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TWELFTH NIGHT XII [AKA: THE VIRGIN ALBUM]

Twelfth Night

Neo-Prog


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Twelfth Night Twelfth Night XII [Aka: The Virgin Album] album cover
2.43 | 54 ratings | 10 reviews | 9% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Last Song (4:27)
2. Pressure (3:39)
3. Jungle (4:16)
4. The Craft (4:36)
5. Blue Powder Monkey (5:07)
6. Theatre (3:48)
7. Shame (4:13)
8. This Is War (3:45)
9. Take A Look (11:35)

Total time 45:26

Bonus tracks on 2005 remaster:
10. Blondon Fair (6:03)
11. Shame (Full Mix) (5:50)
12. Take A Look (4:19)
13. Blue Powder Monkey (Rough Mix) (4:46)
14. This Is War (Rough Mix) (3:48)
15. The Craft (Rough Mix) (4:47)

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Sears / vocals
- Andy Revell / guitars
- Rick Battersby / keyboards
- Clive Mitten / bass, guitar (9)
- Brian Devoil / drums, percussion

With:
- U.K. Orchestras Ltd. / strings (4)
- Jonathan Sorrell / keyboard programming
- Ken Campbell / keyboard programming
- John L. Walters / arrangements, producer

Releases information

Artwork: David Chandler

LP Virgin ‎- CASG 1174 (1986, UK)

CD Charisma ‎- CASCDR 1174 (2005, UK) Remastered by Peter Mew with 6 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TWELFTH NIGHT Twelfth Night XII [Aka: The Virgin Album] ratings distribution


2.43
(54 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
9%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(13%)
13%
Good, but non-essential (43%)
43%
Collectors/fans only (26%)
26%
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)
9%

TWELFTH NIGHT Twelfth Night XII [Aka: The Virgin Album] reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Uuughh ... What is this? I'd rather listen to DURAN DURAN's "New Religion" of "Rio" album than listening to this record. I don't understand which segment of this record is classified as prog? Is it because the date of release was close to MARILLION's "Misplaced Childhood" where dozens of bands were following The MARILLION pathway? Give me a break!

If you are new to prog rock and given this album to enjoy, I bet you would say that prog is punk or new wave. Believe me. This record is heavily influenced by DURAN DURAN, ORCHESTRAL MANOUVER IN THE DARK and the like. So now, forget about prog for a moment ... Some tracks worths listening are "Take a Look", "Shame". One thing that I notice with this record is that the music seems like being "forced" or something so that it does not flow nicely. IMHO. Sorry for die hard fans of the band. - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Gatot's one-star judgement sure looks lonely, but mostly I review this for the sake of teenage nostalgia. There was a time ('87) when I was a Marillion fan and actually knew nothing about Neo-Prog in general. 12th Night's live album was introduced by a friend, and some time later I bought this obscure-named (X? IIX? XII? - just 'Twelfth Night'? Ok, if you say so) album. As my Marillion LP's were already becoming overlistened to, I was delighted to find another band of that type. BTW, ratings here surprise me a little: 2,2 (5 ratings) for this and 4,75 (8 ratings) for Live And Let Live - a huge difference, but I didn't feel them that distant from each other, even with the different singers, Geoff Mann and Andy Sears. 'Sequences' was my favourite TN song but 'Take a Look' was close behind. It's a long closing track that changes its atmosphere several times.

What comes to side one, I agree with Gatot: I prefer Duran Duran's Rio! 'Jungle' could be one of the worst Duran songs, 'Pressure' as well. 'The Craft' is like Marillion's 'Jigsaw' without choruses and guitar solo. But on the 2nd side it gets whole lot better. 'Theatre' and 'Shame' are pretty good, energic 80's art rock songs with a fine sound. Short and dark-spirited 'This Is War' is a perfect bridge into the modern digital dystopia of 'Take a Look'. Otherwise gorgeous track just extends its climax too long - and that's where Sears' rascal-like voice gets annoying.

