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TWELFTH NIGHT

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Twelfth Night picture
Twelfth Night biography
Founded in Reading, England in 1978 - Disbanded in 1987 - Reformed between 2007-2012, and again in 2014

TWELFTH NIGHT emerged from the Andy Revell Band formed at Reading University, where in 1978 they won a talent competition. Geoff MANN was an artist friend of the band from the moment in 1977 that he knocked on Andy's door to find out what record Andy was listening to and discovered that it was just Andy playing guitar! The embryonic band consisted of Andy and Brian Devoil (drums), with Mr Rick Battersby managing the dry ice.

After Clive Mitten joined in 1979, TWELFTH NIGHT as a band were born and got straight down to the work of recording. A live LP followed several tapes and experiments with other musicians, including one Electra Mcleod who performed vocals for one tape only. A vocalist was needed - but where to get one? Many were auditioned - including Geoff, who also performed a gig or two with the band and wrote some words for "Sequences".

A successful series of gigs was followed by the band being booked for the Reading Festival - the first local Reading band to have achieved this in the history of the festival. After much deliberating, Geoff MANN, the backdrop painter became Geoff MANN the poet, lyricist and vocalist.

It's important to consider the musical, social and political climate of the late 1970s - early 1980s to get a handle on what TWELFTH NIGHT were about; The roots of the music lie mainly in Andy Revell's HACKETT/HILLAGE guitar sound, but GENESIS, early PINK FLOYD and WISHBONE ASH are the most obvious influences. It has been said that there is a punk element to TN, and while there is a certain amount of aggression, that energy comes more directly from NWOBHM than punk. MANN's vocal style and lyrics may be laced with anarchism, but they run a whole lot deeper than that - Geoff was a deep thinker and poet, and later became ordained. His words attack the idle non-thinking majority in a cajoling way, they attack the governments at a grass-roots level and they attack the nonsense of war - but also support the positive aspects of life, like love.

After MANN left (amicably) to join the church in 1983, a new era of TN started with Andy Sears as vocalist. TWELFTH NIGHT are still making music in one form or another - but it tends to be fitted around the day jobs. Sadly, Geoff died of cancer in 1993.
The "MANN-era" music will live on in prog as being something particularly special, as it goes several steps furt...
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Fact & FictionFact & Fiction
Cyclops Records 2002
$44.63 (used)
SequencesSequences
Twelfth Night 2018
$16.26
$15.00 (used)
Live at the Target: Definitive EditionLive at the Target: Definitive Edition
Festival Records 2012
$19.79
$29.51 (used)
Smiling at Grief: The Definitive EditionSmiling at Grief: The Definitive Edition
Extra tracks · Special Edition
F2 Music 2009
$20.99
$29.51 (used)
Art & Illusion: Definitive EditionArt & Illusion: Definitive Edition
CD Baby 2010
$19.80
Art & Illusion: Definitive Edition by Twelfth Night (2010-01-03)Art & Illusion: Definitive Edition by Twelfth Night (2010-01-03)
CD Baby
$54.22
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TWELFTH NIGHT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TWELFTH NIGHT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.58 | 49 ratings
Smiling At Grief
1982
3.93 | 146 ratings
Fact And Fiction
1982
2.73 | 46 ratings
Art & Illusion
1984
2.48 | 50 ratings
Twelfth Night XII [Aka: The Virgin Album]
1986

TWELFTH NIGHT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 48 ratings
Live at the Target
1981
4.22 | 64 ratings
Live And Let Live
1984
3.40 | 16 ratings
Smiling At Grief...Live
2005
4.38 | 8 ratings
A Midsummer's Night Dream
2005
4.71 | 7 ratings
Corner of the World
2005
4.50 | 10 ratings
Live from London
2005
4.14 | 7 ratings
Entropy
2005
4.00 | 11 ratings
Flashbacks
2005
4.20 | 10 ratings
Night Vision: Art & Illusion Tour 1984
2005
4.07 | 15 ratings
MMX
2010
4.72 | 26 ratings
Live and Let Live - The Definitive Edition
2012

TWELFTH NIGHT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.09 | 13 ratings
Live From London
2005
4.38 | 15 ratings
MMX (DVD)
2010

TWELFTH NIGHT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.04 | 41 ratings
Collector's Item
1991
3.15 | 15 ratings
Voices In The Night
2007
4.00 | 6 ratings
Skan Demo/First Tape Album
2013

