Magazine article Guitar Player

Classic Tracks: Marc Bolan & T. Rex. (Input/Output)

Magazine article Guitar Player

Classic Tracks: Marc Bolan & T. Rex. (Input/Output)

Article excerpt

Like the cosmic pixie himself, the recorded legacy of Marc Bolan is relatively small, but its resonance is gargantuan. His T. Rex was arguably the biggest band in the world between 1970 and 1972, after it morphed from a mystic acoustic duo (that producer Tony Visconti mistook for an "itinerant Eastern European gypsy act singing in some unknown native language") into a roaring electric pop juggernaut. It didn't hurt that Bolan was beautiful, androgynous, self-obsessed, and totally devoted to rock and roll. The result produced several classic hits, defined the glam genre, inspired future punks and rockers, and guaranteed an iconic afterlife after Bolan's 1977 fatal car accident.

You can hear the roots, the glory years, and the sound of things going wrong on the marvelous 20th Century Boy: The Ultimate Collection [Hip-O]. Of course, the T. Rex vaults have been salvaged to the point of releasing outtakes and scratch demos, but this single-CD compilation actually puts Bolan's career in perspective. Even more surprising, the songs sound fresh, naive, hilarious, and powerful. Here, Bolan's son, Rolan, reflects on his father's everlasting flame.

What do you appreciate most about your father's music?

What was so great was that, even when he transformed from the acoustic Tyrannosaurus Rex to the electric T. Rex stuff, he still kept the acoustic guitars in there. I also love how he'd layer things. There were the acoustic and electric guitars, the soulful bottom with [drummer] Bill Legend and [bassist] Steve Currie, and the real bluesy guitar lines. …

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