In the early Eighties the socalled Neo Progressive Rock Movement started to blossom, spearheaded by Marillion, and in their slipstream IQ, Pallas, Pendragon and Twelfth Night. These bands are considered as the most popular Neo Prog bands from that era, but Twelfth Night was the maverick, their sound was hard to pigeonhole, and by far the most original. On this wonderfully recorded (by Steve Wilson) new version of Twelfth Night their first album with Geoff Mann entitled Smiling At Grief ... Revisited (originally from January 1982) you can get an excellent impression from that unique blend of rock, prog, New Wave and synth-pop, with the focus on Geoff Mann's very distinctive vocals. The way Geoff Mann colours each song is an extra dimension to the music, from the very first moment I heard his voice (when Fact & Fiction was released in October 1982) I was blown away. About this release the following product details from the band.
“Twelfth Night's 1982 Smiling At Grief album was the first music released with new vocalist, Geoff Mann. With the 40th anniversary arriving in 2022, it was decided to celebrate Smiling At Grief by releasing a brand-new' version, by asking friends and peers to remix the album using the original master tracks. The response was amazing as contributions were received from Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Peter Jones (Camel, Tigermoth Tales), Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish), Tim Bowness & Brian Hulse, Rob Reed (Magenta), Karl Groom (Threshold), Andy Tillison (The Tangent), Lee Abraham & Stu Nicholson, Dean Baker (Galahad), Gareth Cole (Fractal Mirror), Paul Hodson and Mark Spencer. Some are straight remixes, some enhanced with new instrumentation, and some have been radically reworked, to produce an album that will be treasured by all prog rock fans.”
My absolute highlight is the dynamic epic composition Creepshow (two remix-versions) in which Geoff shines with varied vocal contributions, from tender and romantic to theatrical and venomous, this is trademark Geoff Mann, supported by strong work on guitar and synthesizer. Other interesting tracks are East Of Eden Extended (typical Eighties synthesizer sound and fiery guitar), the wonderful This City (emotional vocals), The Honeymoon Is Over (remix by Karl Groom, keyboards and guitar, here Geoff his vocals remind me of Madness), Intro Puppets (Mark Spencer with Mellotron choirs and a Giorgio Moroder-like synthesizer sound), the instrumental Für Helene Part II (unique 'embryonal' Twelfth Night sound with wah-wah drenched guitar, embellished with the unsurpassed Mellotron choirs), Three Dancers (exciting rock guitar by Gareth Cole, along powerful vocals by Geoff Mann, to me it sounds between Bowie and Spandau Ballet) and the Mark Spencer remix Makes No Sense (slow rhythm, dreamy duo vocals, 1981 Geoff Mann session, and moving guitar solo with Mellotron choir sound, goose bumps).
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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