This represents a very short period in my prog history - soon I concentrated on Genesis and other 70's classics and got tired of Marillion and 12th Night. I still may listen to the highlights for that nostalgia, and then bury this in my LP pile for years again. So, not exactly recommended in the 21st century, but not one to avoid like plague either.

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars After releasing the mini-album 'Art & Illuision' with new lead singer Andy Sears in 1984, Twelfth night finally snared that major-label record deal they'd been craving. The band were signed to Richard Branson's Virgin label and immediately started work on what would become their second full-length album proper. Although 1981's 'Smiling At Grief' had ben released on cassette, it was, in actual fact, a collection of demo's designed to drum up interest in the fledgling band and therefore not really a proper 'studio' album. Several tracks from 'Smiling At Grief'' would re-surface in superior versions on the group's highly-rated 'Fact & Fiction' album from 1982, and, after vocalist Geoff Mann left the group a year later the band made a group decision to hold back songs that might have appeared on 'Art & Illusion' just in case a major label came calling. 'Art & Illusion' would see the band start to inch away from their overtly- progressive early 1980's Genesis-inspired sound to a more concise, hi-tech, radio-friendly style and the resulting self-titled album(something the band were very unhappy with) finally saw the light of day in 1986. It was meant to be their big break but, unfortunately, sales were disappointing, despite their loyal live following. The following year both Andy Sears and Clive Mitten, unhappy with the complete lack of direction and promotional strategy shown by Virgin, quit the band. It would prove to be the end of the road for the once promising five-piece, their decision to go 'commercial' awkwardly positioning the band between two very different stylistic stools. 'The Virgin Album', as it has now become known, proved to be too poppy for prog fans and too proggy for pop fans, and, despite the carefully-crafted 11-minute 'Take A Look' track on the album's second side - a track that, unlike many others on 'The Virgin Album', has regularly featured in Twelfth Night's live shows - the band seemed creatively exhausted. It would prove to be a sad and quiet end. Fans of the group's one-and-truely excellent album, the superb 'Fact & Fiction' which features the uniquely impressive vocals of Geoff Mann, are advised to look elsewhere for their neo-prog thrills. Try 'Live At The Target', the band's 1981 instrumental live album recorded just before Mann joined the group, instead, or, failing that, check out the likes of IQ's first two albums, 'Tales From The Luch Attic' from 1983 and the follow-up fo two years later 'The Wake', or Abel Ganz's excellent 1988 effort 'The Dangers Of Strangers'. Twelfth Night's career lasted barely 7 years but, in the process, they produced some excellent and influential prog music. Their career was a sadly-truncated one, and, unfortunately, that was due to weak, mainstream-courting albums such as this eponymously-titled affair. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This band, along with Marillion, Pallas, and IQ were at the forefront of the new wave of prog which commenced in the UK in the 1980's. Arguably, you could state that they were the least successful, and certainly the least resilient.

I remember buying this upon release, absolutely transfixed by the album cover, which is about as luxurious as it gets.

The music? Well, it has received a bit of a panning in the reviews on the site, and, by and large, much of it is forgettable, basically being an attempt at commercial music tinged with neo prog. It's not bad, it's just that much of it is simply not good enough, and, certainly, Jungle sounds much like any 1980's pop band of the time.

However, the album, and, thus, its rating is redeemed by two exceptional tracks, which, in my opinion, if they were the only two tracks on it, would merit at least a 4.5 star rating.

These are the single released, Blue Powder Monkey, and the epic closer, Take A Look. In addition, I quite like The Craft, which is a very good pop song, which is not a bad thing in my book.

Blue Powder Monkey gallops along at a fair old pace, and the chorus is frenetic. It is a clever track, and I would actually put it up against any single released by Marillion at this heady time for that band, high praise coming from me indeed. There are some great guitar licks in this, and Sears carries it by an incredible vocal performance. Toe tapping, great fun, it should have done more at the time of release.

