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TWELFTH NIGHT

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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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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Buy TWELFTH NIGHT Music


SequencesSequences
Twelfth Night 2018
$17.32
$13.48 (used)
Night To RememberNight To Remember
Twelfth Night 2019
$22.57
$25.59 (used)
Live at the Target: Definitive EditionLive at the Target: Definitive Edition
Festival Records 2012
$19.95
$29.12 (used)
Live & Let LiveLive & Let Live
Festival Records 2012
$20.85
$22.99 (used)
Art & Illusion: Definitive EditionArt & Illusion: Definitive Edition
CD Baby 2010
$19.80
$29.91 (used)
Fact & FictionFact & Fiction
Festival Music/F2 2018
$21.53
$19.16 (used)
Smiling at Grief: The Definitive EditionSmiling at Grief: The Definitive Edition
Extra tracks · Special Edition
F2 Music 2009
$20.99
Voices In The NightVoices In The Night
Cyclops Records 2007
$193.03 (used)

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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)

2.90 | 50 ratings
Smiling At Grief
1982
4.01 | 154 ratings
Fact And Fiction
1982
2.75 | 49 ratings
Art & Illusion
1984
2.48 | 53 ratings
Twelfth Night XII [Aka: The Virgin Album]
1986

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

4.00 | 50 ratings
Live at the Target
1981
4.22 | 66 ratings
Live And Let Live
1984
3.22 | 17 ratings
Smiling At Grief...Live
2005
4.11 | 9 ratings
A Midsummer's Night Dream
2005
4.71 | 7 ratings
Corner of the World
2005
4.50 | 10 ratings
Live from London
2005
4.78 | 8 ratings
Entropy
2005
4.00 | 12 ratings
Flashbacks
2005
4.18 | 11 ratings
Night Vision: Art & Illusion Tour 1984
2005
4.13 | 16 ratings
MMX
2010
4.71 | 28 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
4.00 | 1 ratings
A Night To Remember Live At The Barbican 2012
2019

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

4.05 | 42 ratings
Collector's Item
1991
3.17 | 16 ratings
Voices In The Night
2007
4.00 | 7 ratings
Skan Demo/First Tape Album
2013

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

3.49 | 5 ratings
The First Tape Album
1980
3.13 | 5 ratings
Early Material (Second tape album)
1980
1.42 | 7 ratings
Shame
1986
4.93 | 8 ratings
Sequences
2018

TWELFTH NIGHT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Flashbacks by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 2005
4.00 | 12 ratings

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Flashbacks
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Let down at points by somewhat variable sound quality, this soundboard-derived live album offers a live set from the summer of 1983, arguably the peak of Geoff Mann's tenure in the band (with their appearance at the Reading Festival being an especially triumphant moment). Including two runthroughs of rare epic The Collector.

Though in terms of sound quality and song selection the latest expanded version of Live and Let Live has the edge on this (the lack of a Creepshow on here is a bit of an oversight), it's still a valuable live document of the band, especially compared to Smiling At Grief Live - here it's clear that Geoff has grown into the frontman role and seems more comfortable in it, and has a great connection with the audience.

It's as evident from his between-songs patter as it is from his lyrics that Mann's concerns in both the spiritual and social sphere are clearly important to him, even when he's addressing them with humour, so his later decision to follow his calling as a vicar isn't entirely surprising in retrospect, but he's also clearly having enough fun that it can't have been an easy call at the time.

Perhaps the most significant thing about this release is the contrast offered with Live and Let Live, an excellent live set where Mann's impending departure rather overshadows affairs. Here, there's no sign he's made that momentous decision yet and Twelfth Night sound like a band poised for the big time, with a sound that clearly situates them as siblings to Script-era Marillion and early Pallas. Fate would play its cards later on, but in this instance you could have believed that Twelfth Night, with Mann at the head, were about to conquer the universe.

 Fact And Fiction by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.01 | 154 ratings

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Fact And Fiction
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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.

 Smiling At Grief...Live by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 2005
3.22 | 17 ratings

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Smiling At Grief...Live
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a soundboard recording from the Smiling At Grief tour, and very much captures Twelfth Night as a band still trying to adjust from the shift from being an all-instrumental group to incorporating a vocalist. Geoff Mann does a decent job as the new boy, but the set list is clearly still being refined and developed, and the concert unfortunately suffers from a few technical hitches (such as Brian Devoil's snare drum giving out) which means they aren't at their best.

