George Starostin's Reviews



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Sergey Zhilkin <> (09.03.2001)


And so here's little note about Marc Bolan's history.

1. John's children #1. (September 66 - March 67).

Consisted from: Geoff McClelland (guitar/voc), Andy Ellison (vocals), John Hewlett (bass) and Chris Townson (drums). Actually, that period band passed without Marc. John's children were among the first psychedelically-orientated pop bands in Britain. As Andy said: 'We did take a lot of acid...a friend used to come round with LSD sugar lumps and we would wander around Leatherhead tripping - or else we'd take boats out on the river Mole and just drift about. One day we had this acid-crazed scheme to row down the Mole, into the Thames, and go to the Speakeasy! But the boat got waterlogged and we were sitting there with water washing around our ankles. No wonder our records had a psychedelic edge - lots of people were trying out acid.'

2. John's children #2. (March 67- June 67).

Marc Bolan arrived and Geoff quitted. They switched to the new track label but released only one single in this form. Played the 14 hour technicolour Dream at Alexandra Palace and toured Germany with the Who. Their single was never played on the radio because of the line: 'Lift up your skirt and fly', which killed the chances to become more or less popular. But, surely, the song was played on pirates' radio as often as it was possible. As for Marc, he, disgruntled about his subordinate role in the group, left soon.

3. Tyrannosaurus Rex #1. (August 67 - October 69).

Consisted from: Marc Bolan (gtr/voc) and Steve Peregrine-Took (bongos/voc) (died Nov.80).

When Marc left John's children, it was his intension to form a 5 piece rock group but his financial situation made this impractical. So he built up acoustic duo. Spotted by Tony Visconti at the UFO club and singed to Regal Zonophone label. Enjoyed the support of John Peel, then the most influential dj in Britain. They released 3 albums and 4 singles.

4. Tyrannousaurus Rex #2. (October 69 - December 70).

Steve left to be replaced by Micky Finn (who took bongos, too). In September 70 Tyrannosaurus Rex was abbreviated to T.REX (less of a mouthful). Bolan suddenly returned to the electric guitar for the first time since John's children.

5. T.Rex #1. (December 70 - July 73).

Consisted from: Marc Bolan (gtr/voc), Micky Finn (bongos/voc), Steve Currie (bass) and Bill Legend (drums). The above line-up also cut a second album, T.Rex, which was antiquated by the time it came out because T.Rex had now expanded into a full-blown rock band. This was to be Bolan's most successful period, punctuated by 4 number one singles and 2 number one albums. Bolan toured in Britain to riots, screaming and fainting, toured the USA twice, toured the Far East, starred in 'Born to boogie' directed by Ringo Starr and singed with EMI who created a special label for him.

6. T.Rex #2. (July 73 - November 73).

Added Jack Green (from Sunshine) and three backing singers (one of them - his new flame Gloria Jones) for a tour of America and Far East.

7.T.Rex #3. (January 74- November 74).

Consisted from: Gloria Jones (keyb/voc) + Marc Bolan (gtr/voc), Davy Lutton (drums), Steve Currie (bass), Jack Green (guitar), Micky Finn (bongos/voc) plus two more chicks on backing vocals. Bolan's grip is now beginning to falter: he's seen the top ten for the last time. After a while Marc leaves Britain as a tax exile.

8.T.Rex #4. (November 74 - December 74).

Jack Green left for the Pretty things and, besides, Bolan parted company with Mick Finn, his partner for just over 5 years. By now the press is really slagging him off, mocking his decline. Bolan sits in his Monte Carlo tax haven and shrugs it off: '1974 was the worst year of my career, I agree... but next year I'll be on top again'.

9. T.Rex #5. (January 75 - August 76).

The same line-up recorded Futuristic dragon. After that Gloria became a mother and Steve Currie became a session musician.

10. T.Rex #6. (November 76 - September 77).

Line-up: Marc Bolan (gtr/voc), Dino Dines (keyboards), Tony Newman (drums), Herbie Flowers (bass) and Miller Anderson (guitar). This line-up recorded Dandy and made a comeback for Bolan, who, alas, was killed when his car hit a tree. He was only 29.

Part2. You already know my opinion about this great band but I still have some questions to you. First of all, where is the general evaluation? So here's my one: Listenability: 4/5. Yes, sometimes Marc becomes too boring and sometimes too funky but that's only sometimes. Resonance: 3/5. After 'Electric warrior' (which wasn't just a glam record) Marc's song suddenly became faceless (maybe except 'Life's an elevator' and 'Spaceball ricochet') Originality: 3/5. All in all, he is the person who invented glam-rock, isn't he? Adequacy: 4/5. For the most part, Marc never overestimated himself. Overall: 3.5 = * * * on the general rating scale.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

I must state first and foremost that I am a pretty big T. Rex fan. Although living in Australia, I am still missing a couple of albums. They are almost impossible to find. Marc Bolan is shunned as much in Australia as he is in the US. Most surprisingly though is that I have had no trouble finding the first four albums. At the moment I am missing T. Rex and Tanx, but I will try my best to rectify the situation. It actually took me a long time to ‘get in’ to T. Rex. As I have complained about elsewhere, I don’t know anyone with knowledge about 60s and 70s music so I have to do most of my research via the internet. Stations that play old music recycle the same crap over and over again, and the means the only songs I knew by T. Rex were ‘Get it On’ and ‘Hot Love’. I was told by someone who kind of knew T. Rex to download the following tracks: ‘Beltane Walk’, ‘Ride a White Swan’ ‘Cosmic Dancer’ and ‘Metal Guru’. Although I really liked ‘Cosmic Dancer’ the other three really didn’t grab me. Then I was told to download ‘Child Star’ and I was turned off T. Rex for good. I of course didn’t realise that the song was from the early hippie period. If only I was told to download something like ‘Children of the Revolution’ of ‘The Slider’ I probably would have fallen in love with T. Rex right there and then. Then I was watching the film Billy Elliot and recognised a couple of the tracks as T. Rex. The film contained ‘Children of the Revolution’ which is still possibly my favourite T. Rex track. This track was the ‘clincher’ as far as me becoming a T. Rex fan.

Sorry for that boring story. Let’s get to the actual band itself. It is very doubtful that Marc Bolan changed his name to be a contraction of Bob Dylan. His original name was Mark Feld. A friend told him to change his name to Marc because that was more unique I suppose. When he cut his first single, his last name was changed to Bowland, the reasons I imagine is that the record company didn’t want a singer with a Jewish last name. Marc was shocked by this, but eventually came to a compromise – he would drop the “w” and the “d”. Anyway he had a somewhat beautiful and distinct voice. From a purist point of view, his voice was nothing special, but he somehow delivered the majority of songs with enough energy/sincerity/conviction/whatever, and his voice integrated wonderfully well with the backing vocals. Obviously, in the first couple of albums he preferred to demonstrate his ‘bleating’ vocals over his hippie mantras. However, take an album with melodies such as Unicorn and tell me that his voice is not beautiful. He is also a fantastic guitar player, whether it be the ‘bland’ strumming of early albums or the traditional boogie with the thick 70s guitar tone he played on Electric Warrior and The Slider. In fact, although The Slider is disappointing in some aspects, I like the album so much because of the guitar riffs, but more about that in the actual album comments. He also provided the band/duet with some incredibly unique and intriguing lyrics. While they were not always comprehensible, they are often entertaining. Syd Barrett was a definite influence for Marc Bolan (in the Tyrannosaurus Rex days). He even once said “What The Pink Floyd do electrically, we do acoustically.” (Notice that Pink Floyd still had the definite article before their name at that stage.) The lyrics only descended into clichéd passages occasionally, most obviously during Bolan’s Zip Gun and Futuristic Dragon.

As for the other members, the standouts are Steve Peregrine Took, Mickey Finn and Gloria Jones! Special consideration should also go to Tony Visconti for production and the subtle but important string arrangements, and Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (aka Flo and Eddie) who provided very important and distinct backing vocals during the Electric Warrior/Slider/Tanx era. I should also mention Bill Legend and Steve Currie as they provided a wonderful rhythm section during the Electric Warrior/Slider/Tanx era. Took’s greatest moment is Unicorn. Listen to the drumming on ‘Chariots of Silk’. Absolutely sublime. Mickey Finn, while being the longest serving member bar Marc himself, has in fact a negligible influence. He didn’t even perform most of the percussion on A Beard of Stars as he had just joined the duet and Marc didn’t have enough time to teach him the parts, and he was almost obsolete after Electric Warrior. However his percussion sound is more important to the band than it would seem at first glance. Now Gloria Jones… arguably she single handedly destroyed T. Rex. That is exaggeration, but she does ruin many good T. Rex songs with her damn screeching. The worst example is ‘Truck On (Tyke)’ which is almost unlistenable. Actually she does provide a couple of nice moments, the obvious examples being ‘Sitting Here’, ‘Dock of the Bay’ and her aaahhhing is really nice on ‘New York City’.

Interestingly, T. Rex’s legacy seems to be in advertising now. ‘Get it On’ has been used in countless TV commercial in Australia, and no doubt other countries in the world. ‘Children of the Revolution’ was used in a phone commercial recently, and ‘20th Century Boy’ was used in a car commercial. But my “favourite” is using ‘I Love to Boogie’ to advertise the energy gained from eating pork here in Australia.

One thing that really annoys me about T. Rex is how many of the tracks were released as singles and not on any studio album. Fantastic songs like ‘Ride a White Swan’, ‘Hot Love’ and ‘Children of the Revolution’ aren’t on any of the studio albums. At least Edsel (the company that is reissuing the T. Rex catalogue) have included all the archive songs on the albums from The Slider onwards. However you will have to obtain any earlier songs like ‘Hot Love’ using your own methods. I think it’s a crime that ‘Hot Love’ has been left of Electric Warrior in any form of the album. Another thing is that there are myriads of T. Rex compilations. I have come across about eight different greatest hits packages and often these are stocked in preference to the actual albums.

Sorry this turned out to be so long and boring, but considering so few people care about T. Rex now, it probably won’t be read.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (31.07.2006)

