During the revival of the progressive rock genre in the eighties many new bands emerged, among others Twelfth Night. My first acquaintance with the band was at a record store while listening to the album Live At The Target (1981). The music on that album made a deep impression on me. I bought it and I followed the band ever since that day. I was delighted to hear that a new version of this album had been released on CD in the Twelfth Night Definitive Edition-series, because I hadn't listened to this instrumental live album since I'd sold my record player. This album was recorded just before vocalist Geoff Mann joined the band. Live At The Target was recorded at The Target pub in Reading (UK) on the 15th and 16th of January 1981 and released a month later.
At this point Twelfth Night consisted of Brian Devoil (drums), Andy Revell (guitar), Rick Battersby (keyboards) and Clive Mitten (bass). They were an uncompromising and ambitious live act in the early days of their career. Unfortunately only four of all the recorded tracks from the shows at The Target made it to the album, but these are all excellent pieces that proved that the band didn't actually need a lead singer. Sequences, one of these pieces, is an all-time fan favourite. This twenty-minute long epic filled the B-side of the original vinyl version. Despite the fact that Geoff Mann added vocals to this epic after joining the band several months later, the track seemed to be a perfect vehicle to give the individual band members time and space to shine. Especially Rick Battersby proved to be a talented keyboardist, not only on Sequences, but on the entire album. He shines in particular on the excellent piece After The Eclipse, but also on its equally impressive follow-up track East To West and the outstanding intro for Für Helene. On all these tracks he demonstrated his talent for haunting keyboard melodies giving the album a mysterious and atmospheric overall sound.
However, the typical Twelfth Night-sound could already be heard on this album probably due to guitarist Andy Revell. His guitar riffs were very special using a lot of echo, although the sound of the bass guitar provided by Clive Mitten was important as well, as you can hear throughout the album. Due to the fact that vinyl albums couldn't contain as much music as a CD nowadays, the band recorded only these four tracks for the album. Only people who had attended these concerts know how the band sounded back then, but thanks to this fantastic re-release all the other fans can now get an impression of a Twelfth Night-gig as well. By including the extra disc you get a perfect impression of Twelfth Night performing in the early eighties without a lead singer. If you listen to both discs consecutively you get the idea of standing in front of the stage at The Target. However, the tracks on the second disc were not recorded at that venue, but taken from other recordings except one.
The bonus disc starts with Entropy and Keep The Aspidistra Flying recorded at the Old Five Bells, Northampton on March 29, 1981. Both tracks were taken from the archive CD Entropy. Encore Une Fois and (Hats Off To) Freddie Hepburn were recorded at the Bridgehouse, Bracknell on April 12, 1980 and are both previously unreleased just as Afghan Single recorded at Woodcray Manor Farm Studios, Wokingham on May 25, 1981. Für Helene I, recorded at Arny's Shack, Bournemouth in August 1980, never appeared on CD and was the B-side of the single The Cunning Man which was recorded at Reading University on June 27, 1980. It has been taken from the archive CD A Midsummer's Night Dream. Afghan Red was recorded at The Target, Reading on November 21, 1980 and Für Helene II at Reading University on November 13, 1979. The latter two live tracks were also previously unreleased. Well, maybe you wonder how the material on this bonus disc sounds. It's clear that the sound is quite similar to the songs on the main disc. Occasionally you hear some additional improvisations like on Für Helene II, but that's just what I expect from a live album.
People who enjoyed the eighties revival of progressive rock music with bands as Marillion, Pallas, Pendragon and IQ will certainly embrace this release. This album proves that not only the progressive rock bands established in the seventies made good music, but also the subsequent generation was capable to make a prog head's heart beat faster!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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