marc bolan musicHOMEMARC BOLAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC (for the children)UNZIPPING THE ABSTRACT - The Marc Bolan Story
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1970 UNZIPPING THE ABSTRACT






1970 




Marc welcomed in the New Year and new decade by performing on a new national radio show, John Peel's 'In Concert' on January 1st. Tyrannosaurus Rex's appearance had not been scheduled, rock-combo Family had been booked to play but lead vocalist Roger Chapman had been taken ill and so Peel called upon his trusty friends to fill in. The concert was recorded at the Paris Theatre in London

Marc showcased some of the material from the forthcoming A Beard Of Stars album including a song which featured an extensive guitar solo, Elemental Child. Peel, who compared the show, commented after the track that -

"Once or twice a week, Marc comes around to Peel Acres to listen to Ricky Nelson, Gene Vincent,  Elvis and James Burton's guitar work. Scotty Moore (Elvis's guitarist) would have been proud of you."




 

The next adventure of the new year was that Marc joined David Bowie in Trident studios, London on the 8th January to record on two of David’s tracks – The Prettiest Star and London Bye Ta-Ta. Bolan played lead guitar, Bowie 12-string acoustic, Visconti was on bass and Godfrey McClean on drums, and they were joined by Rick Wakeman on keyboards for London Bye Ta-Ta





On January 10th Marc and Mickey performed at The Blues Club at The Village Roundhouse in Dagenham, Essex 

 

 Tyrannosaurus Rex 'By The Light Of The Magical Moon' 7"

Bolan's first single of the new decade, issued on January 20th  was a track taken from the forthcoming album -  BY THE LIGHT OF A MAGICAL MOON / FIND A LITTLE WOOD [Regal Zonophone RZ 3025]. The single failed to chart

 

 

 At Marc Bolan and June Child's wedding, left to right, Sue Worth, Mickey Finn, June, Marc, Pete Saunders and Alice Ormsby Gore

Marc and June Bolan at their wedding    

On January 30th Marc Bolan and June Ellen Child were married, the ceremony taking place at Kensington Registry Office. In attendance were Mickey and his girlfriend Sue Worth, one of Marc's oldest friends, DJ Jeff Dexter, Alice Ormsby Gore,  Eric Clapton's girlfriend (Eric being a friend of Junes), and Pete Saunders, photographer, who lived beneath Marc and June's flat and who provided photographs for the Tyrannosaurus Rex covers and promotional material



Marc and June



 


In February, on the 6th, the duo performed at the Tree Club in Bridgend, Wales, at London's Lyceum on the 13th with Taste and the Edgar Broughton Band, and Brighton's Dome on the 18th with Rare Bird and Genesis




On March 6th David Bowie released his follow-up to Space Oddity -  The Prettiest Star / Conversation Piece, the A-side featuring Marc on lead guitar and production by Tony Visconti. Despite some good reviews the single reportedly sold around 800 copies

David Bowie's 'The Prittiest Star' with Marc Bolan on guitar

 

                           

 

 Advert for Tyrannosaurus Rex 'A Beard Of Stars' album

 

 Tyrannosaurus Rex 'A Beard Of Stars' LP

On March 22nd Tyrannosaurus Rex released their new album, A BEARD OF STARS [Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1013 - stereo].   According to the sleeve notes the album contained ~ 'Lore from the books of Agadinmar and (was) dedicated to the Priests of Peace, Shepherds, Horse Lords and the Imperial Lore Leige - the King of the Rumbling Spires'


Agadinmar is a name assimilated from the books, a knowledge source. The Priests of Peace are a reference to my guardian angel. I'm quite a religious person. The Rumbling Spires comes from a science fiction book I'm writing

I think we're put on this earth to learn, and then when we die we get reincarnated, or in other words we come back as a different being, perhaps in another era. I can remember seven previous lives...

I mean I get these flashes and things. I was a minstrel and that would probably explain why I'm interested in literature, poems and music... I can remember being a cavalier as well. You know I remember this place in France that I visited, it was a 16th century house which I'd never been to before and yet I remembered having been there before, if you see what I mean?

