Monday, March 12, 2007

T. Rex - A Beard of Stars

The Marc Bolan resurgence is upon us. The influence of his singular, elf-like, whimsical psych/folk can be felt in the work of contemporary artists like Animal Collective, Devandra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, etc. Others, such as British sensation Pop Levi, or Chicagoan and Multi-Instrumentalist David Vandervelde, have taken Bolan's glam rock stylings as a jumping off point. So what's so great about this man? I have to admit that I myself was not so much a hater as an ignoramus. In my mind the equation was like this: T. Rex = "Bang the Gong"; "Bang the Gong" = Classic rock radio staple; Classic rock radio = cliched-suckage. Not the case at all with this album from 1970. A Beard of Stars was a bit of a departure from the earlier Tyrannosaurus Rex sound. Bolan started to incorporate more electric guitar and rockish elements, along with somewhat more accessible songwriting. Songs such as the wonderful,"Pavilions of Sun", still have the trademark quivering vocals and hand percussion rhythms, but notice the electric guitar lead that starts to creep in halfway through. This is a clear indicator of the new direction Bolan's music was taking. This album is a precursor to the glam rock defining statements of Electric Warrior and The Slider, and Bolan noticeably still has one foot in the world of fairies and oddball-folk whimsy. The album is all the better for it. While there are other places to start a T. Rex re-discovery, A Beard of Stars is as good as any, as it showcases a bit of both sides of this exceptional talent.

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4 comments:

Carnie said...

What i gotta do to be a friend?

Steven said...

Hey man, make sure to check out Bolan's first band 'John's Children' - it's wild, noisy proto punk /psyche from 1966-67.

Friendlier said...

Thanks for your comments on Beard of Stars. For someone who says he didn't know that much about Bolan, you've pretty much got it right on this one. Only I WOULD recommend it a good place to start for those who want to get into Bolan. I think it's his best album. Thanks for posting it.

ill-starred man said...

hi guys, I wrote a book about Bolan's songwriting called 'Born To Boogie' last year. No-one much bought it but it's got a chapter on Beard of Stars and all his other albums. And you're right it's a perfect starting point...