Have no doubt, a good three or maybe four-disc anthology of Marc’s recording life is a good idea. After examining this effort you might want to have a go yourself.
This three-disc box set covering 68-77 is a ‘Marc on Wax’ release with Fly-RZ catalogue licensed from Castle. Probably issued to coincide with the re-release of ‘20th Century Boy’ it has all the hallmarks of a rush job. Let’s see what you get; three tightly packed CDs including all the big hits and some nice rarities, a booklet with a rather subjective overview of Marc’s career, good photos though, and a stiff slip case.
CD-1. The Early Years. This starts off well with a different from usual track list. The singles are there of course but it all goes wrong when we get to ‘One Inch Rock’. The case gives a P date of 1968 (the single version) but in fact it’s the 1970 cut from ‘T.Rex’. The stereo electric take is quite often substituted for the mono single version (uncredited so beware) on iffy compilations, but giving the wrong info is unforgivable. Otherwise it’s all a bit of a jumble. The running order while different isn’t very engaging, and ceases even to be chronological after track 14. Spelling junkies please note ‘Consuela’ and ‘Saltimbanques’. On the plus side it does include the rare ‘Pewter Suitor’ and the even rarer ‘Oh Baby’.
Track List. Debora, Knight, Consuela, Oh Harley (The Saltimbanques), Evenings of Damask, Iscariot, By the Light of a Magical Moon, Organ Blues, Elemental Child, Childe, Seagull Woman, Once Upon the Seas of Abysinnia, Cosmic Dancer, Lean Woman Blues, Rip Off, One Inch Rock, Pewter Suitor, Salamander Palaganda, King of the Rumbling Spires, Oh Baby.
CD-2. The Singles A’s & B’s. Actually just the big hits, from ‘Ride a White Swan’ to ‘20th Century Boy’, presented chronologically A then B. Sadly, again there are reasons to dislike this disc. First, and almost criminally, ‘Raw Ramp’ is cut up. ‘There was a Time’ and ‘Raw Ramp’ are divorced and ‘Electric Boogie’ amputated. Second, and merely a gross oversight by comparison, the ‘Xmas Jingle’ that precedes the B-side version of ‘Born to Boogie’ is not present, despite a mention in the accompanying booklet. Third, did you know Cochran and Capehart wrote ‘Is It Love’? Fourth, in this format I found it annoying not to have the full studio chat/noise found on the Fly vinyl B-sides. Fifth, there is a much better running order to be had than strictly ABAB etc, ABBA works much better. Still, twenty-two important tracks otherwise not on one album is an achievement.
Track List. Ride a White Swan, Is it Love, Summertime Blues, Hot Love, Woodland Rock, King of the Mountain Cometh, Get it On, There was a Time, Raw Ramp, Jeepster, Life’s a Gas, Telegram Sam, Cadilac, Baby Strange, Metal Guru, Thunderwing, Lady, Children of the Revolution, Jitterbug Love, Sunken Rags, Solid Gold Easy Action, Born to Boogie, 20th Century Boy, Free Angel
CD-3. Glam Rock to Fast Punk, 1972-1977. No more than a run through of album cuts from 72-77, with a few single-side only tracks tacked on the end for good measure. Again the songs are assembled with no apparent thought for sequencing. The ‘Big Carrot’ track would have been a real bonus here, a good balance to ‘Oh Baby’ on CD-1. It all ends up seeming a bit messy and difficult to know what they were trying to achieve. The only error is ‘Ride My heels’.
Track List. Buick Mackane, Rabbit Fighter, Chariot Choogle, Tenement Lady, Left Hand Luke, Venus Loon, Leopards (featuring Gardinia and the Mighty Slug), Till Dawn, Solid Baby, Precious Star, Calling All Destroyers, Casual Agent, Crimson Moon, Pain and Love, Teenriot Structure, Life’s an Elevator, Tame My Tiger, Ride My Heels, Sitting Here, All Alone, Midnight
In its defence this compilation does steer away from the usual suspects rounded up for Bolan collections. And a sixty-six track compilation is bound to have moments of severe personal grief, in my case why no ‘Ballrooms of Mars’? The big single A’s & B’s are corralled into one disc, leaving two discs free for the juicy album and single only tracks that should make this sort of collection so desirable.
Only trouble is this one balls up big time. Errors abound on the track listings and important tracks are not as listed, chopped up, or just missing. Several track titles are miss-spelled on the cover. The Castle masters used are not very good because they never were (The music sounds half strangled), the later electric Fly label material showing it worst of all. Relying too much on the big two albums, ‘Electric Warrior’ and ‘Slider’, compromises the good start of using different selections.
This is an extremely disappointing collection with severe minus points for quality control. That the Official Marc Bolan Fan Club is responsible for this mess should make you gasp with wonder and horror.
Only for the KraZy Kollecta.
Additional Comment by Vampyre.
“Instead try to get a copy of their 3CD ‘History of T.Rex’ collection. It has all the A & B sides from Debora to Crimson Moon including the Big Carrot single. The only exception is the Dib Cochran single.”
Thanks to the Rabbit for supplying the scan of the track list. (I sold my copy, so it’s worth something)