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Twelfth Night


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Twelfth Night Art & Illusion album cover
3.01 | 53 ratings | 6 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Counterpoint (5:57)
2. Art & Illusion (3:51)
3. C.R.A.B. (4:34)
4. Kings & Queens (5:43)
5. First New Day (5:53)

Total time 25:58

Bonus tracks on 2003 remaster:
6. Blue Powder Monkey (7:22)
7. Blondon Fair (5:34)
8. Take A Look (11:59)
9. Counterpoint (Alternate) (5:59)
10. C.R.A.B. (Alternate) (3:56)
11. Kings & Queens (Alternate) (5:52)
12. Take A Look (Alternate) (4:31)

Total time 71:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Sears / vocals
- Andy Revell / guitar
- Rick Battersby / keyboards
- Clive Mitten / bass
- Brian Devoil / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Candace Pridgeon and Patrick Hughes

LP Music For Nations ‎- MFN-36 (1984, UK) Mini-Album

CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 132 (2003, UK) Remastered by Andy Le Vien with 7 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TWELFTH NIGHT Art & Illusion ratings distribution

(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (23%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

TWELFTH NIGHT Art & Illusion reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Fishy
3 stars I remember the disappointment when I first heard the album back in 1985. Back then Twelfth Night was widely considered as an important band from the English neo-prog movement. What I heard was typical eighties music which included influences from wave, pop and even some slices of metal. The progressive element in the music is mainly provided by the keyboard lines and guitar solo's. Little did I know of the bands former vocalist who left the previous year. The charismatic Geoff Mann penned the vocal line for the title track when he still was in the band. This is easily the highlight of this mini album. The melody of this great track refused to leave my head for several days after I heard it for the very first time. The voice of the new vocalist Andy Sears reminded me on Duran Duran and also the music holds some elements from that band. Unlike on the XII album which they recorded 2 years afterwards, the production of this album sounds rough and alternative. Sears may not be a bad singer, I have the impression the commercial tendencies slipped in the sound of TN from the moment he joined them. I do prefer Mann's way of singing, more straight from the heart but maybe I shouldn't compare. but after all this was the first studio album to be released after a great album like "Fact and fiction" and really, this is completely different stuff. The tracks are more conventional and shorter in length without instrumental excerpts or interesting social commentary in the lyrics.

The opening track "Counterpoint" definitely has balls and is highly melodious but this sounds totally outdated nowadays. Somehow, it reminds me on "The Chameleons, a monument of the English wave scene of the eighties. Also the first part of the instrumental track C.R.A.B. could easily included on an album from The Cure but when the tempo is speeding up and a Hackett like guitar solo starts to enlighten the atmosphere, you realize this is a neo-prog band you're listening to. This is very much similar to a classic like "a poet sniffs a flower" ; nice one ! On "Kings & queens" you could have the impression the band is heading in the heavy rock direction. Fortunately there's some highly enjoyable progressive excerpts as well. Tracks like this one and "Counterpoint" are sounding chaotic and energetic. The final track on the original lp was "A first new day". A highly melodic track in the vein of "love song". Sears sings beautifully on a science fiction landscape of lush keyboards. It used to sound great but nowadays it all seems so plastic to me !

There's some demo versions added to this cd release. The lack of studio tricks on these songs reveal more of what's left of the familiar TN-sound. You can also find 3 alternate versions of tracks that appeared on the slick sounding XII album from 1986. These tracks are more accessible than those from A & I. "Take a look" was the only progressive outing on that album and this version is even more progressive including exciting extended instrumental excerpts. For me this is the only track of their 1986 recordings that's worth of checking out.

To my opinion this album introduces the downfall of the band. Twelfth Night fans should check this one out for the 4 best tracks of the post Mann period. This album is much more interesting for digging in the English part of history of neo-prog in the eighties than for satisfying listening experiences in 2005.