In my mind, if we are talking strictly from a musical point of view, then glam rock was and still is something of a fiction. From just about every point of view it was a short lived but unusual phenomenon {not least because a whole host of punks were raised on and had an affinity for glam}, but musically ? Naw. There was no real identifiable glam sound, most of it could have been by a whole load of different groups that were never identified as glam. I mean, Bowie, Slade, The Sweet, Sparks, Kiss, Roxy music, Gary Glitter, Mott the Hoople, Alice Cooper, Sailor, Mud, Cockney Rebel, Queen, Alvin Stardust, Hello and even Elton John in one of his guises could all be counted as glam but musically you could get at least three and probably four different musical genres out of that lot. What they had in common was style that was deliberately superficial and from that vantage point, even the Stones fell into glam and glitter in the 74ish period. And even that wasn't particularly original; clothing was an increasingly essential part of pop culture and the bands in the vanguard. Glam strikes me as the musical period where alot of bands and singers that had struggled in one guise or another in the 60s came good {or let's say popular} in their own right and found a niche. T. Rex were certainly one of them. In fact, Marc Bolan has been credited with accidentally starting glam by putting some glitter on his cheeks before a TV appearence and forgetting to take it off - but it caught on and the rest is history. Mind you, it's hard to take too much seriously when dealing with Marc Bolan because perhaps more than the Beatles, myth and reality have so merged, it's often impossible to determine which is which ! But I digress. George is bang on when he says that unlike most of T. Rex's contemporaries that had a 60s past, Bolan had a fantastic legacy. Only Bowie really could claim to have written much worthwhile stuff prior to the 70s and at least at that point, he wasn't really in the same league, melodically. Tyrannosaurus Rex are something of an anomaly; though thought of as "folkie", they weren't folk, neither were they rock, though they could cook with as much verve and energy as any band of their contemporaries. One of the great paradoxes of popular music, they were rather something of a fake coz they only ended up playing as an acoustic duo coz Track records repossessed their drums and electric guitars {Rex did at one point comprize of five members and were a rock band that never rehearsed and ended up sounding crap, hence Track pulling the plug, although whether this is myth, truth or slight embellishment is anyone's guess}. In future interviews, Bolan made it clear that he had always wanted to be a big star and that the electric route was always where he was headed; even his then famous quote about what the Pink Floyd did electronically Rex did acoustically is kind of revealing....I find it fascinating that he didn't compare the band to, say, the Incredible String Band. But I don't want to sound unfair by calling the band fakes, and I use the term very tongue in cheek. Marc upset alot of hippies when he "went pop and electric" and there was often some friction with him and Steve Took. Took was a real drug taking radical "let's put LSD in all the sewers and resevoirs" overturn society hippy while Marc didn't do drugs at that time. Just before he died, the New Musical Express asked the question "Was he really the skinny hippy ? Was he just holding his stomach in ?" which in retrospect isn't unfair. But the Hippies that got upset with him tended to be as uptight as the establishment they sought to get shot of, just as controlling, in my mind. And what that acoustic guitar and bongo {and the later percussive additions} set up did, particularly over the first three albums, was give Marc the opportunity to really hone his craft, learn how to get to the kernel of a song, make a song work on it's own terms, learn how to arrest a listener with a killer melody and sparse but interesting accompaniment. Some of those Tyrannosaurus Rex songs are absolutely fantastic. You didn't have to be into folk to appreciate them. I particularly appreciate the way he took two voices {on the occasions Took would harmonize, he had a natural ear for harmony}, one guitar and a set of bongoes with sometimes a couple of other elements and made that combination as interesting as anything you care to name that was being recorded at the time. Crazy, wonderful songs like CHILD STAR, STRANGE ORCHESTRAS or SALAGANDA PALAGANDA that were generally clever, short and memorable. The impression I've sometimes gotten from alot of these songs is that Marc wanted them to sound as mystically and mytholgically "knowing" as songs composed by an acid enhanced mind and much of his Hippy audience fell for it, thinking that here was "one of them", hence their anger when he "found" his true voice. But a listen to some of the flopped singles of '69 and '70 and their B sides like KING OF THE RUMBLING SPIRES and FIND A LITTLE WOOD, not to mention album tracks like ELEMENTAL CHILD and LOFTY SKIES plus some then unreleased gems from '69 like THE SEAS OF ABYSINNIA and BLESSED WILD APPLE GIRL shows him using psychedelic instrumentation like bass, drums and mellotron as well as electric guitar and wah-wah pedals and Eastern and Arabic sounding melodies. His was a neat evolution back to where he really wanted to be and T. Rex were wildly successful. I remember growing up with them, I first heard of them off a record my Mum had {HOT LOVE} and they were just one of a host of groups/singers that were really popular in the early 70s; I never really listened to them at that time with both ears, I was too busy eyeing up my sister's friends who liked them coz they seemed so sophisticated to a ten year old. But even then, you got an admiring look if you knew that T.Rex was short for Tyrannosaurus Rex {which it wasn't but it made you sound wise}. Now I come to think about it, that's where I first heard about dinosaurs. As stupid as it sounds, popular music has often proved to be a door to learning about things that have nothing to do with music. Anyway, three major things passed over from the dinosaur incarnation to pop hero time~ one was Marc's unerring ear for a great melody. 20th CENTURY BOY, TELEGRAM SAM, GET IT ON and others were great melodies that the music could only enhance and were so singable. The second thing was his lyrical prowess. Few people could get away with the nonsense he got away with ! He may have liked his mythology in the 60s but his was the living epitome of the unfathomable lyric. He sounded like he was on drugs even though he wasn't. But much of his early 70s output wasn't much better, just not mock-acidy. He took ordinary idiot level phrases and crafted them into great singable songs. TELEGRAM SAM is a great example. Marvelous. If you look at some of his sex songs, any mystery or passion is taken away, yet they kind of work. He could make the washing up sound good enough to chart ! Then thirdly, there's his guitar playing, both acoustic and electric. On the electric, he knocked out some great riffs and lines that many a heavy band would've been happy to work with while on the acoustic, I find him completely unique. While at that point in the 60s guitarists that played acoustic were using all kinds of tunings and finger styles and trying to sound like sitarists, he was strumming in a bizarre yet simple fashion that was mysterious and lovely to listen to and served the songs so well. ELEMENTAL CHILD falls in between, using the electric in the first part of that song, the way he'd used the acoustic previously. While there are precedents for that kind of thing {for example, Syd Barrett on THE GNOME}, Bolan's use of it here is devastating~yet it doesn't detract from a superlative melody and lyric. He was underated coz his perceived strengths lay elsewhere.

I personally prefer the '67 to '70 period and I think that Steve Took has to take some credit for that too. He never really did much after, being something of an acid casualty though he did attempt some recordings with the late Syd Barrett that predictably came to nought. Ironic, coz Syd had been a huge influence on Marc, not least in his stage attire and glittery androgeny......


Øyvind Erland <> (09.07.2001)

Some info on Beginning of Doves by Marc Bolan. I first heard the stuff on a double-LP, mixing John's Children-songs with most of the ..Doves-stuff, including early-80s-remixes(!) of those early demos. Can't rememember the name of the shit, well I actually love the Bolan-stuff, his 66-67 producer (Simon Napier-Bell) had added drums, bass, el.guitar and other stuff to the demoes and it sounds great. Wow this sound is better than both Tyr. and T., was my first thought, how could he have done that in the mid-60's? Ok, I hate the standard-80's sound (I'm no idiot), but this sound is definately not standard-80's, in fact fits the songs very well. Well you got to hear it to believe it. But keep in mind I heard the remixes before the originals... Yeah I think Doves wasn't released before late 80's. And when I first heard it I thought, hey something is missing, in fact almost everything! Yeah, comparing those two albums indeed shows how much production can affect a song.

The Bolan-part of the double LP's has been released later as (at least..) both "You scare me to death" and "Love and Death"(CD).

By the way: John's Children sucks seriously, at least the songs without Bolan (all exept for 1? - which is not included on the mentioned album) Sorry for my English


Sergey Zhilkin <> (15.02.2001)

Splendid debut album! Yes, you guessed right - I don't consider this to be an acoustic crap. For me this is just the flow of mind of ordinary hippie - just look: cars, Tolkien, Indian music (yes! Right now I remembered that 1968 was the year of Indian 'crap'!), Pink Floyd, Dylan and etc... And this is extremely interesting. Somehow I managed to close my eyes on the fact that there're only two instruments and ... I had thirty minutes of pleasure. But, you know, this half an hour lasted for me only few moments. It's really strange for me to hear such things from myself but I really think that it's too short. In fact, Marc Bolan was the only artist who managed to grab my breath away. Even famous Russian actor/songwriter Vladimir Vysotskiy couldn't do it.

Actually I don't quite understand how you managed to write such a long review on this album. You know, it's an experience, which I find hard to explain. And 'My people were fair' itself is a hate/love thing. If one doesn't like sitting in headphones, listening to wonderful acoustic guitar (and Marc plays it in very unusual way here), remembering some happy days of his/her (though, I can hardly imagine a girl/woman listening My people were fair) life, stupidly starring into the space and totally losing the sense of time... well... then it's really crap for him/her. As for me, I think that My people is just what you need when you have about half an hour of free time and cozy seat...

PS. George, did you ever have an idea that Unicorn is a sequel to My people? Well, not exactly sequel, but it's built in the same way! Even in the end of these two albums Marc reads the title. Besides, there's a children's story (read by John Peel in both cases!) in the end of album. My point is that My people deserves nearly the same rating as Unicorn. Though, the latter had something mystical inside so, in my opinion, a fair rating to My people would be 12/15.

Adam Bruneau <> (06.09.2003)

I don't know, I really kind of see all of the first Tyrannosaurus Rex albums as something of equals to one another. Maybe it's because I haven't listened to them enough really, but I got into Bolan about two years ago and have been obsessed with everything T-Rex ever since! Basically, it sounds like if the Incredible String Band had one singer, and this was Syd Barrett trying to act like a goat. The results are otherworldly and folky at the same time, and these first albums are jam-packed with amazing melodies and beautiful imagery. "Hot Rod Mama", "Strange Orchestras", and "Frowning Atahuallpa" are my favorites. But the best track on the record (and the one that makes me keep going back to it before the other Tyrranosaurus ones) is the final, where John Peel tells a long poem piece, Marc breaking into a beautiful short epilogue at the end. If you're a fan of psychedelic folk, PLEASE do not pass this up. 8

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

This album is definitely an experience, not necessarily a good experience, but an experience all the same. I could easily listen to this many times over unlike you George, but I suppose I am a bit of a T. Rex fanatic compared to you. In fact the album is a great one to listen to before you go to sleep. I’m not saying it is so boring that it will make you sleep. Really, if you are about to sleep Marc’s bleating voice will surely wake you up. What I mean is that the album is a great way to wind down, hopefully the last thing that will be on your mind before you sleep is Marc’s vocals on ‘Frowning Atahuallpa’.

Actually Marc and Took were unhappy with the production on this album, as they believed the engineers didn’t understand the style of music. Tony Visconti was with the duo at this time, but he didn’t make such an active role in the sound until the next album. In any event, the highlights for me are ‘Strange Orchestras’ and ‘Frowning Atahuallpa’. But really there are small amounts of highlights littered throughout the album. The majority of the highlights are mostly the way in which Marc is able to twist his voice. The are some beautiful vocal moments on ‘Scenescof’, ‘Strange Orchestras’, ‘Chateau in Virginia Waters’ and ‘Dwarfish Trumpet Blues’ but the greatest is ‘Frowning Atahuallpa’. The scatting part that you mentioned George is the greatest and most surprising moment on the album. The song degenerates though, I don’t care for anything once the John Peel story begins. Really, the majority of the songs have vocal hooks, it just takes a lot of listens to for them to imprint themselves on your brain. However, I can understand if most people couldn’t listen to it enough times for that to happen. I got a bit lost and bored the first few times, and that still happens now. Took’s constant “pitter patter” on the bongos can get tiresome. He is great in Unicorn when he has a large arsenal of percussion instruments, but for now we have to be content with bongos. And I still struggle to remember how some of the songs go… What does ‘Knight’ or ‘Weilder of Words’ sound like? I can’t remember. And some of the ones I remember aren’t anything to write home about. For me, I couldn’t give this as high as an 11 because it is not that great an album. It is merely an interesting trip through Marc Bolan’s… psyche? Not really but it is a very different experience all the same. This is an experience, but one that cannot be explained. Actually I will state it now, Tyrannosaurus Rex’s first two albums are indescribable. You will just have to have a listen for yourself.

<> (19.07.2004)

Jesus, that guy must have been crazy!!! Really, this guy must have been mentally ill!!! This is a crazy stuff and the main point of this stuff is that it's a crazy stuff.

