The Very Best of T.Rex Vol. 1 (CD, 91/99, UK. Budget collection of big hits, with notes by John Phillips)

The Very Best of T.Rex Vol. 2 (CD, 1999, UK. Smaller hits wider range of material. With notes by Caron Willans.)

If ever there was an album title ripe for banning it has to be ‘The Very Best of…’. For a start it rarely does what it says on the tin, and anyway you just know they’ll be another one along in just a few months.

Which brings us to this pair, the latest generation of ‘The Very Best of…’ - T.Rex family branch. Fortunately for us these albums have a good and genuine claim to be the best of the EMI/Wax Co period, that is 1972-1977. For that reason we should all hold hands and pray there are no further issues of this dynasty to muddle some very muddled waters.

The two albums work together as a set and as a two-stage introduction to Marc Bolan/T.Rex.

The truly novice Bolan fan should start with Volume 1, which is a run through the big hits from ‘Telegram Sam’ to ‘20th Century Boy’, some major B sides and the biggest of the later hits. For those of us who bought the singles and discovered that the B-side had as much to offer this album will bring back a few happy memories. As a collection Volume 1 should please everyone from the casual fan to the curious newcomer with a value-for-money 62 minutes.

If your interest is aroused by Volume 1 the accompanying Volume 2 will sketch in some Bolan background. Because the really famous material is used by Volume 1, Volume 2 is able to move away from the singles. Alongside ‘The Groover’ some minor hits and B-sides, we get album tracks and a few well chosen cuts from the ‘Unchained’ series of unreleased recordings (curiously credited to the ‘Messing with the Mystic’ album). Volume 2 runs for a generous 76 minutes.

Volume 1 first appeared in 1991 and was reissued in 1999 with improved packaging, to accompany the new Volume 2, although it is still reassuringly basic. The track notes are stripped down statements of original release date and chart placing for singles, and the ‘home’ album given. Again the source accreditation is a little curious, with all single sides associated to the A-side and B-side collections rather than the extended play albums on Edsel. A few contact size photos are included to good effect.

For budget compilations these albums give a good coverage of the Bolan material now available rather than sticking to the releases in his lifetime. Even so they don’t overcome the tendency of compilations to favour Slider’ (7 tracks) and ‘Dandy in the Underworld’ (5) at the expense of other albums, most notably ‘Tanx’ (2). As a quick and easily accessible, good quality balanced and inexpensive introduction to mid to late Bolan these albums are impossible to beat.

Track list Vol.1: Telegram Sam, Metal Guru, Children of the Revolution, Solid Gold Easy Action, 20th Century Boy, Truck On (Tyke), Teenage Dream, Light of Love, New York City, London Boys, I Love to Boogie, Laser Love, Lady, Born to Boogie, Dandy in the Underworld, Life’s an Elevator, All Alone, Celebrate Summer, Buick Mackane, Chariot Choogle.

Track list Vol.2: The Groover, Sing Me a Song, Zip Gun Boogie, Dreamy Lady, Slider, Magical Moon, Spaceball Ricochet, Cadilac, Jitterbug Love, Free Angel, Interstellar Soul, Mad Donna, Rock On, Crimson Moon, Think Zinc, Sensation Boulevard, Soul of My Suit, Funky London Childhood, Groove A Little, 20th Century Baby, Jason B. Sad, Over the Flats, Foxy Boy, To Know You is to Love You, Christmas Bop.

Copyright © 2000 The Till Dawn Organization. All Rights Reserved.