Hometapers you can give up now. Sure, it’s easy enough to make up a good tape of T.Rex songs for the car. But the ultimate compilation was achieved long ago. And it’s called ‘Bolan Boogie’.
Dismissed at the time as another rip off, ‘Bolan Boogie’ has deservedly regained some status as a real album. Its secret is twofold; the excellent sequencing that makes it sound like an album not a compilation, and the inclusion of all six 7” only tracks from the Fly label period (70-71). The short elapsed time span of the album, at most two years, gives a feeling of integrity rarely found on compilations.
Given the sheer intensity of the T.Rex phenomenon, it is a surprise to find four, more thoughtful, Tyrannosaurus Rex songs tucked away. They fit superbly well and provide a pivot of light and air around which the boogie can swing. Three of the four come from ‘Beard of Stars’ and are topped up with the ever delightful ‘She was born to be my Unicorn’ from Steve Peregrine Took days.
In a classic piece of daft marketing a winsome picture of live Boley graces the rear cover not the front. Maybe they didn’t want to dupe anyone into thinking it was a live album. The front cover is a small but colourful graphic on an all black background, which serves as an unremarkable shop window for such a powerful collection.
Strangely but understandably, ‘Life’s a Gas’ and ‘Is It Love’ are omitted. Strangely because despite not sounding like it, this is supposed to be a greatest hits album. Understandably because ‘Life’s a Gas’ was the third hit single side from ‘Electric Warrior’, while ‘Is It Love’ was the only track from the ‘T.Rex’ album released on 45. And anyway, where would you fit them? The chat from the start of ‘Summertime Blues’ and ‘Woodland Rock’ that appeared on the 7” versions, and the tune up that precedes ‘Beltane Walk’ is dropped, but the absence doesn’t offend.
Although released after Bolan had left Fly to create the T.Rex label ‘Bolan Boogie’ was his last album to make the UK number one spot, cutting ahead of ‘The Slider’ to do so. This made ‘Get it On’ a three times number one song in the space of one year, can any other artist equal that?
UK CD reissues have been very dismal budget affairs. Because of that it is probably worth digging a bit deeper into your pocket and finding a Japanese copy. You get better sound quality, an attempt to recreate the original rear cover, and laughable mangled Japlish lyrics which are almost worth the premium on their own.
No other Bolan compilation comes close to the breathtaking completeness of ‘Bolan Boogie’. The choice of tracks and running order are perfect and there are no faults that stand up after scrutiny. The only improvement to be wished for is a properly documented (lyrics, photo memorabilia etc.) connoisseur’s edition, although this is very unlikely for a long time. Until then ‘Bolan Boogie’ is as essential for the obsessive Bolan collector as it is for the casual pop music fan. In a world where the vital single is no more than a dim memory, this album is a sworn testament to why 7” was the defining measure of pop music for so long.
Get it On, Beltane Walk, King of the Mountain Cometh, Jewel, She was Born to be My Unicorn, Dove,
Woodland Rock, Ride a White Swan, [side two]: Raw Ramp, Jeepster, Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart, By the Light of a Magical Moon, Summertime Blues, Hot Love