F2 Music/Festival [Release date 11.06.18]
Twelfth Night were one of the bands to emerge in the early to mid-80′s boom in prog rock that was spearheaded by Fish-era Marillion. ‘Fact And Fiction’ was originally released back in 1982, Twelfth Night’s first proper album release, although they had released a series of cassette only albums that were all the rage back then.
It is a lavish three CD set, with disc one consisting of the original album which with its lyrical backdrop of a dystopian world and political control still sounds relevant today, possibly more so.
Geoff Mann had a unique vocal, switching from the high note to a more, almost spoken word delivery. From the keys on ‘Human Being’ through to the epic refrains of ‘We Are Sane’, a song with plenty of atmospherics - impressive given the recording technology available then – sound as good now as they did when I first heard them all those years ago.
Disc two is a mix of live versions of songs from ‘Fact And Fiction’ plus demo versions that include ‘Constant (Fact And Fiction)’ and an alternative narrative on ‘Creepshow (After The Bomb Drops)’, a previously unreleased demo.
There is even a chance to hear ‘Fact And Fiction’ recorded by the band in 2012 at the Barbican Centre in London which will feature on an upcoming release ‘A Night To Remember’.
The third disc is a true stroke of genius in my book as this contains other artists versions of the album’s songs, including some specially commissioned for this release.
Twelfth Night member Mark Spencer teams up with Lee Abraham (Galahad) for a superb version of ‘The Poet Sniffs A Flower’, whilst Arena’s Clive Nolan produces a suitably grandiose and orchestrated version of ‘World Without End’.
Mark Spencer also pops up on ‘Love Song’, a moving duet between Alan Reed and Kim Seviour. This disc is a delight from start to finish and gives the album’s songs a new life and sound.
As if that wasn’t enough to accompany the CDs there are some extensive sleeve notes written specially, including an extract from Michael Anthony’s ‘Words & Muisc’ book that reviews Geoff Mann’s lyric writing in detail. In addition there are never-before seen scans of some of Geoff’s original handwritten lyrics and sketches, as well as new photos.
‘Fact And Fiction’ is one of the best prog rock albums to emerge from the ‘neo-prog’/prog revival in the UK in the early/mid-80′s and this is as the title suggests, ‘The Definitive Edition’. One for fans of Twelfth Night and collectors of prog rock. ****1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
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