James Hunter <>(31.12.2005)

I have to point out, Georgie porgie, that My People Were Fair... does not have the longest title around. That honor goes to Fiona Apple and her second album the title of which is as follows: When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws The Blows When He Goes To The Fight And He'll Win The Whole Thing Fore He Enters The Ring There's No Baby To Batter When Your Mind is Your Might So When You Go Solo. You Hold Your Own Hand And Remember That Depth Is The Greatest Of Heights And If You Know Where You Stand. Then You'll Know Where To Land And If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You Know That You're Right

Thankfully, Fiona's a great artist, so it's okay for her to do that


Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

This is very much My People Were Fair… part 2. There are more tracks, and some of them are total wastes like ‘Our Wonderful Brownskin Man’, and many of them are totally forgettable, much like the tracks on My People Were Fair…. There is a tiny amount of progression (or in actual fact a regression) in that all the songs deal with myths, fantasy and other non modern themes unlike My People Were Fair… which featured references to cars and the like. ‘Deboraarobed’ and ‘Stacey Grove’ are the highlights of the album, however it’s not a very good idea to put them at the start as it causes the album to drag. The version of ‘Deboraarobed’ that is reversed actually differs slightly from the original single version, of which I pre! fer. But the version presented here is still very good. It is amazing, and also quite scary how similar the reversed part sounds to the normal part. ‘Stacey Grove’ is indeed the best song here, Marc’s voice is beautiful and it gives a hint of what would be next on Unicorn. ‘Conesuala’ is also very nice, and I would have no hesitation in putting this in the ‘highlight’ category as well. Again Steve Took is still offering mostly boring “pitter patter” percussion, so most of the highlights are caused by Marc’s unique vocal twists. The percussion in ‘Trelawny Lawn’ offers some interest at least. Took is mostly silent except for a great flurry of drums interspersed throughout the song. ‘Salamanda Palaganda’ and ‘Eastern Spell’ are both often placed on compilations of the Tyrannosaurus Rex years, but I couldn’t care for either of them. They are much like everything else here. Not surprisingly ‘Eastern Spell’ has a heavy eastern flavour.! There are still a couple of nice moments on the second side with ‘O Harley (The Saltimbaques)’ and ‘The Traveling Tragition’. In addition I actually like ‘Scenescof Dynasty’ but I warn you I LIKE MARC BOLAN A LOT. If you do not, you are very unlikely to enjoy this “song”. With the money raised from this album, the duet was finally able to purchase some new equipment, including a new Suziki guitar for Marc, and various percussion instruments (and even a Pixiepipe) for Took, which would prove extremely useful on Unicorn. As for the 45 minute compilation of Tyrannosaurus Rex’s first two albums, here is the tracklist I would suggest.

Hot Rod Mama, Scenescof, Child Star, Strange Orchestras, Chateau in Virginia Waters, Dwarfish Trumpet Blues, Afghan Woman, Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love), Deboraarobed, Stacy Grove, Wind Quartets, Conesuala, O Harley (The Saltimbaques), The Traveling Tragition

That tracklist would provide 38 minutes of music, so I suppose you could add ‘Mustang Ford’, ‘Salamanda Palaganda’ and ‘Eastern Spell’ which are supposed to be good songs but I don’t like them too much. Not surprisingly My People Were Fair… dominates the songs, with most of the songs from the first side of each album. This would indicate that both the albums can drag which is true.

Paul Watts <> (19.09.2005)

This was the second and final LP of what I would term Marc Bolan's "acoustic boogaloo" period, which was triumphantly brought to a close by the magnificent (but dismal sales-wise) single 'Pewter Suitor', a superb example of rollicking danceable boogie achieved using only acoustic instruments, and which unfortunately isn't on this or any other regular Tyrannosaurus album but does appear on some compilations. It is a pity it isn't included here, even on latter day versions of Prophets, as it was for me easily the best of all the Tyrannosaurus singles and would have fit perfectly on this record, as would 'One Inch Rock', also a single about the same time. Both this record and My People are peppered with songs that hint somewhat at later, rockier works with the full four piece electric T.Rex. This record is generally at its most enjoyable when Bolan is boogie-ing, such as on 'Salamanda Palaganda', 'Conesuala' and the remade 'Eastern Spell'. 'Stacey Grove' is a nice acoustic ballad. 'The Travelling Tragician' points most strongly toward the glorious Unicorn, the album that followed. Most of the rest is forgettable. 'Deboraarobed', another remake, is inferior to the original but barely OK if you don't try to compare the two.

'The Scenescof Dynasty' is certainly the product of a vivid imagination, telling the story of Marc and Susie's adventures inside the brain of some fearsome Tolkeinesque creature. It runs for four and a half minutes but seems much longer and is certainly a curiosity. You might listen to it once, twice or maybe even thrice, marvel at the imagination at work, the interesting backing vocals, the way with words, and the chutzpah of Bolan to create this song without the use of a single musical instrument. And then never want to hear it ever again. An experiment, certainly, but a failed one.

I get the feeling Prophets was a bit of an early low point in the career of Marc Bolan. The first album was sort of half decent amid the euphoria of scoring a recording contract, but Marc didn't seem to have enough material of decent quality to carry off this second LP hot on the heels of the first. It is to his eternal credit that his next effort, Unicorn, would be a major improvement in every way, and a moderate chart success as well, but more importantly it would in time become known as one of the finest achievements of its era. I'm not sure Unicorn was in Marc Bolan's master plan, though, but we can be thankful that he decided to make the diversion. Prophets and the first album (and 'Pewter Suitor') make it abundantly clear that Marc already believed that he was "Born To Boogie".


Sergey Zhilkin <> (09.02.2001)

Oh, yeah, this is not an album, this is unforgettable experience. Unfortunately, it's overlooked by almost everyone (if not, why I'm the first one to mail ideas?). Though, it's quite understandable. See, 1969 - The Late Beatles, Golden Stones, Open Doors and Bob Dylan... Marc was simply overshadowed. Anyway, to the album itself. On first look one may dismiss it as 'drunken hippie crap' and it's quite understandable, too. In fact this was my reaction was when I heard this album for the first time. You know, switching from Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St to this acoustic masterpiece is really a tough case. But I managed to forget about poor instrumental arrangements and dug the lyrics with Bolan's voice. Indeed, it can't be repeated, unique thing. At first it sounds really weird and uncomfortable but then... Now to me it sounds very gently and pleasant.

As for the songs, they are great, too. Melodies are VERY strong (but, again, lack of instruments leaves its print here...) and manage somehow to come straight to your heart. You know, I listened to this piece of art (not album, mind you) more than ten times but even now I can't remember all the melodies. Very rich album. And the lyrics are terrific, too (have I already said it?). Something happens in my heart (no kidding) when I hear 'Like a white star, tangled and far, tulip that's what you are' or 'She was born to be my unicorn'... Weird, really weird... Plus, I would like to mention this childish chanting in the beginning/ending of ''Pon a hill'. You don't even imagine how I adore it! It sounds nothing like, say, Yoko's chanting.

Ratings? Heh, do you really expect me to give it less than 10/10? In fact, this piece of art should get 14/15 on your overall scale. And as for the best song... Maybe 'Catblack' but I'm not sure...

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

According to most Tyrannosaurus Rex aficionados (of which there are few) this is the pinnacle of the pre Electric Warrior years, although I tend to rate it more or less equal to A Beard of Stars. I should stress though that I rate them equally for different reasons. For one thing Unicorn features Took's percussion and mostly beautiful backing vocals, which is lacking on A Beard of Stars. A Beard of Stars is more poppish and has wonderful electric guitar embellishments which Unicorn doesn't have. Both of the albums have strong (and sometimes catchy) melodies, almost non existent on the first two albums album. So ultimately I view them as equals.

Now onto the album at hand. The only unlikable track is 'Romany Soup' which George has already mentioned. Now I'm not sure what Marc was thinking here, but he used to boast about the amount of tracks used while recording it and the excessive time it took to mix. He must have forgotten about making an actual song though. The "song" features the second part of the story that was read by John Peel that was first heard on My People Were Fair…. As for the highlights just take any of the other 15 tracks. Actually I think 'Stones for Avalon' is a bit weak only saved by Took's backing vocals. I'm not too big on 'She was Born to be my Unicorn' or 'Warlord of the Royal Crocodiles' which are both generally fan favourites. Don't get me wrong, they are still good songs, I just feel they are overshadowed by the other fantastic tracks on offer. 'Catblack (The Wizard's Hat)' is the true masterpiece on the album. I have no hesitation and stating it as the greatest Tyrannosaurus Rex song. It is probably the only ever Tyrannosaurus song I have ever liked in first listen. Marc's sly (and seemingly "lazy") vocals are placed on a delightful descending organ and Visconti's relaxed piano, all underpinned by Took's fantastic drumming. Other highlights include the delightful 'Chariots of Silk' (with Took's fantastic percussion) and the beautiful 'Like a White Star…'. This song actually shows Marc writing some more regular lyrics which would result in 'By the Light of the Magical Moon' on the next album. And of course there is your favourite George, 'Iscariot'. This song is scary but in an odd sort of manner. Black Sabbath this is not. 'Evenings of Damask' features beautiful "ohhing" backing vocals from Took at the end of each verse, and more beautiful "ahhhing" backing vocals are present in 'Nijiksky Hind'. As for the tracks I haven't mentioned, they are still very good, they just do not stand out as much. This album deserves an easy 13 and possibly a 14.

Paul Watts <> (14.09.2005)

I agree that this is a timeless classic. Regarded as a weird curiosity in its day, it was given a folk rock label and regarded as a poor relation to works such as Fairport Convention's Unhalfbricking and Family's Music in a Dolls House. Three and a half decade later it clearly surpasses them both. Neither folk nor rock, it is a music all its own. The reading by John Peel sounds dated, but that is all. The rest is timeless.

This was the last recorded work of Steve Peregrin Took, and some of his percussion and backing vocals are just other worldly. Special mention to the bongos on 'The Pilgrim's Tale'. Clearly the magnificent production of Tony Visconti has brought this about, but the bongos are used in this song not for rhythm, but to create an ambience to the song. The same thing was done less successfully on 'Eastern Spell' on the second Tyrannosaurus album, but with the cavernous production used on Unicorn, it works perfectly.

It is impossible to say whether later Bolan work, much of which stands the test of time remarkably well, is the equal or better of Unicorn, simply because not only did Marc Bolan never revisit the musical territory that the album occupies (apart from fleeting moments on its successor such as "Great Horse"), but neither has anyone else, before or since. It is a truly unique moment in the history of music, and quite a magnificent one.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (26.02.2001)

It's very easy to dig this album if you like Unicorn. Indeed, Beard of stars is just a step towards T-REX, pop music and glam rock. No, one can hardly call this album poppy (the only pop song here is my favorite 'By the light of the magical moon'), I just wanted to say that here Marc doesn't show his 'flow-of-conscience' - he REALLY cares about average listener. In fact, Beard of stars was the second Bolan's album I listened to. Unfortunately, I couldn't dig it the first time but after few listens+

The lyrics are not even an inch worse than before. Do you remember such lines: 'Even though the wind may blow it all away// Don't you ever worry 'cos I'm your friend+' Ain't it a perfection? Maybe it's the best song written about friendship/love, really+

'Wind cheetan' is, IMHO, the most frightening song ever written. I have shivers down my spine every time I hear it. Forget about Alice Cooper and his imitations of suicide right on the stage.

Ah, it's hard to judge the other songs. They are mediocre if not taken as whole album. In fact, it's another (the third one!) experience from Marc. The last impressing and influencing record and the last record by Tyrannosaurus Rex.

PS. The cover has really something deep in it. Marc looks here as a little child and as a grown-up at the same time. And this strange look+ Look of sorrow or happiness? The cover has as many meanings as you want. Ain't it Mona Lisa 2? Thanks to Pete Sanders for photograph!