What happens is you're selected to a specific human being without the inhibitions, jealousies or whatever, that you might have had in the first life. Obviously you'll have problems, but for instance before your problems may have been five-fold, but now they are only two-fold... But a happy destiny is in the stars, and you are your own God. I mean, if you have any worries about anything, it's your own fault. You bring worry on, because you are your own master - so therefore you can rule out your own emotion

There are certain ways you can flash on things, and you can learn how far you can stretch your mind if it's not connected to your own thought. You might be on a boat and suddenly you realise you can read a compass and the stars. When we were last in Wales I wrote a sort of subconscious story which came out like it was written by an old man, about parts of Italy which I've never been to. I checked and it was all true 




Her with moon trodden plow
Herds of African cows
Grazed on her beauty
Fragrant and pale

Young once youthful still now
Muse to the willow and ploughed
Fields arched with orchards
Blooms of the stars

Day whipped his black dray
Opaque orphan of Ring
Myrrh coated rider
Guider husband to Matron the King

Streams of yellowy mud
Run to the one that I love
Chained to the chalky
Chalice of night

- Wind Cheetah


 I don't write the songs - inspiration does. I couldn't write those songs - I'm being used. And not badly either. Not badly at all






Nick Logan for the New Musical Express reported that -



`The fourth from T.Rex marks Mickey Finn's debut as side-kick and percussionist and young Mr.Bolan's emergence as guitar star extraordinaire. In fact it's Marc's string bashing that makes this their most distinctive and perhaps most successful album so far. The set opens with a strange guitar phrase sounding like a child picking notes at random and as the LP progresses the guitar gains in momentum, and also in prominence, until on the instrumental tail off to the last track, Elemental Child, Marc proves his worth on a complex and lengthy run. Elsewhere the guitar is used with taste and discretion and comes across effectively as an extension of what Marc is really famed for vocally.


Of the twelve tracks, By The Light Of The Magical Moon may be remembered as a good single; Wind Cheetahs has some nice, gnashing guitar with an oriental flavour and The Woodland Bop has a cute set of lyrics - As usual a word sheet is included.

All in all, a nice, not too demanding album with the guitar and other embelishments a bonus to what we know the duo is already capable of'.





There's an incredible difference from what we did with the old line-up. Mickey's much more of a rock and roll drummer.....a lot the numbers on the new record didn't start as riffy as they ended up; they grew into heavier things. Suddenly there was a rhythm section behind me

Since Mickey became a part of T.Rex the music has become freer, more relaxed, and we can improvise - which we could not do before

I think we'll have a bass player at some point but not just yet. At the moment we're playing sets of about two hours, and that's leaving out half the numbers we'd like to do. So I couldn't fit anyone else in yet. But as my ambition, guitar-wise... expands and Mickey gets to drum more - he's using a small kit now, not just bongos - there'll come a point when, if I want to do a long guitar solo... or just allow something to happen like that, then we'll need a bass player for that number. I know some people who'd like to do it, we'll just see if it works out

I always seem to have ideas long before I can carry them out. I mean, T.Rex has sounded like 'Beard of Stars' to me for two years, I was always going to do it... even when we did 'Deborah' it was always 'next week' I'll plug my Stratocaster in. But I couldn't play well enough then to make the noises that I wanted to hear

So far as I'm concerned it's a natural growth, but to people who perhaps haven't heard T.Rex with Mickey in particular, and what I've been doing over the last six months, it might be very different...I always think in terms of what I've been listening to lately and I hear them a bit like that...for me its all very easy to see - I mean it sounds a bit like `Abbey Road', because - not as an album, but technically, soundwise, because, because that's the best album I've heard recently; so far as production and reduction of studio noise goes - so I sort of listened for that, and just for that, nothing to do with the music. There are about four that have bongos and guitar, the rest have that underneath, a bit like - I don't know if you've heard 'Magical Moon' - a bit like that, where I'll play a guitar solo in, or something to embellish the sound, and we use bass on almost all the tracks, as opposed to before. It's basically the same thing but just wilder - it's very much a stereo album, you know. It's a full sound, not just there and there (indicating speaker cabinets) and a big gap in the middle, it's used up - the whole space


 

In concert his transition to electric guitar was equally subtle, using it towards the end of the set when the contrast often pleasantly surprised the audience -


...I don't think about it as being electric, I'm into the media power of the electric instrument, to reach as many people as possible


The kids do seem so much nicer now. They're more aware; Music is more important than it was. They're really in there, understanding what its all about. Things have changed, and had T.Rex stayed exactly the same, I can see it would have been very hard for people like us and, say, Pink Floyd. But people do seem to have changed...like the Beatles and the Plastic Ono band in particular. All the new incredible sounds that come from John Lennon - 'Cold Turkey', I thought was a gas. It all happened on sessions. In the past I've never been like that; I've always gone in the studio with an idea. But it all changed...suddenly I found myself playing solos and things like that. Our new things are rock and roll... all twelve bars. It's very strange


I think we'll have bass player at some point, but not just yet. At the moment we're playing sets of about two hours, and that's leaving out half the numbers we'd like to do, so I couldn't fit anyone else in yet. But as my ambitions guitar-wise expand and Mickey gets into drums more - he's using a small kit now, not just bongos - there'll come a point where if I want to do a long guitar solo... or just something to happen like that, then we'll need a bass for that number





Despite some favourable reviews the album only reached No.21, his faithful hippy following rejected Marc's foray into electric music, not knowing his music history as the wild guitar-man of John's Children.




