After Geoff Mann left Twelfth Night he continued his musical adventures, releasing three solo albums. After the recording had been completed for the last of these, ‘Psalm Enchanted Evening’, and a release date planned for February 1986 he decided to form a band, which would later be known as The Bond. Geoff kept with him guitarist Dave Mortimer who had played on the solo albums, Steve Ridley (who had been involved with the play ‘The Dawn’ where Geoff had the lead role) provided keyboards and occasional woodwind, while Andy Mason (who had played on ‘I May Sing Grace’) was the drummer. By the time of the recording of this album in 1987 Mason had departed, with Geoff now providing not only vocals and wobbly/non-wobbly guitar but also programmed and real-time drum machines.
Twelfth Night have now released this album as a definitive edition, both digitally and as a limited-edition CD which contains all the lyrics plus photos, and they have more than doubled the length by including the single versions of two songs, a demo of each song from the original, plus live cuts. All the tracks have been carefully re-mastered by the original recording engineer (and co-producer) Clive Davenport from previously unheard and higher quality master tracks. This means it is absolutely essential for fans of Geoff, and ties in nicely with the excellent new biography, but what about those who have yet to come across his music? How does this album stand up more than 35 years after its release?
This is almost impossible for me to review objectively as I know the original songs very well indeed, while it is no lie to say the death of Geoff back in 1993 (when he was just 36) impacted me greatly, even though we never actually met. Both these factors mean objectivity has gone flying out the window, as the original album is one I know and love, and listening to the songs again in this definitive edition is wonderful. Lyrically it is highly Christian in nature, while the lack of bass and real drums are not noticed at all. Geoff’s music had a very picked nature, with an underlying theme providing the backing and a more aggressive chord structure over the top with keyboards switching between being almost unnoticeable to becoming the major aspect. Then of course there are Geoff’s emotional vocals, instantly recognisable and like no-one else. This album is in many ways a logical continuation of his solo albums, and does not seem out of place at all, but now there are a group of people working together to perform the songs live. Less off the wall and experimental than albums like ‘Second Chants’, this is a great introduction to those who wondered what Geoff did musically after leaving Twelfth Night. 8/10 Kev Rowland