Ever since I bought the Twelfth Night album Live At The Target, I am what you might say a true-blue fan of this British prog band. I possess almost every album of this underrated band. Almost.., because I could never get hold of a copy of Smiling At Grief. When I found out that a definitive edition of this album should be released, I smiled from ear to ear. Finally, I got the chance to complete my collection after all those years.
Smiling At Grief / The Definitive Edition is the first release of a series of other releases from Twelfth Nightís back catalogue. Each album released contains bonus tracks and an additional disc including previously unreleased material. This is also the case with this album. On the first disc, youíll find the original recordings as released in 1997 on the Italian MSI-label supplemented with two unreleased tracks. In this case, we hear the original studio demo of The Beatles-song Eleanor Rigby and an alternative version of This City. Eleanor Rigby was originally released as a single together with East Of Eden. The cover of this song didnít belong to their finest musical moments, but it played a very important role in the bandís history. The owner of the Revolution Studios in Manchester liked this record very much, so he offered the band all the required studio time to record Fact And Fiction, which became their best effort ever. On that album, we find classic Twelfth Night songs like Creepshow, originally recorded in 1982 for the Smiling At Grief demo cassette. However, the sound on this demo doesnít reach the same quality level as the Fact And Fiction album. Twelfth Night made this demo with the intention to record songs with singer Geoff Mann who had just joined the band. I will not go into details about all the songs on this release, but you can almost feel the spirit in the recording studio. However, not all tracks they recorded have an outstanding quality level, but songs as East Of Eden, This City, The Honeymoon Is Over and the already mentioned Creepshow have all the elements to call them fine progressive rock tunes.
The second disc of this release has been taken from the bands own archive collection. It was originally released in 2005 as Smiling At Grief...Live. That record also features a great live version of the bands classic track Sequences. Convenient Blindness is the additional track on the second disc recorded live in the studio. Originally, it was intended to be an encore and thatís why this song has been placed after the live recordings. This version of Smiling At Grief certainly is a Ďmust haveí and a collectors item for everyone who fancy the music of Twelfth Night, because the recordings were not available for a long time. This album might not be their best release ever, but Iím very satisfied with the availability. This release will put the recently reformed Twelfth Night back in the spotlights and maybe this time they get all the credits they didnít get in the eighties, unlike similar bands as Marillion, IQ, Pallas and Pendragon. Iím already looking forward to their next definitive edition release.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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