Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Twelfth Night


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Twelfth Night Fact And Fiction album cover
4.02 | 172 ratings | 24 reviews | 40% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. We Are Sane (10:27)
2. Human Being (7:50)
3. This City (4:01)
4. World Without End (1:55)
5. Fact And Fiction (3:59)
6. The Poet Sniffs A Flower (3:51)
7. Creepshow (11:57)
8. Love Song (5:39)

Total Time: 49:37

Bonus tracks on 2002 remaster:
9. East of Eden (Single) (3:27)
10. Eleanor Rigby (B-side) (3:22)
11. Constant (Fact & Fiction) (demo, Spring 1982) (2:27)
12. Fistful of Bubbles (demo, Spring 1982) (3:18)
13. Leader (demo, Spring 1982) (2:40)
14. Dancing in the Dream (demo, Spring 1982) (2:58)
15. Human Being (session outtake - alternate version) (3:56)

Line-up / Musicians

- Geoff Mann / vocals, tape effects
- Andy Revell / electric & acoustic guitars
- Clive Mitten / bass, keyboards, Classical guitar
- Brian Devoil / drums, percussion

- Jane Mann / vocals (4,5)

Releases information

Artwork: Geoff Mann

LP Self-released ‎- TN-006 (1982, UK)

CD UGUM Production ‎- UGU 00691 (1991, France)
CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 113 (2002, UK) Remastered by Andy Le Vien with 7 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy TWELFTH NIGHT Fact And Fiction Music

TWELFTH NIGHT Fact And Fiction ratings distribution

(172 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(40%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TWELFTH NIGHT Fact And Fiction reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars Neo-prog classic featuring the distinctive vocal style and poignant lyrics of Geoff MANN. "Fact & Fiction" paints the dark surreal avenues explored by early GENESIS with traces of IQ and early MARILLION while remaining highly original. The early and aggressive voice of Geoff MANN IMHO fits the music quite well and brings a real passionate aspect forward. Sound effects are used sparingly but are effectively layered in to help develop the theatics of MANN's concepts. To this day the title track "Fact & Fiction" remains one of my personal favourite Neo-prog songs of all time. Instrumentation is very well done with some great keyboard and guitar interplay. I know this album has received a lot of unfair criticism over the years and all I can say is that "Fact & Fiction" is one of the many prized possession in my collection.

Review by lor68
4 stars Remarkable and very original album during the early eighties in the UK (as a sort of "Progressive-Punk"), published thanks to the full involvement by the mastermind Geoff MANN, a great leader and a front man as well, whose contribution was very important within the UK New-Progressive scene at that time. In fact in the eighties the majority of the bands were mainly derivative, in the vein of the early GENESIS; instead T.N. was an original and creative band, even though their music is not particularly complex, being characterized by a simple harmonic structure. Nevertheless this album was very underrated and it is a pity!!

Recommended album!! Naturally it is not a masterpiece (despite of being always original!!), but is worth checking out at least...

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Just Brilliant - but poorly remastered

Along with the earlier "Live at the Target" and the later "Live and let Live", "Fact and Fiction" forms the best portrait of so-called "Neo-Prog" in the 1980s. Imitated by many, including Pendragon and IQ, Twelfth Night drew from many influences, primarily, it would seem, Hackett/Genesis, but targetted themselves at the burgeoning New Wave Of British Heavy Metal - albeit right at the fringe. Note that Twelfth Night do not fit into the category of NWOBHM, but then, apart from neo-progressive rock, what other category is there for music like this? It's next to impossible to separate TN from punk in attitude - but there is very little in the music that is punk. Anyone approaching from a metal or punk perspective will be in for a shock - a truly open mind is required - especially to get through the budget production...

It's worth noting that this album was released in 1982 - the year before Marillion released "Script for a Jester's Tear", and the year after Diamond Head's "Living on Borrowed Time". Hackett/Genesis, it must be noted, is just a convenient handle. Twelfth Night's sound was incredibly original, and remains a challenge to get into, let alone indentify the source inspirations.

Easily on a par with Peter Hammill, Gabriel or Fish, Geoff Mann's biting social commentary puts the finger somewhat uncomfortably on the pulse - given that this was written in 1981, the relevance the lyrics maintain is quite staggering. Mann also had a superb ear for a melody, and a way of slotting in his tunes and words to the existing music in such a way that you would think that either the two were written together, or that the music had been written to fit the words. The proof that this is not the case lies in "Sequences", a fine 25-odd minute track that appears in its original instrumental form on "...Target", and with Mann on "Live and let Live".

Mann's vocal style is quite unique, and an acquired taste. Once you have acquired the taste, it is impossible to imagine the songs being sung by anyone else - although Andy Sears did try after Mann left. His lyrics are a little inconsistent, but on the whole are very intelligent and well thought out with just the odd rhyming clanger such as "This woman's place is in a home, society has judged - She does not fit official standards and they cannot be budged". If social commentary and home-spun philosophies are not your bag then you may find the lyrics annoying - but I have found that they do improve with age!

