marc bolan music
Bolan - the rare vinyl

In Search Of The ‘Boley Grail’
30 Marc Bolan Choice Cuts

 by Barry Smith and Marc Arscott

'In Search Of The 'Boley Grail'' was originally published in Record Collector magazine in 2006 - Barry and I were asked to put together (what we considered to be) a list of the Top 30 most valuable Bolan discs - originally it had valuations for the records but not only would they be out of date now, valuations vary so much from country to country, from town to town, from disposable income to not so disposable income. Basically, people will pay what they can afford to pay = to how much they want something. This order, 1 to 30, started with the most valuable first, so obviously they probably would have moved up and down since this was compiled and new discs would have taken the place of some of these - further items will be added in a separate piece after this listing in due course. This list only includes vinyl, there are many demo and master tapes that would dominate if added

Please contact me with any observations, thoughts, discs you feel should be included, etc.

I will be ading further images but if you have images of missing discs or better quality images, please feel free to send them to me to help improve this resourse - thank you

(Bolan) John's Children 'Midsummer Night's Scene'
1. Midsummer Night’s Scene / Sara Crazy Child
(as John’s Children)

Track 604005. 7” single in generic label sleeve. Withdrawn.

For many this is THE “Boley Grail”, a John’s Children single slated for release in June 1967 but withdrawn prior to that date. Bolan penned, this song is a 60’s freak-out on which Bolan’s vocals soar amongst the raucous musicianship. Reportedly upset at the final mix Bolan later said he quit the group in disgust. Around 25 copies of the single were given as freebies at John’s Children gigs and so very few ever come up for sale, with the last one reaching over £6,000 when auctioned some time ago. The catalogue number was subsequently used for the replacement release (see #28)

2. Blowin’ In The Wind / The Road I’m On (Gloria) (as Toby Tyler)

(Bolan) Toby Tyler  'The Road I'm On (Gloria)' acetate
3. The Road I’m On (Gloria) [one-sided]

EMIDISC 7” White label acetates

In January 1965 Mark Feld (Bolan’s real name) booked into Maximum Sound Studios where he recorded multiple takes of Dion DiMucci and Bob Dylan compositions, hoping to win a coveted recording contract. Deciding that Mark Feld was not “hip” enough the recordings were credited to ‘Toby Tyler’, a name cribbed from a Walt Disney film and which he briefly used whilst busking. Neither song was successful. A commercial release in the 1990’s exposed these songs to fans but the acetates (with the double-sided version reaching £4,200 at auction) remain firmly next to the top of the ‘Boley Grail’ list!

Marc Bolan 'Reality' acetate
4. Reality

EMIDISC 7” White label acetate

Recorded in late December 1965 during a quest for the follow up to The Wizard, this Mike Leander produced Bolan original remains unreleased to this day, only surviving on acetate. Tracking in at little more than a minute long, its auction value of around £4,000 makes it a ‘Boley Grail’ contender for sure

4= Song For A Soldier

EMIDISC 7” White label acetate

Recorded at the same time as Reality, this Marc Bolan original also failed to qualify for single release and, as with the aforementioned track, exists on acetate only. This track is virtually unknown to fans as only a privileged few have ever heard it

5= Highways

EMIDISC 7” White label acetate

The third of the four tracks recorded in December 1965 with Mike Leander, this track also failed to elicit any enthusiasm for a single release and is another acetate-only survivor of the session. Bolan was later to resurrect the song as Misty Mist for Tyrannosaurus Rex but this version remains unheard by the general public

5= Rings Of Fortune

EMIDISC 7” White label acetate

The fourth, unused song from the Mike Leander session, this song was also later re-recorded by Bolan for possible release whilst this recording languished in the vaults

8. Ride A White Swan / Jewel / Summertime Blues

Octopus Octo 1. 7” Acetate

Now renamed T.Rex, Ride A White Swan was to be the first single release for this ‘new’ band via a different outlet. Due to be issued on the newly formed Octopus Records label, a last minute decision saw the name changed to Fly Records. However, before the changes were made final, a few hand-written white label acetates were pressed with Jewel and Summertime Blues on the flip-side. The change to label name Fly also saw Jewel replaced with Is it Love. With hand written details and Octo 1 in the run out grooves, this “rarer than hen’s teeth” gem is in every collectors ‘Boley Grail’ list

