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Articles Home » 1991 Articles » Twelfth Night - 1991 Collectors Item
Twelfth Night - 1991 Collectors Item

ARTIST: Twelfth Night
ALBUM: Collectors Item
LABEL: Music For Nations/Food For Thought
YEAR: 1991
CD REISSUE: 2001, Cyclops Records, CYCL-102


LINEUP: Geoff Mann - vocals, tape effects, squeaky toys and assorted noises * Brian Devoil - drums, percussion * Clive Mitten - bass, keyboards, classical guitar * Andy Revell - guitars, keyboards * Rick Battersby - keyboards * Andy Sears - vocals, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Ceiling Speaks * 02 Deep In The Heartland * 03 We Are Sane * 04 Art And Illusions * 05 First New Day * 06 Take A Look * 07 Last Song * 08 Blondon Fair * 09 The Collector * 10 Love Song


Over the course of their career, Twelfth Night recorded some damn fine music. Their albums are held in very high regard by fans of the 80s progressive rock movement, and in a live setting, the band were legendary, playing to sell out crowds at London's Marquee Club on several occasions. Over the years, Twelfth Night's recorded output has become increasingly hard to find, but thanks to a reissue programme in conjunction with the people at Cyclops, some CD reissues make the some of the band's albums easier to find. This 'Collectors Item' compilation was previously released on the Music For Nations label in the 1990s and is an excellent overview of Twelfth Night's musical legacy.

The Songs
Featuring tracks from both the Geoff Mann era (the classic 'We Are Sane' from 1982's 'Fact And Fiction') and the Andy Sears years (tracks from 'Art & Illusion' and 'Twelfth Night'), this is required listening for all progressive rock fans. However, it's the inclusion of some previously unreleased tracks and a hard to find b-side which make 'Collectors Item' an essential collection filler. The b-side is 'Blondon Fair', the last track recorded with Andy Sears, which previously found it's way onto the flip side of the 'Take A Look (part 4)' single. For those of you who have never heard it, it's darker than some of TN's Sears era stuff, but still remains at the lighter end of the prog scale. The driving force here is Clive Mitten's solid bassline, which dominates the track. It may be quite lightweight in prog terms, but the dark atmosphere running through it ensures it's not all throwaway. In fact, in my opinion, it features one of Andy's best vocal performances. It was far too good to have been stuck on a b-side first time around.

The four previously unreleased tracks all feature Geoff on vocals. The first two date from 1983 and were demos recorded for CBS who had shown interest in signing the band at that point. 'The Ceiling Speaks' is a great track, with good qualities in the rhythm department, coupled with a memorable keyboard riff - all the hallmarks of a classic piece of 80s prog. Unlike so many other progressive rock songs at the time, it's an easily digestible length and also has a chorus, which is always a good thing. The version here is the only studio cut of this song, as at the end of 1983 Geoff left the band and a follow up to 'Fact And Fiction' was put on hold. However, the song was played at Geoff's Marquee gigs with TN at the end of the year. The 'Live And Let Live' live album contains recordings from those farewell gigs. 'Deep In The Heartland' has a spikier arrangement, less urgent than the band's usual approach. From a musical point of view, personally, I don't find it as exciting as 'Ceiling', but on the plus side, it does feature a good vocal from Geoff, not too far removed from the approach used on A Geoff Mann Band's 'Loud Symbols album reviewed elsewhere on GDAZE. Those with a keen ear might spot musical ideas which eventually resurfaced as part of 'Blondin Fair'.

The other two unreleased tracks are from the band's 1990 reunion with Geoff. The nineteen minutes long 'The Collector' I think features TN on top form, they sound like a tighter musical unit than ever before. It's majestic, quirky and complex without self indulgence and there's enough musical variety here to satisfy even the most difficult prog fans. For me, the solo at the 5 minute mark is one of the high points, followed closely by Andy Revell's superb guitar solo at 9 minutes, not to mention Clive Mitten's bass work. As Geoff Mann takes us into the mind of a seemingly dislikable child, the band's sense of humour comes to the fore. Worth the price of admission alone. 'Love Song' is a re-recording of the closing number from 'Fact And Fiction'. It's easy to hear on comparison, how much the band have improved musically during the intervening years. Mann's voice is much stronger too. A fitting tribute, then, that TN's last studio recording should be a re-working of an old favourite. Many people speculated whether the reunion would lead to something more permanent, but sadly it wasn't to be, as Geoff Mann passed away in 1993. A sad loss to the progressive rock world.

My only small quibble about this 'Collectors Item' is that it doesn't contain any of the band's really early recordings from the 'Twelfth Night' and 'Smiling At Grief' cassettes, or the instrumental 'Live At The Target' LP. You can't have everything, as they say, but with Cyclops hard at work on their TN re-issue programme, maybe the early stuff might see the light of day again in the future. You never know. Still, at over 77 minutes, there's more than enough here to interest both long-time fans and the curious, and with unreleased material which is easily as good as the previously available stuff you can't go wrong.

In Summary
Note: This version of 'Collectors Item' has a slightly different track listing to the one previously available on MFN. The MFN CD features 'Sequences (live)' from the 'Live And Let Live' live album in place of 'The Last Song', 'The Ceiling Speaks' and 'Deep In The Heartland'. With 'Live And Let Live' available on CD now, this Cyclops version is far more essential for collectors as 'Ceiling' and 'Heartland' are unavailable elsewhere and 'Last Song' is currently unavailable on CD.

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