- “Deboraarobed” (from Prophets, Seers & Sages the Angels of the Ages)
- “Strange Orchestras” (from My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows)
These two are from the Tyrannosaurus Rex era, a little of which goes a long way (much like the album titles); these are two of my favorites from that era.
- “Summertime Blues” (B-side of “Ride A White Swan”)
This single was the start of T. Rex and serves as an effective link between the Tyrannosaurus Rex sound and what followed.
- “Raw Ramp” (b-side of “Get It On”)
A great T. Rex song, hard to think it was consigned to a B-side. Some salacious/sophomoric lyrics sure but ain’t that rock & roll? It’s a lot better than a lot of the songs on Electric Warrior. Marc did that a lot; there are more great songs later in this list that were B-sides and A-sides that were not on albums. If you haven’t heard it before, go listen now (skip the intro and go to 1:00):
- “Hot Love” (a non-album a-side)
The first song to have the true T. Rex sound. It’s a shame about the second half sing-a-long/handclap repetitiveness. What hath “Hey Jude” wrought? (cf. “Atlantis”)
- “Mystic Lady”
- “Baby Strange”
- “Baby Boomerang”
A trio of songs from The Slider, probably Bolan’s high point.
- “Children Of The Revolution” (a non-album A-side)
- “20th Century Boy” (a non-album A-side)
- “The Groover” (a non-album A-side)
- “Midnight” (B-side of “The Groover”)
Hard to believe none of these were on albums, especially since they come from a period where Bolan’s albums weren’t the strongest.
- “Mister Mister”
- “The Street & Babe Shadow”
Another trio of songs, this time from Tanx. Many would cite this as the beginning of the end for Bolan. I rate it pretty highly; the soul influence is starting to seep into the T. Rex sound. This also, I believe, was the last album with Tony Visconti as producer, Bolan’s George Martin. Visconti added a lot to the T. Rex sound in the studio with his string arrangements. These can get lost somewhat beneath Bolan’s multi-tracked guitars but try and listen for them. Visconti bailed to Bowie, another thing Bowie copped from Bolan.
- “Solid Baby” (from Bolan’s Zip Gun)
One of the better songs from Bolan’s post-Tanx albums, none of which would have ever catapulted him to fame.
- “Teen Riot Structure” (from Dandy In The Underworld)
Bolan final album, where he was starting to recover from his 2-year slump.
If you’ve listened to these I can hear some of the criticisms.
“There’s no there there, it’s just a bunch of hooks.” Exactly, more hooks than Bass Pro Shop. Aren’t they catchy? Isn’t that what pop music is about?
“What the hell does it mean, all those nonsense phrases, what is a ‘hubcap diamond star halo’”? Well, I don’t know and I don’t care. Much like Dylan, at times, Bolan’s words just sound good and I don’t think they have any more meaning or serve any more purpose than that.
“Where are the ballads? Everything is up-tempo?” He’s got them and maybe I should include some to prove there is variety but the truth is I don’t think any of them match these songs. It’s no coincidence that none were released as singles. [Editor’s note – For me, no ballads is actually the most promising thing I’ve read about this coming dive into your suggested playlist!]
I await your apologies.
Epilogue: For a new wave take on Bolan, check out this cover of “Telegram Sam” by Bauhaus.