Marc Bolan 'Hard On Love' LP (Original Track Records)
9 & 10. Hard On Love

EMIDISC 2 sided acetate LP

Track Records 2406 101. White label test pressing

Bolan’s success in 1971/2 inspired his previous manager, Simon Napier-Bell, to unearth unreleased demo tracks recorded for him by Bolan and the fledgling Tyrannosaurus Rex in the late 1960’s. Originally intended to be titled Hard On Love, based upon a Bolan expletive captured on the tape, an acetate was pressed up for company bosses to vet but they decided the swearing had to go and the intended release was shelved pending amendment. The complete sessions, with swearing, eventually appeared on CD thirty years later in 2002

Realising that the swearing on the original acetate was too much for Bolan’s audience, Track edited the tapes ready to release a cleaned up version of Hard On Love. However Bolan’s court action halted its release and the project was shelved until the LP eventually surfaced in 1974 as The Beginning Of Doves. Two test pressings survive from 1972 and are highly collectable.

11. Chateau In Virgina Waters

Sound Technique Studios. 7” acetate test pressing

Late in 1967 Tyrannosaurus Rex met with producer Joe Boyd to record some tracks with a view to commercial release via Track Records. From this session survives a test pressing of a track that was to eventually feature on the My People Were Fair LP, though in re-recorded form and produced by Tony Visconti for Regal Zonophone. This version is similar to the LP one but has bass augmentation and a slightly more ethereal feel. The acetate is made even more valuable as it is reputedly hand-decorated by Bolan himself

12. Christmas Bop / Telegram Sam / Metal Guru (Labels only)

T.Rex Wax Co Ltd. Marc 12. 7” Withdrawn/Not issued

Pencilled in on the release sheets for December 1975 the single was pulled from release at the 11th hour with no explanation why, even from Bolan himself. However, some labels had already been printed ready for the single but they were destroyed on the instructions of EMI/Bolan, though not before a few slipped out of the factory, a couple by Bolan himself who later gifted them to a fan

T.Rex 'Electric Warrior'
13. Electric Warrior

Fly Hifly 8. Test pressing LP

The breakthrough LP for Bolan, this collection of rock magic made T.Rex THE band of 1971 and remains a classic to this day. This test pressing has Jeepster on side 2 as well as annotations by Bolan on its sleeve, showing that he was not happy with the running order. The track was moved to side one for the LP’s commercial release. Only one such copy exists, making this a much-coveted item

(Bolan) Dib Cochran & The Earwigs 'Oh Baby'
14. Oh Baby / Universal Love

Bell 1121. 7” in generic label sleeve

In August 1970, just before Tyrannosaurus Rex became T.Rex, Bolan and Visconti released Oh Baby, a Bolan song that they felt was not appropriate for a Tyrannosaurus Rex release. Sung by Visconti, and credited to ‘Dib Cochran & The Earwigs’ (A-side) and ‘The Earwigs’ (B-side), the single was an obvious precursor to T.Rex’s electric style yet it stiffed. Using Bowie’s drummer John Cambridge and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman the track had been recorded in March, along with the instrumental B-side. Reportedly released on both black and silver labels, the Bowie connection helps to make this another high priced ‘Boley Grail’ item

Marc Bolan 'Hippy Gumbo' (Demo)
15. Hippy Gumbo / Misfit

Parlophone R5539. 7” in generic label sleeve

A change of label saw Marc’s third solo release appear in December 1966. Produced by new manager Simon Napier-Bell, this track introduced the ‘Bolan Warble’ and its style differed greatly to the previous singles. An appearance on Ready Steady Go did not help its chart career though and the single bombed. Demos and shop copies exist though not in large quantities. It has been reported that the original release date was delayed and that Marc obtained a batch of the demos and manually amended the printed release date on the label himself