Fact and Fiction opens with "We Are Sane", a colourful 10-minute piece in 3 sections, with 2 "Files". These "Files" are spoken sections, which provide a unique contrast in texture - pre rap, one might observe. The opening "Te Dium" section is sung in a pseudo choirboy voice, adding irony, and the "We Are Sane" section opens with a short commentary before Geoff launches into one of the superb melodies that he was so good at. File #1 reflects the general Orwellian utopian obsession, which was very pertinent in the pre-1984 years and the continuing cold war. Britain was under Thatcher, and those who did not appreciate the good things she did tended to share the vision of a control-freak bent on bringing Orwell's warnings true. The "Chorus" of "We Are Sane" is incredibly powerful, and the through-composed music appears to freely flow through the next few sections in a blaze of colours from TNs unique pallette - the section following the second "File" is my favourite in this song, a driving concoction of arpeggiated chords and a strong melody, Geoff practically barking out the lyrics. 5/5

Human Being regresses slightly into early Genesis territory, but with TN's driving slant on the style. Geoff's solo voice opens the track uttering a warning to all those who would go against the system. In today's relatively free society it's sometimes hard to recall just what it was like in the UK in the early 1980s, but if you didn't just shut up and go along with it, your life could be made very hard. A sumptuous Genesis-derived riff pushes the verses to the gently flowing chorus - although this is not your simple verse-chorus structure. TN add their usual composed magic and produce a coherent piece of prog as any. 5/5

This City is just incredible, musically, although I'm not keen on the lyrics - which, it has to be said, are not bad - there are no rhymes, just Geoff's thoughts in a kind of verbal painting of a city in decline - just not to my taste. The music almost defies description, it is so beautiful. Just listen and enjoy! 4.5/5

World Without End is not remarkable in itself, but lends a nice musical interlude between the intensity of the sung tracks.

Fact and Fiction, the title track, begins with an infectious prog rhythm - straight 4/4, but broken up superbly to give the effect of a wierd time signature. As with "This City", the lyrics are pure poetry - there are no rhymes. Example;

TV is switched on the screen reveal a spokesperson adverts, politics, editing the real cheap words, money talks naming itself to be the key to Utopia, Cornucopia to a better world you go buy and buy

There is a chorus section of sorts which sends shivers down my spine - "Don't make me laugh!", which Geoff sings with absolute passion. 5/5

The Poet Sniffs a Flower is another necessary reflective breather, and was often used as the introduction to "Creepshow", as "Horizons" was an introduction to "Supper's Ready" on "Foxtrot". Creepshow is TN's second masterpiece after "Sequences", and again, you will find no cheesey rhymes in the poetry - I hesitate to use the word "lyrics". These are chilling words of sheer genius set to music to match. There are several stand-out sections in this piece; from "Amanda, so sad..." to "Amandahahahahaha!" is just inspired genius, and possibly inspired by Hammill, but clearly identifiable as TN. Next there is a fantastic pounding musical section following "anymore for any more? no!". Following that is the incredible section about Cyril Has-Or-Might-Have-Been, leading to another pounding! But my favourite is the next section about the mirror. I guess some might find it all very pretentious, but once you've got over the fact that these are better lyrics than Peter Gabriel EVER wrote, it's quite incredible. Geoff used to indroduce this piece live by saying "In this life you become what you want to be, and what you can't be bothered, not become." In short, this piece is an antidote to apathy, if used correctly. 5.5/5

Love Song is a gentle meditation - much required after the intensity of the previous 40 minutes or so.

In short, a perfectly rounded and dynamic album which goes slightly beyond plain "concept" album. Requires deep thought, open mind and repeated listenings infrequently over a period of, say, 70 years.

There is a wide range of dynamic and drama in the structures which throws TNs music beyond the prog that had gone before, and there is much that remains hidden until repeated listens reveal the inner glory of the incredible song structures. This is pure progressive prog at its finest - neo prog seems too much of a negative term to apply to it. However, it is distilled, and, like good single malt whisky, will not be to everyone's taste - especially for the first few listens. I have owned this album since its release in 1982, and every time I hear it, there is something new and rewarding about the experience - but because it is so condensed, it is not an album I would want to have on repeat.

The CD appears to have been remastered in a way that flattens out the bottom end, which is a shame, as the original production was never very strong in the first place due to Twelfth Night's reluctance to sign to a major label. Thus there is a slight amateurish charm in all of TN's recordings.

The range of textures on this album is quite incredible, and ultimately seem to serve Mann's lyrics although really, the two components are inseparable. "Fact and Fiction" is as much a coherent work of poetry as it is a musical masterpiece - so why do I not give it the full masterpiece rating?

I guess that most will buy the CD, which sounds quite flat in comparison to the original vinyl, and that is what I am reviewing here. It sounds like the remaining members of Twelfth Night tried to improve upon their masterpiece in the hope of bringing it up to date and making it sound contemporary. Some of the instruments seem to have been re-recorded, ie "Love Song" at the end. This latter now sounds like a throwaway afterthought, where before it was a fitting Camel-esque meditation which completed an incredibly dynamic concept album.

Utterly recommended despite the bad remastering - great music will always shine through poor production! 4 and a half stars - Essential for any collection of prog.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Anyone who can use a typewriter for percussion is already ok in my book. TWELFTH NIGHT definitely straddled a little-used fence between progressive rock and post-punk/ new wave sounds. They are definitely more GARY NUMAN (Tubeway Army version rather than "Cars") than GENESIS, with the same pounding rhythms and sparse, brittle textures that characterize bands from JOY DIVISION to GANG OF FOUR- sharing with such bands also a political and social discontent in the lyrics.

The themes of nonconformity and alienation tie them in with PINK FLOYD and a few other prog bands of the era, and the length of the guitar solos as well as the duration of the songs bely an interest in exploring further than the punk paradigm normally permitted (ooo, I'm alliterating!), but that's really the extent of the progressive rock influence. This is clearly an early 80s post-punk album, as evidenced by the spartan machine-like drums, the shrill synth pads, the sequenced basslines and unprocessed raw feel of the vocal tracks.