Review by stefro
2 stars A real lesson in showing that the grass is not always greener on the other side, Twelfth Night's attempt to streamline and commercialize their sound started with this 1984 effort, a move which would prove to be the beginning of the end for their once-promising career. Original lead-singer Geoff Mann, whose powerful vocals had adorned the groups previous album from 1982, the excellent 'Fact & Fiction', had left to be replaced by former Canis Major frontman Andy Sears, and the band were now temporarily signed to the independent label Music For Nations, desperate for that elusive major label deal that would break them into pop's big league. To facilitate this move, the band made the rather cynical 'business- orientated' decision to hold back some of their more overtly-poppy tracks for the next album, making 'Art & Illusion' a five-track mini-album. Twelfth Night were, in effect, slowly abandoning their neo-prog past in favour of creating slickly-produced, radio-friendly synth- pop, a move that would eventually net them a deal with Virgin Records, but would also bring about the band's demise quicker than anyone would have dared to imagine. As we all know, hindsight is a special thing, but whether they knew it at the time or not, Twelfth Night were taking a huge risk in changing their sound so early on in their career. 'Art & Illusion' and it's pop-orientated Virgin-produced follow up 'XII' were meant to bring about a new phase in the band's development, turning them into a big-selling pop-rock act, but in changing their direction so carelessly the band shed many of their original fans - fans brought to the group by the excellent 1981 live album 'Live At The Target' and the band's calling-card 'Fact & Fiction' - who were, simply put, just not replaced, therefore shrinking the band's appeal just when their financial overheads were increasing. Whether they would have navigated a more successful career path had they simply stuck to their guns and continued to furrow an overtly-progressive path is an interesting point. Genre-rivals Marillion created four excellent neo-prog albums in the 1980's whilst simulteneously selling lots of records, and many thought Twelfth Night would do the same. Sadly, however, 'Fact & Fiction' would prove to be the band's peak. 'Art & Illusion', although nowhere near as vacuous as 'XII', was a very different creation, lacking Mann's ingenious vocals and the darkly-introspective lyrics but at least maintaining a link with their progressive past. Opening track 'Counterpoint' and the strangely-titled 'C.R.A.B.' wouldn't have sounded out of place on either 'Live At The Target' or 'Fact & Fiction', and the noticeably slicker production helps flesh out the band's multi-layered sound. However, with just five tracks 'Art & Illusion', when compared to it's predecessors, can't help but sound disappppointing. The real tragedy is the fact that a band with such obvious talent would only priduce one studio album of note, and, despite a couple of excellent live offerings, Twelfth Night's original promise was simply frittered away in a welter of bad decisions and commercial pandering. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This mini album (just above the twenty-five minutes mark) cannot even be considered as neo prog. It is filled with pure pop rock songs without soul; as far as I am concerned. A major (dis) illusion like the title and opening song.

Is the attempt to heavy rock better ("Kings & Queens"), not sure at all. The band was not exceptional so far with its previous releases. Not too bad is "Counterpoint": upbeat, in the mood of its time and catchy; but not quite prog in my views. The lamenting vocals during "First New Day" are quite unbearable.

I believe that the best conclusion is held in the title of the closing instrumental: "C.R.A.B." they called it. And so it is? Let's be generous here: two stars. It is indeed very generous.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The Andy Sears period of Twelfth Night is popularly seen as a time when the band sold out in order to angle for mainstream success. I prefer to see it as the band emphasising a different aspect of their sound than the one the Geoff Mann era focused on - if you listen to, say, Smiling at Grief you'll find a song or two in the poppy art rock vein they pursue here, it's just that on Fact and Fiction and Live at Last (the two best-known Mann-era releases) they leaned a bit more heavily on the neo-prog side of their sound.

And to be honest, the Art & Illusion mini-album - more of an EP, really - isn't that far removed from the sound of the Geoff Mann era. Hell, the title track is even a Mann-vintage track - you can hear him performing it on the Flashbacks archival release, and the 2CD "definitive edition" release of Live and Let Live. Sure, there's no dark epic here on the level of Creepshow or We Are Sane, but that wasn't their sole preserve even under Mann, and any of the tracks here sit naturally next to material like Fact and Fiction or Human Being.

Review by kev rowland
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

Latest members reviews

3 stars Not bad at all, although the album is rather short. This is the first album featuring new vocalist Andy Sears after the departure of Geoff Mann. This album in fact is imo better than the follow-up. The album rocks hard and the vocals are really good, in fact in reminds me bit of IQ's Peter Nich ... (read more)

Report this review (#189200) | Posted by Kingsnake | Friday, November 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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