Marc Bolan 'The Wizard' (Demo)
16. The Third Degree / San Francisco Poet

Decca F12413. 7” in generic label sleeve

The follow up to The Wizard issued in June 1966, Bolan later claimed that it was an unfinished track not intended for release. However the excellent production belies this statement and this upbeat, stomping single was a worthy successor. The B-side is a much rawer affair though and it is reasonable to assume that it is this track that Marc considered a demo. With no television appearances or even much advertising, it failed to set the charts alight and many people were unaware of its existence. Demo’s and shop copies exist, though in fewer numbers than The Wizard

(Bolan) Tyrannosaurus Rex 'King Of The Mountain Cometh'
17. King Of The Rumbling Spires / Do You Remember

Regal Zonophone RZ3022. 7” single. Demos only in picture sleeve

By this single release Bolan had (re)embraced electric guitar and it was the first to display his new-found enthusiasm. With its heavy drum, bass and guitar track, it shocked old fans but enthralled new ones and the single charted at no 44. The B-side is a thunderous song with oft-misheard vocals, the word “Cult” being a prime example! Until the advent of posthumous compilations Do You Remember was only available on this single, thus making it one of the scarcest tracks. A picture sleeve was reintroduced for the demos and is the hardest to find of all the demo sleeves

Marc Bolan 'The Wizard' (Demo)
18. The Wizard / Beyond The Rising Sun

Decca F12288. 7” in generic label sleeve

Released in November 1965, this was Mark Feld’s first single release and bore the new name of Marc Bolan which had been created for this release. The record had a good pedigree boasting respected producer Mike Economides and Musical Director Mike Leander who gave Marc’s song a thumping folk-rock feel whilst making the melodic B-side a strong song in its own right. Despite good critical response and promotional appearances on television, it failed to chart. Some copies are spelt Bölan, though this does not seem to affect the value. As Marc’s debut single, it is naturally highly sought after

(Bolan) Tyrannosaurus Rex 'Debora'
19. Debora / Child Star

Regal Zonophone RZ3008. 7” single. Demos only in picture sleeve (some with insert)

With Bolan now one-half of hippy group Tyrannosaurus Rex, this single appeared in April 1968 as their debut release and sold well, reaching a respectable no. 34 in the UK charts. Demo copies were housed in a distinctive picture sleeve which is very sought after, as are those used on later Tyrannosaurus Rex singles. The B-side track was much more ethereal and displayed Marc’s considerable skill as a wordsmith

(Bolan) Tyrannosaurus Rex 'One Inch Rock' (Demo)
20. One Inch Rock / Salamanda Palaganda

Regal Zonophone RZ3011. 7” single. Demos only in picture sleeve (some with insert)

Following the success of Debora, One Inch Rock appeared in August 1968 and did better chart wise, breaking in to the Top Thirty at no. 28. Its B-side was once again more involved and Bolan’s vocals interplayed with Steve Took’s elegant backing. Shop copies came in the distinctve Regal Zonophone bag, whilst demos boasted another impressive picture sleeve.

21. Chariot Choogle / The Slider

EMI T.Rex Wax Co Ltd. SPSR346. 7” promos with T.Rex label or White label

For the much-heralded release of The Slider LP in July 1972, EMI pressed up a handful of the album tracks Chariot Choogle / The Slider as promotional singles, and these have surfaced with both the familiar ‘Wax Co.’ label and as white labels. The song never appeared as a commercial single and so this pressing has legendary status in its 45rpm guise. Both versions fall under the ‘Boley Grail’ banner again, with little variance in value between the two labels

22. Bolan Boogie

Fly Hifly 8. (2 single-sided test-pressings)

Cashing in on the huge success of T.Rex in 1972, their previous label Fly issued the number 1 LP Bolan Boogie in May that year. Basically a Greatest Hits package, the track-list was amended before the LP’s release, as this test pressing features The Visit in place Jewel on side 1

(Bolan) T.Rex 'Metal Guru' (Bad-Cut Test)
23. Metal Guru

EMI YMARC X. 7” Rejected 1-sided test pressing

Set to be the first T.Rex Wax Co. single to carry the MARC catalogue prefix, this white label test pressing was rejected by Marc. The label features the annotation ‘bad cut’ along with the title, ‘Metal Guru’ in Bolan’s hand. The white sleeve carries the pressing catalogue number and date of pressing, May 24 1972, although it had been released on May 5th. A mystery!