The usual problem with the D.I.Y. punk influence is that the end result sometimes sounds a tad amateurish; that plus the fact that if you don't care for his voice or his message, you're out of luck- there's a lot of it. He rarely stops singing, or talking, long enough for the music to be much more than accompaniment. There are indeed a few impressive moments: "World Without End" is quite nice, if formless, and "The Poet Sniffs a Flower" has an eerie haunting feel, at first. "Creepshow" has a chilling soundtrack to lyrics that compare to "Karn Evil 9"'s sideshow shilling. In the spoken sections he almost sounds like a more coherent Mark E. Smith (THE FALL), but the guitar solo and backing is quite FLOYDian. "We are Sane" and "Fact and Fiction" could sit comfortably in a 1982 playlist between OUR DAUGHTER'S WEDDING and OMD's "Architecture and Morality". "Love Song" is the most accesible sound on the album, with more full production and a relatively conventional form.

Get the picture yet? If you like both minimalist post-punk bands and progressive rock, you may find this worth checking out. It's not wonderfully innovative or creative, and it doesn't reward repeated listenings the way more textural prog will. It is, however, extremely unique and a grand counterpoint to the over-produced, under-inspired commercial releases that the first generation of prog bands were turning out at the time. I'm glad I heard it, I'm glad I have it, but it's not going to be in heavy rotation on my playlist.

Review by maani
2 stars Am I missing something? (I seem to be asking that alot lately...) What's all the fuss about? I admit that this is a reasonably listenable album. But that's about as far as I can go... As I've noted in numerous reviews, the success of any neo-prog band (for me) is the degree to which they are able to "filter" their influences and come up with something reasonably new and/or interesting (if not exciting or compelling). Although Twelfth Night is obviously making efforts to do that, they do not always succeed. And even when they do, I find little "inspiring" about what comes out.

Influences include those noted by others - most particularly lots of Floyd, including in "This City" and, especially, the end of "Creepshow," which is a shameless "Wall" rip- off, complete with Gilmour-esque solo. However, there is one influence - a particularly strong one - that no one has mentioned thus far: VDGG, and especially Peter Hamill. Indeed, Mann sounds like Hamill throughout much of the album, though with not quite so much heart-on-the-sleeve "angst". (There is also a strange Morrison-esque/Doors section toward the end of "Creepshow.")

As for "punk" influences, I hear none at all. Nor is it even remotely reminiscent of NWOBHM (there is vritually no metal at all, much less the "heavy" variety). Rather, what I hear is valiant attempts to channel (mostly) symphonic prog for use as a political tool. And while I can't disagree with the politics (which are indeed heavy here), the band simply fails to make a solid, satisfying connection between the two.

Had this album come out 10 years earlier, I would be as effusive as my colleagues and others in singing its praises. However, although it does predate (and presage) Marillion and other later neo-prog bands (and for that it should certainly get credit), its late arrival on the prog scene - and its unfortunate lack of true creativity, both with respect to filtering influences, and in general - leave me no choice but to give it two stars (with possibly an extra half star).

Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars TWELFTH NIGHT is one of the most original bands that emerged in the early Eighties when MARILLION blew new life into the 'clinically dead situation' of the genuine prog rock. They were very different from the GENESIS-inspired groups like MARILLION, PENDRAGON and IQ. The music on the album "Fact And Fiction" (1982) is a captivating blend of rock, punk, new wave and symphonic, topped by the excellent lyrics and moving vocals from the late Geoff MANN, reverent and prime mover. Once I had a talk with him after a concert and we agreed that Margaret Thatcher was both a cold-blooded and arrogant Prime Minister as a perfect inspirator for their music! The match between music and lyrics is the factor that makes the CD "Fact And Fiction" so compelling: aggression, despair, hope, love, hate, madness, politics, these are the basic facts of TWELFTH NIGHT's music and the band succeeded to integrate those elements in a very fascinating and moving way into songs like "We Are Sane", "Human Being", "Fact And Fiction", "Creepshow" and "Love Song". Enjoy biting guitar licks, spectacular breaks, sensational keyboard flights, frequently changing climates and, above all, splendid vocals that give every track an extra dimension. This review is dedicated to the memory of Geoff MANN who gave the prog rock world such a special flavour!
Review by Prog-jester
3 stars I expected a bit more from that record.I have PALLAS' "Arrive Alive",and I expected this one to sound like that one.Well,that's my problems :-)

OK,I have to say,that I've found it a bit overrated.This is a proto-neo-prog record,it has amazing opening track("We're Sane")and a wonderful closing ballad("Love Song"),but in a whole it is weak.It's filled with poppish new-wave songs("This City","Fact and Fiction"),pretentious epics("Creepshow" and "Human Being") and instrumentals made for who-knows-what("The World..." and "The Poet...",which is nice).This is a good examlpe of Neo-Prog's development,but it has not much to say truly.You can listen to it,but I ain't sure,that you'll leave it for youtself.For genre's fans only

