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Articles Home » 1982 Articles » Twelfth Night - 1982 Fact And Fiction
Twelfth Night - 1982 Fact And Fiction

ARTIST: Twelfth Night
ALBUM: Fact And Fiction
LABEL: TN Records
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 2002, Cyclops Records, CYCL-113


LINEUP: Geoff Mann - vocals, tape effects * Andy Revell - acoustic and electric guitars * Clive Mitten - bass, keyboards, classical guitar * Brian Devoil - drums, percussion, typewriter

TRACK LISTING: 01 We Are Sane: Te Dium; We Are Sane; Dictator's Excuse Me * 02 Human Being * 03 This City * 04 World Without End * 05 Fact And Fiction * 06 The Poet Sniffs A Flower * 07 Creepshow * 08 Love Song


The Twelfth Night story had sketchy beginnings. Recordings had been made as an instrumental unit. The band then hooked up with a female vocalist named Electra for a short time, before returning to more instrumental work, the best known recording from this second instrumental period being the excellent 'Live At The Target' LP. For 1981's 'Smiling At Grief' cassette, the band's long time friend Geoff Mann stepped in for vocal duties. This release looked towards the future of Twelfth Night and soon after, Geoff joined the band on a permanent basis. The band cut a quirky cover version of 'Eleanor Rigby' and a track called 'East Of Eden'. These were both scheduled for inclusion on the next album, but as the band noticed the progressive rock scene gaining momentum in the UK, it was decided these tracks should be released exclusively as a single, in order to showcase more progressive material on the finished album. The resulting full length album has become a firm favourite amongst prog rock fans and collectors.

The Songs
'We Are Sane' features Geoff doing his best choirboy impersonation during the intro, singing nonsensical lyrics ('moo moo sacred cow, appetite angel going down'); when the rest of the band begin to play, things fall into place. Devoil and Mitten provide sterling work in the rhythm department, while Geoff (in full story-telling mode) sings, speaks, yelps and barks marching orders in his usual irreverent style. The humour within TN's work from this time (as with Genesis before them) seemed very important to the band's musical approach. 'Human Being', which follows, is almost a complete musical contrast, being a much darker piece. The main focuses here are on Revell's rhythm guitar parts and a huge vocal from Geoff. During the guitar solo, Clive Mitten's bass playing comes to the fore and the sound has a classic 80s prog sound, not too far removed from Marillion's classic debut, 'Script For A Jester's Tear'. The dark atmosphere carries over into the intro of 'This City' with its keyboard base. It's one of TN's less complex songs, but none the worse for it, and at just over four minutes in length, it proves that good progressive rock based material doesn't always have to rely on extended arrangements to be effective. 'World Without End' is a short keyboard instrumental, acting as a coda for the first half of the album. The band's flair for pop is evident throughout the title track, with its keyboard heart pumping the rhythm, balanced out by Devoil's drum work. Despite being of a poppier nature, it still stands up as one of the album's more enduring tracks, thanks to some cynical but fun lyrics 'and if you listen carefully, you can hear the bacon fly - don't make me laugh!'. The instrumental track 'The Poet Sniffs A Flower' is a little ravaged by time, having a quite dated keyboard and drum sounds, but on the plus side, it features one of Andy Revell's more up-front guitar solos.

Another epic number, 'Creepshow', has become another favourite amongst Twelfth Night fans. According to legend, however, it wasn't always going to be included on the album, as an earlier version of it had already been released on the 'Smiling At Grief' cassette the previous year. Like the album's opening track, 'We Are Sane', this is a classic example of the more theatrical side to Twelfth Night's work. Musically grandiose and lyrically twisted ('give her the pills and diagnose madness'), the piece has many high points, including some top quality bass playing by Clive. Without question, though, the most memorable aspect of 'Creepshow' are Geoff's soliloquies about the prisoner with the blank expression and the distorting mirror of dreams. He refers to the mirror as 'the nerve centre of the whole affair'. 'Creepshow' is definitely the nerve centre of this album. Designed as a positive and more uplifting ending for the album, the acoustic balladry of 'Love Song' restores a sense of calm after the disturbing darkness of the 'Creepshow'. There's nothing complicated about 'Love Song', its simple arrangement and sentimentality would make it a live favourite for both the band and the audience. 'Don't hold back, don't think hope is pointless 'Love is an open door Don't think life is closed against us Love is an open door'.

This album is one of the milestone recordings of the 80s progressive rock movement. Alongside IQ's 'Tales From The Lush Attic' and Marillion's 'Script For A Jester's Tear', it's still required listening. The Cyclops Records re-issue CD is a dream come true for TN fans, containing 7 bonus tracks! The two tracks from the impossible to find 7' ('Eleanor Rigby'/'East of Eden') are here, but even more important, is the inclusion of five previously unavailable demos. The demos make for very interesting listening as they provide an insight into how the album might have sounded, if the band had taken the more commercial pop route. The early version of 'Human Being' is much faster and lacks the sinister overtones of the version which eventually appeared on the album. More interestingly, it has the intro to 'East Of Eden' tacked on to the end. According to the detailed sleeve notes (written by Brian Devoil) the faster 'Human Being' would have segued into 'East Of Eden' if the band had followed their original plans. Looking back, I'm glad 'Human Being' was re-worked into the slower arrangement. The fast version is fine enough, but lacks the impact of the album version.

During 'Leader', the drum machine rattles away remorselessly and the keyboards have a Casiotone air about them, but as far as demo material goes, it sounds pretty much finished. A lyric re-write later and this track would appear as 'Fact And Fiction', the album's title track. Strangely enough, another demo here, 'Constant (Fact And Fiction) is musically unrelated to the final 'Fact And Fiction' and was eventually abandoned. Another drum machine and keyboard demo which was never fully developed is 'Dancing In The Dream', though I suspect, this was little more than a novelty song, written to pass the time, judging by Geoff's Beatles-on-acid lyrics: 'Saccharine and milk-white covers table cloth of teapot'. Hmmm! The best of the unreleased demo material is 'Fistful of Bubbles', which although still keyboard pop as opposed to progressive rock, features a more 'well-rounded' arrangement with some great drum fills.

In Summary
This CD is an essential item for all Twelfth Night fans. Even though the demos are little more than a curiosity, you'll want to hear them anyway and the inclusion of the 7' single tracks are a more than welcome bonus. You'll never have a better excuse to replace your old vinyl album with a 5' silver disc!

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#1 | Eric on December 18 2012 22:21:32
One of the great 80's progressive albums. A masterpiece.
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