However, the one that really does make you want to stand up and take notice, and make you wonder what might have been, is Take A Look, an epic track clocking in at over 11 minutes. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest neo prog tracks ever released. The intensity of this track simply never lets up, and it is, surprisingly, given what went on before, pure and utter prog, with absolutely no nod to fashion whatsoever. From a slow, ponderous, thoughtful, opening, the main background riff develops, and Sears, when he enters, tells in a very caustic fashion, his take on modern society and technology. The chorus is one of those rare ones that makes you outstretch your arms and sing along at top voice, and the rush of the track with all of the band moving along at a frenetic pace is wonderful.

This album is probably now regarded as more of a curiousity as much as anything else, but I, for one, was very glad to revisit it when i converted the original vinyl to digital. There is, by the way, a remastered CD with bonus tracks on issue, but I cannot comment on this as I have never heard it.

Three stars for an album from a band who promised much, but, ultimately, delivered far too little. If you can download it, I would recommend downloading the standout tracks.

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars The last studio album from "Twelfth Night" is no big deal. But very few of their works were able to attract me. Only their sophomore work "Fact & Fiction" reached the three star level so far. And this one won't get any close to this rating.

It is true that the music featured sounds more new wave than prog. You might know that I quite appreciated these new wave days (77 through 80), but this album was released in '86 and I quite don't understand the purpose of getting back to early "Ultravox!" sounds ("Last Song") or "Duran Duran" ones during "Pressure". Not a great start, I'm afraid.

Some cheap world music influence for "Jungle" is just adding to the feel so far. Actually, the whole of this album is useless. There are very, very little prog moments available (a good guitar break during the pitiful "The Craft" maybe). This album is quite weak and there is no reason to bother if I were you.

Highlights are non-existing. Even a good track is difficult to find. And the long closing number won't save the bill. Nothing prog here. Poor music. One star.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars The first song (on the last album) is the last song

This self-titled album from 1986 would be the last studio release by Twelfth Night to date. While in many ways it reminds of typical British Neo-Prog of that time (perhaps especially the Paul Menel years of IQ), it also has hints of Post Punk/New Wave and maybe a bit of U2. Compared to Fact And Fiction, the present album is much better produced and more polished and thus comes across as more professional. The vocals are handled by Andy Sears and not by the (to many) legendary Geoff Mann. To my ears, Sears is doing a good job here.

My introduction to Twelfth Night was their recent live DVD MMX on which four songs from this album are performed. Three of these are worthy of special mention; the opener Last Song (yes, they open the album with the "last" song!), the symphonic ballad The Craft and the nearly 12 minute closer Take A Look. All three sound better on the live DVD than they do here, but they still manage to lift this album. The rest of the songs are rather average, not bad but not very memorable either.

A rather average album with some good moments

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Those who were there back in the day have assured me that in the original cluster of neo-prog bands regularly headlining the Marquee Club in London, the top tier consisted of Marillion, Pallas, Solstice, and Twelfth Night. (It's amazing to think that leaders of the genre like Pendragon or IQ were on a second tier back then - sometimes headlining in their own right, but rarely if ever put on the same level as the big four).

Solstice, with their roots in the festival circuit and New Age/hippyish attitude, never got signed by a major label - and had no intention to - but the other three all got a big contract sooner or later. And it's really rather striking how different the destinies of those three were.

Marillion, of course, put out Script For a Jester's Tear and the rest was history - there's no question that they had the biggest success out of any of the Marquee neo-prog bands.

Pallas produced The Sentinel, but were the victim of the running order of the album being hacked up and crucial segments of the Atlantis Suite being carved out for single B-sides. (It would have been far better had the label simply left the album alone and kept the more commercial-sounding tracks recorded for it on the singles, so at least the different sides of the band - one highly theatrical and prog-oriented, one much more pop-rock-ish - would be reflected on formats better suited for those styles.) Pallas would, however, keep chugging on after that, and eventually plot a more independent course for themselves and earn a reappraisal in the eyes of the prog fanbase in more recent years.

For Twelfth Night, though, the tragedy is that the much-coveted major label contract seems to have been a death sentence for them. Twelfth Night had put out more material on an independent basis than any of their neo-prog peers, with multiple studio efforts and live albums under their belt (including Fact and Fiction and Live and Let Live, respectively their best studio and live releases), so when they signed to Virgin at the end of 1985 - after Marillion had stormed the charts with Misplaced Childhood and after Pallas's moment in the spotlight had come and gone - it must have felt to fans and band alike as though the hard work of the past half a decade had finally paid off.