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Except for the minor detail that this album was recorded without the usual keyboardsman's participation (bassist Clive Mitten providing all keyboards then), this is classic Twelfth Night at their peak: in fact, "Fact and Fiction" is an authentic masterpiece of 80s neo-prog. Twelfth Night were actually the most primal pioneers of the neo-prog trend, so it is no wonder that they mastered the style and tricks so amazingly and convincingly years before Marillion, Pallas and IQ began to forge their own way towards musical maturity. TN was already there, with their rough rocking sound, stylish keyboard orchestrations, pop sensibility and, most of all, a taste for moderate complexity in the compositions and a sense of poetry and drama in both the vocal department and lyric writing. Geoff Mann, may he rest in peace, was the man who could provide a weird, yet captivating frontman appeal to the instrumentalists' input which combines the frontal energy of post-punk and new wave with the structural sophistication of vintage British symphonic prog. The opener 'We are Sane' is an absolute killer, in many ways a prototype of what TN is all about: the previous overall description that I intended for TN's prog orientation can also be used for 'We Are Sane' specifically. The same goes for 'Creepshow'. Both tracks comprise various musical ideas in well-ordained sequences united in an epic whole: it is also noticeable that these two songs contain the most patent examples of sociopolitical criticism, making anger recycled through a filter of satiric vibe. This is where Mann's peculiar vocal theatricals get in as a natural extension of the characters used as paradigms of sufferers - the oppressed, the failure, the marginal, the underdog. The rhythm duo of Mitten and Devoil is solid enough to enhance the inherent excitement of the tracks, an excitement that finds its most accomplished expression in Revell's guitar leads, riffs and various phrases (very much influenced by Gilmour and the guitar heroes of early 80s heavy metal, yet perfectly adapted into the scheme of neo-prog). 'Human Being' and 'This City' show a more vulnerable side of Mann's disenchanted viewpoints about modern society. The former - bearing a moderately bombastic structure - focuses on the alienated self of urban people, while the latter - poppier, almost like Ultravox-meets- The Chameleons - looks directly into the eye of the monster, the big inhumane industrial city. The eerie instrumental 'World without an End' brings a brief relaxing lapse before the Gary Numan-ish title track, funny and clever, poppish in a lovely way. Things get more ambitious with the segued instrumental 'The Poet Sniffs a Flower', whose first part is based on the interaction between acoustic guitar and synth layers, while the second part finds the band speeding things up splendidly. 'Creepshow', with its dramatic flavors, would have served as a tight closure, but it is then followed by 'Love Song'. This is a magnificent closure, a classical guitar-based ballad in homage of the dream of world peace and universal solidarity. Mann knows how to turn this naïve notion into moving poetry - the final lines are irresistible: "If you find that your open heart / has led you into pain / Take a tip from the Carpenter / Forgive and love again. and again". Before that, Revell's solo created an emotional peak for the song and the album, a perfect climax before the serene ending. While the fade-out softly ends, I will quote Mann one more time: "Nothing more to say" (from the song 'The Ceiling Speaks').
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars TWELFTH NIGHT is considered as the band that founded the neo-prog genre.This album is in the vein of MARILLION,IQ and PALLAS,although the roots of their music can be discovered in the musicianship of mid-70's GENESIS.Their sound is a little bit poppier than MARILLION or IQ but rockier than PALLAS' ''The Sentinel'' album.Geoff Mann's voice is simply outstanding,one of the best performers of progressive rock for sure.4 or maybe even 4.5 stars for the founders of neo-prog...
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars TWELFTH NIGHT were one of the first Neo-Prog bands to come upon the scene in the early eighties.They were there even before MARILLION. I feel TWELFTH NIGHT deserves a special place in Prog history for their music, especially this album "Fact And Fiction". Singer Geoff Mann reminds me so much of Peter Hammill, not in thier vocal tones but in their passion and theatrics. Lyrically Mann was also brilliant like Mr.Hammill. Intelligent, meaningful and often going straight to a persons conscience or heart. These songs had special meaning, even if the music at times sounded "New Wave" or "punkish". This was Neo-Progressive music that wasn't slick or smooth. This had attitude, this got in your face. And Geoff Mann led the way in making sure that you didn't feel too comfortable. He wanted you to look at yourself, to make you feel guilty if you didn't treat your fellow man with respect, dignity and love. He felt so strongly about this that he eventually quit the music business and became a Pastor.

"We Are Sane" opens with synths, high pitched vocals and samples. The song doesn't really start until 2 minutes in. Then it's interupted again by samples and synths. This contrast continues. Lots of humour in this one. The actual song is so infectious. We get some robotic vocals 7 1/2 minutes in. The guitar 9 1/2 minutes in is outstanding. Such a fun, progressive tune. "Human Beings" is such a classic tune once it gets going 2 minutes in. Some nice bass in this one, and I like the piano and calm when he sings "Human being, human being". The guitar before 5 minutes is a treat. It's so uplifting when he sings slowly 6 minutes in. "This City" opens with synths and the sounds of children playing before Mann comes in singing solemnly. His vocals get very passionate. "World Without End" is a short instrumental featuring waves of synths. Gorgeous.

"Fact And Fiction" is a catchy vocal tune with an eighties flavour. It has a spacey ending. "The Poet Sniffs A Flower" is a hilarious title for this instrumental. A nice atmosphere to this one. Synths, acoustic guitar and drums stand out. The tempo picks up 2 minutes in as the sound changes. Guitar a minute later. "Creep Show" is a dark song that is fairly slow paced. Some nice bass in this one. It's really all about the lyrics and the way Geoff delivers them. Check out the guitar, drums and vocals after 10 minutes followed by a beautiful guitar solo. Amazing song. "Love Song" works so well in contrast to what we just heard in "Creep Show". This might be the most beautiful yet convicting song (for me) that i've ever heard. I'd love to just quote the whole song, yet it's Mann's vocals that make this even more meaningful. Even the guitar is emotional before 4 minutes. He sings that "Jealousy is just a parasite, hatred a disease". "Love is an open door". "Respect for human dignity". It ends with "And if it seems that your hoping heart has led you into pain, take a tip from the carpenter, forgive and love again".

Thankyou Geoff Mann. R.I.P. brother.

