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Twelfth Night - Collector's Item CD (album) cover


Twelfth Night



4.04 | 43 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This little curiosity is really halfway between being a Twelfth Night compilation and a Twelfth Night reunion album. You see, whilst most of the tracks on here (the exact proportions changing from edition to edition as the track listing gets fiddled with by successive record companies) constitute a sort of best-of for the band's Geoff Mann and Andy Sears-fronted periods - including the odd rarity, like the B-side Blondon Fair (perhaps the best song the Andy Sears-fronted version of the band ever recorded, though Counterpoint from Art & Illusion gives it a run for its money) - that isn't the really exciting thing about this release.

You see, back in 1988 Geoff Mann and the other former members of Twelfth Night - which had by this point disbanded in the wake of the disappointing XII album - were enjoying one of their regular group phone calls and reminiscing about old times, and the subject of The Collector came up. This was an epic song from the Mann era of Twelfth Night, and combined perhaps their most advanced collection of musical ideas with what may well have been Geoff Mann's best lyrical concept ever - a miser on his deathbed, reminiscing about his life and pondering whether his relentless accumulation of material wealth and power was actually worth it in the end, a compelling story of profound philosophical interest even if you didn't necessarily share Geoff's Christian interpretation of the subject. (I think the lyrics work so well in part because even if Geoff's conclusions on the matter were rooted in his faith, his portrayal of the central character in the song rings true and doesn't depend on that - and the concept that "Heaven is not for sale" is perhaps something all can agree on, even if they have different interpretations of what that means.)

The Collector had enjoyed a few live airings in the late Mann era - indeed, Twelfth Night's archival live releases have captured a few of these, with two versions appearing on the Flashbacks release and another appearing on the 2CD "Definitive Edition" of Live and Let Live. Geoff and the gang felt that it was a bit of a shame that they'd never nailed it in the studio, however - and rather than idly regret "the one that got away", they decided to get together for a bit of studio time (which also yielded a new version of Love Song, compiled here) in order to finally nail that sucker.

And nail it they did: not only is The Collector a major pillar of this compilation, but this studio version of it is also by far the best rendition available - and set next to the other material here, it's readily apparent that it was well worth the effort to produce this studio version of it, since it may well be Twelfth Night's greatest artistic accomplishment.

It's a bit of a shame, then, that this compilation should currently be out of print. Doubtless rights issues are involved, since the band have otherwise done a sterling job of recent years of ensuring that their material is available. Sure, most of the material on here is available elsewhere in some form or another - but it still seems like a shame that this one studio version of The Collector, easily the definitive rendition of the song, should be commercially unavailable at present.

Warthur | 4/5 |


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