At long last… An appropriate occasion for such a phrase. The tenth anniversary of Geoff Mann's passing was the 5th of February, not two months ago. Geoff's output was that of a true visionary—he was an exceptional artist & poet/lyricist, and celebrated vocalist, perhaps best known for his role as the frontman of Twelfth Night on three albums: Smiling At Grief (1982), Fact and Fiction (1982—with a 2002 reissue boasting seven bonus tracks), and the classic live album chronicling Geoff's final moments with the band, Live and Let Live (1984). Rare tracks of the Mann-led Night can also be found on Collector's Item; the first edition on Food For Thought (1991) included an unreleased 19-minute epic, "The Collector," while a 2001 reissue swapped the sixteen-minute fan-favorite "Sequences" (originally an instrumental which Mann added lyrics & vocals to) for two rarities: "Deep In The Heartland" (which morphed into "Not On The Map" in live shows, but still never released) and a genuine studio version of "The Ceiling Speaks" from the demos recorded for CBS Records.
[Mann completists need both issues, of course.] Of course, the one "new" track from the first Collector's Item was retained: a latter-day re-recording of "Love Song" from Fact and Fiction.
Mann was also a man of God. Geoff initially left Twelfth Night to shift gears, musically, but his emphasis of his faith—recording albums solo and with The Bond and Eh! Geoff Mann Band—never supplanted his love for dynamic music; he simply channelled his passions for both into his creativity-processor: "The Ceiling Speaks" from the TN repertoire is a clever allegorical delivery and one of Geoff's best songs ever. Geoff's songs with The Bond are the most "contemporary-sounding," while I May Sing Grace, (1984), Psalm Enchanted Evening (1984), and Second Chants (1992) are experimental, by comparison (the first two were collected by Cyclops Music as one CD, In One Era). The early 1990s brought Loud Symbols and Ministry Of The Interior, both by Eh! Geoff Man Band (hard to find, but well worth the hunt). In 1991, Geoff returned to the prog arena with a weighty salvo in the form of Casino, a fantastic concept album collaboratively wrought by Geoff (all lyrics, lead vocals) and music by one Clive Nolan, the co-founder of Pendragon, Shadowland, Strangers On A Train, and Arena. TN drummer Brian Devoil played on the album (along with Paul Flynn, another drummer), while fellow TN bandmates Andy Revell (guitar), Clive Mitten (bass) and Rick Battersby (keyboards) were also slated to appear, but didn't—the reason cited being the unwarranted resemblance to a TN reunion (though there would have been nothing wrong with that!). Still, it's the next best thing; Clive Nolan, naturally, played keyboards (along with Pallas' Mike Stobbie), and on guitar & bass, respectively, were two individuals who should be familiar to Threshold fans: Karl Groom and Jon Jeary. Sylvain Gouvernaire (ex-Arrakeen) also played guitar. Quite a few people made Casino happen, and it's one rewarding listening experience.
Recorded Delivery should have appeared many years ago: Geoff had conceived an idea for a project which would involve himself with musicians from every one of his involvements, from Twelfth Night to present, in a live setting—a "career-spanning" concert, summarily speaking—on one night, in one venue (London's Marquee, which has hosted TN, Marillion, and many others). It never happened, so we must be grateful to longtime Mann associate Andy Labrow for graciously compiling these dozen tracks from four different eras of Mann as a tribute. The first three tracks were performed with Eh! Geoff Mann Band: "Fact & Fiction," "Down Here," and "Love Song" (the 1st and 3rd from the TN catalog). The next three were with The Bond: "Trumpet Call," "His Love," and "Dance"—"Dance" is an early solo track from Psalm Enchanted Evening. The recording values aren't bad at all, quite good after remastering, truthfully. The TN tunes are faithfully rendered, and Geoff's vocals always sounded as robust onstage as in-studio. Sure, there are glitches like clipping mic levels or nuances captured which shouldn't be there, but this is the real deal, sans overdubs.
"Time & Tide," "This City" (another TN number), "Eleanor Rigby," and "Willy Welsh" are purely solo—Geoff & his guitar, acoustic or electric—taken from his opening spot for IQ during their 1991 European tour. That last cut suffers from some annoying hard left-right pan jogs, while "This City" is striking in a bare-bones performance where Geoff's pipes really fill the auditorium. The disc's closing tracks are la crème de la crème, two archival numbers from Twelfth Night's 1983 performances at the Marquee, possibly from their final shows with Geoff, though TN played the Marquee quite a few times: "Art & Illusion" and the nearly ten-minute-long "Aspidentropy" (a medley of "Keep The Aspidistra Flying" and "Entropy"). "Art & Illusion" was previously-released on, what else, Art & Illusion, yet recorded by TN MkIII with Geoff's replacement, Andy Sears—who was a competent replacement, if his voice wasn't as unique, nor his lyrical prowess anywhere near the stature of Geoff's. Rick Battersby's overloud analog lead on "Aspidentropy" drowns out Andy Revell's guitar much of the time, but I'm not complaining! Better to have this than not at all.
One last tidbit: Recorded Delivery is the first in a series of budget-priced professional-looking CDRs which will be made available through the site (click on the link below); the North American price is £6, shipped—very reasonable. TN drummer Brian Devoil is also busily transferring his source material onto CDR, so Mann/TN fans can also look forward to live shows made available, likewise—refer to http://www.twelfthnight.info/main.html
†Rev. Edmund Geoffrey Mann 11 April 1956 — 5 February 1993†