Two days after the albums release, on March 24th, Marc, Visconti and drummer John Cambridge met at CTS Studios in Wembley, Middlesex to re-record a track titled Baby, Baby which had been recorded by Marc and Mickey. With Visconti on vocal duties for this spirited exercise in producing a pop song, the resulting track was titled Oh Baby. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman visited the studio the following day to add his contribution



Tyrannosaurus Rex played at the Progressive Pop Festival at Koln's Sports Hall, Cologne, Germany which took place over April 3rd and 4th. Other bands that performed at the festival included Arthur Brown, Colloseum, Deep Purple, Eire Apparent, Procal Harum, Soft Machine, Yes and The Kinks 

Remaining overseas they travelled to Vienna in Austria to play on the 6th

  





 Pop Proms 1970 with Tyrannosaurus Rex, Traffic, Fairport Convention and Fleetwood Mac

On April 21st, Marc and Mickey headed the bill on the second day of the Pop Proms at London's Chalk Farm Roundhouse, supported by Elton John and Spooky Tooth. Other bands who headlined over the six day Proms included Traffic, Fairport Convention and Fleetwood Mac.  Some of the shows were hosted by John Peel





On May 9th Tyrannosaurus Rex performed at London's Imperial College with Kevin Ayres and Wishbone Ash





Also in May Marc took Mickey on a short American Tour [which there is remarkably little information about]







Track Records 'Backtrack One'

In mid-May, Marc's old label Track Recordsl began releasing a series of budget  albums under the title of Backtrack. Many were split one side of The Who and the other of Jimi Hendrix, the label's two most successful acts but the series also included compilation albums of the labels varied Artist rosta. Backtrack One featured the Marc Bolan song and John's Children's single Desdemona, while  Backtrack Two included Marsha Hunt's version of Desdemona, and Backtrack Seven her recording of Marc's Hippy Gumbo 



On returning from the States Marc and Mickey undertook a short Northern UK tour, starting on May 20th at the Adam Smith Hall, Kirkcaldy in Fife, Scotland before travelling up to the highlands and the Empire Theatre in Inverness (22nd), then dropping down to England to play the Town Hall in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire (23rd). Back in Scotland, supporting Ten Years After, they played Caird Hall, Dundee (24th), then on their own at Glasgow's Electric Garden (25th) before joining TYA again to play Edinburgh's Usher Hall (26th)

 

They started on their journey home, breaking the trip with a show at the Bay Hotel, Whitburn near Sunderland in County Durham on the 29th and finished the tour at the Extravaganza 70 Festival at London's Olympia on the 30th, with John Peel. Others playing at this 8 day event included Procul Harum, Matthews Southern Comfort, Caravan, Black Sabbath, Colosseum, Bo Diddley, Status Quo and The Pretty Things









On June 1st Marc, Mickey and Tony Visconti entered Trident Studios, London to start recording the next album





 Flyer for Castle Rock concert June 1970 with The Faces, Edgar Broughton Band and Tyrannosaurus Rex

On June 5th the duo performed third on the bill at the massive Castle Rock concert held in the Castle grounds of Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands.  The duo performed their regular selection of concert tracks with the addition of the almost year-old single, King Of The Rumbling Spires. Headlining that night were The Faces, followed by the Edgar Broughton Band. Marc's friend Jeff Dexter was compering the event


The following night, the 6th, they played at Dunstable Civic Hall in Bedfordshire and on the 7th at the Greyhound in Croydon








T.REX




 On June 14th, billed as T.Rex, Marc and Mickey played at The Redcar Jazz Club in Redcar, Yorkshire




