Night Moves (Review)

The July 2012 edition of Night Moves, the official Twelfth Night newsletter, carries not one but two reviews of ‘Words and Music’.

The first comes from Andrew Wild, author of Play On: The Official Biography of Twelfth Night, and features in the main newsletter. The second, penned by prog rock connoisseur and long-time Twelfth Night and Geoff Mann fan, Phil Morris, is included with supplementary material. Both reviews are reproduced below with thanks to the authors.

Andrew Wild:
Words and Music is a book of two halves. The first part concerns one young man’s induction into rock fandom via bands such as Deep Purple and Saxon. If you are, or were, a fan of this type of music then you might enjoy Michael’s stories of sneaking into gigs and meeting his heroes. But, for me, these sections add little to the existing oeuvre.

The rest of the book presents a series of essays on a wide variety of musical subjects: The Doors, Bob Dylan, Marillion’s post-Fish output. Here, Anthony has found his metier presenting incisive, well-argued and well-written overviews of the music he loves. As in the very best music writing, these chapters sent me back to the original albums. Each chapter is well-written, perceptive and engaging and thoroughly grounded in the key reason that fans listen to music in the first place: the emotional connection between the  listener and the music.

In one chapter, ‘God and the Devil’, Anthony presents a remarkable and compelling comparison of the lyrical themes of works by Black Sabbath and Geoff Mann: suggesting that, under the surface, both artists provide positive messages to listeners of all faiths (or none) and that salvation can be dressed in many colours, even black.

Of most interest to Twelfth Night fans is Anthony’s spot-on evaluation of the Fact and Fiction album: “Geoff Mann’s work with Twelfth Night demonstrates his character, his passion, his way with words, his strong sense of social justice and his acute awareness of the absurdity of the economic principles which shaped the early 1980s.”

These sections could easily have been expanded to books in their own right, and when this book is good, it’s very good indeed. Anthony is at his best when he separates himself from his subjects. I hope he takes this approach for future works as his writing style and thoughtful approach is worthy of further reading.

Phil Morris:
Words and Music is an incisive commentary on the status of the music fan to which I’m sure all of us will relate. It’s well written, observed and thought-provoking. I recommend it highly.

Any  serious music fan will appreciate the sentiments expressed, whether on acts for which they care, or not. The in-depth analysis of the work of the range of artists featured is nicely balanced by personal experiences and anecdotes (always in context) which breaks up and provides levity to what, in lesser hands, could be a very dry – if worthy – work.

As stated above, the insight provided makes for an extremely thought-provoking book. The best test for me is that it has made me reach for various items in my collection, despite how well I already knew them. I always admire a writer who can reignite my passion for a specific piece of work or artist. That is not to say I always agree with Michael. Yet isn’t that sort of differing opinion precisely what makes music following and, in particular, engagement with fellow fans that much more enjoyable?

For more information on Twelfth Night, please go to www.twelfthnight.info or www.facebook.com/NightTwelfth

For information on the music of Geoff Mann, please go to www.geoffmann.co.uk

GET THE BOOK

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1 Comment

  1. Nina Americana

     /  November 7, 2015

    Phil Morris is the sexiest man I’ve ever drawn a breath. Full stop.

    Reply

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