Review by stefro
5 stars Very much Twelfth Night's masterpiece, 'Fact & Fiction' was released in 1982 after the group had garnered positive reactions from fans and record industry figures for their cassette- only 'Smiling At Grief' album', which was essentially a collection of demo's recorded to drum up interest in the fledgling group. Whilst 'Smiling At Grief' was a scratchy, low-budget affair 'Fact & Fiction', which featured several of the same songs in fuller versions, featured a quintessentially neo-prog sound dominated by the extraordinary vocals of the group's lead- singer Geoff Mann and a much more professional production. Mann was augmented by Clive Mitten(bass, keyboards), Andy Revell(guitars) and Brian Devoil(drums) for the studio recordings, but original keyboardist Rick Battersby, who had leftthe band six months earlier, would re-join for the subsequent tour. Those who know anything of Twelfth Night know that 'Fact & Fiction' was very much the group's high watermark moment. The album featured nine, carefully-composed songs, all of which are considered 'classic' by the group's small-buy- loyal following. The album's relative success finally won the group a recording contract, first with the Music For Nations label, who released their follow-up mini-album 'Art & Illusion' a year later, and then with the major label Virgin, who would release the group's poppier self-titled album in 1985. For 'Art & Illusion' Geoff Mann had been replaced by Andy Sears, and despite their group's loyal live fanbase, the disappointing sales figures for their Virgin album saw the group quietly dropped by the label. Subsequently, in 1987, Twelfth Night split, leaving behind them a sadly-truncated career which failed to fulfill their true musical ambitions. However, in 'Fact & Fiction', the band produced one of the gems of the 1980's prog scene, an album that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the classics of the era such as IQ's 'Tales From The Lush Attic' and Marillion' s 'Childhood's End'. A genuine prog classic. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars "Twelfth Night" has to be considered as a pioneer in the neo-prog style in which they are confined because there are hardly any other genres in which they can fit in.

When you listen to the opening number "We Are Sane", there is more new wave influence than anything else (I'm referring here to the great "Magazine" for instance). There is an incredible beat all the way through: what a great and dynamic song is this! A highlight by all means.

The special vocal style from Geoff Mann also adds a special angle to their music. A definite original touch for sure.

The next song is more conventional and holds most of the neo-prog gimmicks that will spread out later in the decade. Great bass play and a sustained guitar solo are the key elements of this good song.

The other epic "Creepshow" is quite related to "Genesis" ("Watcher" namely) and is quite more in line with what is expected from a neo-prog band. Still, the start of this album could have led to another conclusion. OK, the guitar finale is poignant.

The smooth and passionate "Love Song" is a fine manner to close this work. Glittering guitar, nice melody and skilled keys are fantastically combined. It is my second fave actually. A great opener and a great closing number.

"Fact & Fiction" is a good album. Three stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars One of the first and most important bands to appear in the early eighties as part of the so called neo prog movement, Twelfth Night was a quite unique group because they draw their influences as much from the 70īs great groups (Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, etc) as to a lot contemporaries artists of the day, like Joy Division and Magazine. Their sound was not as much a revivalist symphonic rock of old in the vein of Marillion and IQ, but something quite new and advanced for the time. And Fact And Fiction is truly their crowning achievement. The perfect mix the bandīs great skill and musical creativity - already shown with their instrumental debut Live At The Target (1981) combined with Geoff Mannīs original vocal style and clever lyrics.

It is not an easy listening album, though. It takes some time to really sink in. The music sounded bland to me at first, but after several spins I could hear all the many subtleties and nuances that make this CD one of the best in my collection and more than justifies its masterpiece status. Geoff Mannīs words are intelligent, insightful and, sometimes, disturbing. They dealt with several issues of the modern world, specially madness and solitude. His singing is quite original but he does remind me of another rock poet, Joy Divisionīs Ian Curtis, both on the themes chosen and the way they deliver the message. Certainly Mann is way a less tragic person than Curtis, but there are certain similarities. Musicly speaking the band wrapped up the themes with some very fine melodies, using both old styled prog and some new wave timbres and colours to give it a modern, original, feel (plus a little of what Peter Gabriel was doing solo at the time). Andy Revell did not get his fame as being one of the hottest new guitarrists then for nothing. His guitar lines and solos are amazing and yet quite discreet for a neo prog band (although the Steve Hackett/David Gilmour influences are obvious on several parts). Although the group recorded Fact & Fiction as a foursome, Clive Mitten handles the keyboards parts beautifully (besides his excellent bass playing). Youīll hardly notice the missing Rick Battersby (who would rejoined them soon after this record was out).

On the down side, the production is far from ideal for such complex and delicate wall of sound. If they were signed to a bigger record label than they would be served with a better recording capacity. However, the performances are so brilliant the weak production becomes a minor detail only. Songs like the Human Being, Creepshow and We Are Sane are the highlights, along with the fine instrumental The Poet Sniffs A Flower and the album closer, the beautiful ballad Love Song.

Conclusion: definitly one of the best ever prog rock records released in the 80īs and Twelfth Nightīs tour de force. The album stood very well the test of time and its power is undeniable. Along with Marillionīs Script For A Jesterīs Tear and IQīs Songs From The Attic it showed the world that progressive music was alive and well and young, and ready to conquer a whole new generation of fans. Both lyricaly and musically Fact & Fiction is a tremendous powerful piece of work.

Rating: 5 stars. Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars The very first Neo-Prog album?

My first encounter with anything Twelfth Night-related was with Geoff Mann's and Clive Nolan's one-off project Casino. The self-titled concept album by Casino was released in 1992 and featured Mann and Brian Devoil from Twelfth Night, Clive Nolan of Arena, Pendragon and Shadowland fame and Karl Groom from Shadowland and Threshold. After having enjoyed the Casino album, I wanted at some point to give Twelfth Night a chance. This was a few years back and now I bought the recently released reunion-gig DVD (entitled MMX) which reignited my interest in the band. With the sole exception of Human Being all of the eight songs on this album are featured on the DVD in mostly improved versions! Hearing this supposed classic debut album I was (initially, at least) quite disappointed, but it grew on me over further listens.