 T.Rex - Pop Festival 70, Holland

Booked and promoted as Tyrannosaurus Rex, the duo performed at the Holland Pop Festival 70 at Kralingen Forest near Rotterdam, Holland which took place over the three days of 26th to 28th June, playing on the 27th June. Headlining that day were The Byrds, followed by Family and Dr. John, then Marc and Mickey were followed by Renaissance and Al Stewart.  Their set began with acoustic numbers including Debora, Hot Rod Mama and Organ Blues, with Marc on his Woolworth's keyboard, followed by an electric set including their recent single By The Light Of The Magical Moon and Pavilions Of The Sun, Elemental Child and a reworking of Marc's first solo single, The Wizard, which would appear on the next album. Other bands performing at the festival included Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Canned Heat, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd. The festival, known in the UK as 'Stamping Ground' was filmed and includes Marc and Mickey, credited as T.Rex, performing By The Light Of The Magical Moon

On the 18th Marc and Mickey, booked and listed as Tyrannosaurus Rex,  recorded for BBC's 'Sounds Of The Seventies' radio show, primarily performing material from the forthcoming album

On July 4th they played at another major all-dayer, Blues at The Eyre concert at Bedford Football Ground in Bedfordshire, second on the bill to Deep Purple. Others playing that day included Medicine Head, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre and Skin Alley, compared by John Peel

T.Rex returned to London's Lyceum on the 19th, playing with Man
 







Marc returned to Trident Studios, London on the 26th  to oversee the mix-down to ¼ inch tape of three newly recorded tracks, Ride A White Swan, Jewel and Summertime Blues as material for his next single











 Dib Cochran & The Earwigs 'Oh Baby' 7" (feat. Marc Bolan, Tony Visconti, Rick Wakeman)

In August as Marc and Mickey began recording the new album, Marc and Visconti released a single under the collective name of Dib Cochran & The Earwigs - OH BABY / UNIVERSAL LOVE on the Bell label [BLL 1121]. Written by Marc but credited to Cochran, a role taken by Visconti (vocals, bass and production), it featured as the Earwigs – John Cambridge who was playing drums with Bowie, Rick Wakeman on keyboards and Marc on guitar and backing vocals. With them in the studio that day but not playing was Bowies new guitarist, Mick Ronson. A version of Oh Baby had been recorded by Tyrannosaurus Rex during the Beard Of Stars sessions (and a few copies of the track were issued as a one-sided white label single). Universal Love was an instrumental composed by Visconti, featuring Rick Wakeman. The single received no promotion or radio play and sold only a small number



 

Friday 28th August Marc and Mickey performed at the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle


At the start of September, on the 6th, T.Rex played the Roundhouse, London





 

Late in September a new label came into being ~ Octopus Records,  the outcome of the termination of the production contract which David Platz, Essex Music boss (the publisher of Marc Bolan's songs) had with EMI through his Straight Ahead company, under which EMI had reactivated the Regal Zonophone label to release material by Tyrannosaurus Rex, Joe Cocker, The Move and Procul Harum.


T.Rex were to have the first release on the label, a coupling of a new track, written and recorded the previous month, Ride A White Swan and a track from the forthcoming album, Jewel. A few test acetates with the Octopus catalogue number of OCTO1 were pressed
 
During the delay caused by a label name-change to FLY Records towards the end of the month, Marc was to decide upon a new material for the b-side

  Record Retailer - announcement of Fly Records, 3.10.1970 



Press announcement of the change of name to T.REX





 Record Retailer advert for T.Rex 'Ride A White Swan' and The Move's 'When Alice Comes...' singles, 3.10.70




T.Rex 'Ride A White Swan' 7" 

On October 2nd the first T.REX single, RIDE A WHITE SWAN / IS IT LOVE / SUMMERTIME BLUES was released on Fly Records [BUG 1]. Is It Love was one of the tracks completed that would appear on the duo’s forthcoming album and Summertime Blues, a 1958 hit for one of Marc’s early rock’n’roll heroes, Eddie Cochran was T.Rex’s popular encore number. Marc and Mickey were joined on Ride A White Swan by Visconti on bass





Despite the bands change of name and it’s being selected as a ‘bubbler’ in the ‘Money Spinner’s’ section of Record Retailer paper two week's after its release, the majority of DJ’s were still hesitant to play the single so Fallon hired record-plugger Anya Wilson –

"I first met Marc and Mickey when Ride A White Swan was on release – it hadn’t been getting many plays on Radio 1 and I was asked if I’d work on it. We were trying for all the plays we could get and I fixed up an interview on Radio 1 Club…" 

The interview had been recorded for broadcast at the Playhouse Theatre in London on October 28th, following that programme which included a play of the single it reportedly sold 20,000 copies and was immediately included on the BBC playlist