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

So Marc Bolan finally goes electric, no it’s not quite a big deal as when Bob Dylan did the same, but Tyrannosaurus fans were shocked when the single ‘King of the Rumbling Spires’ was released. The song features an electric guitar and more or less regular percussion. It caused him to lose quite a few fans because he had “sold out” and indeed the tracks presented on the album are much more pop than previous efforts. The album may be more pop orientated but this isn’t your regular pop, although Marc has wonderful control of his vocal hooks which are littered throughout the album. The lyrics are much more pop orientated, but it still contains Marc’s delightful lyrical twists. Bolan’s Zip Gun this is not. Marc Bolan had parted with Steve Took. They had been in conflict for much of the US tour in 1969. They suffered from ideological differences as Took believed the music was about delivering messages to the people, whereas Marc just wanted to have fun and become popular. That and the fact that Marc was annoyed when Took arrived one day in the studio with a heap of songs that he had written himself. Marc would not allow it as he was the leader of the band. In addition Took was doing LSD heavily at the time and it was ruining his ability to play on the tour. In the end Took stayed back in America as he had met a woman. You are completely correct in stating that Mickey Finn was hired mostly for his looks. Marc felt that if he grew a beard he would look almost the same as Took, and the hippies wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Finn doesn’t even play much on this album. All of the tracks had been recorded previousl! y with Took, but due to legal reasons, all of Took’s tracks had to be erased. Marc didn’t have enough time to teach Finn all the parts so he recorded the percussion overdubs himself with a little help from Tony Visconti.

Anyway, let’s get to the actual album. I find it beautiful in so many ways. ‘Prelude’ is exactly that which leads into ‘A Daye Laye’ – the first beautiful part of the album. Marc’s vocals are absolutely gorgeous. ‘Woodland Bop’ seems pretty silly to me, but it’s not too bad. ‘Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart’ is another lovely moment. I love the “Funny how the day comes slow” lines. This song actually features some of the better percussion on the album and some delightful electric embellishments. ‘Organ Blues’ is intriguing in the way that the organ imitates the guitar on a traditional blues track. It’s not surprising that the percussion wasn’t holding down the track, it was Marc himself playing it, and he’s no percussion expert. ‘By the Light of the Magical Moon’ is another beautiful track and easily the most “accessible” track ever released by Tyrannosaurus Rex. ‘Wind Cheetah’ is pretty much in! the same vein as ‘Iscariot’. ‘A Beard of Stars’ is a delightful little instrumental to begin the second side. I really like the wordless vocals here. ‘Great Horse’ is yet another beautiful track. Actually the title “beautiful” can also be given to ‘Lofty Skies’ and ‘Dove’. I’m sorry that this is the only adjective I can think of to describe the songs on this album, but they are indeed beautiful in every sense of the word. And finally comes ‘Elemental Child’. I really like the song except for the parts where he sings “Hold the glove of gold behind you/Love the glove of Truth.” That just sounds dumb. It’s funny that you mention that he was an undercover rocker. This was basically his argument when he was accused of selling out on this album. He was originally a rocker and would have been for the whole time if his equipment wasn’t repossessed when Tyrannosaurus Rex first formed. In conclusion I really love this album and would give it a 14, but I am a T. Rex fanatic so you should probably believe George rather than me. The only song I don’t care for is ‘Woodland Bop’. Best song? How about a three way tie between ‘A Daye Laye’, ‘Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart’ and ‘Great Horse’? Sorry I cannot separate them.


William Lawson <> (17.05.2000)

So essential a link in the development of Marc Bolan's song writing, it's nothing less than amazing that this album often gets overlooked. Nonetheless, it stands as one of T. Rex's greatest records. A damned good, if obscure, T. Rex album, Bolan's decision to shorten the name of his band from Tyrannosaurus Rex to T. Rex here was a logical step, considering the transition his sound takes on this album from charming "hippie crap" to rock'n'roll. But it had the unfortunate side effect of convincing some people Bolan himself was T. Rex. (He was, but not in that way. But then, maybe that's what he had in mind all along.) Oh, well: It's a great album anyway, and probably the easiest place to find a recording of 'The Wizzard', here called 'The Wizard'. Like 'Romany Soup' on Unicorn, 'The Wizard' depends on repetition for its hypnosis, repeating the line "He was a wizard and he was my friend he was" incessantly. But it does rock out in fine fashion, and aside for being a little "regressive", in that it's a new version of an old song (Bolan's would occasionally rework an old tune, as he later did with 'Children of Rarn') it is a definite move toward the harder rocking sound of Electric Warrior, and so makes an indispensable link between A Beard of Stars and Bolan's later material.

This album has, not one, but two copys of 'The Children of Rarn' on it; opening and closing the album, and while I don't hate it, it's far from the best tune on the album (maybe that's why Bolan re-did it). Beside the tracks mentioned above, this album also includes 'One Inch Rock', 'Seagull Woman', 'Beltane Walk' and Bolan's siminal metal tune, 'Jewel', which apparently Bolan saw as a model for his later efforts, 'cause he was still using it as a "warm up" durring the the Electric Warrior Sessions. I can't overemphasize how important this album is, simply in terms of song writing.

By the way, the American version of this record included the British hit single, 'Is It Love', not on the British version. But because of the rapidly diverging tastes of the British and American music markets, neither it, nor this album made much of a dent in the U.S. This problem was overcome with 'Get it On (Bang a Gong)' on the next album.

P.S. Sorry. It was "Ride a White Swan," not "Is It Love." Interestingly enough, both songs were included on later releases of A Beard of Stars as a bonus single, on Blue Thumb Records, but were on included on the Reprise Records lp. Apparently Reprise had enough faith in the single's future salability, based on its British success, that they bought it from Blue Thumb to include on the T. Rex lp. Either that, or they assumed the rights to it, as Bolan's latest single, when he signed onto Reprise.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (08.03.2001)

And here's the nice link between Tyrannosaurus Rex and T.Rex. After that glam rock is quite predictable. This record loses a big piece of magic (but still it is present here) to gain high sales. Plus it's obvious that soon Marc will build up a new band with four or five members.

T-REX is a nice record with poppy songs. Though among them I find such gems as 'Beltane walk', mysterious 'Summer deep' and 'The wizard'. Unfortunately, I couldn't dig 'Jewel' because to me it sounds too sour (I mean that Marc mustn't jam until he has a good band). 'One inch rock' is hilarious and, to end the list, I like the lyrics of 'Diamond meadows'. As I said before, there's not a single bad song among 14 tracks and, what is more interesting, every cut has still something special inside.

So, goodbye 'hippie-crap' and hello Electric warrior!

Lloyd Peppard <> (26.05.2003)

Oh Wow! Your review sure made me happy, because this is the ONLY one of Bolan's early albums that I've been able to find in a record store (without ordering them all from Amazon at exorbitant prices), and I love it like crazy, so I'd be thrilled to discover that he did a number of other albums that were even better.

I was surprised, though, that you picked 'Jewel' as the albums's best song, since I usually skip over it, something which has little to do with any dislike for 'Jewel' and more to do with an absolute love of 'The Visit', which follows it.

Being that I'm almost completely unfamiliar with Bolan's early work, I'm not sure than I'm ESPECIALLY qualified to comment on this album. But I will say that I think I prefer it to The Silder, and definately Tanx and anything that came after that. The LYRICS are just so much better here than they are on the later stuff. I mean, they're not especially profound, or anything, but they're pretty and ridiculous, and Bolan sounds like he's having fun with it, something that seems to be missing from a lot of The Slider, which sometimes sounds like forced commercialism. Looking back, it's probably Bowie's fault Marc's songwriting started to deteriorate, since Bolan was supposedly so envious of Bowie stealing the spotlight with Ziggy, he couldn't think about anything else. Then again, I'm not an expert on all things Marc Bolan, so I don't know. All I DO know is that I only hear him mentioned as a side note whenever someone is discussing Bowie's glam period, which is a shame because, judging from what I've read and the evidence on this album, Marc clearly had a style of his own, created years before Bowie's breakthrough. I wish more people knew about T. Rex, since the only reason I;d ever heard of them was through Bowie and the fact that my Mom really liked T. Rex growing up. Anyway... I hope to become more familiar with T. Rex later on.

Adam Bruneau <> (06.09.2003)

I think this is actually my favorite Marc record of all time, because every song is a song that NEEDS to be listened to, no matter where I am. The world could be crumbling to pieces and I would have to sit down and pay attention to this record, that's how in love with it I am. At the opening Marc declares "We are the seekers of space", and takes us through the past and present and the imaginary. This is a tribal, primal record, aimed right at the human race.

Never mind that "Elemental Child" rocks 50 times more than any Black Sabbath from the same time period, and never mind that "Wizard" is an acoustic freakout with vocal wailing that puts Robert Plant to shame (tho, bear in mind, he never was all that to begin with ;-). Those are the record's center pieces, but we also get amazing transitional songs like "Jewel" that show that Tyrannosaurus was always one step from T. Rex. And "Diamond Meadows". Quite possible the most beautiful song of the last 40 years. 10


Michael McDonough <> (15.07.2001)

This is charming and interesting but probably not a good investment for people who haven't already worn out Electric Warrior. It is best heard in conjunction with the official version.

The most interesting feature on the album is the solid playing of the newly-integrated four-piece, heard here without "sweetening" (strings and effects). The new band had just come together a few months previously to record "Hot Love"; there is a definite sense of excitement at times as the group realize just how good they sound. (It's truly unfortunate that Bolan was so determined to hog the spotlight; Steve Currie and Bill Legend have always deserved more credit than they have gotten over the years.)

The single best cut is a full-length version of "Get it On" - the exact same track used as a single and on the album. The complete track comes to a full stop after a few nice flourishes and sounds stronger as a result. It's great to be able to hear even more of this classic.

Unfortunately not all the tracks from Electric Warrior are represented here, because no coherent out-takes were available. Some non-LP tracks are here to make up numbers; some of these are obvious warm-ups. And there's obviously no comparison to the finished product. But this is a valid document of a great band getting together to try and conquer the world.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (29.01.2001)

I wonder how it came that nobody have e-mailed his/her ideas so far on this album? So I'm the first one...

I got this pretty record yesterday evening and now I'm charmed by it. You know, I didn't have to listen to it more than one time - I dug all these tunes with the first attempt. In fact, I'm still wondering how can few chords and quiet vocal (except the last track) catch you. All these songs are very catchy, though some of them are obvious remakes of each other ('Get it on' and 'Motivator', for example) so maybe because of this the last track is called 'Rip-off'...

Actually, I find it very hard to define the best track here. Mmm... Maybe 'Life is a gas' which was later transformed into 'Life is real (song for Lennon)' by Queen (album Hot space if I'm not mistaken). My rating 9.5/10

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

T. Rex have finally reached the classic line up and attained their classic sound. This is a huge album in terms of establishing the glam rock genre. For mind, I love the way Marc and the rest of the members can take a more or less regular ‘50s rocker and turn it into something memorable. The only weak track here is indeed ‘Lean Woman Blues’. The new elements added to T. Rex are more important than it would at first seem. I don’t mean the bass of Steve Currie and the drums of Bill Legend as they are obvious, but backing vocals from Flo and Eddie and the orchestration arranged by Tony Visconti. The orchestration is obvious in some songs and subtle in others but always provides the songs with deeper textures than ‘50s rockers that they are imitating. And in the case of ‘Cosmic Dancer’ the strings are just so damn beautiful. Flo and Eddie, who I have praised many times, have gorgeous vocal cords! , which combine wonderfully well with Marc’s voice. There are a few moments of interesting instrumentation, with Blue Weaver on piano, Burt Collins on Flugelhorn (whatever that is) and Ian McDonald on saxophone (of King Crimson fame no less). ‘Jeepster’ features two cellos and a bassoon which are used to reinforce the descending bass lines. ‘The Motivator’ features the same combination of instruments. In addition ‘Jeepster’ has Marc pounding with his hands on the wooden floor in the studio. How’s that for useless trivia?