24. Hot Love / Woodland Rock / King Of The Mountain Cometh

Fly IBC Sound Recording Studios. 7” acetate. £280

This single, released in February 1971 was destined to be Marc’s first No. 1. The acetate features a particularly interesting label where the typewritten text ‘TRACK RECORDS LTD’ has been crossed-out and ‘Fly Records’ written in, dated 19th January 1971, along with ‘fade after 2.30 optional’

Marc Bolan & T.Rex 'Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow' (Multi-Fold sleeve)
25. Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow or A Creamed Cage In August

T.Rex Wax Co Ltd. BLNA7751. Limited Edition LP (numbered / un-numbered)

Appearing in February 1974, this album was not as well received by fans, only charting at no. 12. Originally intended to be released in an award winning multi-trellis gatefold sleeve design, the costs and paper shortage (due to a National Energy crisis) meant EMI were unable to release it in this format. However, a Limited Edition numbered run (believed to be of 1,000) was made available for competition prizes, although a few did make it into the shops without a numbered sleeve. A deluxe gatefold version was made available for general release

(Bolan) T.Rex 'Jeepster' (Preview)
26. Jeepster / Life’s A Gas (The Electric Warrior Preview Single)

Fly Grub1. 7” single initially in plain pink sleeve, later in plain white sleeve

To promote the Electric Warrior LP in 1971, Marc/Fly pressed up a limited run (250 has been reported) of promotional singles for friends and selected DJ’s. Using two prime album cuts, the preview single was issued with a purple label and handwritten style credits, along with a colour picture of Marc and Mickey on the reverse, as was used on the LP. Never intended for release as a single by Bolan, when he left Fly they swiftly issued the record, keeping the picture and amending the other label

27. One Inch Rock / The Woodland Bop / The Throat of Winter

Magni Fly Echo 102. 7” 1-sided white label test pressing

Fly’s re-issuing of old material began with their successful Debora reissue single, which hit no. 7 following its March 1972 release. This single featured One Inch Rock, The Woodland Bop and Seal of Seasons but this rejected test pressing substitutes The Throat of Winter for Seal of Seasons

(Bolan) John's Children 'Come and play with me in the garden'
28. Come And Play With Me In The Garden / Sara Crazy Child (as John’s Children)

Track 604005. 7” in generic label sleeve, some in picture sleeve

The replacement single for the withdrawn Midsummer Night’s Scene, this release used the same catalogue number and B-side but substituted a new A-side. Taking the backing track from Remember Thomas A’Beckett (see #29), fresh lyrics were added to form a ‘new’ song. Bolan did not appear on the A-side but can be clearly heard singing on the B-side, a track he wrote and later re-recorded as a Tyrannosaurus Rex demo

(Bolan) John's Children 'Desdemona'
29. Desdemona / Remember Thomas A’Beckett
(as John’s Children)

Track 604003. 7” in generic label sleeve, some in picture sleeve

Bolan-penned Desdemona became the A-side for his new venture, John’s Children, the group he was placed in by SNB following the failure of Hippy Gumbo. Intended as a vehicle to further help break Bolan into the big-time, released in April 1967, the single was well received critically but failed chart-wise owing to the BBC ban over the lyric “Lift up your skirt and fly”. Bolan does not appear on the B-side, a track recorded before he joined the ranks of John’s Children

(Bolan) Tyrannosaurus Rex 'Pewter Suitor'
30. Pewter Suitor / Warlord Of the Royal Crocodiles

Regal Zonophone RZ3016. 7” in generic label sleeve

A strange choice for a follow-up to the Top 30 hit One Inch Rock, this great song races like a runaway train yet lacks the catchy chorus of Debora or One Inch Rock. Issued in January 1969, it failed to emulate its predecessor’s success and remains the most overlooked Tyrannosaurus Rex single. Its B-side continues the frenetic pace and once again allows Bolan full reign on imaginative wordplay. Shop copies and demos sported the Regal Zonophone bag, with no picture sleeve being used, which perhaps played a part in DJ’s overlooking the record. Whatever the reason, picture sleeves were reintroduced for Bolan’s next release