Everyone who heard that track tuned into it as a single. I knew in my own head it was exactly right. Right for the time and right for everything we wanted to do. I didn’t think I was letting anyone down because I’ve never done anything I didn’t totally believe in. It was a record to reach people and a record to show the growth within the band, within my mind and my whole approach

You get to the stage where you have had four/five albums and you being to feel you are not reaching people. I know for a fact that ‘White Swan’ is getting to people who have never been interested before and maybe some of them will buy the next album

‘Ride A White Swan’ is a melodic song and it can be picked up because it has the guitar. I have to run in what people want and work around it. I know what people want and I need the media, otherwise it’s like writing songs and never putting them out. I am pleased to be on Radio One…

I wouldn’t say that my songs are intellectually valid, but I’ll tell you certain songs that to me were very important, songs that were written with great feeling. ‘White Swan’ wasn’t one of them but that doesn’t matter, it’s of no importance. ‘White Swan’ has imagery, some of it is maybe image provoking

 Marc Bolan 'Ride A White Swan' lyrics, typed-up by June and amended by Marc


That’s very amazing, it’s great to be able to conjure up a picture in someone’s head – a cat riding a swan blows my mind away, because people travel around on jets, and you could fly on birds. What greater thing than to fly on than a giant Condor, or golden eagle. That’s what it’s about, it’s just a vibe, nothing more. I don’t write about ‘Do you love me baby, eh, oh yeah’. If I can write just a bit more than what we’ve come to expect as pop music, I’ll be happy…”

I think the reason Tyrannosaurus Rex initially happened… was that I was just reflecting and talking about things that most people thought or just wanted to hear about at that time – in that summer of ‘peace and love’ as someone once said, one wasn’t ambitious then, everything seemed very nice and very funky and like it was going to last a long time and be secure in a funny kind of crazy way

I just write songs. It is my living. It is not an adolescent phase, and I think there is a whole generation of people growing up with music who now understand this

I shall be writing when I am seventy… but long before then, today’s writers will have become tomorrow’s classic composers. I firmly believe that. Pop music is developing all the time. I certainly see John Lennon and Paul McCartney as classical composers. That’s how most people will see them in years to come – and it’s the same with Neil Young… and I can see Captain Beefheart being regarded as someone in the same category as Stockhausen. It’s all down to melody. That’s the basis of it all…

All the really good classical music has great melody. Just listen to Dvorak and Beethoven, and to me Chopin sounds like the Beatles. It’s melody. It’s all the same. Many of the Beatles’ melodies are very like classical music, and even in Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’ there is a number that sounds just like an old blues song. He wrote that in America, so I suppose he may have been influenced by a blues singer from New Orleans






 




The record entered the charts at No.31 two weeks after its release and rose to No.6 in its sixth week before slipping to No.12. It then began climbing again and in its twelfth week, towarsd the end of January the following year, it reached its top position of No.2. It then took an equally uneasy journey out of the charts, dropping slowly to No.14 and then rising back to No. 12 before leaving altogether in February the following year 

Tony Visconti: "When ‘Ride A white Swan’ became a hit – number two, which was the highest it ever got, we were in the studio making the forthcoming album) ‘T.Rex’… and Marc and I had about five pounds between us in our pockets. We still hadn’t received any royalties from ‘Ride A White Swan’. It was just happening, and here we were the same two geezers who’d started out a few years earlier with this Tyrannosaurus thing in our minds, and we struck gold, you know. That was a fantastic feeling. We were walking about a foot off the ground the whole day, it almost halted our recording session completely"



Paul Gambaccini reviewed the single for Rolling Stone  - ''Ride A White Swan' is a good record, a clever record, and a soon-to-be-succesful record... Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn have released one of the most likeable 45s... The initial impression that the record must be turning at the wrong speed is discounted by trying different speeds, making it sound more bizarre. The high notes, non-sence syllables and gutteral noises are all Bolan and Finn's. There is no credit for the hand-clapping that propels 'Swan' but one assumes it was at least their idea. Never let it be said the fellows aren't concious of the time limitations of radio stations with tight playlists. Not only have they kept 'Ride A White Swan' down to 2:15, they've shortened their name to T.Rex..'






At the beginning of October T.Rex began their first British tour as T.Rex, starting the 24-date tour on the 9th at Nottingham’s Albert Hall before moving on to King George's Hall, Blackburn (10th), Birmingham Town Hall (14th), Sheffield City Hall (18th) and The Guildhall, Southampton (20th).

