Live At The Target was recorded at The Target pub in Reading on the 15th and 16th January 1981 and released just a month later in the middle of February, at a time of great optimism for the band.
We recorded it relatively soon after the Early Material cassette album that had been released in Autumn 1980. In a departure from our instrumental beginnings, this tape featured the voice of Elektra Macleod on three tracks. We had released our first vinyl single, The First 7” Album, (TN-001) and at the same time we set off on our largest tour to date. The concerts were still largely instrumental, and sometimes totally so, if Elektra failed to turn up..! After parting company we reverted to being a purely instrumental band and, as a result, I felt that it was very important to re-establish who we were, and what we sounded like, hence recording ‘live’ at The Target.
To be honest, losing Elektra wasn’t a cause of great concern for the band, as the strongest piece on the tape was the lengthy instrumental Afghan Red and the B-side of the single, Fur Helene Part I, was arguably the better of the two sides of vinyl.
The decision to record live was a financial one, and as we had played The Target at least half a dozen times during 1980, it was the ideal setting. We’d built up a loyal and enthusiastic local following, and got on well with the management and staff. To raise the money for the mobile studio, I came up with the idea of increasing the ticket price to £1.00 (from 50p), and then guaranteeing everyone a £1.00 reduction on the price of the album - effectively making the concert free! The idea proved so popular that we sold out both nights in advance, and was widely reported in the local press, as you’ll see from the clippings reproduced in this booklet.
Only the four tracks included on the original album were taped each night, enabling us to choose the better versions for final release. This pre-selection was the most cost effective method of recording, and worked so well that we did exactly the same thing when we came to record the Live and Let Live album a couple of years later.
Having honed our performance during the Winter tour (31 concerts in 50 days!) we were playing well and confident that recording live would not be a problem, at least not musically. The stage at The Target was very small and it was quite a feat to fit all our equipment on, let alone all the added stuff needed to connect us to the mobile studio. Despite these technical limitations, the 8-track recordings were of excellent quality, and captured the performance faithfully. There was no overdubbing needed, so nothing was added during mixing - we were good live! Mixing took place in a tiny basement studio in Surrey, supervised by Pink Floyd’s live sound engineer, Greg Walsh, who had initially expressed interest in working with us the previous year.
As we didn’t have the finances to record the Target concerts in their entirety, both the original album (and the first ‘unauthorised’ MSI CD release) consisted of only 4 tracks. We are delighted though that this time we have been able to add a complete disc of extra tracks, pieces that were included in our set in 1981. Together they give a good idea of what a full length ‘Twelfth Night’ concert would have sounded like at the time.
Live At The Target marked the beginning of a new era for the band. It got attention from the national music papers, and we even made it into the Heavy Metal charts in both Melody Maker and Sounds, who also included us in their Hippy chart! More importantly it helped us secure our first publishing deal, and prompted Pinnacle Records to offer us a distribution deal, meaning that the album was available nationally. The album was played on local radio, and national reviews helped bring us to the attention of a much wider audience. Two months after the album’s release we played our first gig at The Marquee, and later that year were invited to open the Reading Festival, an occasion that became one of the biggest highlights of our career.
We were immensely (and justifiably) proud of the album back in 1981, and I have to say that it still sounds great today. To all those involved I can only say a heartfelt, ‘thank you’.
March 2004 updated 2011