Sometimes you see a CD in the racks and think 'that's going to be a good album'. It happened like that with 'Electric Warrior'. But you can't be right every time.
Spectrum is a Phonogram budget label with a good history of decent budget issues, including to my mind the definitive Tony Sheridan & The Beatles Hamburg sessions (released in 1985). Since then Philips have sold Phonogram to Universal, who have also acquired the rights to the 1968-1971 Bolan catalogue. However, Universal's record of reissuing Tyrannosaurus Rex and early T.Rex has slipped from basic budget CD reissues to the downright shoddy releases of 'Electric Warrior' as connoisseur vinyl and 30th anniversary remastered CD. What have they cobbled up now?
Although called 'Born to Boogie' this is nothing to do with the film of the same name. It is mainly drawn from 'Electric Warrior' which supplies six out of the eighteen tracks. There is nothing 'rare' or 'collectible' just all the 70/71 T.Rex hit singles, 'Debora', 'King of the Rumbling Spires', and album tracks. The selection does veer away from the familiar which means some less than common choices from 'Unicorn', 'Beard of Stars', and 'T.Rex' (the brown album) and no cuts from 'Prophets ..', not even 'Salamanda Palaganda'. The front cover is an engaging sepia tinted cross legged and smiling Bolan clutching a Gibson guitar, possibly the Flying V.
Of trivial interest will be this album's status as the first 'new' compilation of this period from the rights holding label since 'Collection' on Castle in 1987. So far, so good then. A couple of niggles though, the sequencing isn't brilliant, too many hits are packed into the first few tracks, and 'Rip Off' does not rest well in the middle of an album. The inclusion of 'One Inch Rock' in particular, 'Raw Ramp' and 'Summertime Blues' possibly, would improve things. There is no 'Elemental Child' which seems almost mandatory on compilations covering the Tyrannosaurus Rex period.
As usual for Spectrum the accompanying notes are well written, this time by Steve Gallant (who he) and mostly correct, although August 1977 is given as the date of Bolan's death and, interestingly, names 'Magical Moon' as the Bolan song John Peel refused to play. The notes make a brief reference to Bolan's career beyond the musical span of 'Born to Boogie', attributing the fall from grace to determination turned to arrogance being caused by too much drink and drugs, and reporting the all too short upturn in fortunes. An unusually fair account for sleeve notes in a budget compilation.
It is nothing wonderful that has nothing to offer the existing fan who is not a CraZy KollecTa, but it is a competent package and I wouldn't mind betting that 'Born to Boogie' will become one of the better known and better thought of compilations of this period. Spectrum product tends to get into real record shops rather than the supermarkets and roadside service stations favoured by other budget labels so it should be around for a while yet. With the big hits onboard, including 'Life's a Gas', some good album cuts and a smattering of Tyrannosaurus Rex, I can recommend 'Born to Boogie' as an introduction to Marc Bolan 1968 to 1971.
Track list: Get it On, Hot Love, Ride a White Swan, Woodland Bop, By the Light of a Magical Moon, Beltane Walk, Jeepster, Rip Off, King of the Rumbling Spires, Debora [7" version], She was Born to be My Unicorn, Child Star, Planet Queen, Diamond Meadows, Cosmic Dancer, Cat Black (the wizards hat), Like a White Star Tangled and Far Tulip That's What You Are.
Thanks to The Virgin Mega Store of Swindon for the hearing of this album.