On the 26th T.Rex recorded their first BBC radio session under the abbreviated name for John Peel's 'Top Gear' show, playing, apart from Ride A Whiite Swan, material from the forthcoming album

Continuing their tour at the Civic Hall, Dunstable (29th), City Hall, Hull (30th) and London's Imperial College (31st). Marc had stipulated a maximum ticket price of 50p at every venue –



We played at the Lyceum in London but the atmosphere wasn’t very good – the vibes just weren’t right. We found out later that the admission charge had been £1 – maybe that’s why the place was only three quarters full! Soon after, we did this lovely gig at the Implosion (London) and that time the ticket price was only six shillings (30p). The difference in those two gigs convinced me that if you can keep prices down you get a better audience in every way

Right now we’re about the only band with stereo equipment on the road. As we earn a bit more money, so we plough it back in to better equipment so we can give the fans a better sound

We use it on tour because the average kid in the street has never heard good stereo. When you see their faces when the hear our stereo sound, it’s really a turn on. It helps the atmosphere at gigs and can be used to good effect on guitar things. Get the sound zooming around



B.P. Fallon, who was currently working for Marc’s Management company, EG recounted –

"There was a gig at Nottingham, and it broke. That’s when the Rock ‘n’ Roll tide turned and Boley started becoming a Rock ‘n’ Roll Icon. We talked about it after the gig. It was an unexplicable feeling"





The duo's first major UK tour continued through November starting at Liverpool's Mountford Hall (4th) and was interrupted by a return to London and the BBC 'Sounds Of The Seventies' studio on the 6th for another session. As well as playing more material from the now imminently due album, they performed a new track, My Baby's Like a Cloud Form and a short jam, Funk Music  

Zig-zagging their way back and forth across the country, they set-off to play at Bristol's Colston Hall (9th) before returning yet again to London and  Trident Studio's on the 10th to record backing tracks for their performance of
Ride A White Swan for Top Of The Pops on which they appeared on the 11th, for this track Mickey put his bongo's aside and played bass. Immediately following the recording they set-off to play Oxford's Town Hall where they were joined by Visconti, who took-on the bass duties for the concert. Marc and Mickey continued to Guildford's Civic Hall (24th), returned to the Top Of The Pops studio for another appearance on the 25th, then to The Roundhouse, Dagenham (28th).

The tour continued into December, starting with two nights at Glasgow's Green's Playhouse (3rd and 4th), then Manchester's Hardrock (7th) before they raced back to London for Marc to attend the first of three sessions at the BBC. On the 8th at the Maida Vale studio, as part of, as Peel called his performers, the 'Top Gear Ensemble', at a recording of  the 'John Peel Christmas Special Celebration'. Singing a selection of carols the collective featured, with Marc and June, Ivor Cutler, Sonja Kristina of Curved Air (and a friend), Mike Ratledge of Soft Machine, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan of The Faces, John Peel & Pig (as he called his wife), all backed by David Bedford on piano

On the 9th Marc and Mickey recorded a set for the 'Dave Lee Travis Show' on which they performed the recent single and one of its B-side tracks,
Summertime Blues, and a new song, Hot Love. The following day (10th) they were back in the BBC studio's for John Peel's 'In Concert'

Their next performances  were at Welwyn Garden City's Community Centre (11th), Cardiff's Capitol Theatre (12th), Birmingham Odean (16th), Devizes in Wiltshire (18th), the Big Apple in Brighton (19th), supported by Status Quo and a second night in Brighton at The Dome (20th) and then penultimate performance of the tour was back in London at the Alexandra Palace on the 21st

During the tour T.Rex and John Peel’s paths crossed at a motorway service station, Peel, who was also writing for music paper Disc, reported –

John Peel

‘As god-like I strode the forecourt and a small voice hailed me from a vehicle that laid mute and lifeless beneath harsh lights. Drawing my noble sword, Renshaw, I was across the concrete in a trice to find my tiny friends, T.Rex were becalmed. Chuckling, I scooped them up in the palm of my hand and laid them gently on top of a soft pile of green stamps and bore them to London town. As we sped straight and true to that fair city, they told me of their concert tour of their new record ‘Ride A White Swan’ on Fly Records. Doubtless you’ll own it before long – if you don’t by Christmas, my flock of highly trained hedgehogs will fan out through the land and retribution will be swift and terrible – indeed it will..’



