Monday, January 03, 2005

Tyrannosaurus Rex 'A Beard Of Stars', And Others

My apartment manager, a nitwit, misplaced my first (and only) promo shipment I have received, and he promised to dig through the supply closet and find it sometime this week. Since the primary reaction I have garnered with my tastes is disgust, I think the prospect of me receiving more promotional recordings is at best, limited. So, until the manager emerges from his hovel with my package, I thought I would write about a thirty five year old record that anyone reading this has a pretty fair idea if they'd enjoy or not.

I'm a big T.Rex fan, but I have never had the slightest affinity for the Tyrannosaurus Rex recordings. T.Rex's ill advised, thankfully occasional, forays into musical minimalism usually resulted in his least interesting shit. Needless to say, the thought of one of Bolan's half assed, seemingly unfinished songs on a lone acoustic guitar with bongo accompaniment didn't appeal to me in the least. Anyway, I was reading Dave Lang's excellent blog ( - and may I note I have never in anyway communicated or corresponded with Dave, and know nothing of the man save for his writing) and he recommended 'A Beard Of Stars'. Even though Lang's tastes are far more broad then mine (he expresses fondness for bands like Magma, who I am not a fan of, and various hardcore groups that bore me to tears) his description of the record as including some 'screamers', made me pencil in a mental note to purchase the record. One impulsive day I picked up the four Tyrannosaurus Rex CD reissues, and listening to them in my car on the way home I immediately began regretting my purchase. Sure, it's interesting, more or less harmless, and offers insight into what Bolan would eventually become, blah blah blah. Nevertheless, those first two records test my patience and make my skip finger itch something fierce. A notable exception off the debut is the bizarre, 'Strange Orchestra'. Beginning in odd time, like a Scott Dunbar outtake, before shifting into in dazzling stream of incomprehensible gibberish and grunting before ending out of nowhere. It's a pretty unsettling track, and one of the few that have stood out on the unfortunately frequent occasions when I have nothing better to do then test my patience.

If I was going to enjoy any of the records, it was going to be 'A Beard Of Stars', Bolan's guitar worked had improved, but he was still not entertaining delusions of being a virtuoso, Took had departed and longtime collaborator Mickey Finn had been brought in, and the transitional period before Bolan dropped the 'yrannosaurus' and went into full electric lushness, was most likely to yield some interestin' listenin'.

So yeah, Phil, what's it sound like? Well, I'll tell you; it sounds like, predictably enough, some of the lesser T.Rex tracks off of their first couple records. Lesser T.Rex tracks are still a whole lot better then most people's A-Sides. Even though there aren't any revelations to be found here, the welcome elements are far more prevalent. The often comped 'Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart' and the great 'Elemental Child' (with it's stunning, menacing guitar coda) are basically indistinguishable from T.Rex, and the arresting electric solo on 'Pavilions of the Sun' is a nice dose of ugly rockabilly. The record grooves like T.Rex instead of lurching around awkwardly like the more ungainly Tyrannosaurus counterpart.

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