Cliff McLenehan, Zinc Alloy Books Book website

A Review by Michel Laverdière

Honestly, I must say I bought the book mainly because it was written by a Tiller. I wasn't sure I would enjoy a book written as a calendar. What did I care if Marc went here or there, when or why. Moreover, I once was pretentious enough to suggest some ideas to Cliff to 'improve' what it should have been... Then I received it...
The presentation is quite striking and the book is very impressive. And so enjoyable. Just looking through all the pages, without even reading it, was an immediate pleasure. Concert tickets, advertisements... Wow! Instant time travelling. Being a Tyrannosaurus Rex fan above all, I was astounded... and jealous. Why was I not there "For the Lion and the Unicorn in the Oak Forest of Faun"? Life is unjust.
So, this book is also very cruel.
You can even see the ad for the concert at the Middle Earth on 23 September 1967 just released by TAG. This book is a mine of gold. What I first thought would be a boring line up of calendar details was suddenly becoming a precious well of priviledged information.
I'm telling you, you can't put that book away. Leave it on the table. It will entertain you for months and months. Each album released is accompanied by the main reviews in the major papers, each major concerts as well. Just when you think you've read everything, someone's bringing up a detail concerning a date, an event... and you don't remember? Just pick up Cliff's book and check it out. Don't put it away. OK, it's not written as a novel or a regular biography a la Mark Paytress* still MARC BOLAN 1947-1977 A CHRONOLOGY is the perfect companion for the fan. Not only the 'pundit', the expert, the collector, but each and everyone of us. I cannot think of a fan who wouldn't be thrilled to old it in his hand.
You haven't bought it yet? Good. You have something to live for, to long for. But make sure you don't long too long as it may get out of print sooner than you think... OK, you'll survive... that is until you finally see a copy at someone's house. Then you'll realize your big mistake!
Cliff - THANK YOU so much for this incredible work and the hours of immense pleasure I have reading it or just 'surfing' through it.

