Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night was an English symphonic-rock band that self-released three cassettes and a live album between 1980 and 1982, culminating with their proper debut Fact and Fiction. After the 1983 departure of singer Geoff Mann, they made their second professionally-recorded album, Art and Illusion, on Music For Nations. Their final release from this period was a 1986 self-titled album on Charisma/Virgin.

Members: Andy Revell (guitar, 1978-87, 2007-present), Brian Devoil (drums), Clive Mitten (bass, keyboards, 1978-87, 2007-present), Rick Battersby (keyboards, 1978-81, 1982-87), Electra McLeod (vocals, 1980), Ian Lloyd Jones (vocals, 1981), Geoff Mann (vocals, 1981-83), Axe (vocals, 1983), Andy Sears (vocals, 1983-86, 2007-12), Martyn Watson (bass, vocals, 1986-87)


Formation

Twelfth Night emerged from a musical partnership between guitarist Andy Revell and drummer Brian Devoil, who teamed for a talent competition on February 23, 1978, at Reading University. Their entourage included set painter Geoff Mann and dry ice operator Rick Battersby.

Devoil hailed from reading punk rockers Trash, which cut the 1978 Polydor single “Priorities” and (post-Devoil) auditioned before Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle for the role of the mod club band in the film adaptation of The Who‘s 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia. Revell shifted through multiple unsigned bands in nearby Bournemouth, including Abraxas, The Bubbles, and Joe Soap (not the 1973 Polydor one-off). In late 1978, the pair welcomed bassist Clive Mitten, who dropped by their rehearsal and offered his talent after an unsigned stint in the Brighton act Luna Hare.


1979 Demo Albums

They first gigged as the Andy Revell Band and then renamed their act after Twelfth Night, the 1602 romantic comedy by William Shakespeare. In March 1979, the trio made their first recording, later known as the Skan demo, comprised of five long tracks:

1. “Scales / Fur Helene I” (14:02)
2. “Encore Une Fois” (5:57)
3. “Fur Helene II” (11:49)
4. “Sequences (Short Version)” (9:51)
5. “Four and Three” (5:32)

The three-piece Twelfth Night (Devoil, Mitten, Revell) recorded the tracks inside an empty hall at Reading University on equipment loaned by SKAN PA Hire, a local PA company. With the addition of group associated Mann (vocals) and Battersby (keyboards), Twelfth Night performed at multiple open-air summer events and rehearsed at Mann’s family home in Manchester, where he remained as the other four took their act nationwide. Mann formed the duo God Stars with artist friend Peter Lawrence.

In December 1979, Twelfth Night entered Multium Studios in Wokingham and cut a second demo, the First Tape Album, comprised of two long songs:

1. “(Hats Off To) Freddie Hepburn” (8:27)
2. “Sequences” (17:44)


Twelfth Night [aka The Electra Tape]

Twelfth Night gigged the English pub circuit through the first half of 1980 as an instrumental band. That summer, they placed a Melody Maker ad that drew singer Electra MacLeod, who added lyrics to “Sequences” and three new songs (“The Cunning Man,” “Abacus,” and “Keep The Aspidistra Flying”) that she recorded with the band as part of Twelfth Night, their third demo and second self-released cassette, which also contains the lengthy instrumental “Afghan Red.”

A1. “The Cunning Man” (4:58)
A2. “Afghan Red” (12:07)
B1. “Abacus” (7:32)
B2. “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” (7:43)

Twelfth Night briefly toured this material before Electra’s departure in November 1980. In December, they self-released a 7″ single jokingly titled The First 7″ Album, comprised of “The Cunning Man” and an abbreviated re-recording of “Für Helene” (5:20).


Live at the Target

In February 1981, Twelfth Night self-released the vinyl album Live at the Target, a document of their January 15–16 shows at Reading’s Target Club.