Originally released in 1982 - the year before Marillion's and IQ's respective debut albums! - it cannot be denied that Fact And Fiction was one of the first, if not the very first, Neo-Prog album. As such, it is essential for anyone interested in the history of Neo-progressive Rock. For me it is also every bit as good as Script For A Jester's Tear, Tales From The Lush Attic and many other early Neo-Prog classics. Fans of those albums are bound to like this one too. As with most British Neo-Prog, the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis influence is strong. But Twelfth Night also has a unique take on it. The production is not very polished, but good enough.

Recommended, but not a masterpiece

Review by Warthur
5 stars Twelfth Night's first studio LP saw Geoff Mann mature into his lead singer's position with style, and provides the best studio showcase of the band's intriguing combination of prog rock and New Wave sounds and compositional approaches.

Geoff Mann's idiosyncratic vocal style as a frontman makes this a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it album. He has a highly theatrical approach to things, along with a willingness to tackle deeply uncomfortable lyrical themes - much like Fish in Marillion, who Twelfth Night would regularly co-headline the Marquee with - and it took a while to grow on me, but once I was able to get past it and unpack it I was able to appreciate the album more.

Whilst Geoff famously left the band in order to become a Christian minister, he is able to take in a far broader range of lyrical themes than the simplistic "world is bad, come to Jesus" message that a lot of performatively Christian rock bands manage to; his Christianity here largely emerges in providing an unflinching look at social ills people would rather ignore, and then tying things up with Love Song, an appeal to hope which can certainly have a Christian interpretation but which can also be read more broadly.

Many of the songs on here - the title track, We Are Sane, Creepshow, and Love Song - are all regarded, not incorrectly, as gems in the Twelfth Night portfolio, and this album offers the most crystal-clear presentations of them available. If you wondered where the dark overtones of Marillion's Script For a Jester's Tear came for, it's because they were hanging out with Twelfth Night at the time; Fact and Fiction offers a bleak pit of neo-prog darkness with, thankfully, a light at the end of the tunnel at the end.

Review by Menswear
2 stars Prozac anyone?

Geez this is black. This is blackier than the eye of a shark. I am not fond of it by any means, but I give it 10 out of 10 for creepyness. This is rivalry with the cold wave of the Cure's Pornography or Bahaus Bela Lugosi's Dead mixed with a soundtrack for a B-Movie. Everything here is dark and depressing, especially the song Freakshow, which is something to be heard nonetheless. Black cover, black mood and definitely giving me chills in the back. Way too frightful for my little heart. Scary and definitely the grandfather of Discipline early albums.

It's making Peter Hamill looking like Mr. Bean on a sunny beach.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars How to review an album that I and many others view as one of the finest of its' kind? 'Fact and Fiction' remains to this day a supremely impressive album which captures a band at the pinnacle of their studio career. This is a reissue by Cyclops that manages to give us seven bonus songs on top of the original eight, and also restores the cover to its' original format (the MSI release had a negative cover, i.e. black on white instead of white on black). There is also a history of the recording process provided by Brian and overall this is a reissue that more than justifies purchase again even if you already own the MSI CD.

But what is all of the fuss about? Twelfth Night were the band that should have had the success of Marillion at least, and if Geoff hadn't decided to become a minister who knows what they might have achieved. But back in the early Eighties the band had been reduced to a four-piece with the departure of keyboard player Rick Battersby, who later returned. This left the core line up of Geoff Mann (vocals), Clive Mitten (bass/classical guitar/keyboards), Andy Revell (electric and acoustic guitars) and Brian Devoil (drums). The recording process took a year, during which time Marillion started to gain a lot of attention so the band decided to shift the attention away from some more commercial elements and dropped some numbers and rewrote others. The result was a progressive masterpiece.

The album starts with the second longest song, in "We Are Sane". Gentle held-down keyboards with Geoff singing falsetto and in the background that are the sounds of children playing and a radio being tuned. Gradually Geoff sings lower, the keyboards come down and the sense of menace starts to appear. Percussion starts not with Brian on drums but on typewriter as "Reports flop into the in trays". Even from very early on in the album it becomes apparent that Twelfth Night just weren't like any other prog band that was around at the time, or since. Prog bands often today are likened to Genesis/Marillion/IQ but rarely to TN. "We Are Sane" is about a Big Brother society where individuals are controlled by a small box they plug into their brains each day. The music swirls and changes, being beautiful and refreshing, or rocking and dramatic, as the need arises. There is a spoken word passage; all tricks utilised to make the song unusual and classic.

Following that is the more laid back "Human Being" which not only contains one of my favourite lyrics in any song ("If every time we tell a lie a little fairy dies, they must be building death camps in the garden") but also a powerful bass solo which has to be one of the best bass riffs ever. "This City" again starts slowly, with children in the background and in some ways is almost Floydian except with far more menace and emotion from the Mann. It is stark and barren, with Geoff in total control. Next up is a small instrumental "World Without End" which acts as a gentle keyboard bridge into the title cut. It may only be four minutes long, but this keyboard dominated piece is one of their more powerful and thought provoking, all with no guitar! Given the current climate this song seems even more poignant "If the unthinkable should happen, and you hear the sirens call, Well you can always find some shelter behind a door against the wall, Don't make me laugh!!"

