Birmingham Mail Pop Special

By Mike Beale

A chance meeting at the AIR London recording studios last week has led to one of the most fascinating disc combinations of the year. Marc Bolan of T.Rex, recording with Birmingham's progressive Electric Light Orchestra. Marc, who has been friendly with E.L.O.'s Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan since the early days of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Idle Race and The Move respectively when they appeared together on Euro gigs and on the college circuit, also appeared live with them on their concert date in Watford last Tuesday. He made a surprise arrival complete with his guitar. and sat in on a 15 minute version of their recent hit single Roll Over Beethoven. While this will obviously spark rumours of a permanent Bolan E.L.O. link, both Jeff and Bev are adamant that it has all been only for "old-times sake."
Says Bev:
"We went down to AIR London to put down some new tracks for an album and who should walk in but Marc, who had been recording there earlier in the day. So after we exchanged pleasantries we got down to work with Marc joining us and we completed a couple of tracks. Marc joined us again in the studio last Thursday and we are quite hopeful that our next single will come from this session. While we have put down several tracks - all of them Jeff Lynne originals - we are still undecided about some of the titles. One that stands a chance is I Am Only Dreaming. but when we find one we want it will be rush released."

And talking about that concert appearance last Tuesday, Bev recalled: "We thought Marc was kidding when he said he would come along to our Watford gig. But true to his word, there he was with guitar at the ready! In fact, we felt a bit sorry for him when he first came on stage. Our audiences are quite 'heavy' and with Marc's pop image he came in for a bit of stick from some of the folk there, but he soon won them over and we all enjoyed ourselves. It was good fun!"

Apart from his friendship with Jeff and Bev, Marc obviously made the most of his chance to "get back to his roots". When he first came on the scene several years ago it was as a progressive artist. and the Electric Light Orchestra scene is very much to his liking. Another parallel is that in those days, Marc was the favourite of that progressive "king" John Peel. And John makes no secret of the fact that Jeff Lynne now rates as one of his top songsmiths.
There is another sequel to these sessions. Marc announced that he is shortly to start a solo album. This immediately brought a "Aren't all your albums solo?" quip from Jeff. But Marc explained that he would be doing his own thing, helped by a few session musicians. And Jeff and Bev were delighted to be invited to join in.
Talking of Jeff's writing, he is now really challenging former Move colleague Roy Wood for the top Midlands writer title at least. Already Carl Wayne has recorded some of his songs, and now the delightful Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Bennett have also asked him to write for them.