(U.K 1965 - 1977)
Born Mark Feld in Hackney, East London, 1947, Bolan was youthful mod and budding male model before attempt to break into music scene at same time as other struggling young songwriters. David Bowie and Cat Stevens.
Changed name to Marc Bolan when Decca released "The Wizard" single in 1966 before becoming member of John's Children, who have claims to being first-ever glam rock band. This outfit had two minor British hits on Track label, "Desdemona" and "Go Go Girl", the latter actually a backing track for Bolan's later Mustang Ford with vocals added after he had left group. Around this time, also cut recordings for Track album, "Beginning Of Doves", although this was not released until 1974.
Bolan subsequently attempted to form five-piece electric group which, legend has it, failed when hire purchase company repossessed their equipment. Out of wreckage, surviving members Bolan and percussionist Steve Peregrine Took started gigging as acoustic duo 1968 under name 'Tyrannosaurus Rex'.
First and second albums were purely acoustic and featured Bolan compositions heavy with his own private mythologies. By the third album, 'Prophets Seers And Sages' etc, in 1969, Bolan had expanded instrumentation and was writing some of his best songs.
Steve Took quit soon after, mainly through disenchantment with inability to stamp his own personality on duo's work, and he was replaced by Micky Finn, who met Bolan in health-food restaurant.
Finn made debut on 1970 'Beard Of Stars' album, which was transitional collection in that Bolan introduced electric guitar on several tracks. Up to this point Rex were minority appeal outfit on fringes of what British press termed at time "progressive" boom, in competition for audiences with far more successful contemporaries like of Ten Years After, Jethro Tull and Fleetwood Mac.
Then, in late 1970, Bolan and Finn, now operating under abbreviated name of T. Rex, had surprise U.K. No. 2 single with "Ride A White Swan" - which was issued simultaneously with T. Rex album as their debut release or now defunct Fly label.
Bolan's audience changed dramatically within a period of months. With addition of bassist Steve Currie and later drummer Bill Legend, consolidated new position as fast-growing teeny-bopper and chart attraction with "Hot Love", which topped U.K. charts for six weeks in early 1971, and "Get It On" which enjoyed comparable success later same year. (Later is closest Bolan ever got to breaking U.S. singles charts, entitled as "Get It On, Bang A Gong".)
By this time, totally on strength of Bolan's charismatic personality and penchant for commercial songs. T. Rex were drawing from then increasingly younger audiences the kind of hysteria previously not seen since golden days IT. U.K. of Stones, Beatles and The Monkees.
In mid-1971 'Electric Warrior' completed transition from gentle folkiness of early Rex to full-blown rock n' roll attack. It was a brilliant collection, and Fly pulled the "Jeepster" track off the album to release as single. It made U.K. No. 2 but Bolan, upset at not being consulted, started his own T. Rex label.
Through 1972 Bolan was at peak of his popularity. The Slider was a great commercial success, and "Telegram Sam", "Metal Guru", re-issued oldie "Debora", "Children Of The Revolution" and "Solid Gold Easy Action" continued stream of U.K. hits.
In 1973, Ringo Starr turned film-maker and directed movie about the T. Rex phenomenon "Born To Boogie", which, despite the participation of Elton John, satisfied only the faithful.
Critically however, his output came in for increasing hammering, and Bolan himself was obviously decidedly frustrated by total inability to open U.S. market with same ease. Albums from 'Tanx' onwards failed to match U.K. sales of immediate predecessors, and by 1973 T. Rex fever started to abate as Bolan fans began to switch loyalties to U.S. bopper exports David Cassidy and Osmonds.
It all fell apart as quickly as it had began: Bolan got fat, baited his critics, churned out product, left his wife June Child to shack up with U.S. singer Gloria Jones (by whom he has a son), split from Micky Finn in March 1975 and pronounced T. Rex defunct, and finally retreated to the U.S.A. that same year, ostensibly as a tax exile.
He came back again spring '76 on a low-profile comeback tour with Gloria Jones, and by the close of the year formed a new T. Rex using Dino Dines (keyboards) and British rock veterans Tony Newman, Herbie Flowers and Miller Anderson. You almost had to admire his nerve when he started coming the 'elder brother' bit with U.K. new wave acts, and then got The Damned to support him on his early '77 tour.