This also gives way to an instrumental, "The Poet Sniffs A Flower" which features acoustic guitar and keys in gentle harmony until the drums kick in and they are off and racing, as they lead into the longest track on the album, the one with which Geoff will always be associated, "Creep Show". It starts gently enough, and we are invited into the creep show to see the exhibits (as in "Karn Evil 9", but here with an even more damning indictment on society). It is gentle, lulling and simple, or dramatic, rocking and complex. It can be a breaking voice, pure melody or a spoken statement of fact, whichever way you look at it this is one of the most important prog songs ever.

Given all of the horrors and complexity that has gone on before, the only way to end the album was with a gentle number that gave the listener the chance to reflect. "Love Song" is pure and delicate, as Geoff sings about the power of love and what it can achieve. It is a song of restrained emotion here in the studio, which became an outpouring when performed in concert (listen to 'Live And Let live' to get some idea). It builds and builds in tempo, on from the acoustic guitar to a more powerful prog rock number and to put it simply, out of all of the many thousands of songs I have heard over the years, this is my number one.

Of course, that was where the original album ended but now there are the bonus numbers. "East Of Eden" was one of the band's most powerful stomping rock numbers (and was the song they performed on the David Essex Showcase!) and had originally been destined for the album but was instead released as a single along with "Eleanor Rigby". The band weren't particularly noted for their cover versions, but this is a great take with the song taken from the Sixties into the Eighties and now imbued with the dramatic vocals of Geoff. "Constant (fact and Fiction)" has nothing in common with "Fact and Fiction" and sounds like Geoff and Clive and a drum machine and is interesting but has to be taken as a work in progress, and was never developed any further. "Fistful Of Bubbles" shows the band experimenting with an almost reggae style in the chorus, and much more in the way of emotional guitar and is interesting but again was a work in progress.

To the fan it has to be "Leader" that is by far the more interesting demo, as this is a song that had musically built out of a number called "Afghan Red" and would in turn become "Fact And Fiction". The verse is musically almost the same, with some of the final lyrics, and it is fascinating. "Dancing In The Dream" is a poptastic keyboard led song that is fun and is a song I have found myself singing. It reminds me of Men Without Hats and I wonder if a finished version of this had been released as a single what would have happened? The last song is a different version of "Human Being" which is only just over half the length of the finished article. Musically it is quite different and is more dynamic with in your face keyboards. The band seems to be bounding along on this much more rockified version.

So there you have it, an album that should have been in every music lover's collection prior to this Cyclops reissue and definitely should be there now. Forget labels, this is music of the highest quality that deserves to be heard. An album that is now over twenty years old yet is relevant and powerful. Superb.

Originally appeared in Feedback #73, Jun 03

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Neo-prog for those who don't like neo-prog?

4.5 stars

Before MARILLION, IQ or PENDRAGON, there was a lesser-known, however maybe more creative band called TWELFTH NIGHT. Why? Because these musicians offered more than just GENESIS-influenced songs with the sound and the sharpness of the eighties. Instead, musically speaking, they embraced genres contemporary of the dawn of the 80's - punk and new-wave - and dressed them in the clothes of the space and symphonic progressive styles of the 70's.

First, these novel ideas form a genuine neo-progressive approach. Second, I don't know if this mixture of genres had been ever done before or reproduced after. This is very different from the other bands trying to bring something new to prog during the late seventies, such as RUSH or even SAGA, although considered as a major influence of the neo-prog. Third, this opus demonstrates TWELFTH NIGHT's ability to write long suites and shorter compositions. Finally, and most importantly, they crafted their own identity, supported by Andy Revell's trippy and delayed guitars, Clive Mitten's ethereal keyboards and, particularly, Geoff Mann's unique punky and theatrical singing. "Fact and Fiction" is unfortunately the band's only album with this great uncommon vocalist.

Before the arrival of Geoff Mann in 1981 and after the departure of Electra MacLeod, TWELFTH NIGHT were already a very original instrumental unit whose tracks can be described as a marriage between Steve Hillage or Manuel Göttsching's echo-drenched guitars, new-wave and fantasy. Compared to "Live at the Target", this 1982 studio record marks an evolution: the musicians slightly begin to incorporate more new-wave, but also GENESIS and PINK FLOYD elements here...

By hearing "We Are Sane", you can understand why I consider TWELFTH NIGHT more interesting than the other 'classic' neo-prog bands. This is simply maybe the first progressive new-wave / punk track ever! Alternating spacey, ethereal, touching and more nervous passages, this 10 minutes mini-epic contains numerous changing ambiances and rhythms. The interlacing of lighter and heavier passages allows Geoff Mann to display his wide palette of vocal expressions: aggressive, touching, depressive. Some neo-progressive elements can be comparable from what the genre will offer in the mid 80's, but only a few. One of the best compositions from the band! Brilliant! "Human Being" is a kind of a mixture between the instrumental approach of "Live at the Target" and GENESIS. It possesses a pretty and floating guitar, powerful bass-driven passage and... the song is really varied! What could possibly happen now? Space new-wave? You're absolutely right! "This City" is a nice and dreamy short track, with a mastered progression. The ambient "World Without End" is a pleasant smooth interlude.

In contrast, the title track is a more conventional but still enjoyable rocky new-wave. With Andy Revell's beautiful acoustic guitar play and its slight medieval feel, the instrumental "The Poet Sniffs A Flower" will transport you to a world of fantasy. The first half is calm and enchanting, while the the pace surprisingly accelerates at the middle of the song, which then become epic and powerful! Longest composition of the record, the 12 minutes "Creepshow" is the other mini- epic here. Featuring dark, tortured and even futuristic atmospheres, this suite has reminiscence of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, especially due to Geoff mann's singing which can remind Peter Hamill's at times. Not as impacting as "We Are Sane", but nonetheless very good. The disc concludes the new-wave-ish tune Love Song", a slow, delicate and melancholic piece with acoustic guitar and soft keyboards.

