Ever since I heard the music of Twelfth Night, I firmly believe they are the pinnacle of the new or neo-prog movement of the early 1980’s. They combined the old style progressive rock with a new wave/punk attitude thus creating in my opinion a unique new style of music for the next generation of the genre. I also believe that Twelfth Night out shined it’s peers with complex song structures while retaining a accessibility.
Now many years later, we get a glimpse further into the band’s past. Something that most later fans such as myself were unaware of. Such as the mere fact that the band had more vocalists than the two well known ones, Geoff Mann and Andy Sears. First singer for the band was New York born art student Electra in 1980. Electra didn‘t last long with the band. Her voice was good just didn‘t really fit the power the band possessed. Then in 1981, Ian Lloyd Jones joined as lead singer. I must admit his vocal performance was less than desirable to me so I won‘t comment further.
The band reacted it‘s high point, in my opinion, when Geoff Mann joined. His vocal styling and musical vision gave the band a push into a new more complex era. Even though his stay with the band was short, his impact left a great impression with the fans including myself.
The next vocalist came in 1983, his name was Axe. In my opinion he tried too hard to sound like Geoff and failed miserably. In 1984 Axe is replaced by Andy Sears, the other well known singers of the band. Andy took the band into an even more accessible sound while keeping to the legacy of Geoff Mann’s contributions. The last vocalist came in1987 His name was Martyn Watson and I must admit to liking his vocals, mainly because he didn’t try to sound like any of the others. His voice was however more commercially sound and allowed the music to move even more into the new wave style than before.
On the second CD features some raw live performances of Geoff Mann, Andy Sears and Martyn Watson. The highlight to me of this disc is the final track, Love Song where it features Andy Sears and Geoff Mann sharing vocals, and Martyn Watson is on bass. It must have been an amazing show to have three of the vocalists on the same stage even though two were singing.
In closing, after several listens I feel this 2 cd set is for the already fans of Twelfth Night and it may NOT a good starting point for new fans. Mainly because of the 2nd disc showing a very raw feel. I say this to the new fans, try “Fact and Fiction” and “Art And Illusion” first then get this one.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on July 10th, 2007