Traditionally one should ponder the question of how many Marc Bolans there were in his career but, as this box set shows, there really was only one.
Marc shows of these tracks his inexorable rise and development from the misty-eyed hippy to the mystical glam-superstar. On the way we discover that his love affair (musical) with John Peel was probably one-sided and that he always knew that he could make the world sit up and take notice of the 5’ 2” powerhouse. Also, he made some great music that has lasted surprisingly well!
The change of Mark Feldman into Marc Bolan and from the fey singer with John’s Children through Tyrannosaurus Rex and into T Rex is very clearly documented and aurally you have all the evidence here from CD1 with tracks by John’s Children through to CD6 with his later work at the peak of his fame and being interviewed by Annie Nightingale. You also hear the change in style as he went from his original percussionist, Steve Peregrine Took to the more rhythmic and far more dynamic Mickey Finn.
It sometimes feels that his entire career was lived through the BBC but, in the UK at least, ‘Auntie Beeb’ was the main channel through which the crowds and the kids could get access to music once the pirate radio stations were despatched and so Bolan and T-Rex were on the BBC from the very beginning to his sad end.
Musically this is actually quite amazing – he was far more musically ‘ept’ than most people think he was – of course you get the classic hits like Ride A White Swan or Hot Love but you also have more sophisticated tracks and some of the early material such as Misty Coast of Albany or Pavilions of Sun has a joy and an otherworldliness about them that is quite charming. It is easy to see why Peel was so heavily invested in the music.
The interviews with Peel, Brian Matthews, Keith Altham and finally Annie Nightingale show a man who is at first confused and uncomfortable in the spotlight but develops into a media savvy and very self aware star.
It is great to hear some of the classic numbers being played live in the studio with no glossing over of any glitches and just to hear some great pop/rock music in such an unabashed manner.
Bolan was far more than just a pop star – for a time he was the biggest selling star on the planet and had a huge impact on the nascent glam scene – and his music is still grabbing the ear in 2013; this collection is a true example of the development of an icon over years.
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