What a shame, then, that the product of that contract should be Twelfth Night, AKA XII, AKA The Virgin Album. With a sound drastically simplified and with only the faintest ghosts of their former dark neo-prog stylings present, it's no wonder that the album was the subject of a critical backlash on the part of fans. The band gave up the ghost shortly afterwards, and whilst they have occasionally got back together - there was a 1988 studio reunion with Geoff Mann that yielded Collectors' Item, for instance, and much more recently they've had concerts with Andy Sears and have put out a studio rendition of Sequences - it's fair to say that post-XII, Twelfth Night was done as far as being an active, energetic songwriting unit went (with the various reunion efforts all being dedicated to old material).

Sad to say, it seems like the creative well just ran dry - the band had lost their inspiration for producing further material in the "classic" Twelfth Night style and seem to have spent XII and the period preceding it casting about to see if they can find new inspiration. It's particularly interesting to listen to XII in the context of the Corner of the World live album, for it puts the lie to the idea that Virgin somehow pressured the band into changing their style in order to get a hit. (Given that Misplaced Childhood was a huge hit by leaning into Marillion's neo-prog approach, wouldn't Virgin have *wanted* Twelfth Night to go proggy with it in light of that?)

You see, the Corner of the World live album was recorded well over half a year before the Virgin contract was signed, and it shows that the band were already at the time pivoting towards the style they air here. People like to make Duran Duran comparisons, and I guess Andy Revell does become rather fond here of a guitar tone reminiscent of, say, the lead guitar from Rio, but at the same time Duran Duran were far better at coming up with sleek pop hooks than the band are here.

Perhaps the best track on the album is the concluding Take a Look, which also happens to be one of the oldest tracks on the album; an early version, substantially closer to the classic Twelfth Night style, can be heard on the Night Vision archival live album which captures the Art & Illusion tour. Comparing the two versions, it seems like here the band have gone for a bright, airy production which is more or less the absolute opposite of the dark, claustrophobic approach they had taken for most of their career, taking the edge off the harder and more pensive section of the songs whilst trying to make the chorus the sort of feelgood singalong section people waved their cigarette lighters to back when everyone took cigarette lighters to concerts to wave along to the music to.

The tragedy of XII is that the band clearly are not technically incompetent - they seem to be trying their best to find a new sound to revive their creative juices. If any blame can be attached to the record company, it's the production job on the album which is so alien to the Twelfth Night aesthetic that I can only assume that producer John L. Walters (of the synth-pop group Landscape) either simply hadn't heard any of the band's prior music or just imposed his own aesthetic on proceedings, but a somewhat "off" production can't quite account for all the cracks that are showing in the foundations here. Worth it for fans who want an OK studio runthrough of Take a Look, Blue Powder Monkey, and some of the other material here, but otherwise you can see why this album would be a career-killer.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Great album! When I heard it 19 years ago I didn't like it. I was dissapointed. Some days ago I bought CD release and I falled in love with it. It's great. Yes, some DuranDuran and Van Halen influenced, but it's still wonderful TN. Fantastic melodies, awesome arrangement and realization. Craf ... (read more)

Report this review (#62873) | Posted by janus | Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have been waiting the release of this album on CD for several years and have at last bought it, listened to it, and loved it. Geoff Mann was one of the finest lyricists and vocalists of the neo-prog era. Indeed after leaving TN, he went on to attain equal heights with Casino, The Bond, A Geof ... (read more)

Report this review (#46513) | Posted by scarista | Tuesday, September 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Being a huge fan of this band in the 80s, I was saddened by the departure of lead singer and inspiration Geoff Mann. However, all was not lost as the band were to continue with a new singer (Andy Sears), managed to cut a record deal with Virgin, (so it seemed finally they'd 'made it') and I aw ... (read more)

Report this review (#46493) | Posted by scouser14 | Tuesday, September 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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