A Review by Paul Johnstone

This is an extremely well researched and beautifully presented piece of work. It is a bit expensive (£25.00) and, unfortunately, it is not available in the shops so it has to be carefully tracked down like some rare and exotic beast (alternatively, you can get it by mail order). However, if you make the effort to find it you will not be disappointed.
The book is exactly what the title suggests. The narrative comment from Cliff is kept to a minimum which in some respects is a shame because Cliff is a long time Bolan fan who has contributed to publications such as Record Collector magazine. He has a detailed and extensive knowledge of Marc Bolan and T.Rex and I would have welcomed some additional insight from him to help put the facts into their musical, cultural and historical context. However, I suspect that this was a deliberate decision and that Cliff preferred to let the facts and the contemporary protagonists speak for themselves.
Cliff cleverly uses interview extracts and reviews of gigs and record releases to give an accurate flavour of what life was like both for Marc and for his fans - taking us through Marc's early musical development to the onset of commercial success with Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the full blown excitement of T.Rextasy and beyond.
The book is a goldmine of factual information. To me one of its best features is that it presents us with a structured, chronological, framework which can be fleshed out by the reader at his or her leisure with their own research. In summary the book is well worth the asking price because it is crammed full of interesting detail about what, where and when T. Rex did X, Y and Z ! If anyone is inclined to put pen to paper about Marc Bolan and T.Rex in the future I am certain that this will be one of the major reference sources that will be of invaluable assistance to serious collectors and those with a keen interest in the work of a truly unique artist.
The effect of reading the book is to be transported initially back to a time when Marc was a young hopeful trying to find his style and image in his quest for fame. Then comes the Tyrannosaurus Rex period - with full details of gigs, John Peel sessions, record releases and TV performances. There are some lovely quotes which help to capture the flavour of the time:
"One Inch Rock. . .was well received. Many of Marc's words are sung in a strange fashion and the vocals become what could be called scat if it was jazz". (Richard Green NME)
"Innocence is what Rex is all about, innocence mixed with a search for ancient wisdom." (Melody Maker)
"Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of today's most unusual acts ...might not appeal to all tastes, with their distinctive vocalising, but their effect is telling on those who dig them. The effect can be spellbinding." (Fred Kirby, Billboard).
Then we progress into the early 1970's when T.Rex enjoyed the most phenomenal success with their classic top ten hits between 1970 - 1973. It is amazing to read how the band increasingly progressed in popularity from snippets from the music press of the day:
Monday 25th January 1971 "Marc Bolan became a star and T.Rex a supergroup on Monday. Over 2,000 jammed London's Lyceum." (Chris Welch, Melody Maker).
The book is published in an A4 hardback sized format with a front cover colour picture of Marc Bolan holding a Fender Telecaster guitar (not the more commonly seen Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster). There are 12 pages of black and white pics in the centre with some very rare photos going back to Marc's Toby Tyler and John's Children days. There is even a pic of an 18 year old Marc grinning at Helen Shapiro at a FAB 208 Christmas party.
There are also numerous smaller pictures interspered throughout the text which relate to the time under consideration (eg. pics of tour posters or gig adverts, concert tickets etc) which are absolutely wonderful to see. I have been a T.Rex fan for 28 years and this book is filled with loads of information, and pictures which I have never seen before. It is a credit to Cliff that he has been able to get copies of appropriate photos and adverts from gigs in Europe (Germany, Holland, Denmark ) the USA, Japan and Australia.
Sadly the golden era for T.Rex lasted for just over 3 years. As Cliff says in his introduction a lot of press comment directed at Marc and T.Rex in the post 1973 period until the (comparatively) well received Dandy tour and album:
"...couldn't, under any liberal definition of the word, be described as 'criticism.' It was abuse plain and simple". So true.
Some of the quotes are painful to read but it brought back vivid personal memories of the abuse and ridicule that used to be directed not only at Marc and T.Rex but also at anyone who admitted still being a fan in the post Zinc Alloy years. One of the most important aspects of Cliff's research is that he has covered the whole of Marc's career and has not just concentrated on a particular phase which makes it rather user friendly if you want to have a single source document at your disposal.
There are some nice full page posters from each era - some of my favourites include the one advertising the Empire Pool shows at Wembley on Saturday 18th March 1972 which were filmed by Ringo Starr for "Born to Boogie", and the "Truck Off" poster advertising the 1974 Zinc Alloy tour.
I could go on and on about the varied interesting bits of information contained in the book but the simple fact is that there is so much stuff in it that you will find yourself going back to it time and time again. It's a great read - and very entertaining. Whether you are a Bolan/T.Rex fan from the good old/bad old days or whether you have discovered Marc's music after his death this is a book that you should be proud to add to your collection.

A Review by George Rabb

Rumours started circulating in late 1998 that a book was being written about Marc, but with a different slant. It did not take long to discover that the man behind it was the respected Bolan contributor Cliff McLenehan. I knew then that this was going to be a serious project and not just a pictorial cash-in with any anniversary that happen to be coming along.
After a few months, and a lot of hassle with printers, the finished product arrived and I was not disappointed. I knew that various long time Bolan aficionados had contributed with hard facts on a subject that had not been extensively researched before. As the title suggests, the aim of the book is to document the day by day activities of one of the most important influences on 70's popular culture.
To have an understanding as to how Marc achieved this, it is useful to see what he was doing, when and where. The book delivers this and, although some critics have pointed to the odd loose entry, this does not detract from it's status as the ultimate reference book.
I use my copy virtually every day to verify a date or location. Indeed, it is full of hand written notes as I come across any additional information in my researches. Without this book these notes would not be in context and homeless, resulting in their probably loss over time.
The book is well illustrated throughout with the paper ephemera that was generated at the time.This brings another dimension to the era being written about and, for those that were there, revives long forgotten memories.
This book is not only for those with an interest in the detail behind the making of a superstar but will also please the casual reader new to Bolan.

A Review by Randy (Vamps) Mitchell

Cliff, I received your book yesterday. What a great reference book. I love all the pics of tour programs & advertisements. The set lists he performed and the concert reviews are interesting because history really does rewrite itself, so it is nice to have all this - the way it really was - preserved in one source.
Seems like Marc got a bad rap from the critcs especially here in the US but reading the reviews and seeing what he was doing in concert makes one wonder "who was in the driver's seat?". Nice to have a Big hard cover book about Marc.
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