The mix is off at points as well - the major offender here being the version of Sequences, where Geoff's vocals too often overpower the instrumental backing. Still, it's interesting to see how deftly Geoff was able to create a really memorable lyric to go with what had previously been an instrumental number. (Oh, and the best guitar solo on Creepshow - that jagged, nightmarish one after Geoff yells "Amandaaaaaaaaa-ahahahaha!" - is almost inaudible in the mix here, which is nigh-unforgivable.)

This set is now available as the bonus disc on the Definitive Edition of Smiling At Grief, and that's perhaps the best way to appreciate it; it certainly doesn't outshine the demo tape, but it does offer a fun look at the material and is an interesting look at the band's evolutionary process.

 Entropy by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 2005
4.78 | 8 ratings

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Entropy
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Recorded on a brief tour the band undertook to promote the release of Live At the Target, this is a live tape whose sound quality is actually, in many respects, rather better than Live At the Target itself! You get alternate takes on all the material from there, plus additional instrumentals from the band's early phase at the same time, and whilst the soundboard tapes do have a few faults here and there, for the most part the sound quality is on a par with anything else the band had recorded up to this point, and often exceeds it.

If you had to pick only one Twelfth Night release to sum up the instrumental era of the band, I would go for this one, since you not only get the best of their instrumental material in a single set, but the band had also at this point become well-practiced at delivering this material, performing as a tight unit that was more than ready to take on the next stage of its evolution - which would occur once Geoff Mann joined the fold.

 Early Material (Second tape album) by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.13 | 5 ratings

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Early Material (Second tape album)
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The demo known as Early Material, the Second Tape Album, the Electra Tape or simply Twelfth Night hasn't been officially reissued by Twelfth Night recently, though all of the material on it is on recent-ish releases; the three vocal tracks are found on Voices On the Night, whilst the version of the instrumental Afghan Red from this demo showed up as a bonus track on the 2004 Cyclops rerelease of Live At the Target (though it's not on the current Definitive Edition release, leaving this version of the track rather orphaned when it comes to Twelfth Night's officially-purchaseable offerings).

The "Electra" in question was Electra McLeod, who would have a brief stint with Twelfth Night as vocalist in mid-to-late 1980. She doesn't really add much here, but that really doesn't seem to be her fault; the issue is that the band had originally recorded this material as instrumentals and simply had Electra record her vocals after the fact and tacked them on.

It's tricky enough to incorporate vocals into a composition which hasn't been set up to accommodate them; Geoff Mann managed it with Sequences (which had been an epic instrumental before he came up with an anti-war story to tell), but then the Mann-fronted performances of Sequences are arranged to accommodate the vocals, rather than simply adding his vocals into an arrangement that doesn't account for their presence. Worse still, the mix on the songs seems to be a little off, with Electra's vocals ending up somewhat buried.

On the whole, Electra and Twelfth Night don't seem to have been that good a fit with each other, and the tape kind of proves it, but it's a fun listen nonetheless.

 A Midsummer's Night Dream by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 2005
4.11 | 9 ratings

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A Midsummer's Night Dream
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It's fortunate that Twelfth Night, from an early stage in their history, were in the habit of taping their concerts from the soundboard so they could listen back to their performances and spot areas for improvement. It means that we have archival releases like this - a fantastic all-instrumental performance from somewhere between the recording of the First Tape Album demo and the short-lived Electra-fronted lineup of the band.

What you get here is an album much along the lines of Live At the Target, with a sound quality that's almost at that level bar for some glitches here and there. It's understandable that this should be the case when you are dealing with a tape which was originally recorded for the band's personal use and which has sat in an archive for a quarter of a century, but actually they did a fantastic job of tuning up the sound for this release.

It's evident at points that some trimming has been done to keep this release within the bounds of a single CD - much between-song patter seems to have disappeared and the album sort of fades in at the beginning and fades out at the end - but by and large, this archival release is a real revelation, exposing the atmosphere of a Twelfth Night gig in their home town right at the start of their career, before Geoff Mann, the Marquee scene, and the band's brief moment of major label glory came into the picture.