 

 

 

 Record Retailer advert for the first three FLY label LP's by The Move, T.Rex and Joe Cocker, 5.12.70

 T.Rex 'T.Rex' LP

On December 11th, the new album, T.REX [Fly Records HI FLY 2] was released -

The album is just a selection of songs done for the first time as I really heard them. There is an orchestra on about four or five tracks. I have heard orchestrations before but have never used it

To me strings are magical, they are old, and the wood has years and years of history. They are romantic… the lyrics are very short. In fact when I listened to the album at first I thought, God there are no lyrics. But of course, there are – these are people’s words, like love songs…

If I could have grown
All up on my own
If I could have grown
I grew

If I could have grew
I do
If I had a throne
You could call it home

If I cry my tears are yours
To open any frozen doors

Hey let’s do it like we’re friends
Hey let’s do it like we’re friends

-
Diamond Meadows





The strings, arranged by Visconti, were not the only addition to the recording process, Marc brought in Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman to supply additional backing vocals on one of the album's tracks, Seagull Woman. Howard and Mark had led sixties  American vocal group, The Turtles before joining Frank Zappa's band, the Mothers of Invention. Marc had the duo on his American tour earlier in the year



‘I don’t know how much of it is down to the Great British Public moving to meet Marc Bolan, or Marc Bolan moving to meet the Great British Public’, questioned Nick Logan of the New Musical Express, ‘but one thing ‘Ride A White Swan’ and the new T.Rex album prove is that they have definitely met. T.Rex the group, it should be said, is now a commercial proposition; ‘T.Rex’ the album is the finest work the duo have presented to date.

With our Marc pulling no punches on electric guitar and pulling out surprises in the arranging department, it’s an immensely enjoyable album that sits firmly on the road the duo have pursued since those past, unwanted days.

Electricity has had a duel effect of strengthening the rhythmic and melodic qualities of Bolan’s compositions and after five albums it must be source of satisfaction to him to be able to pull out such good songs.

Then again, his guitar playing, delicate little rifts, edgy bursts and descriptive fragments, colour around the melodies perfectly in a style that owes little to anyone other than Marc Bolan.

On ‘Jewel’, again Micky Finn’s pounding drums, there’s even a dash of feedback stirring down there in the clearing. This is one of many strong tracks which could have made singles.

The orchestrations are part of the surprises and while I was in two minds as to their effectiveness in ‘Diamond Meadows’, the use of strings to sweeten the really dirty riff in ‘Beltane Walk’ works splendidly. The latter track is an album standout. Its riff borrowed from Jimmy McCracklin’s ‘The Walk’, I kept getting bizarre visions of Bugs Bunny doing a camp gangster routine to it's absurd swing.

The Summertime Blues T.Rex gets a look in too. ‘Is It Love’, Marc doing his Eddie Cochran count in, and ‘One Inch Rock’, one of the best of the duo’s earlier singles and re-done here to take into account their musical changes, are almost pure rock’n’roll.

Apart from the two fragments of ‘The Children Of Rarn’. Which Marc intends to develop on a future album, the set closes with ‘The Wizard’, the song which was Marc’s first single as a solo performer back in 1965. The album version is a longish one that breaks out midway through into eight minutes of sniffle-beat, toe-bopping improvisation.

Performed as an acoustic highlight of their act for the past two years it has now been dropped, and was included on this album as a kind of curtain closer to that part of T.Rex’s development.’

Music Week reviewer commented that 'their lack of pretention is astounding. Must be a charter, and the Bolan voice gets more amazing as time goes by.'



Although Marc was quickly establishing himself as part of the pop mainstream, the album’s journey in the charts mirrored that of Ride A White Swan. It was over a month until the album entered the chart in mid-January of 1971 at No.24, rising to 22 before falling to 25, rising to 20 and then falling to 34, making a final climb up the charts it reached its top position of No. 13 before drifting slowly out of the charts

…initially I was trying to get away from the pop syndrome and, for me, the Underground at the beginning meant similar minded people with similar thoughts

I really do think that the Progressive era has borne fruit, when you have groups like T.Rex, Family, Fairport etc. getting hit records in the same breath as people like Gerry Monroe and Shirley Bassey.

