Four classic albums from Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex and T. Rex catalogue will be released on 3 March 2014 by Universal Music Catalogue/Polydor and by Demon Music on their Edsel label. The release of A Beard of Stars, T.Rex, and a double CD set including Tanx and Zinc Alloy And The Riders of Tomorrow/A Creamed Cage, come just prior to the national tour of 20th Century Boyhttp://www.20thcenturyboythemusical.co.uk, a new musical inspired by the life of the rock legend who continues to captivate each and every generation with his catalogue of hits and classic tracks.
Universal Music Catalogue/Polydor turn back the clock for the earliest of the releases – A Beard of Stars (1970) and T.Rex from 1971, each with a bonus disc of rarities unmask Bolan on the threshold of success. A Beard of Stars, a more accessible and streamlined outing than previous Tyrannosaurus Rex releases turned out to be Bolan’s farewell to his late ’60s hippie duo and was the first to feature photogenic new sidekick, the bongo-playing Mickey Finn.
The tie-in single, By The Light Of A Magical Moon, was as charming as its title, and the entire set is woven with mysticism and melody. A Beard Of Stars also marked the first real stirrings of electricity, with album closer Elemental Child clocking in at five-a-a-half-minutes, thanks to some extended Hendrix-style guitar soloing.
A bonus disc of outtakes, many previously unreleased, has been handpicked by T. Rexpert Clive Zone – who also provides memorabilia for the booklet. A Beard of Stars will also be available on download, single CD and limited edition double vinyl LP.
By the time Bolan started work on T. Rex, in late spring 1970, The Beatles had split and there was a perceived crisis at the heart of pop. Bolan, too, had grown dissatisfied. The moment of epiphany came on July 1, 1970, when he nailed a new song, Ride A White Swan. The reward was a huge hit later that winter – only kept from the No. 1 spot by ‘Grandad’, a slice of seasonal schmaltz sung by popular TV figure Clive Dunn!
Everything had fallen into place by the time of T. Rex. The band’s name had shrunk but their fame had risen immeasurably, with sweet-faced Bolan an instant hit with the glossier pop magazines. Now including a version of Ride A White Swan specially recorded for Top Of The Pops among its bonus tracks, the T. Rex album reveals another side to Bolan’s so-called instant success. For despite the electrifying rock’n’roll Jewel, Is It Love? And neo-bubblegum Beltane Walk, there’s a surprising sweetness to much of the album, with songs such as The Visit and Seagull Woman likely inspired by new wife June.
It’s little wonder that many aficionados, Morrissey among them, regard T. Rex as the best-kept secret in the Marc Bolan catalogue.
T.Rex will also be available on download, single CD and limited edition double vinyl LP.
To commemorate the release of a A Beard of Stars and T.Rex, Universal Music Catalogue will also be making available 2 strictly limited 7” singles from the period – By The Light Of A Magical Moon – home demo/Find a Little Wood and Ride A White Swan – Top of the Pops 12 November 1970/Summertime Blues –BBC Radio One Dave Lee Travis Show – 9 December 1970.
These will be strictly first come, first served and exclusively available from http://www.theboxsetstore.co.uk
Tanx (1973) and Zinc Alloy And The Riders of Tomorrow/A Creamed Cage (1974), sounding better than ever thanks to remastering by Bolan’s longtime producer Tony Visconti, come packaged together in a limited edition, 12 inch collector’s book style set on Demon Music’s Edsel label. Both albums reveal the first ‘Superstar’ of the 70s breaking out from the hit formula and embracing new sounds, notably the influence of contemporary US funk and soul. There are bonus discs of rarities for each title, a hardback book filled with lyrics, photos, ephemera and liner notes from Tony Visconti, plus a 7,000 word essay by rock critic and Bolan biographer Mark Paytress( whose notes also grace the Beard of Stars and T.Rex titles), and a DVD featuring promotional films and TV performances.
The years 1971 and ’72 belonged to ‘Supermarc’. Bolan became the era’s first Superstar, inspiring Elton John and David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Slade and later Queen to dress up and join in the fun. Pop was back and brasher than ever. Enter the era of Glam Rock.
1971’s Electric Warrior encapsulated the style; The Slider from 1972 perfected the classic T. Rex sound. With mega stardom assured, Marc Bolan, together with producer Tony Visconti began to tinker with T. Rex’s distinctive, hit-making sound.
The result was Tanx. Released in January 1973, it mixed classic ‘Rex-sounding songs such as Born To Boogie and Shock Rock with songs that broke bravely from the mould. Glimpses into the darker corners of fame are delicately documented on Life Is Strange and Broken-Hearted Blues. Snappier material like Rapids and Country Honey reveal a more carefree approach. And, like Elemental Child before it, the epic Left Hand Luke And The Beggar Boys signposted another career change.
By March 1974’s Zinc Alloy, the gospel-influenced Left Hand Luke had given way to a new sound, which Bolan called ‘Interstellar Soul’. It was brave, it was inspired, and it was ahead of its time. But in 1974, it mystified both fans and critics, and contributed greatly to a dip in Bolan’s commercial fortunes. Now, in 2014, the album’s impassioned blend of funk, soul and characteristic ‘Bolanic’ elements will blow open everyone’s preconceptions of Bolan and his music.
Unlocked from his past, and in the early throes of his relationship with Motown songwriter (and original Tainted Love singer) Gloria Jones, Bolan threw everything he had at Zinc Alloy. Venus Loon and Liquid Gang were brash and wildly upbeat, more Soul Train than Top Of The Pops. Change and Painless Persuasion v. The Meathawk Immaculate were headily introspective. Sound Pit and Interstellar Soul were simply buoyant and joy-filled. And then there was Teenage Dream, perhaps the defining song of the era, on which Bolan bade farewell to his past and closed the book on glam rock. This, truly, is Bolan’s buried treasure.
Tanx and Zinc Alloy are both available from the new T.Rex store http://www.myplaydirect.com/t-rex
Coming on the back of critically acclaimed deluxe editions of Electric Warrior and The Slider, and 2013’s career-spanning and hugely popular Marc Bolan At The BBC, the four albums – all chart successes first time round – provide illuminating new perspectives on Bolan and the T. Rex phenomenon.
Each, too, has its share of hits – from 1970’s Ride A White Swan, which transformed Bolan’s career; classics such as Children Of The Revolution and 20th Century Boy, to the epic Teenage Dream, a 1974 swansong of sorts.
This latest quartet of releases confirms Marc Bolan as a writer of unforgettable pop hits, a genuinely larger-than-life rock hero, and a star in the classic sense of the word. They also prove, in case anyone needs reminding, that he was an artist of great depth, passion and sensitivity, and capable of making great changes.
Marc Bolan’s death, in a car accident in September 1977, came as he was being feted by the new wave of punk bands. Once the classic crossover artist, who swapped the cult hippie scene for superstardom, Bolan has in recent times become a genuine A-grade rock icon whose work sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded.