentropy recorded 5 November 1983, first released on Geoff Mann's Recorded Delivery CD in 2003, remastered from the original 2-track tapes 7. Love Song recorded 5 November 1983, first released on the CD reissue of Live and Let Live in 1996, remastered from the original 2-track tapes

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#840575)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maybe I've too easily bought into a notion that isn't actually true, but It seems there may be something of a cult of Geoff Mann out there - and if so, I can readily see why.

I'm not someone who's huge on vocals or lyrics. Bad vocals or lyrics can break a song for me, but mediocre ones certainly won't (and might easily be overlooked), while great vocals/lyrics cannot by themselves rescue a song that does nothing for me melodically. But Geoff Mann - he seems to be one of a kind. His delivery is almost theatrical punk, if you will - bombastic, forceful, playful, introspective, and occasionally venomous. And his lyrics - a somewhat unusual combination (for entertainers) of progressive humanitarianism and questioning (if not flat out excoriating) of governmental and societal institutions, while simultaneously affirming an unmistakable (and not slight) belief in mainstream Christian teachings. Not preachy or saccharine - it was obviously a deep part of him (to the point he became an ordained minister late in his life) and he was not afraid to show it without trying to push it down anyone's throats. This did not mean that he wasn't afraid to ply into darker corners of the human condition ("Creepshow"), or condemn the institutions that produce mindless killing machines ("Sequences"), or even put forward the audacious idea that the "godless commies" were saying exactly the same stuff as their counterpart western demagogues ("Fact and Fiction") - but everything was from a humanitarian approach and showing a genuine love for others amidst his disbelief at the things they might do.

But, as I said - even the best vocals and lyrics can't lift up mediocre music for me. And this album, thankfully, does not test that conclusion. At all. This is a terrific album. The songs are all great-to-outstanding (save maybe "East of Eden", which is okay but not up to the snuff of the rest of the album, but it's short so who cares?), and in addition to amazing compositional skills, the musicians themselves are obviously super-skilled at their craft. Guitarist Andy Revell gets special note here - he has the ability to lay down thick, gloomy-sounding wails and riffs (like The Cure or Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau twins) but can also manifest a delicate touch as well. All of them, however, really shine here - even on tracks which are not of very high recording quality ("Human Being" comes to mind). The recording quality, in fact, is the only blemish on this album - and I can't fault the band for that given the technology that existed back then and the fact that they could only afford to officially record and release a single album at the time (with the old LP format - now we can have two CD's chock full of great music, and just ask ourselves "What if this whole thing was professionally recorded in 2014 instead of partially professionally recorded in the early '80s?"). But that is the only (ONLY) blight here - and the quality of the songs and the performances is so high that even that can't hold it down.

So, in summary - get your hands on a copy of this. Seriously. Even to a total neophyte to this band like me it's truly amazing. After my third listen I was hooked - and it's still in my car CD player six months after the fact. Five stars.

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Send comments to Mr. Gone (BETA) | Report this review (#1546750)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2016 | Review Permalink

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