TWELFTH NIGHT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 4 ratings
The First Tape Album
1980
3.67 | 3 ratings
Early Material (Second tape album)
1980
1.36 | 6 ratings
Shame
1986
4.92 | 7 ratings
Sequences
2018

TWELFTH NIGHT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sequences by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2018
4.92 | 7 ratings

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Sequences
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars The Armistice of 11th November 1918 ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany, and came into force at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. There have been a great many anniversary celebrations attended by world leaders (even in the rain), and many people have taken the opportunity to reflect. For the last twelve years I have lived in New Zealand, and in 1914 the population of the country was just over one million. In all, more than 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas and 18,000 died in or because of the war, and about 41,000 men were listed as wounded. The impact on New Zealand was seismic, with virtually every family affected.

"Sequences" was originally recorded in December 1979 when it was an instrumental, and was used for a while as a way of trying out new ideas (hence the title), before becoming a highlight of the 1981 album 'Live At The Target'. It was only with the arrival of a certain Edmund Geoffrey Mann as lead singer that the extended instrumental became instead a song with lyrics telling the story of a young man from Warrington volunteering for the army and signing up for the local South Lancashire Regiment. Geoff apparently drew on the experiences of his wife's grandfather, Jack Parham, who served in both wars (rising to the rank of Major General), and Geoff used to wear his uniform while performing this song. The ultimate version of the song was recorded during Geoff's farewell gigs at The Marquee, released as part of 'Live and Let Live'. The "talk" from the sergeant major is chilling, as is the one from the colonel, but for me it was always the blowing of the whistle and the "Alright boys, over the top we go!" which really brought it home as our brave lads went into no man's land.

This was one of those songs always associated with Geoff, and by the time the band originally folded they were no longer playing the full version. When Twelfth Night reformed in 2007 the song was again performed in its entirety with Andy Sears, then retired when guitarist Andy Revell was no longer in the band, and then brought back when Mark Spencer took on the lead vocal role. With the centenary of the end of the war approaching , it was felt that the time was right to finally record a full vocal studio version with all funds going to the Royal British Legion (a charity which provides lifelong support for the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, Reservists, veterans, and their families). Just to place some context around this release, I believe this is the first fully available studio recordings since 'The Virgin Album' in 1986 (although the band did reform to record "The Collector" for the 'Collector's Item' compilation and "Piccadilly Square for the 'Mannerisms' tribute).

Here, Andy Revell and Brian Devoil (drums) have joined forces just as they did in the Andy Revell Band, which pre-dated Twelfth Night, with Mark Spencer (Galahad) now providing vocals and multiple instrumentation, Dean Baker (Galahad, Coburg) piano and keyboards, and Andy Faulkner (Walking On Ice, Jump) bass, along with loads of other friends on backing vocals. Released in a digipak with a booklet, we have a newly recorded 25 minute version of "Sequences", an instrumental version of the same length, plus a ten minute version which contains interpretations of different sections of the song. The front cover shows a field full of poppies, with a greyed photo of soldiers going to war, while the rear cover is the same field with a young child playing. Without the sacrifices of the first, the second could not have happened. The CD itself features a poppy wreath, and when removed, the words to the 'Ode of Remembrance', taken from Laurence Binyon's poem, 'For the Fallen', are revealed.

The booklet contains the details behind all previous recordings, plus all the lyrics, and plenty more photos. The whole thing is incredibly emotional, and that is even before the CD is put in the player! Although Mark has a similar vocal style to Geoff, he will never be the Mann, and it is fitting that they kept Geoff's original sergeant major's pep talk. Musically there are sections that have been extended, some which apparently have been reinstated, so that musically it is longer than the famed seventeen minute version which is on 'Live And Let Live'. For me it is the use of acoustic guitar, strings, and additional keyboards that really made this stand out, while Dean's piano in the final song is poignant, delicate, and completely fitting.

Any Twelfth Night fan will have sent off their money as soon as the note came out that this was being released, yet apparently there are still some available according to the note I saw from Brian today. This is a one-off, a re-recording of one of the greatest epics ever within the progressive rock music canon, and all proceeds go to charity. What are you waiting for? If you have already purchased this then you have in your collection not only a wonderful piece of music, but also a tribute not only to those who sacrificed themselves for our liberty in the Great War, but also a tribute to Geoff Mann who will always be associated with this. If you haven't, then get over to twelfthnight.info and correct your oversight, as if ever something was truly essential for so many reasons, not just musical, then this is it.

