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Twelfth Night - 1986 Twelfth Night

ARTIST: Twelfth Night
ALBUM: Twelfth Night
LABEL: Virgin/Charisma
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2005, Virgin, 0946 3 31444 2 2


LINEUP: Andy Sears - lead vocals * Andy Revell - guitars * Rick Battersby - keyboards * Clive Mitten - bass * Brian Devoil - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Last Song * 02 Pressure * 03 Jungle * 04 The Craft * 05 Blue Powder Monkey * 06 Theatre * 07 Shame * 08 This Is War * 09 Take A Look


Twelfth Night's signing to Virgin Records was long in the making and in hindsight, short on results. As one of the hardest working bands of the initial British neo-progressive movement, the planets never quite aligned for Twelfth Night the way they did for IQ, Pallas and of course Marillion who had already made a name for themselves on the world stage. With the Virgin deal it looked like Twelfth Night's time had finally come, but as the saying goes 'careful what you wish for'. Major labels are notoriously boneheaded as we are all painfully aware of and Virgin was no exception. For some reason, the label failed to give the album a title which understandably sent the band into a fit, adding insult to injury by doing next to zero in the promotion department. It was all too much for vocalist Andy Sears and bassist Clive Mitten who left the band discouraged and in turn, Twelfth Night was no more but can the record label really be held to blame?

The Songs
I don't think so. As much as I love the early albums of Twelfth Night, they were never the most marketable band of their ilk. I know talking about progressive rock in commercial terms is a cardinal sin for many fans of the genre, but grow up people - musicians have to eat and pay the bills just like everyone else, it's just that some are able to figure this out before they wind up living in their cars on a diet of Fritos and warm soda. Unfortunately, in an attempt to appeal to a wider base, a little too much of Twelfth Night's progressive past and identity is lost on this album. It's striking and just a little scary just how much Andy Sears sounds like Simon LeBon, with little indication on the band's previous album 'Art And Illusion' that becoming the next Duran Duran was Twelfth Night's goal, but if that was the case they should have at least figured out how LeBon & company achieved their commercial sucsess - writing hit singles of which there aren't any to speak of. Overall the album is repetitive and wholly unoriginal and while Virgin released 'Take A Look' in a shortened version as a single, the song is without a necessary hook and I don't think the label or radio stations had much to work with, album included.

In Summary
Often referred to as 'The Virgin Album' or 'XII' by fans, in 2005 this record was released on CD with a brace of bonus tracks. A glutton for punishment, I recently bought the disc hoping with the passage of time I might hear something different or view the album in another light. What a waste of money that was.

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