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Twelfth Night - Live and Let Live - The Definitive Edition CD (album) cover

LIVE AND LET LIVE - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION

Twelfth Night

 

Neo-Prog

4.71 | 27 ratings

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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.

Mr. Gone | 5/5 |

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