There are highlights throughout the album. The obvious one is ‘Get It On’ but I also really like ‘Mambo Sun’, ‘Cosmic Dancer’, ‘Girl’ and ‘Rip Off’. In fact if I was forced to choose a best song I would probably go with ‘Cosmic Dancer’. The acoustic strumming is pleasant as are the vocals, but this song wins with its beautiful atmospheric strings. ‘Mambo Sun’ contains a wonderful rhythm section, and the backing vocals combine in a fantastic fashion with Marc’s. ‘Girl’ is another beautiful acoustic ballad, with a nice little horn solo at the end. Sorry I’m not exactly sure what instrument it is, but I think it’s a trumpet. The song also features enjoyable electric embellishments reminiscent of A Beard of Stars. And ‘Rip Off’ finishes the album in an explosive manner. I didn’t always like this song but it has definitely grown on me. It is definitely mean and angry, but about what?

The remaining tracks are by no means weak apart from the aforementioned ‘Lean Woman Blues’. This track sounds like a warm up for a Saturday night blues band down at the pub. ‘Jeepster’ sounds great with the descending bass line and one of those trademark little riffs (with excellent guitar tone) punctuated by irregular percussion. A similar type of riff is used in ‘Get It On’ but this song is so well known I don’t think I would need to comment on it. And again the same wonderful guitar tone is used in ‘Monolith’. I love the “It’s no joke, oh no” parts of the song. ‘Planet Queen’ has obvious similarities to ‘Mambo Sun’, but I much prefer the arrangement on the latter. ‘Planet Queen’ has more of those beautiful Flo and Eddie backing vocals though. ‘The Motivator’ is a nice little rewrite of ‘Get It On’. Since I am now so close to doing it, I will mention every song. That leaves ‘Life’s a Gas’ as a nice ballad but in my mind a distant third compared to ‘Cosmic Dancer’ and ‘Girl’. I would be tempted to give this album a 14, but I might have to settle for a 13. The weaknesses are obvious, but it is such a great listen for T. Rex enthusiasts such as myself.

My version of the album also comes with eight “work in progress” tracks. They are all the tracks except ‘Jeepster’, ‘Lean Woman Blues’ and ‘Girl’ presented as a rehearsal, demo, etc. I won’t discuss it too much considering most people wouldn’t have it, but there are quite a few interesting parts, and some important observations to be made. After listening to these demos I realised that Mickey Finn’s percussion is more important to the band’s sound than it would seem. Another observation is how important Flo and Eddie’s vocals and the orchestration are as they are absent in these versions (apart from ‘Mambo Sun’ in which the orchestration is more audible than the final version). Interestingly, ‘Cosmic Dancer’ was originally an electric ballad. I must say it sounds much better acoustically. If you are a T. Rex fan you might also enjoy some of the studio banter that is provided mostly by Marc.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (05.02.2001)

I read many positive reviews about this thing and, in fact, was expecting something more serious/catchy than this. Surely, I laughed at your review after hearing the first lines of 'Metal Guru' (I was 100% assured that such melodies would keep coming), but then... Now I have to agree with you completely - The slider is just a mass-product. I find it hard to enjoy more than half of these tracks, cause melodies are floating away from Marc.

Well, 'The Slider' with its unforgetable 'And when I'm sad - I sli-i-ide' is great. Marc is almost hissing on this track. 'Metal Guru' is wonderful, too (but sometimes I feel that it's too long). And there's another track present which I adore - 'Spaceball ricochet' (pity you didn't mention it). Is it a reject from 'Beard of stars', I would like to know? Other tracks are...well, not crap, but something very forgetable (even 'Telegram Sam'). Too long and too boring. How is it the best Bolan's album?!!! My rating is somewhere between 6 and 7. PS.

Though, the cover is really great! I couldn't recognise Marc there. Ringo does know how to make good photographs

Simon Castro <> (03.01.2002)

I really dig this album. I know it falls a little short of Electric Warrior in terms of idea and freshness, but you have to give it up for the amazing production of this album! Tony Visconti is truly the savior here, making Bolan's guitar sound fatter than ever, and the delay effect on the drums is genius. Songs like "Baby Strange", "Mystic Lady" and "Metal Guru" just sound great on full blast. It's classic T.Rex. I think this album deserves at least an 8 out of 10 just for its sound.

Adam Bruneau <> (06.09.2003)

This is what I started on, I found the vinyl in a Goodwill and was so struck by the cover image that I bought the record at once without even having a clue as to the music inside. And it's a perfect, pure example of Marc at his simplest best, rocking out with doo-wop, boogie-woogie, jazzy, and rockabilly roots. "Metal Guru" is a heart-stopping teenbop opener and "Telegram Sam" is an awesome groovy hit single. But "Ballrooms of Mars" might well be the best song here. Space rock taken to it's glittery glam-ballad peak. Have you seen the video for "Buick Mackane"? Marc is God. 9

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

Marc Bolan had gotten lazy and it doesn’t take a genius to work out why. He had broken into the “teenybopper” market and the philosophy is that if your image is up to standards you can sing almost anything and it will be bought. I suppose that in 1972 the “teenybopper” market was much different than it is now, T. Rex aren’t doing something like Backstreet Boys or whatever other garbage teenage girls listen to now. In any event, Marc knew he also had to deliver on his rock image as well as his new popular image so in some respects this album is about halfway in between. That being said, the album is not all that bad. I am a big fan of Marc Bolan boogie so this appeals to me, but I will understand if you don’t like it. I think the album offers good Marc Bolan ‘50s style riffs, but presented in a ‘70s fashion much like he had already done on Electric Warrior, but he overdoes it here, meaning that many of the songs can sound the same. An instant observation is that Marc is so lazy in his lyrics. He has always had quite a lot of repetition, but nothing quite like would appear on this album. George alluded to this on ‘Ballrooms of Mars’ and ‘Main Man’. At least he still maintains his trademark lyrical twists. They wouldn’t disappear until Bolan’s Zip Gun.

Out of the ballads I would say that ‘Main Man’ is my favourite. I absolutely love the refrain that you mentioned, even if it is just a tad overlong. If you think the ending to that is overlong, how do you feel about the ending to ‘Hot Love’? ‘Mystic Lady’ is also overlong with the repetition of “Baby, baby, baby…”. ‘Spaceball Ricochet’ is very nice and features the wonderful lyric “With my Les Paul/I know I’m small/but I enjoy living anyway”. What’s that all about Mr. Bolan? ‘Ballrooms of Mars’ is quite boring, made worse by the fact that the entire song is repeated as you said.

As for the rockers, I don’t actually like ‘Metal Guru’ too much. This is generally stated as T. Rex’s definitive glam song, but it still feels neither here nor there for me. I prefer ‘Telegram Sam’ as the definitive glam song, the lyrics are just as much nonsensical and it features a nice riff with a catchy refrain. I am still trying to decide the most boring generic boogie song here, and I would probably award it to ‘Rock On’. That song really annoys me because it could have been much better. Here it may be the epitome of a throwaway. Other candidates are ‘Baby Boomerang’ and ‘Baby Strange’ which are both generic, but to my mind offer at least a little interest. ‘The Slider’ is indeed the greatest song, with wonderful orchestration, and what sounds to be someone hissing (Marc?) in the left channel. ‘Buick Mackane’ is also great, although you didn’t mention it. I suppose it can also be regar! ded as generic like most of the other songs here, but this one is hard and heavy unlike anything T. Rex have done or would do later (except ‘Midnight’ I suppose). ‘Chariot Choogle’ is also fairly heavy but not as good as ‘Buick Mackane’. I feel that Flo and Eddie’s backing vocals save this one somewhat. And that leaves ‘Rabbit Fighter’ which is really one of those songs that comes and goes without you even realising it. The bonus tracks do sound much like the album, but because I like the album more than you do I don’t have too much of a problem with them. ‘Cadillac’ has another nice riff and ‘Thunderwing’ seems like homage to ‘50s rockers more than anything else. I don’t mind that at all. Oh and contrary to popular belief the album cover wasn’t actually taken by Ringo Starr. Tony Visconti took the picture, but it was credited to Ringo, probably for the reason that it would advantage him if it seemed he was still mixing with the big names. Incidentally, out of the thirteen tracks, twelve of them have two words in the title, ‘Ballrooms of Mars ’ being the nonconformist. Now that is consistency…

Paul Watts <> (20.09.2005)

The credits might say Ringo took the photo, but that is shite.

Ringo was apparently credited in order to give the album a big name in its credits.

Both front and back sleeve photos were really taken by producer Tony Visconti.

That said, I've never liked this record much. The rather bland production just doesn't appeal. There are good songs, certainly. 'Telegram Sam' is a beaut little piece of meaningless frippery. 'Mystic Lady', 'Rabbit Fighter', 'Ballrooms of Mars' and 'Spaceball Ricochet' are all great. Unfortunately, 'Metal Guru' (which is Marc's ode to the motor car, prophetic in a way since like Bowie he couldn't drive one and unlike Bowie he lost his life in one) actually sucks badly. The semi acoustic versions that appear elsewhere are preferable. The title track is equally cumbersome.

The best track appearing here is a tack-on. T.Rex recorded 'Thunderwing' in November 1971 with one Howie Casey (later to tour with Wings) playing saxophone, and it it just an absolute delight. Certainbly Marc's best B side by some distance Other contenders for that mantle include 'Cadilac' which also appears here and 'The King of the Mountain Cometh' which may be found as a bonus on Electric Warrior these days.

David Gould <> (11.10.2005)

Hello! Well im just discovering t.rex again.

I sort of got them when '20th Century Boy' was re-released in the UK about 12 years ago, but I couldn’t quite get them. I certainly remember hating this album when I first got it. But now i absolutely love this album. Its one of those albums that you listen to, and you can just tell that it was recorded at the absolute peak of the artist’s powers. I don’t think there’s anything lazy here it all, its just Marc saying “im Marc Bolan. I can do whatever I like. So there” And the production is one of the best ive ever heard. And flo and eddie are at the peak of their powers as well. Love it.


Paul Watts <> (20.09.2005)

These comments pertain to all the alternate T.Rex releases, and particularly the alternate Slider, Tanx, and Futuristic Dragon.

George in your Left Hand Luke review I think you may have stumbled upon the same conclusion I have from close examination of the alternate T.Rex series (and the highly recommended Bump 'n Grind CD as well).

Many of the tracks on these releases reveal Bolan and T.Rex in a much different light to the oringinal releases. Many of the songs are much raunchier in demo/working version form, and quite a few in my opinion are markedly superior to the versions we were given originally.

I get the feeling that Marc's almost overnight transition from bopping elf to major teen idol became something of an albatross around his neck. He felt he had to release material that would maintain or later re-kindle his stardom, when really he had the werewithal to become a much more serious and substantial rock artist. Although his material in the main is quite creative and enjoyable, you get the feeling it was aimed at the same 13-15 year old age group that Marc won over with 'Get it On', 'Hot Love' and the Electric Warrior LP. Maybe he didn't realise that by 1973-4 these original fans were that much older and had moved on, and by continuing to target that age group he lost much of his original audience without really winning over a new one (unlike Bowie, whose music grew up with his audience, although these days it doesn't, in the main, seem to have aged as well as Bolan's, but that's just my opinion, others may differ). Much of the criticism Marc received from the press of the day was of his failure to move significantly forward, and this perceived need to cater for a certain audience may be the reason why. He certainly, on the evidence of these alternate recordings, had the ability and the T.Rex band were a more than competent outfit. Despite this he continued to dress his songs (many of them excellent) up in much the same way, at least until the final album, Dandy in the Underworld, on which almost all the gloss was stripped away.

