Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Marc Bolan & T.Rex 20th Century Superstar


Marc Bolan & T.Rex 20th Century Superstar

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Although Marc Bolan and T. Rex are no strangers to the best-of racks, it is a sad truth that only one previous attempt has been made to represent the singer's entire career, the Australian triple album 20th Century Boy, back in 1981. And, regardless of whether or not the compilers of this set took that package as their benchmark, the best possible compliment that one can offer 20th Century Superstar is that it doesn't simply equal its predecessor, it utterly surpasses it. Arranged chronologically across four CDs, 20th Century Superstar follows Bolan from his first-known recordings, versions of Dion's "The Road I'm On" and Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" cut under the name Toby Tyler in 1965, through to his final single, 1977's "Celebrate Summer." That's 108 tracks, with no less than 19 previously unreleased relics of Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex days, presenting the most well-rounded portrait of that era yet. The years 1967-1970 are, after all, the one part of his career to have so far evaded the wholesale archive scraping that characterizes his earlier and later (post-fame) years, but here we have three previously unheard songs, 11 alternate takes, a couple of demos, and, most important of all, a three-song session recorded with producer Joe Boyd in 1967, which is as astonishing as such a collision ought to be. Woven among these gems, of course, are all the highlights one would hope to hear, from the biggest hits to the all-time fan favorites, from BBC sessions to pseudonymous singles, and onto a couple of extra-curricular goodies -- Bolan's guest spot on David Bowie's 1969 "Prettiest Star" single paramount among them. Add a genuinely sensitive remastering job and an excellent essay by Bolan biographer Mark Paytress, and it all adds up to a presentation that renders virtually every other Bolan compilation superfluous. He may have been a 20th century superstar, but he looks fit to run well into the 21st as well

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