Tyrannosaurus Rex were originally a two-person 60's freak/folk band that went on to a more complex production, less muddy songs, and eventually electric guitar. Upon reaching the age of musical maturity - around two years - the band shortened their name to T. Rex and thus improved their outlook.
That name change was no Hollywood ploy akin to giving a hot girl glasses, a frumpy wardrobe, and a haircut. No, evolution was right to force changes upon Tyrannosaurus Rex, as their initial incarnation was an awful, awful mess.
The plot outline was this: Marc Bolan started off playing acoustic guitar to accompany his mushy-mouthed vocals, along with Steve Peregrine Took, who played assorted complicated percussion (no drums). Then - as Bolan focused his muse - there were more and more studio overdubs. Then Took exited, to be replaced by hipster Mickey Finn. Enter electric guitar, more overdubs, and a shorter bandname. Of course, the evolution to electric music was actually a return for Bolan, who had formerly been with mod/rock incompetents John's Children.
It's my own fault though ... I should've realized that stereotypical images of mind-blasted hippies with bongos were derived from some real person, somewhere, and that it was only a matter of time before I encountered them. And it seems Tyrannosaurus Rex were the originators, and damn, were they hard to endure in their original form, as their musical approach here is elementary ... few/no overdubs, plus a tanker full of drugs that only make the vocals even harder to understand.
By itself, that approach isn't bad - what makes it intolerable is that Bolan's songs have few hooks, and his playing is not enough to maintain interest. Well, surely they were a lyrics band, you might think. First, admittedly I'm not English, but Bolan is so sky high on drugs I can't tell what he's singing most of the time. Second, he repeats himself a lot, caught in the rhythm of his words, creating the feeling of a jam but without the actual jam.
The band did have some unique aspects, such as Bolan's periodic ruffled falsetto, and Took's non-traditional (non-Western) rhythms and instrumentation. The songs are mostly indistinguishable though, such that I didn't realize I was listening to the wrong side of the album at one point.
A few songs are more-or-less blues - "Hot Rod Mama" and "Mustang Ford" for example - and "Scenescof" is folky. The rest populate some magical mushroom dream world in Bolan's head.
The album closes with "Frowning Atahuallpa", featuring Bolan singing Hare Krishna, before breaking into a long excerpt from a children's story. I'm sure the dozens of listeners in their smoke-filled rooms appreciated that sudden shift - as far as I'm concerned, it's the best part of an album which would sound impossibly dated within a few years.
Posted: Tuesday 14th May 2019 3:31 PM
Prophets, Seers & Sages
is a minor improvement over My People Were Fair
- the songs are at least distinguishable - the opener "Deboraarobed" is an actual song, with the tape run in reverse at the end so you hear the whole thing again backwards (likewise, the song's title).
That isn't so awful, so it's a step up for Bolan, and a few other tracks resemble songs too - "Conesuala" and "Salamanda Palaganda" for example. The production is also a bit fancier - some overdubs and the like - but it still suffers from Bolan's ingestion of so many drugs that he communes with the spirits of Tolkien and Indian mystics, gaining the idea that two chords and some nonsense syllables constitute a song.
Whilst I still can't understand most of what Bolan says, for anyone who wants to hear him giggle-laughing over an elementary mixture of Indian and English folk music, search no more.
Posted: Friday 24th May 2019 10:21 AM