1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 148

Fact and Fiction: The Definitive Edition (Disc 1), by Twelfth Night
Suggested by Bryan Connolly

I have a GSCE in French.

It’s not a particularly strong one, a Grade C if I recall. My French teacher was astounded I managed a pass, never mind a middling one. She didn’t like me, to be fair. I used to mess around in French lessons, playing the class clown to illicit easy laughs. Nothing malicious, all very low-level and timid stuff, but enough to disrupt things and tank my concentration.

My favourite jape was during oral recitations, where I’d choose sentences that contained both English and French words in them, and comically exaggerate my accents for each, switching between the two in snap-cur fashion. Imagine the following, with the italics spoken in overblown French caricature and the non-italic spoken in deadpan Scouse:

Bonjour. Je m’appelle Craig Stevenson. J’habite a Bebington, The Wirral. J’aime regarder le Football. J’adore le Tranmere Rovers.”

Technically nothing wrong with this, nothing I can be reprimanded over, but it’s still trollish behaviour. Malicious compliance through and through, and it still makes me giggle today. There’s something just funny about a regional English accent in an unexpected setting.

Twelfth Night are a new-progressive rock act from the undisputed musical capital of the world (Reading). Formed by university students in 1978, they ran relatively hot for nine years before going their separate ways, reuniting every few years in the 21st Century to relive the glory days.

Musically, they tread the same waters as Marillion and other bands of their ilk. Long, meandering songs of understated guitar, high-falutin’ and pompous vocals, twiddly keyboards and embellished drums with masochistic time changes. It’s early Eighties rock experiment writ large, sub Pink Floyd, sub Rush, sub Pendragon, sub Genesis. Just sub. Substandard.

I’ve many issues. Track length is one, with my favourie Creepshow thirteen minutes while others barely cover one. Lyrics are another, all overblown teen philosophy that’s slimily begging to be admired with each dripping syllable. Song structure is a third, with the songs taking on rock operetta status as they strive to impart their musical story. Hell, I’m even irritated by the word “Twelfth”, which has a massively skewed vowel-to-consonant ratio and a particularly rogue letter f.

My main issue, and consequent source of amusement, are the vocals. While for a lot of the time, the singer reigns in his baser urges, there are other times he goes full Claypole, becoming a ludicrous affected gambolling jester. Then others, his gloriously English regional accent seeps through into the narrative, offering us a glimpse of Spinal Tap’s astounding Stonehenge Descending monologue from Nigel Tufnell. I think I’d hate it, it I wasn’t laughing so much.

Fact and Fiction gets a lukewarm 5/10 from me. It would have been lower, but it raised plenty of unanticipated smiles, and I did quite like their ridiculous cover of Eleanor Rigby. In conclusion, Twelfth Night n’a ​​pas mis le feu à mon monde.

Fin

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