 Live at the Target by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 1981
4.00 | 48 ratings

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Live at the Target
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The late 70s was in some ways more bizarre than what occurred in the music world within the decade prior. While rock and roll had morphed into all kinds of experimental branches including the hugely prolific progressive rock world, it didn't take long for established paradigms to gel and create distinct subgenera that would loosely define entire slivers of prog and how other bands that jumped into the scene would structure their compositions. However once the punk scene unfolded it completely shattered the status quo into a gazillion splinters from which the prog world would never quite recover but perhaps its greatest contribution to the music world was that it gave permission for new styles of music to mix and meld with the elements that came before.

While prog may have diminished in overall popularity, prog traits were being implemented in all kinds of ways. Post-punk was adopting Krautrock surreality as heard by bands like Chrome. Heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon were borrowing the fantasy themes that were once relegated to prog alone and improvisation, jazz and classical features were popping up all over the place such as new wave, no wave and post-punk as well. Even the Talking Heads implemented spastic avant-prog touches and a plethora of crossover prog emerged as well as pop bands that once contained prog musicians such as Asia, the new Genesis, Peter Gabriel and the updated versions of King Crimson and Yes.

However, some bands that were up and coming in the 80s did things the other way around. While the 80s saw the decline of the 70s prog scene, it did see a revival of sort in the form of the synthesizer based neo-progressive rock that took the symphonic offerings of 70s Genesis and Camel, the space rock elements of Pink Floyd and a touch of more electric bands like Van Der Graaf Generator and The Enid. TWELFTH NIGHT relaunched prog in an unmistakable 80s style with updated digital synthesizers replacing Moogs and mellotrons, less emphasis on conceptual albums and outlandish lengthy compositions that excelled in ethereal otherworldliness that focused more on fantasy worlds that provided escapism.

One of the first bands to initiate the neo-prog scene was England's own TWELFTH NIGHT that took its name after the Shakespeare play and followed the updated playbook of mixing and melding elements of the past music scene with the present only in this case, the exact opposite of the post-punk explosion. The band was formed in 1978 when guitarist Andy Reveal and drummer Brian Devoil found common ground with an interest in the symphonic brand of 70s prog which they brought up to date with newer 80s technology. While starting out as the rather uninspiring Andy Reveil Band, they quickly changed the moniker to TWELFTH NIGHT and in the ensuing decades has become associated as one of the very first neo-prog bands that kick started a whole new generation of progressive rock.

While starting out as an instrumental band, TWELFTH NIGHT released a few demos but decided they really wanted a vocalist. After advertising in Melody Magazine they found promise in an American singer named Electra MacLeod who added lyrics to priorly crafted instrumentals and sang on the second cassette album titled "Early Material" or simply "Second Tape Album." Unfortunately things didn't work out so well so the band found itself without a vocalist for live gigs. Having been accustomed to instrumental only compositions, TWELFTH NIGHT continued forth without a vocalist and released their first album in the form of LIVE AT THE TARGET which finds this sophisticated synthesized music being performed in a pub setting. Now why don't this play this kind of stuff in the pubs in the US?

TWELFTH NIGHT have earned the Foghat effect within the neo-prog universe in the fact that this debut LIVE album has become legendary and somewhat eclipses their studio albums that follow. While the production isn't absolutely perfect due to its rather tenuous venue setting, the music on this one is pure magic with five stunning tracks that take all the progressive influences of Genesis and Pink Floyd amongst others and mix and meld them into stunning works of art that sound very much like they were construed in the 80s without sounding one bit cheesy. By this time the band had become a quartet with Clive Mitten joining in for bass, keyboards and classical guitar and Rick Battersby as keyboardist. Devoil plays drums and Reveal handles both electric and acoustic guitars.

LIVE AT THE TARGET is quite the stunning piece of early neo-prog and one of the few examples in the entire sub that eschews the almost ubiquitous emotional tugs delivered through dramatic lyrics and theatrical performances. Despite this vocaless experience TWELFTH NIGHT does establish a new paradigm that would launch the entire neo-prog scene in that it crafts carefully construed compositions that have a solidly composed form with heavy emphasis on clean melodic guitar solos and multiple keyboards runs that provide a multitude of counterpoints. There are also elements of funk grooves and hard rock guitar outbursts especially towards the end of performance with the album's highlight "Sequences." The compositions are quite dramatic in how they meander through different mood building suites despite not being listed as such.