Some excellent songs never saw release at all. One such song is 'Buick Mackane and the Babe Shadow', which appears on the alternate Slider. It is a red hot boogie workout with seriously excellent guitar and a very tight rhythm. Apart from Marc's vocal, the song sounds a little like Z.Z. Top's classic 'La Grange' from the same era. Maybe Marc thought this track was too raunchy for his target audience, it is certainly different to the sterile production of the Slider album. It should be noted that this song is called 'Buick Mackane' on the Rabbit Fighter disc, but it is a completely different song to that of te same name on The Slider, and has long been known as 'Buick Mackane and the Babe Shadow'.

Certainly, Bolan's ability as a guitarist is easily underrated if you just go by the regular releases, with the notable exception of the Zinc Alloy album on which he for the most part appeared to abandon the glam mindset.

Likewise, his use of the backing vocals of Gloria Jones (from Zinc Alloy onwards) points to some perceived need for a certain feel to his records, but unfortunately the Gloria card is oven overplayed. On these alternative versions, more often than not Gloria is either not present or much less prominent. Whether this is latter day production is hard to say.

Of course many of these demos are basic acoustic outlines, and several of them are quite enjoyable. I think the version of 'Mad Donna' that appears here is superior to the final release.

The alternate Fururistic Dragon includes three versions of the final track on the original album, 'Casual Agent'. The third of these (Track 16) is worthy of comment. Although the rhythm is similar to the final track, the falsetto backing vocal is gone and the song is structured differently, with all verses sung, then the chorus (I wanna be your casual agent) repeated over and over, all in a deadpan Bolan singing voice (not the sheep style singing he is most known for), all the while with a snarling T.Rex cooking behind him. This one is definately worth hearing.

I also very much like the extended 'Sunken Rags' that appears on the alternate Slider. 'Sunken Rags' as it was released was just a fairly average B side outing, and not one of his greatest songs really, although there's nothing really wrong with it, so one can only guess why Marc decided against using the excellent extended jam on this song. Once again, I guess it didn't fit his idea of a suitable release for his target audience.

A further such classic appears on Bump n Grind. 'Fast Blues' is the forerunner of the single 'Solid Gold Easy Action', but is better in just about every way. Absolutely frantic Bolan guitar ,an extremely tight, very fast rhythm (similar in pace to the final product) and a frenzied Bolan vocal. Different lyrics to the released version as well. This could have been one of his very best songs. Why did he sanitize it? It was much better left a little bit grubby.

At least these gems are now available and we can ponder what direction his career might have taken with a slightly different attitude to the product he was releasing.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (17.02.2001)

Thank you, George. You made me change my opinion about Tanx. Now I understand why I disliked this record. As you probably know, 'CD-M' company issues a lot of two album discs. And it happened so that I got Tanx together with Unicorn. The latter was a wonderful experience so I expected the same result from Tanx. Surely, I was disappointed to hear dance music... But now everything's alright. I relistened it (about 5 times) and loved. Indeed, the number of styles here amazes. I'll list the Top 5 of the songs that I like below with little comments, OK?

1.'Left hand Luke'. Charming blues, charming back vocals and classic coda.

2.'Tenement lady'. In fact, it comes very close to the first line with its melody changing in the middle.

3.'Mad Donna'. Firstly was recognized by me as a stupid boogie-woogie but then I found that it's very hook-filled.

4.'Shock rock'. Again, it has very strong tune with catchy lyrics (yep, not melody).

5. 'Children of revolution' (bonus). This track has the most catchiest (well, maybe 'Left hand Luke' is stronger) chorus on the whole record.

Yes, that's a great record. In fact, the best T-REX's (but not Tyrannosaurus Rex's, mind you) record (sorry, but this time Electric warrior is overshadowed). Record that easily fits every party - your friends will be happy!

PS. Okay, you've changed my humble opinion about Tanx, but not Zinc Alloy. The latter is a great funk, which deserves 10 points!

<> (01.03.2003)

Tanx hit me when I was just awaking from my childhood. The cover picture stuck with me and began a romantic phase in my development. The songs, whilst too poppy in my later life really caught my imagination at the time.

Adam Bruneau <> (06.09.2003)

I love Tanx. Marc was definitely not losing his edge, and it's a testament to the stupidity of the record-buying American public that this album wasn't hoisted up as a masterpiece when it should have been. Get the one with the bonus tracks, "Solid Gold Easy Action" is worth the extra price alone. 9

Stephen Rutkowski <> (06.06.2004)

I finally got my hands on this album! And it was the double version with Left Hand Luke too! I will discuss that one at a later time once I have listened to it a little more. Now all I need is to find T. Rex somewhere… But not to worry. I had already heard all of the tracks on this album so I’ve always known that it was a classic (sitting a tiny bit below Electric Warrior). But you are right George, this is the album for you once you have finished with the simple catchiness of Electric Warrior. This is where you can find the perfect cross of T. Rex’s glam with Marc’s crazy lyrical imagery and a little bit of everything else thrown in for good measure (not to mention Marc’s vocal hooks are at their optimum). It is amazing to think that qualified T. Rex critics (such as biographers) see this album as the beginning of the end for T. Rex. It is also amazing that Marc Bolan claimed he was struggling to write material and rushed the songs in the studio. To me the album is absolutely bursting with ideas, while some of them miss the mark for me (most notably ‘Left Hand Luke and the Beggar Boys’) the remainder of the album more than makes up for it. There is more classic T. Rex boogie for those who do like The Slider (‘Rapids’ ‘Born to Boogie’ and ‘Mad Donna’), but there is so much more.

There are just so many great tracks, I wouldn’t know where to begin…‘Tenement Lady’ is a fantastic track with some of the most nonsensical lyrics you will ever see. Once the ‘Darling’ part of it begins however, normality returns. In the same league as far as lyrics go is ‘Electric Slim and the Factory Hen’, which is also a pretty good song. I’m not so sure about your statement regarding this track as a Tyrannosaurus Rex throwback though. Perhaps I am missing something so I will give the track many close listens before deciding on this point. Anyway, the ballads are beautiful as you have already said George. The best being ‘Broken-Hearted Blues’ with the sweeping saxes being almost tear inducing. It feels silly saying that as “tear inducing” saxes are almost always so obvious that they lose all the emotion that they were intended to convey. Not here though, it’s an utterly beautiful song. ‘Life is Strange’ is a nice relaxed meander through Marc’s “philosophy” on the “strangeness” of life. ‘Mister Mister’ took me a little while to latch on to, in particular I was ambivalent towards the arrangement and the “de-de-bom-bom de-de-bom-bom” chants you described. But now they have gripped me by the collar and I can say nothing except it is a quality track. ‘Highway Knees’ is absolutely beautiful, and I have no idea why.

As for the rockier tracks, we have the fantastic ‘Rapids’ with a riff that is a slight variation of Marc’s trademark guitar tone and the sarcastic ‘Shock Rock’. If you just caught ‘Shock Rock’ without knowing too much about T. Rex you would think it is a poor excuse for a song considering the seemingly lack of ideas and lyrics. The controversial ‘The Street and Babe Shadow’ might be the true precursor to the funk that would appear in spades on the next album, but this track rocks mightily. Likewise ‘Left Hand Luke…’ is a precursor for the subsequent gospel element, but I do not like this track at all. It is hideously overlong and female singers (which to the best of my knowledge do not include Gloria Jones) are nauseating with the repetitive chorus which never seems to end. For me this track is the only blemish on an otherwise amazing album.

Georges adage that a “good album = good bonus tracks and conversely” is never more true than if you compare the bonus tracks of Tanx with The Slider. While the bonus tracks of The Slider are not bad, they appear meek in the enormous shadow of the triad ‘Children of the Revolution’, ‘20th Century Boy’ and ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’. Throw in ‘Jitterbug Love’ and you have the best set of bonus tracks on a T. Rex album. Not only is ‘Children of the Revolution’ the violin masterpiece, it is also T. Rex’s pop masterpiece. The seamless transition between the verses and the incessantly catchy chorus is masterful. The track still remains one of my favourite T. Rex songs (along with ‘Hot Love’). ‘20th Century Boy’ enters one domain that the album didn’t enter into, namely hard rock, possibly even approaching heavy metal. And then there is more of T. Rex’s famed boogie in ‘Jitterbug Love’ and ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’, the latter traveling at an explosive pace.

David Gould <> (11.10.2005)

Not sure about this album.

To me it's a definite let down after the slider.

A couple of thoughts

!) the production is weaker - I love that full sound on the Slider, and anything less is bound to disappoint me.

2) saxophones - no! I bloomin' hate saxophones!

3) whats with all the mellotron? This aint 1967.

4) where'd flo and eddie go?

5) the songwriting - it sounds so lazy. Well, maybe not the songwriting, but the performances do. Especially on 'Rapids'. On any earlier album, this we be an exciting little rocker, but its certainly not here. Sounds like a weak Slider outtake.

Overall, I do like this album, but I certainly think it's a big let down after the slider.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (15.02.2001)

Here I disagree with you, George. To me Zinc Alloy sounds exactly as The slider or Tanx (yes, I don't rate Tanx as high as you but I'll discuss it in my next comment). The same glam formula and the same sound formula. Just look: Electric warrior hadn't many instruments (percussion, electric guitar and bass one) while Tanx and The slider were filled with great quantity of instruments. And Zinc Alloy doesn't differ much. There are still catchy melodies, such as 'Venus loon' (this hand clapping brings much to the catchiness, doesn't it?), 'Teenage dream', 'Change' and 'The avengers'. And like on two previous records there're completely unlistenable tracks.

As for 'self-embarrassment mixed with pretension of the highest degree', it's darn funny. I really enjoy when Marc calls to his and other artist's songs (e.g. Jimi Hendrix with his 'Foxy Lady'). Yes, I agree that later it grew unbearable and stupid, but this was later. So I don't see much wrong about this album. Rather pretty collection of pointless glam-songs mixed with some crappy tracks. In fact, Zinc Alloy shouldn't get so much bashing as it gets but life is always unfair. If there were just one song like 'Bang a gong', this record would be saved. But...

[Special author note: it's not the instrumentation that matters, it's the diversity. Tanx had it all, from boogie to blues to gospel; Zinc Alloy mainly presents Bolan as a self-taught funker, and it hasn't got any emotional resonance, either.]

<> (08.12.2001)

First time anyone has actually had the guts to say that Gloria Jones did absolutely nothing for Marc Bolan/T Rex. I never liked whatever influence she may have had in his musical me he could not play and/or create American black/soul/disco music and he should never have tried..Bowie did a far more credible job in that genre. Also, the attention some of the web sites give his son I don't understand either. Yes he is his son but what does that have to do with Marc/T Rex music from the 60s and 70s?

Last, yes Tanx is definitely the most diverse T Rex glam period album...I found it refreshing in 1973 and still do. A really good live album from the 70-73 period would be nice...have yet to hear one.....very very nice site!

Simon Castro <> (03.01.2002)

After getting the first four abreviated T.Rex albums, I was hungry for more Bolan material. When I listened to Zinc Alloy I didn't know what to think. It sounded like spaced-out acid funk gospel music! Ha ha. It left me a bit confused. After a few listens, however, I found myself not being able to take it out of my car stereo deck. And lo and behold, now I think it is one of the better T.Rex albums, mainly because it is as much a self-conscious effort as it is an experimental one. I mean, Marc really got down and funky with this one. You can picture him doing some James Brown moves all over the place! You can also sense he had a hoot of a time making this album, too, and for that reason it is an interesting and fun listen (except for that "Leapords" song which is just plain stupid.)

