40 years ago, over breakfast on September 16th 1977, my Dad delivered the bad news – Marc Bolan had been killed in a car accident earlier that morning. Dad knew more than most just how much Bolan and his music meant to me. My first LP. My first gig. My first obsession. Barely six years had passed since my initial encounter with T.Rex, via a friend at school. Six Years is a blink of an eye now, but in 1977 it was a third of my life – and felt a lot longer. From a gawky shorts-wearing 11 year old in 1971 to 17 year old enthusiastic musical adventurer in 1977, Marc Bolan opened up a whole world to me, one I’ve been exploring ever since.

For the purposes of this imaginary compilation I’ve ignored the hits. I figure everyone is familiar with ‘Get it On’, ‘Telegram Sam’, ‘Metal Guru’ etc. You can find those classics on any one of the many greatest hits compilations available. I’ve chosen to dig little deeper into the catalogue to pull together an ICA from ten of my favourite T.Rex tracks.

Marc Bolan, 40 years gone and still missed.

1. Mambo Sun

In contrast to what would come later, 1971’s ‘Electric Warrior’ sounds effortless, uncluttered, pure. ‘Mambo Sun’ opens proceedings, featuring Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman‘s backing vocals to full effect. The duo are better known as Flo & Eddie of The Turtles and also contributed significantly to Frank Zappa‘s work with The Mothers of Invention in the early 1970s.

2. Cadilac

In the first flushes of superstardom, Bolan insisted on giving his fans value for money. Concert tickets were pitched at 50p and two otherwise unavailable tracks appeared on the flipside of each of the first few singles. ‘Cadilac’ (sic) was one of the pair of tunes on the b-side of T.Rex’s third No.1, ‘Telegram Sam’, in January 1972 and featured in the band’s live set throughout the rest of the year.

3. Chariot Choogle

‘The Slider’ was the first LP I bought with my own money, in the Summer of 1972. In December of that year, T.Rex became the first band I ever saw live. The thrilling ‘Chariot Choogle’ from ‘The Slider’ opened the band’s set that night and remained an intermittent live favourite until 1974.

4. Sunken Rags

Another value for money b-side, ‘Sunken Rags’ was recorded during sessions for ‘The Slider’, before eventually appearing on the flip of ‘Children of the Revolution’ in September 1972.

5. Electric Slim and the Factory Hen

‘Tanx’ was recorded in the Autumn of 1972 and released in January the following year. On the LP, Marc Bolan attempted to expand on the familiar T.Rex sound by heavily overdubbing instrumental passages and backing vocals to create a fuller, more claustrophobic feel. Brett Anderson allegedly took inspiration from ‘Tanx’ for Suede‘s ‘Coming Up’ LP in 1996. ‘Electric Slim and the Factory Hen’ demonstrates a lightness of touch that is not always apparent on ‘Tanx’ and also gives an early nod to the soul music direction Bolan would sporadically pursue in 74/75.

6. Venus Loon

Ask me what my all-time favourite T.Rex track is. Go on, ask me. Well, since you’ve asked so nicely, it’s ‘Venus Loon’, the opening track on 1974’s ‘Zinc Alloy & the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow / A Creamed Cage in August’.

‘Bent spent psychedelic mailman’s head, gorging up my spokes like the ghostly dead’ – they don’t write lyrics like that anymore! The album, produced for the last time by Tony Visconti, is once again dense with overdubs, multi-layered vocals and the sound of the kitchen sink being thrown in. Some say the LP is self-indulgent – I reckon it’s underrated.

7. Till Dawn

‘Zip Gun Boogie’ and ‘Light of Love’, the two weakest singles T.Rex ever released, were lifted from the 1975 LP ‘Bolan’s Zip Gun‘, while the obvious choice, ‘Till Dawn’, remained criminally overlooked. ‘Bolan’s Zip Gun’ saw Marc Bolan sitting alone in the producer’s chair for the first time, with the exception of this leftover from the ‘Zinc Alloy’ sessions, which has Tony Visconti’s uncredited fingerprints all over it.

8. All Alone
9. Casual Agent

‘New York City’ and ‘Dreamy Lady’, the singles plundered from 1976’s ‘Futuristic Dragon’, were again less than inspiring, but elsewhere on the LP are ‘All Alone’ and ‘Casual Agent’, two of Bolan’s best latter-day compositions. If only he could’ve sustained this mix of musical invention and lyrical playfulness across the whole LP.

