Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Review: It’s Rextasy as compilation caters for Bolan completists

    Marc Bolan (left) with T Rex percussionist Mickey Finn
    Marc Bolan (left) with T Rex percussionist Mickey Finn

    Reissued to coincide with 20th Century Boy, the touring musical inspired by the life of Marc Bolan, these four albums chart the rise of the elfin frontman from underground darling to glamrock god.

    A Beard of Stars (1970) covers the final days of Tyrannosaurus Rex and the band’s transition from two-piece psychedelic folk rockers famously championed by John Peel to more amplified chart-toppers.

    By the release of T Rex under the abbreviated band title a year later, the whimsical lyrics of Bolan (born Mark Feld in Hackney) remain. But there is an undeniably more commercial edge under long-time producer Tony Visconti, who also worked with David Bowie. Tracks such as Beltane Walk serve as the template for the breakthrough single Ride A White Swan, included here as a bonus track.

    By the time of Tanx (1973), T Rex were a name comparable with any in the British pop pantheon, singalong anthems such as Hot Love, Metal Guru and Telegram Sam having made them regulars at the business end of Top Of The Pops. Bolan’s ear for an infectiously catchy tune, allied to an endearing, glitter-streaked stage persona, made the now four-piece group a commercial no-brainer.

    But although including Born To Boogie (and more trademark jangly guitars on hits such as Solid Gold Easy Action, featured on the bonus CD), Tanx is a more reflective work. And Zinc Alloy (1974) suggests a soulful side.

    Bolan never made the Stateside impact of contemporaries like Bowie, Rod Stewart and Elton John. And by the time of his death in a car accident in 1977, his chart star had waned. However, there had been hints of a career resurgence as he fronted a TV series that served as a showcase for the new generation of punk bands.
    With all the additional demo tracks, alternate takes, live recordings and curios (Pepsi jingle or nine minutes of Xmas fan club offering anyone?), this collection is more for completists than Bolan neophytes. But anyone possessing an album of T Rex B-sides will attest that even Bolan’s lesser known work invariably endears.

Music

She's 90, but the music keeps playing

Anonymous

Thursday, November 17, 2016

She's 90, but the music keeps playing
Music

A triumph of Dylanology

Bryan Cheyette

Friday, October 21, 2016

A triumph of Dylanology
Music

The classical star inspired by astrology

Rosa Doherty

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The classical star inspired by astrology
Music

The family who are always in harmony

Jessica Duchen

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The family who are always in harmony
Music

Be in no doubt: Bob Dylan changed literature

Stoddard Martin

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Be in no doubt: Bob Dylan changed literature
Music

Craig's bid for a serious comeback

Elisa Bray

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Craig's bid for a serious comeback
Music

Barry Kosky: A kangaroo with a nose for opera

Jessica Duchen

Friday, October 21, 2016

Barry Kosky: A kangaroo with a nose for opera
Music

Crossing borders in music and life

Jessica Duchen

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Crossing borders in music and life
Music

Sophie finds her voice - in Russia

Joseph Finlay

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sophie finds her voice - in Russia