A1. “Für Helene” (6:46)
A2. “After the Eclipse” (7:31)
A3. “East to West” (10:36)
B. “Sequences” (19:56)

Live at the Target won Twelfth Night a national distribution deal with Pinnacle Records, a seventies pop label with a recent handle on mod, ska, and oi! music. The band gigged throughout the UK, supported on multiple dates by God Stars. They recorded a song with Reading singer Ian Lloyd-Jones for a planned but cancelled single.

Mann rejoined in time for Twelfth Night’s slot at the August 1981 Reading Rock Festival, a three-day weekend event with sets by Atomic Rooster, Afraid of Mice, The Enid, Gillan, Greg Lake (with Gary Moore), The Kinks, Reluctant Stereotypes, Rose Tattoo, Samson, Trust, Wishbone Ash, and the American acts 38 Special and Billy Squier. Twelfth Night opened the first day (Friday the 28th), which also featured Budgie, Girlschool, Nightwing, Saga, Steve Hackett, and Telephone.

Twelfth Night’s Reading set marked the live debut of Mann’s version of “Sequences,” which became the signature piece of their setlist. They were the second hometown act to play the annual event after Automatic Fine Tuning, which played the 1976 Reading Rock Festival. (Note: original flyers don’t mention Twelfth Night or Atomic Rooster, both last-minute additions to the event, which lacked several scheduled acts, including Chicken Shack, Midnight Oil, Outlaws, and Thompson Twins.)>


Smiling at Grief

In the autumn of 1981, Twelfth Night demoed new material for their third self-issued cassette album, Smiling at Grief, released in January 1982 with nine tracks:

A1. “East of Eden” (3:29)
A2. “This City” (3:13)
A3. “The Honeymoon Is Over” (2:35)
A4. “Creep Show” (10:13)
A5. “Puppets (Intro)” (1:26)
B1. “Puppets” (2:50)
B2. “Three Dancers” (2:54)
B3. “Makes No Sense” (4:02)
B4. “Fur Helene Pt. II” (10:48)

Battersby departed as Twelfth Night commenced work on their first proper album, Fact and Fiction, recorded between May and late autumn of 1982 with Mitten on bass and keyboards. In June, they performed “East of Eden” for the 6/26 broadcast of the David Essex Showcase, a BBC1 talent show hosted by David Essex.

In October 1982, Twelfth Night issued two non-album songs from the Fact and Fiction sessions as their second single: The Beatles cover “Eleanor Rigby” backed with “East of Eden.” They toured that autumn as a four-piece.


Fact and Fiction

Twelfth Night released Fact and Fiction in December 1982 on cassette (TN-005) and vinyl (TN-006). It features two large-scale epics (“We Are Sane,” “Creepshow”) and the medium-length numbers “Human Being” and “Love Song.” Two songs (“World Without End,” the title track) feature additional vocals by Jane Mann.

A1. “We Are Sane” (10:27)
      i. Te Dium
      ii. We Are Sane
      iii. Dictator’s Excuse Me
A2. “Human Being” (7:50)
A3. “This City” (4:01)
A4. “World Without End” (1:54)
B1. “Fact And Fiction” (3:59)
B2. “The Poet Sniffs A Flower” (3:51)
B3. “Creepshow” (11:57)
B4. “Love Song” (5:40)

Twelfth Night self-produced Fact and Fiction at Revolution Studios, a Manchester facility also used for 1982 recordings by 52nd Street, A Certain Ratio, Blitz, and Swamp Children.

Battersby rejoined Twelfth Night for the ensuing Fact and Fiction Tour. In mid-1983, they demoed a new epic titled “The Collector.”

(more to come)


Discography:

  • Twelfth Night [aka The Electra Tape, Second Tape Album] (1980)
  • Live at the Target (1981)
  • Smiling at Grief (1982)
  • Fact and Fiction (1982)
  • Art and Illusion (1984)
  • Live and Let Live (1984)
  • Twelfth Night [aka XII, The Virgin Album] (1986)

Sources:

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