Well, here it is folks, one of the premier prog classics from the early 80's revival of the genre. Along with Marillion, IQ, Pallas, and Pendragon, Twelfth Night were one of a handful of UK bands who took the influence of Genesis, and added in their own brand of punk and new wave attitude, to form a brand new sound that helped spearhead the prog resurgence in 1982. Cyclops has re-packaged and remastered this gem, plus added seven bonus tracks, making this a must have for the prog collector.
Singer Geoff Mann was in fine form on this album, and the remaster job fine tunes his powerful vocals on staples such as "Human Being" (complete with addicting guitar chords and lush keyboards) and the mini-epic "We Are Sane." The haunting "This City" takes on new life, as the somber tone of the song is heightened with added color on the keyboards and delayed guitar effects. Some of this album plays like standard neo-prog fare, such as the generic "World Without End", or the bouncy title track, but thanks to Mann's unique vocals and the vibrant keyboard stylings of Clive Mitten one can look past the simplistic nature of these tunes. Andy Revell's opening acoustic guitar work on the instrumental "The Poet Sniffs a Flower" is quite beautiful, and leads into a symphonic romp when the rest of the band joins the fray, sounding much like early IQ. Revell has a similar tone and style to Steve Hackett, and his melodic, effects laden lines are quite alluring. Of course, the song most remembered on this album is "Creepshow", the bands moody, emotional, and eerie masterpiece. Mann sings like a "man" possessed, adding an element of theatrics to this disturbing yet symphonic tune. Think early Genesis-meets-IQ-meets-Marillion-meets-Ange-meets-Van Der Graaf Generator, and you get an idea of the intensity here on this piece. Oh, and great lead synth work from Mitten as well. The original album part of the CD ends with the atmospheric "Love Song", a catchy piece that has a touch of early 80's British New Wave fee to it, but with tortured guitar solos and symphonic keyboards.
The bonus section has all sorts of goodies, not all good, but a treasure chest for the Twelfth Night completist nontheless. "East of Eden" is a rousing hard rocker with angry, punk infused vocals from Mann as he is surrounded by crashing power chords and bouncy synth melodies. The New Wave version of The Beatles "Eleanor Rigby" we could have done without, as it makes this classic song sound silly, and "Constant (Fact & Fiction)" sounds a bit sparse and unfinished. "Fistfull of Bubbles" is a fun tune, with ragged guitar chords, busy drum work from Brian Devoil, and a reggae feel, but Mann's vocals sound muddy. Things clear up a bit on "Leader", a powerful tune that shows Mann to be in fine form, as well as Revell, who tosses in some fine lead lines. The fact that they used a cheesey drum machine here, as well as on the next cut "Dancing in the Dream" (both are demos), kind of spoil what are essentially two fine tunes. It would have been great to hear finished versions of both of these cuts. An alternate version of "Human Being" closes out the bonus tracks section, and it's interesting to hear this song in its infancy.
Even with a few weak tunes, Fact and Fiction is still an important entry in the development of the new wave of progressive rock in the 1980's, fairly or unfairly called neo-prog in these circles. Cyclops has done a nice job here on this remastered edition. Those who are wondering whether to get rid of their old CD and pick this one up, wonder no more. It's worth shelling out the $$$.