What nonsense, this slagging of Marc Bolan!
Couldn’t you take the sentence “Honestly, the T. Rex catalog can be arguably defined as ‘Get it On (Bang a Gong)’ and 60 or so other tracks that are more or less ‘Son of Get It On (Bang a Gong)'” and substitute “Chuck Berry” for “T. Rex” and “Johnny B. Goode” for “Get It On (Bang A Gong)”? The only flaw in that is that Marc Bolan had more variety in his songs than Chuck Berry did.
I won’t argue that Bolan did mostly one thing. One overall thing to keep in mind is that he died at age 30. It’s an incomplete career that was actually over 4 years before his death when the cocaine and champagne stagnated him; he was only rounding back into shape months before the car crash.
Another overall thing to keep in mind is that the statement isn’t really true. He started out as Dylan folkie, then switched to the Incredible String Band-ish Tyrannosaurus Rex, then to T. Rex. With T. Rex, he had hit on the sound that made him a superstar (at least outside the US), and that’s what he wanted to be and he rode it.
Rode it like Eddie Arcaro! But, wait, that Eddie Arcaro, he was a one-trick pony (yes, I confess, I used Arcaro just so I could use that line), he really wasn’t that good, all he ever did was ride horses, never won the home run crown, never was NBA MVP.
Silly, huh? Arcaro was the greatest ever at what he did; you don’t criticize him for what he didn’t do. Likewise with Bolan. While he wasn’t the greatest at what he did, he was great. He wasn’t Chuck Berry (although he nicked a whole lot from Berry), and we don’t criticize Berry for writing the same song over and over.
Bolan realized before the punks, at a time when rock & roll was splintering into prog and metal and Laurel Canyon and all the rest, that rock & roll at its birth was about boys & girls & love & sex married to a great riff and that’s what he did. Yep, over and over, but it sure is a good formula, isn’t it?
He has never gotten the credit he deserves. Not for returning to the roots before The Ramones or the New York Dolls or punk ever did, not for paving the way for Bowie with glam (and later, Marc shifted into soul-influenced music due to his relationship with Gloria Jones of “Tainted Love” fame before Bowie as well), not for embracing “stardom” before Elton John. [Side note apropos of nothing: Marc, David, and Elton were all born in 1947.]
Here is a playlist, if not exactly a UK 14 track best of. No “Get It On,” no “Telegram Sam,” no “Jeepster.” You all know those anyway and that’s probably all you know. Be honest EPG, you couldn’t name 10 T. Rex songs, never mind 60.