10. Teen Riot Structure

By the second half of 1976, Marc Bolan had shed his excess weight, together with a few of his excessive rock ‘n’ roll habits and he put together a new T.Rex line-up, which he took out on the road with The Damned in support. A strong new LP, ‘Dandy in the Underworld’ was released in March of 1977 and a batch of new songs were demoed for its follow up. Invigorated by the birth of his son and the energy of the nascent punk scene, the future looked bright. The mighty ‘Teen Riot Structure’ is the final track on ‘Dandy in the Underworld’, the last LP issued in Marc’s lifetime.




Don’t know what prompted me to think about this, but I realised not too long ago that I’ve quite a number of Marc Bolan & T Rex cover versions in the collection, most of them having been released as b-sides on various singles. As I’m feeling a bit lazy today, I thought I’d just gather a bunch of them together and offer them up for y0ur listening pleasure:-

mp3 : Department S – Solid Gold Easy Action
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – The Slider
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Life’s A Gas
mp3 : Altered Images – Jeepster
mp3 : Morrissey – Cosmic Dancer (live)
mp3 : Violent Femmes – Children of The Revolution
mp3 : Placebo – 20th Century Boy

I was the oldest of three boys in my family and therefore didn’t really have anyone to offer guidance on who or what was cool when I was young.  I always imagined that if I had had an older sister then the walls of her bedroom would hve been covered in Bolan paraphenalia and that his songs would be blaring all constantly….just as they did round at my best mate’s house with his two older sisters!

mp3 : T Rex – I Love To Boogie



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A bit of a historical moment this July 1991 single as it marked the first release featuring the then relatively unknown Boz Boorer – the one consistent member of the Morrissey entourage over the past 23 years.

The song was a new one that hadn’t featured on Kill Uncle or any of the singles taken from that LP released just four months earlier. But it was one that had been written in conjunction with Mark Nevin who had been so heavily involved in the LP…

It’s a single that I was very impressed with on its release. It was a more than passable move to a rockabilly sound completely different from anything Morrissey had done before. My only grumble is that over the next few years, the rockabilly sound proved to be just about the only way this band could play live and too many of the gigs and tours in the early part of the 90s were a letdown….

But I digress…for this series is really only about looking at the single, and as I mentioned above, it was one I liked on release and one that I still have a soft spot for even now all these years later.

The other tracks on the CD single (for it was in that format I originally bought the single although I now also have a 12″ copy as well) were a strange mix of a cover, a live cover and a live version of a song that had previously been a b-side…..

mp3 : Morrissey – Pregnant For The Last Time
mp3 : Morrissey – Skin Storm
mp3 : Morrissey – Cosmic Dancer (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – Disappointed (live)

The single only reached #25 in the charts, marginally higher than the two efforts taken from Kill Uncle, but a bit of a let down given it was a new song altogether.

Skin Storm had originally been recorded by Bradford, a band much-lauded by Morrissey, who had in fact been the support act at the (in) famous Wolverhampton gig in December 1988. Despite the great man’s endorsement, the band never really amounted to much beyond a cult. Here’s the original version:-

mp3 : Bradford – Skin Storm

The live cover version is of a song that, courtesy of Mrs Villain, can be found inside the cupboard in its original release on vinyl from away back in 1971 when she was a teenager with a big crush on Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn and bought all their records at the time…..and here’s a rip from that LP, Electric Warrior:-

mp3 : T Rex – Cosmic Dancer

She clearly took great care of her records……

Incidentally it says on the back of the sleeve of Electric Warrior:-

“This stereo record can be played on mono reproducers provided either a compatible or stereo cartridge wired for mono is fitted. Recent equipment may already be fitted with a suitable cartridge. If in doubt, consult your dealer.”

A reminder that in those days, you tended to buy records from specialist music shops, most of which existed primarily to sell electrical luxuries such as record players, transistor radios and stereograms with vinyl being just a small section over in the corner with a separate counter.

Happy Listening.


Keeping It Peel - October 25th


and in particular:-

mp3 : Arab Strap – The First Big Peel Thing (Peel Session)
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Lover’s Town (Peel Session)
mp3 : Cinerama – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Delgados – No Danger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Mr Cave’s A Window Cleaner Now (Peel Session)
mp3 : Madness _ Bed & Breakfast Man (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session)
mp3 : T.Rex – Ride A White Swan (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Wire – I Am The Fly (Peel Session)