I think there are lots of groups who have conveniently assumed the tag Progressive when, in fact, they are just competent pop groups, and that is all. The competency being that they can play their instruments whereas in the straight pop group of five years ago some of them didn’t play on their records

The charts are still full of those kind of groups today. Hits that are written by four/five songwriters who write every song, and it’s just the same group. But hopefully music has progressed to the stage where it encompasses everything and I do believe that Underground music is now purely teenage music. It is youth music

The audiences are a lot younger now. They come along with the kind of excitement that in the past has been associated with Zeppelin and that kind of stuff, and attendances have been well over capacity. That was my main fear, that some of the kids might stay away because of the single

… I think that the only good thing that has come out of the last five years of pop music is that someone like myself can write hits. As a child I was always fascinated by studios and music and now I’m allowed to make music and have a say in what I do, which five years ago would never have happened… People like John Lennon and Pete Townsend have their own studios so, if tomorrow the music business turned their backs on us, we could still make records and get them through to the people. It that case we have succeeded. The monopoly is broken, there is total confusion. In that respect the revolution is already over




Marc had originally planned to follow-up T.Rex with his fantasy story ‘The Childen Of Rarn’, it was a project he had started back in 1969 –

...The story is called ‘The Children Of Rarn’ and concerns a complete civilisation which existed on earth before prehistoric monsters arrived

There were two races of people then, the Peacelings and the Dworns. Now the Dworns were a soulless people, very bestial. Dworn is actually a twi-sided word – it’s a man, but it’s also a machine, which in fact was a prehistoric motorbike, which worked on solar power. It had solid ivory wheels, a golden base and two gazelle horns to steer it. It could go about 800 miles an hour

It’s a straight story – nothing ambiguous about the lines. It’s got a load of what I really believe in it – I’m not pompous enough to say it teaches, but it contains my beliefs

However, it was postponed in favour of new recordings –


...To cement the direction we are now going in… I’ve got this sound in my head that is definitely unlike anything else we have put out. It really is cosmic rock

The next single will be an energy record because that is what a single should be. All we are going to do is go in the studio and record the emotion and excitement that should go into a single. What I’m concerned with is cooling down from the far heavens the energy that should be put into a song




To realise ‘the sound’ in Marc’s head, he needed to expand T.Rex –



I was overdubbing like mad on all the records and I wasn’t really getting the feeling I wanted, there was a great gap. Then it struck me really hard, and I couldn’t do another gig without a bass player… 




Tony Visconti: "When he first started to use bass on his records, I was the only bass player he knew. I played it originally on ‘Ride A White Swan’ and he decided after that, that he wanted a bass player on stage. There were two gigs planned very soon afterwards and I played on both of them..."


 




 Steve Currie - T.Rex bassist

STEVE CURRIE was born on May 20th, 1947 in Grimsby, Lancashire. His parents had wanted him to be a doctor but he failed to enter medical college and instead spent three years in a shipping office, eventually qualifying as a member of the Chartered Institute of Ship Brokers. For five years he played in the evenings with a semi-jazz band called The Rumble at the South Bank Jazz Club. In a bid for success the band moved to London but after months without work they split-up.   The news of Steve's joining the band was announced in the music press on December 12th, the day after the release of T.Rex

Steve: "I was doing auditions all the time. Much of the bands didn’t have much to offer and I wasn’t prepared to take on another dead horse and kick it alive. When I found out I was auditioning for T.Rex I had strage visions of a guy with an acoustic guitar making wailing sounds

We began playing ‘Jewel’ and it was like we’d been playing together for twenty years. It was amazing, funky music and just what I wanted to play"



 

 Tyrannosaurus Rex on French TV show 'Pop Match', December 1970

Marc and Mickey ended the year as they had began, with the final concert of the tour and an additional member. The December 22nd concert at London’s Roundhouse was Steve Currie's first gig with T.Rex and to add to the occasion, the trio were joined on stage for some backing vocals by Howard Kaylan.  Following the concert Marc and Mickey travelled to Point Chaud in Paris to record a TV performance of Ride A White Swan for the French TV show, 'Pop Match'





 

 John Peel's 'Ensemble' : Marc Bolan (T.Rex), John Peel (DJ), Robert Wyatt and Mike Rutledge (Soft Machine), Rod Stewart, Kenny Jones and a Roadie (Faces) / Bottom: Bridget St. John (solo), Sonya Kristina (Curved Air), Ian McLagen, Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood (Faces) and Ivor Cutler

On the 26th, the 'John Peel Christmas Special Celebration' which had been recorded at the start of the month and included Marc and June in 'the ensemble', was broadcast




















ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:



 Music Week review 26.12.1970


marc bolan musicHOMEMARC BOLAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC (for the children)UNZIPPING THE ABSTRACT - The Marc Bolan Story