This LIVE album came from the tour that put TWELFTH NIGHT on the map at least in the inner circles of the prog world that never abandoned the ideals of what the genre had to offer and on this tour the band would play at some of the biggest venues such as the Marquee Club in London. This particular album was recorded over a two day period on 15 and 16 of January 1981 at THE TARGET in Reading, England (the band's home turf) and delivered such strong performances that this is the gig that prompted Pinnacle Records market the band to both sides of the spectrum including the heavy metal world as well as the more psychedelic space rock world as both moods can be experienced within its run. LIVE AT THE TARGET is an excellent launching pad of the entire neo-prog universe that would soon be followed by bands like Marillion, Pendragon, Quasar and more. A deluxe edition reissue almost doubles the playing time with nine extra tracks.

 Live And Let Live  by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 1984
4.22 | 64 ratings

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Live And Let Live
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

5 stars "Lebensraum for megalomaniacs" (We Are Sane - Twelfth Night)

This line was written in 1982 by the late Geoff Mann, how actual!

In the first part of The Eighties the 'new British progressive rock movement' started to blossem (with the London Marquee as the beating heart), speerheaded by Marillion and in their slipstream formations like IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Abel Ganz, Solstice and, last not but least, Twelfth Night. They were 'a bit different', to say the least. In 2010 I did an interview with Brian Devoil and Andy Sears (they had just re-founded Twelfth Night and released the 2-CD and 2-DVD album MMX) and finally I got my chance to ask about their personal musical taste. And how the press did their best to pigeonhole their unique sound in the Eighties. Well, about the personal taste of the Twelfth Night members, according to Brian and Andy "this ranged from U2, Simple Minds and The Cure to early Queen and punk". And they quoted fellow Twelfth Night member Clive Mitten who said "that he wanted to sound as a cross between Van Halen and Frankie Goes To Hollywood!". Brian and Andy remembered that the press often compared them with Roxy Music, but also named Twelfth Night "the Duran Duran of the prog". Reading these words you can imagine why Twelfth Night sounds ' a bit different'.

This review is about the live album Live And Let Live that was recorded on November the 4th and 5th, 1983, in the legendary London music temple the Marquee Club. It was the farewell gig from their charismatic singer and frontman Geoff Mann, he had decided to go solo. In February 1993 he died, due to cancer, this review is dedicated to this wonderful and creative human being.

1. The Ceiling Speaks (8:26) : The atmosphere alternates between a mid-tempo, slow downs and bombastic outburst, embellished with powerful guitarwork, catchy synthesizer flights and Geoff Mann his distinctive emotional voice.

2. The End Of The Endless Majority (3:18) : A wonderful instrumental track that features a duet between the acoustic Ovation guitar (flageolets and twanging) and sensitive electric guitar play. In the end a surprising accellaration with propulsive rhythm guitar and howling electric guitar runs. It sounds unique, subtle and fragile, and showcases the strong compositional skills of the band.

3. We Are Sane (12:04) : This is a typical Twelfth Night longer track that blends Seventies symphonic rock elements with the Eighties New Wave sound, unique. The intro contains a cynical combination of "bla bla bla" and words like "unemployment'" and "the enemy" by Geoff Mann. Then soaring strings and high pichted, soprano-like vocals, gradually the music becomes more lush with wonderful volume pedal electric guitar play and Geoff his cynical voice. Suddenly a bombastic outburst featuring distorted guitar and fat synthesizer sounds. In the second part the music alternates between dreamy, catchy up-tempo and bombastic. This is wonderfully coloured with howling electric guitar runs, a deep Moog Tauras bass pedal sound, topped by Geoff his outstanding vocals, from tender to powerful. In the end Geoff theatrically shouts WE ARE SANE, then a short bombastic outburst, what an exciting and compelling music!

4. Fact And Fiction (5:27) : Another intro with spoken words by Geoff, this time a parody on politicians, "we are the fact and they are the fiction". Then a tight up-tempo beat with tasteful and varied keyboard work, topped with powerful vocals, "don't make me laugh, haha" Geoff sings with that distinctive cynical undertone.

