Play On!

Our reunion gigs in 2007 and 2008 have generated so much interest in Twelfth Night that hardly a day goes by when I don’t get an e-mail asking when we will be either playing some more gigs or releasing some new music or some past concert recordings. I cannot promise the former at the moment, but we do have lots of releases in the pipeline over the next few months, and several more planned as far ahead as 2011.

The first of these is Play On, our official biography, written by our friend and fan Andrew Wild. It is being published with the full support of the band and the Mann family. Andy has been working on this book for 18 months, since before our three gigs in 2008 in fact, and has produced a wonderfully readable book that we’re sure everyone will enjoy. He has conducted over 60 interviews for the book: our road crew; contemporaries such as Nick Barrett, Clive Nolan and Peter Nicholls; journalists Malcolm Dome, Mick Wall and Derek Oliver; producers Greg Walsh, Richard James Burgess, John Walters and Mark Chamberlain; our friend Martin Hooker from Music for Nations; plus many more. And, of course, all of the surviving band members past and present, including Electra, Rick and Martyn.

Andy Revell has written the foreword and Andy Wild has given me the honour of wrapping up the book with an afterword. As you know I always like to have the last word…

The book is over 300 pages long, with a full-colour cover (designed by Greg Smith), and a 16-page centre-spread featuring rare and unseen colour pictures (beautifully arranged by Paul Tippett, the creator of our XII logo). There are also dozens of black and white pictures throughout the book, including some from our earliest gigs that even we’d forgotten about…

Here are just two of the colour spreads below to give you an idea how great they are.

The book is split into 13 chapters, each dealing with a key period in our history.

Part 1: The Lights and the Dreams
1. February 1978-August 1979: Starting Up
2. August 1979-November 1980: Finding an Identity
3. November 1980-August 1981: Positive Moves
4. August-December 1981: Breaking Through
5. January-November 1982: Stepping Back
6. November 1982-November 1983: Building a Following
7. December 1983-August 1985: A New Voice
8. September 1985-April 1986: Make or Break
9. April-November 1986: Falling Apart
10. December 1986-October 1987: Slipping Away

Part 2: On with the Show
11. November 1987-September 1994: One Last Song
12. September 1994-May 2007: Keeping the Aspidistra Flying
13. June 2007-May 2008: The Wheel Is Come Full Circle

This is followed by a chapter, which we have jokingly called “Andy’s Thesis”, where Mr Wild perceptively examines the reasons why we never really “made it”.

There is also a complete discography, gig history, and details of every one of our songs. Of course, it wouldn’t be a TN project without a touch of humour, so throughout the book we have included numerous references to song lyrics – some more obvious than others – that we think you’ll enjoy spotting.

But the book is only half of the story, as each copy will be accompanied by The Play On Archive, a DVD containing hundreds of items from the band’s archives: press cuttings, reviews, photographs, downloads, a family tree, every copy of Night Moves and much more.

Besides all these items, we have included almost twenty unreleased audio tracks, including, for the first time, Andy & Brian’s first performance at the 1978 band competition in its entirety (recently re-mastered). There is also a selection of unheard demos (including a complete band demo of The Collector from 1983), some great live tracks from the archives, and a selection of other performances from the reunion shows in 2007 and 2008, including classics such as The Ceiling Speaks (from the Albany) and Creepshow (from Rotherham). Some of the tracks have been included for historical rather than sonic value (in other words the sound quality is not great) but we’re sure you’ll enjoy them all. The audio sections also feature solo performances from Mark Spencer and Andy Sears, as well as the added bonus of an ‘Archive Releases Sampler’ page featuring one track from each of the seven CDRs we have released to date, and the first ever digital release of one of our rarest b-sides!

Sounds good so far? What if I said the DVD also has over 12 complete video performances as well … dating from the earliest instrumental years, right through to the reunion shows?

Here’s a selection of just some of the videos we’ve included:

  • Abacus, Reading University Students’ Union in June 1980.
  • East to West, Top Rank, Reading in April 1981.
  • Fact and Fiction, Reading University Students’ Union, January 1983
  • The Ceiling Speaks, The Marquee, November 1983
  • Human Being. The Marquee, March 1984
  • Previously unseen footage of Twelfth Night recording the Virgin album at Jacobs Studios, January 1986.
  • Andy Sears singing This City, accompanied by The Knife, at the Tiana Festival in 2004.
  • Blondon Fair, Herringthorpe Leisure Centre, Rotherham, May 2008.
  • We Are Sane, The Peel, Kingston, May 2008

Again we must point out that some of these are not of great quality, and have been included for their historical significance. As you know live footage of us is a very rare commodity!

Once again we are indebted to our fantastic team of graphic designers Paul Tippett, Greg Smith and our latest team member David Read. David has helped with the technical side of the DVD as well as producing some stunning artwork to go with it. Thanks, David!

As Andy Sears says “it’s a veritable tuck shop of goodies from the Twelfth Night attic – something to embarrass each and every member of the band, past and present alike. Inside these portals prepare to be met with photos taken over a period of more than 25 years, recordings that stretch back to the origins of Twelfth Night, videos of concerts and TV appearances from the tenures of both Geoff and yours truly, out takes best taken out, trailers, interviews, press cuttings both praising and insulting, and heaven knows what else! There are no nude pictures of the band!”

We are immensely grateful to Andy Wild for all the time he has spent on this project, in particular the painstaking tracking down of people who we had lost contact with over 25 years ago, meticulous research and recording of all the details and putting it all in order!

The Book and DVD will be published early in December with a limited initial print run of only 500 copies. However you can pre-order a copy of PLAY ON today, which will guarantee you get it before the book goes on general sale. We feel it makes an ideal Christmas present for someone you love – i.e. you!

The cost of the Play On Book/DVD package is £18 + P&P.
P & P charges: UK £ 2.00, Europe £ 3.50 Rest of the Word £ 5.50 (The package weighs 500g).

The easiest way to pay is using Paypal. To make a payment please send it to Brian’s e-mail address: – or, alternatively, send a cheque made payable to Brian Devoil to “The Brambles”, 1c Doggetts Farm Road, Higher Denham, Bucks. UB9 5EH. UK.

This is by far the most ambitious project we have ever attempted, so we hope you are all able to support us! We‘ve packed so much in that we are sure you’ll feel it is worth it.

We hope you like it. And remember, the truth is what we tell you…

Twelfth Night ready for David Essex

Twelfth Night ready for David Essex

Posted Nov 19th 2009