The song Sequences appeared in 1981 for the first time on a Twelfth Night album, namely on Live At The Target. An entire instrumental album recorded during a live performance. Later on lyrics were added to the song by the band's newly recruited lead singer. According to Geoff Mann the song tells the story of a young soldier from Warrington who fights in the South Lancashire regiment on the fronts of World War I and returns home injured as a completely mentally changed person. The character who inspired Geoff to write the text was the grandfather of his wife Jane, General Jack Parham. During concerts, Geoff even put on his uniform to emphasize the importance of the text and visually strengthen its message. A live version of this song with the vocals of Mann was later on released on the band's 1984 Live And Let Live album An album which was recorded at the very last dates the band performed with singer Geoff Mann before he departed the band.
Chroniclers and devoted supporters of Twelfth Night know perfectly well that Sequences has for many years remained the most popular song of this band, usually closing every concert.
One should know that despite many well-known concert and instrumental versions that have been performed by Twelfth Night during the last 40 years, so far there has been no studio recording of this song with lyrics and vocals. Because you need to know that originally it was only an instrumental composition and only the anti-war Mann text gave this song a completely new dimension. Therefore the band returned to the studio, recording a new version of Sequences. And on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I they released it on an album with the same title November 2018. A significant donation was made to the Poppy Appeal from each copy sold.
On the updated and expanded 2018 version, multi-instrumentalist Mark Spencer (Galahad) played a leading role. He wrote new orchestral arrangements and also took over the lead vocals. The rest of the cast for this central piece in the band's history consisted of original band members Andy Revell (guitar) and Brian Devoil (drums). But also with Galahad's Dean Baker (piano, keyboards) and Andy Faulkner (bass) who both played in the band before. In addition to the 23-minute re-recording, the album contains also a new instrumental version that corresponds to the original form, as well as piano interpretations of the three most important song sections.
But of course the opening piece is the most important of all if I may say so! In the absence of Geoff Mann, who died in 1993, Mark turns out to be the perfect replacement to do the vocal duties, because he has a similar timbre to Geoff's, and he interpreted his pacifist text very well. You do have to know that Geoff's voice from archival tapes also appears for a moment (as Sergeant-Major Pep) in the middle of 4 minutes of this composition lasting over 23 minutes. The new beginning and ending recorded for this new version of this outstanding composition fits perfectly to theme of the song. Its sounds a bit like the last post, played at a soldiers funeral. Also the orchestral parts fit perfectly to the song.
I am glad the band was willing to send a review copy, even a long time after it was originally released. Listening now to this amazing new versions of one of the most popular songs ever played by the band made me realize that I am very fortunate! Why? Because Sequences has become a great classic epic piece of music in the progressive rock genre and this new version makes it even more clear to me! Having a copy of this must have release certainly enriched my CD collection in every way! I am sure someday this new version of Sequences will become a real collector's item. This limited release is worth spending your hard earned money all the way. Highly recommended. Not only for all the die-hard Twelfth Night, but for all progressive rock lovers in general!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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