5. The Poet Sniffs A Flower (4:03) : The other instrumental, starting with soaring keyboards, twanging electric guitar, then wonderfully build up to a fluent rhythm featuring dynamic interplay and howling electric guitar runs, how exciting!

6. Sequences (17:14) : Originally an instrumental, Geoff re-wrote it, fitted lyrics into it and the new version became 'a classic'. It's Twelfth Night their 'magnum opus', their answer to Supper's Ready, Karn Evil 9, Close To The Edge, Echoes, Grendel, but different. We can enjoy lots of shifting moods, from dreamy to up-tempo and bombastic, in the symphonic rock tradition. But the unique colouring with the guitar and keyboards is the Twelfth Night trademark: from flashy flights on the Moog Prodigy (the 'poor man's Minimoog') to biting wah-wah drenched guitar soli ,and from soaring strings to propulsive guitar riffs, often accompanied by the clapping cheerful crowd. And topped with Geoff his powerful and emotional vocals, with some exciting theatrical outbursts. In the end a short sumptuous eruption, with a pumping bass, tight drum beats and sensitive electric guitar play. "Seventies symphonic rock meets Eighties New Wave", Twelfth Night their trademark, here in its full splendour.

7. Creepshow (12:06) : This is Twelfth NIght their most unique and captivating composition with great lyrics, vocals and musical ideas. First a dreamy climate with tender keyboard runs, subtle electric guitar play and Geoff his distinctive voice. Then lots of shifting moods, coloured with Moog synthesizer flights, inventive guitar work (including the 'hammering' sound) and dominant bass runs. Geoff delivers lots of vocal ideas, theatrical, powerful and especially the part with spoken words is very compelling. Finally a bombastic atmosphere with moving guitar, loaded with howling runs, supported by sumptuous keyboards, this is 24-carat symphonic rock, but different, goose bumps!

8. East Of Eden (5:14) : This is a basically a straightforward rock song with a tight beat, but wonderfully embellished with tasteful keyboards, cynical vocals and in the end again a moving guitar solo with howling runs.

9. Love Song (8:29) : The lyrics in this beautiful, very emotional and compelling composition are rooted in Geoff his religious ideas, he liked to spread the words of Jesus that we should love each other. Because "jealousy is such a parasite, hatred a disease" he sings. The music matches perfectly with these words: first dreamy with tender vocals, twanging guitars and soaring keyboards, then a slow beat featuring wonderful volume pedal driven electric guitar and finally bombastic with very moving guitar work. Goose bumps, wet eyes, community singing, what a great atmosphere in this final track, Geoff his final contribution, and perhaps his best!

For me this is one of the masterpieces of the new British progressive rock movement, far away from those Nineties Neo Prog bands like Shadowland, Everon and Arena with their polished and predictable sound. Here it's variety, adventure, emotion, lyrics and ideas in an unique meeting between the worlds of Seventies symphonic rock and Eighties New Wave, highly recommended!

 Fact And Fiction by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.93 | 146 ratings

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Fact And Fiction
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Trollheart

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 many, it's sadly true, and as far as studio albums go this was their first. It should have led to a glittering string of successes alongside the likes of Marillion, IQ and Pallas, but it doesn't seem to have worked out for them, which is a real pity.

First track, "We are sane" is a savagely satirical attack on society, starting with of all things a choirboy-like aria which then turns into a series of spoken snippets, like extracts from studies "If the thought processes of an individual/ Can be permanently limited to the point of strict conformity/ To an outside source of thought/ The said individual need no longer/ Be considered as such/ The enforcement of order becomes possible/ For anyone with enough power/ To control what is projected". In the background someone can be heard saying "Would you file this please Mary?" The song gets faster and a robotic voice declares "Technician we want you to build a component/ For each of our workers, to be with them always/ At all times watch closely so we can keep track of/ Their actions, their interests, their morals, their time out/ Some muzak to maim them some fear to contain them/ Policy will judge them brute forces degrade them./ Practical behaviour, the cleanser the saviour /A private vocation has no sense of nation/ The maintenance of power can be fulfilling /Just as long as all the slaves are willing." Andy Revell goes a bit mad with the guitar here, fitting the title of the song, while Geoff Mann sings and declaims like Waters on The Wall at his most fanatical.