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

This album is nowhere near as bad as it is often said to be. Amongst the fourteen tracks there is quite a bit of filler but for mind there are lots of hidden gems as well. I have been told in the past that Marc still wanted to be popular in America so he tried to suit his new style to traditional American musical values. Obviously Gloria Jones was a big help as she was a soul singer, but for me she is a huge disappointment. I can not stand her voice nor can I stand the majority of the soul elements she brings to the band. If Flo and Eddie were still there to provide backing vocals I would probably award this album an 11. As it stands, I don’t think 9 is too harsh. The album was also panned by critics because its title sounded too much like Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and it seemed as though the mentor (Bolan) was copying the protégé (Bowie). Oh and I should also mention in reply to Sergey Zhilkin above, Electric Warrior did feature a lot of instruments so you can’t use this as evidence for your argument (not that this matters too much though).

‘Venus Loon’ is a pretty good way to introduce the new sound of T. Rex, for better or worse. That is the new sound has potential to be good, but for me it is all ruined by Gloria Jones. In this instance the chorus just sounds dumb, but the verses are extremely good. ‘Sound Pit’ is good, and Gloria keeps her nose out of it for most of the time which is a huge plus, only present to provide “soulful” ahhhing. I also enjoy the references to 'Metal Guru' and 'Telegram Sam'. ‘Explosive Mouth’ is another track in much the same vein. As George said ‘Galaxy’ is pretty dumb. I don’t think too much of ‘Change’ either, but it’s not too bad. ‘Nameless Wildness’ is another chance for Gloria Jones to ruin a song but I can just tolerate her. I love your description of ‘Teenage Dream’, likening it to Roger Waters. I had never thought about it in that way, but it is a most apt description. For some reason the track is often listed in greatest hits packages but I can’t for the life of me understand why. Well… I think it is to do with the lyrics and its epic nature more than anything. The chorus and the “heavenly” orchestration is especially annoying. Ok that’s the first side done, and there are a couple of nice tracks but nothing to write home about.

The second side begins with ‘Liquid Gang’ which might just be my favourite song on the album. The coda is something to remember. Not even Gloria Jones can ruin this one. ‘You’ve Got to Jive…’ takes repetition to new extremes and the second part of the track (‘Spanish Midnight’) being the same line repeated three times. ‘Interstellar Soul’ is a complete razor. ‘Carsmile Smith and the Old One’ is ummm… interesting I suppose. I’m not really certain as it’s quite a weird track. Not as weird as ‘The Leopards…’ though. I quite like Marc’s relaxed vocal delivery in that one so it gets the thumbs up. With such a title, you would expect ‘Painless Persuasion…’ to be weird too, but it’s more or less regular. That leaves ‘The Avengers (Superbad)’ which is also very good. Actually the whole second half is pretty good with the orchestration more important than it would seem (the horn section delivers the wonderful coda in ‘Liquid Gang’). Although I don’t see it as far superior to the first side like you do George. I should also mention the bonus tracks of which there are five. Two of them are completely unlistenable as Gloria screeches like a mad woman. I will excuse her for ‘Satisfaction Pony’ as it was dubbed from an inferior source when the original master track could not be found. You can really hear the inferior quality of the tape as it sounds like Gloria’s voice is completely unmodulated (a nightmarish thought indeed). No excuse can be offered for ‘Truck On (Tyke)’ however. Her voice is excruciating. The other three tracks aren’t too bad. ‘Sitting Here’ actually features some of the nicest Gloria vocals you will ever hear, and would be a nice song apart from the ridiculous lyrics. ‘The Groover’ and ‘Midnight’ are both pretty hard and heavy and I like both of them although they don’t add too much to the T. Rex legacy.

Adam Bruneau <> (29.04.2004)

Everything I had read about this album and the next one prepared me for the absolute worst. Perhaps I lowered my expectations a little too low, but this really isn't all that bad at all. "Carsmille Smith" and "Explosive Mouth" don't really do much for me at all but there are plenty of terrific moments on this album. Like the dueling funk guitar blasts on "Sound Pit", the starry-eyed trippiness of "Galaxy", or robot groove of "Avengers". "Teenage Dream" was a brilliant single, and "Nameless Wildness" was a forgotten classic.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (08.03.2001)

No the songs are not bad but, obviously, there's something wrong. Maybe it's all because of Marc's attempts to call his glory days back. Just compare the cover of Tanx and the title of Zip gun. The songs are written in the same way, too. The only difference is that they don't grab you. All tracks have good or so-so melodies and it's strange that the only thing I can say after hearing them is 'hmm... sometimes cute, sometimes not'. Brr... I don't even take Zip gun as an album from Marc's catalogue.

Unfortunately, the results of Zip gun were awful. Micky Finn quitted after the record failed and critics had a great chance to despise Marc (and surely they didn't miss that chance).

Just a very bad nightmare. But Bolan will be back!

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

Well yeah, this is the obvious nadir of T. Rex’s career. However there are enough redeemable factors to an 8 to be a fair rating. For one, there are actually three tracks I like – ‘Think Zinc’, ‘Zip Gun Boogie’ and ‘Golden Belt’. The last track is more of a throwawayish good song then anything else. Furthermore, as George has stated there are no completely terrible songs. The lyrics are mostly appalling, but Marc is able to make most of the tracks at least slightly catchy, with a nice vocal hook here or a good instrumental passage there. Tony Visconti has since departed and it really shows. The sound is underdeveloped in many cases and there is no trademark T. Rex orchestration. And of course Gloria Jones is still there in all her “glory”. Luckily there are no cases of ‘Truck On (Tyke)’ here.

‘Light of Love’ is just completely dumb. It seems as though it was written exclusively to become a radio hit or something like that but T. Rex were no longer popular. I recall that when I first heard it I liked it somewhat, but that is mostly because of its catchy nature rather than it being any good. ‘Solid Baby’ has an interesting percussive effect. It sounds like synthesised hand claps but I could be completely wrong. Anyway that’s about the most exciting aspect of the song. ‘Space Boss’ and ‘Girl in the Thunderbolt Suit’ are both dumb songs, no arguments there George. The ballads in ‘Precious Star’, ‘Token of My Love’ and ‘Till Dawn’ are all pretty similar as far as my feelings towards them are concerned. I would say the best is ‘Token of My Love’ as it features some nice Gloria vocals (a rarity) but I’m not big on the soul groove presented by the song. ‘Till Dawn’ is also above average on this album. ‘I Really Love You Babe’ is pretty bad though, the title tells you enough.

The relative highlights on the album consist mostly of the two rockers ‘Think Zinc’ and ‘Zip Gun Boogie’. ‘Zip Gun Boogie’ is for the most part just your regular rocking T. Rex track which is very good for such an album. ‘Think Zinc’ is slightly above this though. There is a typical T. Rex riff but it is mostly hidden. The rhythm section is far and above anything on this album however and the chorus is very good. I’m not too sure what to make of ‘Golden Belt’ though. Essentially it is a throwaway, but there is something about it that I like, I just can’t put my finger on it. And the bonus tracks aren’t too bad. ‘Dock of the Bay’ isn’t really T. Rex considering Gloria Jones sings it all, but she sings it rather well. ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ is an inoffensive cover of the famous song, but nothing to salvage the album.

Although Marc was trying desperately to crack the American market Zinc Alloy and Bolan’s Zip Gun weren’t released in the US. Instead a composite album titled Light of Love was released which took the best tracks from both albums. Not surprisingly it was thrown straight into bargain bins. T. Rex was never popular in the US, and there is no way the substandard pairing of Zinc Alloy and Bolan’s Zip Gun could ever make any impression. Anyway, only purchase Bolan’s Zip Gun if you are a completist.

Adam Bruneau <> (29.04.2004)

I have to agree with everything (including Marc) that this is the worst T-Rex money can buy. The first 7 tracks, with the exception of "Space Boss", are all pretty damn good, and it's only on the second side when it all gets bogged down by psychedelic disco. It's definitely his trashiest record, but in a lot of ways this is so much fun. "Solid Baby" is interstellar rock-disco at it's finest, and "Token of My Love" and "Til Dawn" are both brilliant examples of classic T-Rex.

Paul Watts <> (29.09.2005)

This record is canned mecilessly in most quarters, but to me isn't as bad as is sometimes made out. Without a doubt it holds its age far better than many recordings of the same time considered at the same time infinitely superior to it.

Bolan's Zip Gun is no masterwork. It suffers in a number of areas. Firstly, on many of the songs the vocal of Gloria Jones just spoils the party. Just too overpowering. There are exceptions ('Golden Belt' comes to mind). Secondly, the record is poorly produced. It has a fuzziness that permeates pretty well every song, some worse than others. 'Think Zinc' is an excellent T.Rex workout, but it's just a bit too grating in sound. A Tony Visconti would have fixed this. The third problem is that it sounds rushed, as though it was done to meet a very short deadline. This criticism is quite apart from the less than perfect sound quality, some of the songs sound unfinished. I would include 'Till Dawn' particluarly in this category, and a few others as well.

Having got all that off my chest, the raw materials on display here measure up quite favourably in comparison with other T.Rex LP's. There's really only one absolute clunker on the album ('I Really Love You Babe') and that might have been saved somewhat by the judicious use of a sock on Ms Jones. The rest range from decent to excellent, with the proviso that the faults listed above let the whole thing down. 'Precious Star', 'Space Boss', 'Solid Baby', 'Think Zinc', and even the fillerish 'Girl in a Thunbderbolt Suit' are all great Marc Bolan songs, and 'Golden Belt' is in my opinion a noble experiment in funk which is not a runaway success, but worthwhile anyway.

Back to the album's faults. Side 2 of the vinyl record does not reach 15 minutes running time. Side 1 is OK, it lasts something like 19 minutes, but under 15 minutes was unacceptable, especially with four of those 15 minutes being "I Really Love You Babe". Compare this to Side 2 of Zinc Alloy which ran for a triumphant 25 minutes, every second of it more or less worthy. This tells me there was something funny going on with Zip Gun. Like something was left off. I know that 'Golden Belt' was shortened by about a minute from its earlier form but I'd be surprised if a track wasn't discarded at the last minute. I could be wrong, though.

David Gould <> (08.03.2006)

Right, I like this album.

Yes there are a few things wrong with it:

1) the lyrics are pretty rubbish by Marc's usual weird standards.

2) The production on a couple of the tracks sounds a little thin and unfinished.

3) A couple of tracks sound a little throwaway and trash - notably Space Boss, Think Zinc and Token Of My Love, which is really horrible.

Other than that this album is great. Its short and poppy. Nowt wrong with that.

And whats all this nonsense about Zip Gun Boogie being his worst single? (not sure you said that, but that seems to be the general consensus) it's a great track. Its fun, catchy and it does indeed boogie.

Its certainly a better single that Truck On Tyke.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (15.02.2001)

Well, surely better than Zip gun but worse than Zinc Alloy. I agree that the album is fully listenable but, you know, it's like listening to the sounds of silence - nothing new. In fact, this record is a mix of Marc's early period with glam-years. See, Bolan goes back to mr. Tolkien but at the same time he doesn't forget his glam formula (crazy vocal + loud guitar chords = everybody's happy). Not that I hate this album but for me there're only three songs which I occasionally listen to - 'Futuristic dragon', 'Chrome sitar' (well, really terrific lyrics - '...Everybody asks who the hell you are,// Somebody scream, somebody spoke,// Somebody said that life's just a joke'. Isn't this a song about failed career?) and 'Jupiter liar'. Others? Don't ask me - I don't remember them (but I swear that I listened this album four times at least!). Even 'New York' which you consider to be the best song. The bonus contains one terrific song - 'Life's a elevator' ('Life's a gas'). OK, I REALLY don't want to put down this record because, after all, it's way better than Zip gun, so I'll give it 10/15, too but with one warning for those who start their T-REX collection - this may be your last Bolan's record for there is not a single essential song.

PS. Note about 'Life's an elevator'... Maybe it's the elevator that takes you to the Heaven or to the Hell? Well, if Marc really meant this, I hope that he was taken up, not down.