The 2002 Cyclops edition includes seven bonus tracks, more or less interesting. Andy Revell's guitar sounds quite metallic on the rageous "East of Eden". Nevertheless, the most surprising addition is the new-wave cover version of THE BEATLES' classic "Eleanor Rigby". Cool!

Unique and uncommon, "Fact and Fiction" is a musical anomaly, even more than "Live at the Target". However, this is finally much more what "neo-prog" should really be, with this quality and mixture of styles. TWELFTH NIGHT's first official studio opus is their best: original, disturbing, spacey and touching. The album to start with. For all these reasons, "Fact and Fiction" may well be my favorite disc from the neo-progressive genre, because this is, well, more creative than "just neo-prog"... That's why, even if you hate or partially appreciate (like me) the bands commonly affiliated with this denomination, please give it a listen! You'll enjoy it if you're a fan of symphonic, space rock, depressive new-wave or maybe even punk!

Although short, the Geoff Mann period was the most successful in the band's history. This will unfortunately be their last studio release with this incredible singer. After that, he will be replaced by Andy Sears, and TWELFTH NIGHT will propose more or less inspired synth-pop songs with discrete proggy elements, but not as original or impacting...

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars An album that, to my ears, bears a striking resemblance to the sounds and stylings of American band BABYLON-- especially in the DOROCCUS-like theatric vocal sound and performances of poet and reluctant lead singer, Geoff Mann.

1. "We Are Sane" (10:27) opens with synth strings, background noises of television, children, and adult arguing before singer Geoff Mann enters in an opera-like falsetto. At the one minute mark Geoff switches into a deep bass range. Around 2:00 electric guitar and synth strings arpeggi back a mid-range vocal as well as the continued background speeches. There's a real BABYLON theatricity to this. Around 3:20 the song suddenly switches to an almost punk/early XTC sound and style: complete with 80s techno-punk synths, guitar, rhythm, pace, and singing. In the sixth minute it returns to a more DOROCCUS/BABYLON theatricity and musical palette. By the end of the seventh minute there is another musical switch just before a foray into a BOWIE-like robotic section of the museum and its followup. The final two minutes sees a return to the CARDIACS/XTC-like sound and style. Quite a song! What a story and presentation! Not the greatest musically but Mr. Mann definitely has something special. (18.5/20)

2. "Human Being" (7:50) opens like BILLY BRAGG singing over someone playing in the bath water until 0:45 when lush synths take over and a STEVE HACKETT-like electric guitar solos. At 2:00 a Spectral Mornings-like section speeds it up a little while Geoff sings. Great guitar solo in the uptempo sixth minute instrumental section. (13.125/15)

3. "This City" (4:01) a JIM MORRISON/MATTHEW PARMENTER-like performance by Geoff Mann. (8.25/10)

4. "World Without End" (1:55) synths, low bass, fast electric guitar arpeggi, and cymbal play instrumental. (4.25/5)

5. "Fact And Fiction" (3:59) pure New Wave music. (8.5/10)

6. "The Poet Sniffs A Flower" (3:51) presents odd styled classic rock instrumental sounding like BOSTON with 1980s synths that switches at 2:00 to a thicker soundscape with bass and guitar power chords. (8.667/10)

7. Creepshow (11:57) an epic combining PINK FLOYD with VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. (17.33/20)

8. Love Song (5:39) a Prog Folk opening that turns into a synth-driven New Wave JOY DIVISION-like song. (8.5/10)

Total Time: 49:37

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of lyric and singer-driven neo-progressive rock music and a highly recommended listening experience to any lover of progressive rock music.

Latest members reviews

5 stars An album of acquired taste that becomes an addiction, at least to the more "darker" listener. Powerful compositions with excellent orchestration, which are elevated by extraordinary and passionate vocals, delivering deep social and philosophical lyrics. Twelfth Night created a seminal album, a true ... (read more)

Report this review (#2852545) | Posted by Vikentios Geranos | Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Twelfth Night were old-school progressive rock, which is to say, they made their records about obscure subjects and didn't court airplay, nor seem too bothered when it didn't court them. Despite (or perhaps because of) that, they made some truly stunning albums in their too-short career. Not man ... (read more)

Report this review (#1644865) | Posted by Trollheart | Saturday, November 19, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First issued in 1982, Twelfth Night's masterwork Fact and Fiction is very much of its time. The album is in stark monochrome from its cover art to its spartan arrangements of synths and guitars. Geoff Mann approaches these songs with a punkish ferocity at times, his performance ranging from the ... (read more)

Report this review (#120902) | Posted by BobShort | Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For an album in Neo-Progressive rock, a genre with connotations of slick, airtight production, Fact and Fiction is surprisingly raw and abrasive. Perhaps it is because Twelfth Night released this gem at the outset of this movement, before all manners of production techniques had been tinkered wit ... (read more)

Report this review (#114305) | Posted by stonebeard | Monday, March 5, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A masterpiece.... They got there even before Marillion did. What melodies, what a power and devotion in this music. And what lyrics..... Actually, Twelfth Night was based upon the uncomparable expression of the Geoff Mann's voice. And his lyrics. His scream about the poor condition of the ... (read more)

Report this review (#110997) | Posted by djinkubus | Thursday, February 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of TWELFTH NIGHT "Fact And Fiction"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.