"Human being" is a great little song too, very Marillion-like in its structure, another warning of dehumanisation, with great keyboards from Clive Mitten, a cool little bass solo from him too, and impressive drums from Brian DeVoil. Another great guitar solo as Revell's fingers fly up and down the fretboard . It's so sad that a voice like Geoff Mann's was taken from us. Although he cut ties with Twelfth Night in 1983 to pursue a career in the church, and recorded some spiritual albums, he was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1993. A tragic loss. Twelfth night carried on with Andy Revell as singer, though I have not yet heard any albums with him singing.

"This city" is a dark ballad, conjuring up images of windblown streets with houses looking out over them with broken windows like sightless eyes. It's pretty keyboard driven, and Mitten does great work here, though in fairness it's very hard to get away from the possessing and imposing voice of Mann, who bestrides each song like a colossus. We get a chance to hear Twelfth Night without him though on the next track, "World without end", which is a very short instrumental carried again on keys, almost church-like in its execution, but very effective. The title track is a boppy, uptempo number with again dark and satirical messages: "If you listen carefully/ You can hear the bacon fly!" It's another keyboard-led song, with a fine line in bass, a relatively simple drumbeat all that's needed to keep it on track. The keyboard hook is very commercial, and if it wasn't for the deep lyric this could have been a hit single. Ah, the usual problem. Oh well, "If the unthinkable should happen/ And you hear the siren's call/ Well you can always find some shelter/ Behind a door, against a wall." Indeed. And don't forget to lie down so the nuclear blast goes OVER you, children...

"The poet sniffs a flower" is a great little instrumental, which starts slowly, with a lovely little acoustic guitar (I believe it may be classical guitar?) melody with keyboard backing and then the drums pump in slowly, but halfway through it speeds up and gallops to the end in a very Duke way. The drums pick up and Andy Revell drops his acoustic and picks up his electric guitar to take the song to its ending.

And so we come to the opus on the album, the almost twelve-minute-long "Creepshow". It's a multi-layered piece, featuring a slow, acoustic opening and seems to centre on the idea of a sanitarium being used as a sideshow, as Mann welcomes visitors. "Welcome, welcome, first today to see the Creepshow/ Come see the exhibits/ But do not touch/ They cannot bear touch in the Creepshow." It's a disquieting lyric, accompanied by suitably spooky music and truly inspired singing by Mann, which just teeters at the edge of insanity. The guy's range was truly scary! No pun intended. I think.

It's a very unsettling song, and you can feel yourself, despite your fear, being dragged into the creepshow, tagging along with all the other watchers, observing with horror but also terrified interest the freaks and experiments housed here. Eventually we come to "The nerve centre of the whole affair/ As you will see, it is a mirror/ To some it is the mirror of dreams/ Where every passion, desire and action/ Flit through the still spaces behind its surface/ Tantalising yet distant/ Of these, many stand before it until death." The song ends with a dire warning: "If you come again/ You'd better bring your ball and chain/ Another embittered attraction/ Of the Creepshow!" Brrr! Gives me chills, it does! Ending on a guitar solo worthy of "Comfortably numb", this is one monster (literally) of a track!

After all the weirdness, horror and unease of "Creepshow", the album ends in a much gentler fashion, with a gorgeous little song of hope, entitled simply "Love song". Revell accompanies Mann on acoustic guitar, and you can hear the beginnings of the singer's religious conversion in the lyric: "If you feel that your hoping heart/ Has led you into pain/ Take a tip from the Carpenter/ Forgive and love again." After all the convoluted lyrics, themes and concepts throughout the album it's quite amazing, refreshing and clever that Twelfth Night close Fact and Fiction with the simplest of sentiments: as Bill and Ted once said, be excellent to each other. Can't argue with that.

If you're a prog fan and have not yet heard Twelfth Night, take my advice and do so now, and lose yourself in a band who should have lasted far longer.

 Live And Let Live  by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 1984
4.22 | 64 ratings

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Live And Let Live
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars While neo-prog was just emerging in the middle of the 80's, TWELFTH NIGHT had already released two live opus. The second one, "Live and Let Live" is named after its catalog reference, TN007. The number inspired a pun with "Live and Let Die", the first James Bond movie starring Roger Moore (and Paul McCartney & Wings' cult title track).