The start of his own weekly TV show was a further indication of Bolan's resilience, and in all he was enjoying his best latter day period when he was killed in a road crash in 1977 — a passenger in a car driven by Gloria Jones. He died two weeks before his 30th birthday on September 16, 1977 years old [extract from The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock, 1977 p36]
In the days before CDs, box sets, and vast archive-release projects, the Marc Bolan and T.Rex catalogue was basically spread over several dozen poorly annotated compilations, scarcely listenable bootlegs & overvalued rarities. Then "20th Century Boy" came along and for the first time the entire picture came blasting into perspective. Issued only in Australia, but widely imported elsewhere, the three vinyl albums document Bolan's entire career from 1965-1977, 63 tracks in all, rounding up impossibly scarce 45s by John's Children, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dib Cochran & the Earwigs & Big Carrot alongside the expected T.Rex hits and album tracks. Brief interview segments close three of the six sides, and the triple gatefold packaging features excellent liner notes and illustrations. It is also worth noting that this remains the only career-spanning anthology for Bolan issued so far.
I grew up listening to Marc Bolan and T.Rex, and played 'Electric Warrior' non stop through my teenage years. I bought this triple LP anthology while attending University and saw it as a comprehensive collection of his best material. It was great value at the time, with each side clocking in at around 28minutes of music and hosting 63 tracks in total - all for the price of a double album.
However, there are a few track missing which I believe should have been included in this anthology How could classics such as "Summertime Blues" and "The Slider" not be included, while three of the 'best tracks' from Electric Warrior were also ignored - "Rip Off", "Cosmic Dancer" and "Lean Woman Blues".
Therefore, I have chosen to include these songs as bonus tracks in this post. Also included is a track released in 1981 called "You Scare Me To Death". This track was originally called "Horrible Breath" and was written as a proposed television jingle for Amplex Tablets.
To finish off the collection, I have also included a bonus MegaMix single of Bolan classics, released as a 12" single in 1985 (Songs covered are Metal Guru, 20th Century Boy and Children Of The Revolution).
The post is split up into 3 sections - all ripped from my A+ vinyl as mp3's (320kps) and not a pop or crackle to be heard. Full album artwork is included with CD3 but I am also providing the Album Artwork as a separate download link for the Bolan collectors who may already have the music. Included in the scans is an extensive discography of Bolan recordings along with a chronological summation of his recording career.
This truly is a brilliant collection of Bolan / T.Rex music and one can only wonder what music Marc would have released, if his life hadn't been cut so tragically short in 1977.
1. The Wizard
2. Beyond The Rising Sun
3. The Third Degree
4. San Francisco Poet
5. Hippy Gumbo
7. The Perfumed Garden Of Gulliver Smith
8. Jasper C. Debussy
9. Hot Rod Momma
10. Mustang Ford
12. Sara Crazy Child
13. Midsummer Night's Scene (Interview segment)
14. Child Star
16. Demon Queen
17. One Inch Rock
18. Catblack (The Wizard's Hat)
19. Pewter Suitor
20. King Of The Rumbling Spires
21. Do You Remember?
22. By The Light Of The Magical Moon
23. Once Upon The Seas Of Abyssinia
24. Blessed Wild Apple Girl
25. Find A Little Wood (Interview segment)
26. Oh Baby
27. Beltane Walk
28. Ride A White Swan
29. Hot Love
30. Get It On (Bang A Gong)
32. Planet Queen
33. Telegram Sam
34. Metal Guru
35. Chariot Choogle
36. Baby Strange
37. Children Of The Revolution
38. Jitterbug Love
39. Sunken Rags
40. Solid Gold Easy Action
41. Born To Boogie
42. 20th Century Boy
43. Highway Knees
44. The Groover
45. Christmas Message (*)
45. Squint Eye Mangle (instrumental)
46. Truck On (Tyke)
47. Teenage Dream
48. Venus Loon
49. Light Of Love
50. Think Zinc
51. Zip Gun Boogie
52. New York City
53. Dreamy Lady
54. London Boys
55. Solid Baby
56. I Love To Boogie
57. Laser Love
58. City Port (with Gloria Jones)
59. The Soul Of My Suit
60. Dandy In The Underworld
61. Celebrate Summer
62. Crimson Moon
63. Teen Rio Structure (Interview segment)
Note: (*) The "Christmas Message" listed on Side 4 was actually missing on the vinyl pressing, however, I have managed to source the 30sec segment, made available only to Fan Club members in 1973.
Marc Bolan - 20th Century Boy CD1 (1965-1970) MP3 (130Mb) New Link 16/09/2018
Marc Bolan - 20th Century Boy CD2 (1970-1973) MP3 (167Mb) New Link 25/04/2020
Marc Bolan - 20th Century Boy CD3 (1973-1977) MP3 (163Mb) New Link 16/09/2018
Artwork Only Link (16Mb) New Link 25/04/2020