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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Twelfth Night - 1981 Live At The Target
 
Twelfth Night - 1981 Live At The Target



ARTIST: Twelfth Night
ALBUM: Live At The Target
LABEL: TN Records
SERIAL: TN-002
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2004, Cyclops Records, CYCL 140

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Andy Revell - guitars * Clive Mitten - bass * Brian Devoil - drums * Rick Battersby - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fur Helene * 02 After The Eclipse * 03 East To West * 04 Sequences * 05 Afghan Red (bonus) * 06 Hats Off To Freddie Harper (bonus) * 07 Encore En Fois (bonus)

WEBLINKS: www.twelfthnight.info


Background
Twelfth Night were a band ever evolving. After instrumental beginnings, they were joined by a female vocalist named Elektra. She recorded a two track single with the band ('The First 7' Album') and a demo cassette ('Twelfth Night' aka 'The Elektra Album'). While Elektra's input in the band should never be ignored, it is believed by some that the best songs dating from this time are 'Afghan Red' and 'Fur Helene' (both instrumental). Elektra's time as part of Twelfth Night was short, and afterwards, the band reverted to an instrumental outfit. 1981 can be seen as a high point in the band's early years. It yielded the release of this live album recorded at The Target pub, in Reading, England. It was a venue in the band's home town; a venue they'd played many times before, so it seemed to be the best place for the live album to be recorded. The band played there for two nights, though only the four songs recorded for the original live album release have survived. After a fairly bombastic intro, 'Fur Helene' turns at once atmospheric and then almost funky, balanced between some very rhythmic drumming and an excellent guitar riff, which is heavy on effects pedals. While it's still very proggy in its roots, the main part is definitely one of the more straight-ahead rock tunes from the early TN repertoire - at least to my ears. Using this piece as an opener, you can tell the band would have had everyone's attention from the off. And with that, it's time to bring out the big guns!


The Songs
'After The Eclipse', an early TN favourite, opens with a swirly keyboard riff, which now sounds a little dated, maybe even a little kitschy, as it reminds me of a theme tune for a sci-fi TV show from the 1970s! Brian's drumming is solid, although, heard in the 21st century, the amount of high-hat used pin-points the piece to being from the early 80s, despite it's 70s roots. As is often the case with early TN material, the solid foundation comes from Clive Mitten's excellent bass work. The faster section after the intro, showcases Twelfth Night as the solid outfit they were, before leading into another bass led section, which is darker in tone (a precursor to some of the music which accompanied Geoff Mann's sometimes bleak, but often humorous visions on 'Fact & Fiction' the following year). To round things off, the band reprise the main musical theme (still reminding me of old sci-fi) - great stuff. I still wonder how bits of this song may have sounded, had Geoff decided to add lyrics/vocal lines.

'East To West' is more of a slow-burner. The swirling keys and echoing guitars at the beginning echo 'Saucerful'-era Pink Floyd for me. As the drums kick in properly, it becomes a piece which a trademark early TN-sound. For the most part, it doesn't cover any new musical ground after 'Eclipse', but I personally really like the section starting at about four minutes in, which is just a keyboard loop played by Battersby, accompanied by Devoil's cymbals, first quietly then building, building, then quiet. As it returns to a full band arrangement, Revell adds a understated guitar solo, before the piece builds larger again towards a harder edged guitar solo and climax. Closing the original vinyl album's tracklisting and taking the whole of side two comes the TN tour-de-force 'Sequences'. A twenty minute monster, atmospherical with obvious musical strengths, it would go through many changes before ending up in the guise of its best known version on the 'Live At The Marquee' album.

That said, in a time before Geoff Mann and the monumental shout of 'Over the top we go', 'Sequences' managed to stand on its own two feet without the lyrical content. The high points for me include the guitar riff at three minutes, which is very reminiscent of Steve Hackett circa 1979 and the understated guitar/keyboard interplay which begins at around the seven minute mark - it creates the perfect build up before Andy Revell's furious guitar solo. Long time fans will know that 'Live At The Target' is worth owning for this early rendition of 'Sequences', just as the 'Live At The Marquee' recording captures an excellent later version. As there are no other surviving tapes from the 1981 'Target' gigs, no bonus live tracks could be included on the 2004 CD reissue. To make up for this, other recordings of songs which would have also been played at the Target on those nights are included (in their studio form), to give the listener the feeling of a 'complete' TN set list for gigs at that time: namely 'Afghan Red' (a studio track, originally from the previously mentioned 'Twelfth Night/Elektra' cassette), 'Hats Off To Freddie Harper' and 'Encore En Fois' (both released on 'The First Cassette Album' demo).

All of the bonus tracks are making their official debut on CD. Not being lucky enough to have ever owned those now extremely hard to find cassettes, their inclusion here is a welcome one indeed and marks the first time I've heard them for myself; I should imagine there are a few other people out there in the same boat. 'Afghan Red' begins with some very dreamy qualities, led by Clive Mitten's bass, before the track changes direction altogether, with an eastern sounding guitar riff alternating with hard rhythmic qualities. At the halfway point, the interplay within the band is stunning (such a shame a live version couldn't be heard). The second half is a little stranger - beginning with some atmosphere with reminds me of sections from Pink Floyd's 'Echoes', it then turns to what is effectively a keyboard solo against a rhythm guitar part followed by some upfront but not overplayed bass, before returning to the earlier eastern riff. It's easy to label music from the past as 'classic' as it often comes with memories of the time attached, helping the listener to 'rose tint' the experience as it were, but I can tell you, hearing 'Afghan Red' for the first time, it has aged very well and stands up as one of the best early TN recordings. I wish I could say the same for 'Freddie Hepburn'. Maybe it was one of the band's weaker pieces, or maybe it's because it comes after 'Afghan Red' on this CD, but I don't really get this one at all. The keyboards are unsettling, the guitars seem really low in the mix. The overall tune itself seems kind of thrown together.

Clive Mitten's bass playing is strong, but one good element isn't enough to stop this track being skipped on most listens. Lastly, as the title suggests, 'Encore Une Fois' was originally designed as an encore (although, I recall reading somewhere that it wasn't always played at the end of the set!). Owing to the archive nature of the original recording, the sound is a little rough around the edges, but I'm sure TN fans will welcome its inclusion here. It has many similar elements to other early TN pieces, but for me, where many of the previous high points centre around the keyboards and bass, like parts of 'Sequences', the real draw here is Andy Revell's guitar playing - edgy, occasionally aggressive. It's hard to imagine anything capturing an audiences attention after 'Sequences', but I imagine this tune would work fairly well to end an evening - at least by the end of 'Encore Une Fois', the ugliness of 'Freddie Hepburn' fades from memory.


In Summary
To be fair, although there's some good music to be heard here (and reviewing instrumental works is very difficult - I hope you can at least get some idea of what this album is about), this is a reissue which will be of most interest to the TN diehards. Those people with a more casual interest might still be better off checking out one of the other CD reissues available, if they haven't already done so. I'd suggest 'Fact & Fiction', or - for another great live recording - 'Live And Let Live (Live At The Marquee)'. Note: A few months after the original release of 'Live At The Target', Twelfth Night faced a much bigger audience at the Reading Festival, where they were very well received. Most of the set was played as an instrumental band, but for the last song ('Sequences', now with vocal sections), Geoff Mann made his first appearance as frontman. Twelfth Night were about to embark on what was, for a lot of people, the greatest part of their musical journey.


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Comments
#1 | Eric on December 18 2012 22:19:30
Recently picked up the 2-CD deluxe edition on F2 Music which is highly recommended. The Pink Floyd influence is everywhere, including the bonus disc.
 
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