This release marks Geoff Mann's departure from the band, as it captures his very last shows with TWELFTH NIGHT at the legendary Marquee club in London. The album initially included only the 6 first tracks, recorded 4th November 1983, except "We Are Sane", recorded 5th November 1983. The 1993 reissue added three bonus tracks, recorded 5th November 1983. The least we can say is that the vocalist delivers here an emotional and stunning performance. Mann is even more theatrical than on "Fact and Fiction"!

Let's talk about the novelties first. Opening like some kind of somber ritual, "The Ceiling Speaks" is a powerful neo-prog track with a gothic feel and epic moments. Great, although not as varied as "We Are Sane". The instrumental "The End Of The Endless Majority" is touching and beautiful, with Andy Revell's delicate and spacey guitar play. Contrarily to these two previously unreleased tracks, "Sequences" was already featured in "Live at the Target", however only in an instrumental version. The vocals were added after, which is pretty rather unusual, and the song has been shortened to 16 minutes. The result tastes a little different with Geoff Mann's protest and smooth singing, but still very nice. Now included as a bonus track on "Fact and Fiction", "East Of Eden" is quite rageous and even possesses metallic accents at times. The other songs all come from "Fact and Fiction", which means they're very good too. Their live rendition offers a reasonable amount of emphasis, like "Love Song", extended to 8 minutes, while staying faithful to the studio version.

The only negative points I would mention is the quality, not always perfect, and the spoken introductions at the beginning of most songs. Nonetheless, I'm not too fan of the narrative interludes in general, they tend to break the ambiance for me.

That said, "Live and Let Die" is simply one of the best neo-progressive live records - even for those who don't like neo-prog - and TWELFTH NIGHT's most successful album. The last piece of the holy trilogy, with "Live at the Target" and "Fact and Fiction". Great for newcomers too.

An unique signer says his farewell to an incredibly creative band. The end of an era...

 Fact And Fiction by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.93 | 146 ratings

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Fact And Fiction
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

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...

 Live at the Target by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 1981
4.00 | 48 ratings

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Live at the Target
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Unique instrumental neo-space prog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Live and Let Live - The Definitive Edition by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 2012
4.72 | 26 ratings

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Live and Let Live - The Definitive Edition
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Mr. Gone

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.

 Skan Demo/First Tape Album by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
4.00 | 6 ratings

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Skan Demo/First Tape Album
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars If ever there was an underground progressive rock band who should have really made the big time then surely it must be Twelfth Night. Through many different factors, not all of them of their own making, they released just four full-length studio albums during their career, along with a couple of live albums plus some long-deleted and not available cassettes. However, due to the increased interest in the prog scene in general, and TN in particular there have been quite a few compilations and live archive releases released under the watchful eye of Bran Devoil, and there has even been a reunions and some gigs! But, what I am playing now is another of the Archive releases, and one of incredible importance to fans as it contains the very first demo from the band, the legendary 'SKAN' recordings when the band were just a trio, plus two songs from, the 'First Tape' album which was released later the same year (1979) when Rick had joined on keyboards.

Listening to these songs makes one realize just what incredible musicians these guys were, and also what a huge influence they must have been on Ozric Tentacles as "Fur Helene II" could easily have come from those guys. The songs themselves, albeit recorded in a studio, were actually 'live' with little in the way of overdubs and were normally first or second take. Andy is an incredible guitarist, while Clive was never content just to provide solid backing and also wanted to be in on the melody which left Brian at the back trying to hold everything together and ensuring that they all kept on track. The sound is really good, especially considering this was an unsigned band recording some 35 years ago, and certainly doesn't sound dated. But, this is an album that while not exactly the one I would recommend as an introduction to the band (their best studio album is 'Fact and Fiction', live is 'Live and Let Live') it is something that even those who don't know the band will enjoy as the swirling complex musical motifs move in the air to create something that is incredibly beguiling, compelling and entrancing.

But, if you are a fan of the band then you will recognise sections of songs that later on became parts of others, and having two versions of "Sequences" is always a good thing. I have to confess that each time I hear the early instrumental versions I still 'hear' Geoff singing over the top. To take such a monumental instrumental number (one version here is nearly eighteen minutes long) and add lyrics to it in a way that makes it seem that it was always meant to be hard that way is an incredible achievement.

I have been a fan of the band for years, but had not heard these versions until now and it is wonderful to have them widely available once again. www.twelfthnight.info

 Fact And Fiction by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.93 | 146 ratings

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Fact And Fiction
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

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

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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