Adam Bruneau <> (06.09.2003)

Okay, later Marc isn't exactly as good as the earlier stuff, but people slag Gloria's backing vocals way too much, and on tracks like "Chrome Sitar" and "Ride My Wheels", it takes the music to a whole new dimension of soul. After "Dreamy Lady" the album kind of sags but the whole first 2/3 are classic Bolan, with intergalactic funk and sound-poetry thrown in for good measure (intro song), and "Jupiter Liar" could have been on The Slider. If this was a 'comeback album', it should have sent him through the roof. 8

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

This is a huge improvement over Bolan’s Zip Gun although there still seems to be too many “silly” songs. Songs like ‘All Alone’, ‘My Little Baby’, ‘Sensation Boulevard’, ‘Ride My Wheels’, ‘Dawn Storm’ and ‘Casual Agent’ are for the most part reminiscent of Bolan’s Zip Gun. Nevertheless, the remaining tracks are mostly big improvements. I would argue against Sergey Zhilkin above who says that the album presents nothing new from T. Rex. Show me a previous song like that sounds like ‘Futuristic Dragon (Introduction)’ or ‘Theme for a Dragon’. The star of the show is ‘New York City’. How Marc can make a simplistic song so catchy and memorable I will never know. Apparently he wrote the song after he saw a woman carrying a frog out of New York City! The introductory synths are great before going into the song proper. The synthesisers also appear every now and again to provide wonderful “bubbling” and “poisonous” lines. The song also had a fantastic video clip. Not that the video clip is anything special but it’s great to see Marc perform particular when he was so happy and enthusiastic. The song temporarily catapulted T. Rex back into the public arena as it became a hit single.

As for the other tracks, ‘Futuristic Dragon (Introduction)’ contains great metallic-like distortion and feedback. I always thought it would be great if Marc could have used this guitar tone a couple of more times during the album, but sadly he doesn’t. ‘Jupiter Liar’ is a pretty good pop song but with another great guitar tone. ‘Chrome Sitar’ is another above average track and at this stage of the album is would seem that this album is light years ahead of Bolan’s Zip Gun. However at about this time the previously mentioned Zip Gun-like tracks appear and spoil the album somewhat. If Marc was expecting the famous Russian reviewer George Starostin to give this album a 12 or so in 23 years time, he would have been well advised to replace this collection of songs with something superior. ‘Calling All Destroyers’ may also seem reminiscent of something like ‘Space Boss’ or ‘Girl in the Thunderbolt Suit’ but this one is far superior. ‘Theme for a Dragon’ is a hidden gem. The orchestration arrangement of the song is great, giving it an ambitious epic-like feel. The last non Zip Gun-like track is ‘Dreamy Lady’ which is a fairly simple disco track. The bonus tracks aren’t too bad. I don’t like ‘London Boys’ too much, and ‘Laser Love’ is pretty much an average track with no surprises. However, ‘Life’s an Elevator’ is a nice acoustic piece. The two guitar riffs combine wonderfully well, and it would seem that the lyrics are summing up Marc’s music career. It makes a nice accompaniment with ‘Dandy in the Underworld’ which more or less sums up Marc’s life.

Perversely, I have the alternate version of this album (Dazzling Raiment). This is because I could not find the original album by itself and had to buy the overpriced double version. I have also done the same for Dandy in the Underworld (my sister bought it for me for Christmas so I don’t mind about the price). I would like to get my hands on the alternate version of Tanx but I can’t even find the original version –sigh–. Anyway, the point I was about to make is that the alternate version doesn’t offer too much even for a T. Rex aficionado like myself. It is interesting to find out that ‘Dreamy Lady’ was originally meant to be a reggae track, and the album contains two notable versions of ‘Futuristic Dragon (Introduction)’. The song had a number of forms, featuring backwards phasing, extremely silly Gloria Jones backing vocals and less prominent distortion and feedback. In addition it is great to hear the stripped down version of ‘New York City’. I would have loved an alternate version of ‘Theme for a Dragon’ which unfortunately isn’t on the album.

Adam Bruneau <> (29.04.2004)

I forgot to say how much "All Alone" rocks my world and how it's my favorite T-Rex song of all time. By the way, people who don't like Gloria's backing vocals need to re-listen to Warrior and Slider cos her influence is all over those and it does nothing but help. I saw a video of "Baby Strange" live and witrh her singing it sounded like a lost Motown hit!

Paul Watts <> (26.12.2005)

Just to correct Adam Brubeau, Gloria Jones does not appear on either Electric Warrior or The Slider. Backing vocals on those recordings was by Flo and Eddie and also Mickey Finn.

While she isn't credited, it certainly sounds like Gloria's voice on 'Left Hand Luke and the Beggar Boys', the final track on the Tanx album, and possibly 'Mad Donna' as well from the same LP.

As for Futuristic Dragon, I think it is a major improvement in production quality from Zip Gun, but the songs are about on par, or just a tad weaker. 'Sensation Boulevarde' is my pick, along with 'Casual Agent' (this song really cooks on the alternative version) and also the instrumental 'Theme For A Dragon'. It seems this might have been the song left off side 2 of Zip Gun. In fact it was originally the title track of that album, my research reveals. It originally had lyrics. For some reason it was left off and resurfaced as an instrumental in Futuristic Dragon. Unless I'm mistaken, it is the only instrumental in the entire T.Rex calalog, although both sides of A Beard of Stars (Tyrannosaurus Rex) began with instrumental tracks.

The cover of this record is by George Underwood, who also did the cover of My People Were Fair almost a decade earlier. It shows a rather portly Bolan carrying a lance and shield (which bears the name T.Rex), perched aboard a curiously undersized dragon. The beast doesn't look as though it would be able to become airborne with this burdon to carry. A rather odd cover, to say the least.

I would give this a weak 7.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (20.03.2001)

Yeah, a clear comeback. Marc now has no ambitions and only thing he wants from you is nice criticism which is good, and, plus to that, he's afraid to fail, which is even better because he will really work hard to hit Top20. The formula is, however, the same. I mean it's polished now and looks little bit different, but, in fact, Dandy could be a follower of Warrior.

What surprises me now, is the fact that all songs are quite strong, not to say catchy. And, thanks God, there's no concept in the vision so you can listen songs in shuffle-mode, not caring about losing the salt of song. My favorites are 'Hang-ups', 'Jason B.Sad', 'Teen riot structure' with its funny lyrics and the title track, which has a little bit messy sound, but this only makes it better.

Oh, and the tracks are short which means that you won't be bored to death, but at the same time this slaggs my favourite 'Hang-ups' which is way too short.

June Gibbs <> (07.08.2001)

I was a huge T.Rex fan when I was younger. The saddest fact about Marc Bolan, despite him him often having over inflated ideas about his musical ability and indeed his own popularity, was that by 1977, he was clearly making a comeback.

I love Dandy in the Underworld. It is a tremendously 'new' sounding album, not just for the T.Rex sound, but I think for 1977 as well. 'Soul of My Suit', a number 42 underated single (why didn't people buy this?), was a refreshing start for Bolan, most notably in the heavy keyboards, bass and drums used on the album, that indicated the mix of disco/punk in 1977.

When Marc Bolan died on September 16th, the music world lost an abundance of talent. His songwriting was not brilliant, his guitar playing purely mediocre by modern standards, but he was overall a perforner. He captivated auduiences with a wink of an eye. What makes Dandy in the Underworld so unique is that it is (not was) one of those few 'the best is yet to come' albums. If a modern band produced a record like this, it would be a masterpiece.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (07.01.2004)

Marc Bolan, the newly self-proclaimed godfather of punk, delivers a good but not great album. If the punkers tell you that they brought simple music structures to the public front, don’t believe them. T. Rex had already done it six years ago. Still this is not a punk album by any means, most of the tracks are not punkish and only ‘Teen Riot Structure’ has punk lyrics. The album is another improvement with the legacy of Bolan’s Zip Gun almost completely disappearing, with ‘Universe’ and ‘I’m a Fool For You Girl’ probably being the only throwbacks to this era. I don’t care for these two songs. Thankfully ‘Universe’ isn’t as silly as its brother ‘Galaxy’ from Zinc Alloy. Other tracks that aren’t too hot include ‘Visions of Domino’, ‘Hang-Ups’ and ‘Teen Riot Structure’. These songs are not too bad but the other tracks are much better. ‘Teen Riot Structure’ despite its provocative title isn’t really a punk song, and I feel it has silly lyrics. I also don’t rate ‘Jason B. Sad’ too highly, but it has its moments.

As for the better songs, the title track is the last ever T. Rex classic, with fantastic lyrics, and a nice sing along chorus. ‘I Love to Boogie’ is almost ridiculous in it’s simplicity but it somehow manages to work nicely. ‘Crimson Moon’ is pretty much in the same vein, but it doesn’t quite work as well. I was fairly impressed with the track though, because even if it is ripped off, the riff sits just nicely behind the track in an Electric Warrior/Slider style. ‘Groove a Little’ has a nice little synth riff that true to the title makes you want to move your feet. ‘The Soul of My Suit’ is similar to ‘Dreamy Lady’ with its disco beat and synths, but I feel the results are even better here. For me, the guilty pleasure here is ‘Pain and Love’. I still cannot work out why I like this song so much. The melody seems fairly simple, Marc doesn’t do anything particularly amazing with the vocals and there isn’t a guitar riff in sight. I think it must be because of the integration of the vocals and the sweeping, ascending and descending synthesiser.

As for the bonus tracks there are a couple of unnecessary bores (‘City Port’ and ‘Tame My Tiger’) and a completely superfluous version of ‘Dandy in the Underworld’. You may find interest in playing spot the difference between this and the original though. ‘To Know You is to Love You’ is a cover of some old song, and sounds pretty good if you can ignore the cheesy lyrics. The most interesting track here is the fast ‘Celebrate Summer’. The lyrics are delightfully upbeat, and suggest that Marc was in a much happier state at this stage than 2-3 years previously. If George’s suggestion of moving ‘Dandy in the Underworld’ to the last track isn’t realised, at least it is fitting that ‘Celebrate Summer’ finishes the album for those who ! have the bonus tracks.

I also have the alternate version of the album (Prince of Players). Again, this album presents nothing particularly interesting for non T. Rex enthusiasts except possibly the last track titled ‘Weird Strings’. Clocking in at 5.33, its track length and title would suggest the song is something vastly different than most T. Rex songs. The suggestions are not wrong. It is the melody of ‘Celebrate Summer’ repeated on a synthesised string section with occasional errors, an accidental(?) moment of dissonance, and a few synthesiser blips and loops thrown in. A complete surprise if you managed to make it to track 21 on an archive album.

Adam Bruneau <> (29.04.2004)

I like it a lot. It's definitely an improvement over Zip Gun but I'm not so sure if I like the actual sound of this one more than Futuristic Dragon. Gloria is nowhere to be found and all the soul is gone. I like the gothy element he has going on a few songs, and I really like the low, low vocals on a couple tracks as well. Good way to go out, Marc!


Michael McDonough <> (15.07.2001)

This is a lot of fun for Bolan fans. It provides a nice sampling of his progression from 1968-71 for those who already have the Tyrannosaurus Rex and early T*REX albums.

Bolan's insane guitar noodling is certainly evident on many tracks here. The studio albums always tried to mask some of the anarchy through fades, splices and overdubs, but on these simpler recordings Marc was able to flail away to his heart's content.

The track list is definitely a bit jumbled, and it's really appalling that no airdates or personnel listings are given. A lot of the songs go faster here than they do in the studio versions (some sound hurried) and the sound is kind of thin and brittle ( a lot of the tracks are in mono). Overall the plusses outweigh the minuses though, and make this a worthwhile one of the better non-studio collections.

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