 Skan Demo/First Tape Album by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
4.00 | 7 ratings

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Skan Demo/First Tape Album
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Twelfth Night archival series put out in 2013 this compilation of the material from the band's first two demo tapes - so I may as well break down this one by the demos in question.

SKAN

Twelfth Night's first recorded output was this hyper-rare demo tape (now made available for all on a compilation with The First Tape Album) recorded in March 1979. The back cover notes on the rerelease offer us a little insight into the tape's origins - namely that, instead of using a professional studio, the band had hired out a PA system, set it up in an empty hall, and basically played the material live!

Presumably this was a test run to see if the equipment in question was up to the task of properly showcasing the nuances of their hard-edged instrumental prog in a live context, before putting on any actual shows - with the opportunity to get a demo on tape being a handy bonus. Whatever the intentions behind this process was, the output was the material caught here - and the PA system was hired from a company called "Skan" (still in operation and hiring out PAs for concerts and festivals!), which explains the title.

The sound quality is, as you might imagine from the recording process, a little rough but not as bad as you might think - it's not, say, on the level of a good-quality soundboard tape, but (aside from some spliced-in audience noise at the start) the lack of an audience means that there's no background chatter to get in the way and, to give Skan their due, the PA system actually seems to be pretty good.

Musically speaking, this early incarnation of Twelfth Night show themselves to be masters of dark, instrumental proto-neo-prog. Brian Devoil's drumming and Andy Revell's guitar work in particular demonstrates why the two of them have really been the core of the band over the years, with Devoil's intense rhythms and Revell's frenetic guitar lines creating an intense, paranoid atmosphere in the set's most gripping moments. There's stages where Revell's guitar almost seems to get into the sort of area which Steve Hillage had made his own and which Ozric Tentacles would emerge from in their early free festival days - if you swapped out those acts' warmth and good vibes for something altogether more paranoid. (The "bad trip" equivalent, in other words.)

One could imagine the band evolving from here in a more psychedelic direction, plugging away on the UK's free festival scene which had some overlap with the early neo-prog world. Mark Kelly, before joining Marillion, had been in Chemical Alice (a group which found its largest audiences on the free festival circuit), and IQ's Mike Holmes has speculated that had The Lens kept going rather than reconfiguring as IQ and moving into the nascent neo-prog scene, they'd have become stalwarts of the festival scene and taken onboard influences from that musical world (and the rave culture that evolved from it).

Trust Twelfth Night, though, to take their own path: rather than go all-in on that direction and adopting a sound suited to the post-hippy pre-rave culture ethos of free festivals, they stuck to their musical guns, eventually earned a regular headlining spot at the Marquee, and along with Marillion, Solstice, and Pallas ended up becoming the major headliners of the original neo-prog movement. At least as far as Twelfth Night goes, that story begins here, and this demo remains a compelling listen in its own right.

THE FIRST TAPE ALBUM

This is actually the second demo tape produced by Twelfth Night, after early release Skan, and indeed some of the material on its various configurations first had an airing on that demo; after a long time being extremely hard to legitimately acquire, the material finally saw a reissue on Twelfth Night's archival series in 2013. The two tracks unique to it are (Hats Off To) Freddie Hepburn and the first full-length version of Sequences (an abbreviated version of the song had appeared on Skan). Both are much of a muchness - instrumental, dark neo-prog with a hard-edged attitude and a pulsating rhythm section. The sound quality is decent by the standards of demo tapes of this era, not up to the quality of a professionally-made studio recording, but with material like this I find the lo-fi aesthetic helps more than it hurts.

 The First Tape Album  by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.49 | 5 ratings

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The First Tape Album
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is actually the second demo tape produced by Twelfth Night, after early release Skan, and indeed some of the material on its various configurations first had an airing on that demo; after a long time being extremely hard to legitimately acquire, the material finally saw a reissue on Twelfth Night's archival series in 2013. The two tracks unique to it are (Hats Off To) Freddie Hepburn and the first full-length version of Sequences (an abbreviated version of the song had appeared on Skan). Both are much of a muchness - instrumental, dark neo-prog with a hard-edged attitude and a pulsating rhythm section. The sound quality is decent by the standards of demo tapes of this era, not up to the quality of a professionally-made studio recording, but with material like this I find the lo-fi aesthetic helps more than it hurts.
 Sequences by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2018
4.93 | 8 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 | 50 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.

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

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