Tyrannosaurus Rex - My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair… Deluxe Edition - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tyrannosaurus Rex - My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair… Deluxe Edition

by Jeff Penczak Rating:5 Release Date:2015-01-26

Poor Marc Bolan fans. Next to Jimi Hendrix, they’re probably the most abused music collectors alive, continuously subjected to endless repackagings of Bolan’s various musical endeavours. By my count, this is about the 10th time Bolan’s debut Tyrannosaurus Rex album has been reissued and/or repackaged since its initial 1968 release (and I’ve probably missed a few).

And don’t you know that a deluxe, super-duper, 50th anniversary edition is probably being readied somewhere as I type. Don’t you think it’s about time we put our collective boots up the labels’ arses and borrowed a phrase from Peter Finch (Network): “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore”? At least Hendrix’s family seems to have stepped up to put an end to the countless unnecessary reissues of the music we’ve already bought half a dozen times merely to add a few scraps of rehearsals or home-recordings to our booty.

Unfortunately, no one seems to be looking after Bolan’s legacy, so we get things like this: the stereo and mono versions of the album and 25 bonus tracks, consisting of a couple of minute-long Bolan sound-bytes (the explanation behind the meaning of ‘Dwarfish Trumpet Blues’ is the most interesting), and a few 'previously unreleased' versions of the original dozen, including a handful of early demos producer Tony Visconti recorded at his flat and a couple of sessions with Joe Boyd.

Frankly, I can’t tell the difference, although Bolan goes off book a few times during the Boyd ‘Chateau in Virginia Waters’ with a heavy dose of mouth exercises and “choo cha cha cha's”, and ‘Dwarfish Trumpet Blues’ is a particularly no-holds-barred performance. The dozen tracks recorded for John Peel’s Top Gear BBC Radio One programme were all released less than 18 months ago on the definitive Marc Bolan at the BBC six-CD box set. Reissuing them again so soon is a disgraceful money-grabbing tactic.

The album itself? This is the period that Bolan’s friend and musical confidant John Peel preferred over his more universally popular glam and glitter T. Rex era, and the music is decidedly airy-fairy hippy gumbo (to quote Bolan himself).

At times, it sounds like he’s trying to out-weird the Incredible String Band (no mean feat) and he often succeeds. At other times, he sounds like a street busker with a guitar and an open case standing on a street corner spouting stream-of-conscious gibberish in a voice approximating a bleating goat. Bolan’s partner Steve Peregrine Took’s contributions are almost universally overlooked, but without his bass, bongos, percussion, backing chirps, piano and pixiephone, the original dozen tracks would be dismissed as the ravings of a madman or some smelly, itinerant street bum who won’t leave you alone.

Still, Bolan’s grasp of melody is evident from the start, as evidenced by the sleepy ‘Child Star’, ‘Afghan Woman’, and ‘Chateau in Virginia Waters’, all of which still excite. And it’s always a delight to hear John Peel read the nonsensical, Lewis Carroll-ish story of ‘Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)', although Bolan's interminable "Hare Krishna" chant is woefully dated and still grates on the nerves.

I’ll let the audiophiles argue the merits of the stereo vs mono mix (to my untrained ears the mono actually sounds a little crisper). Bolan was still defining his persona and most of the tracks come off as half-baked improvs, despite the fact that, judging by their appearance as both Visconti and Boyd demos, many were obviously rehearsed several times beforehand. Bolan was flowing with so many music ideas, it often feels like Visconti just turned on the tape, got out of his way and made sure the recording levels were set properly.

A bit more quality control would have helped these sessions considerably. But as a snapshot of Bolan’s early modus operandi, it paved the way for more insanity and brilliance to come.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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