Marc Bolan

ARTICLE ABOUT Marc Bolan FROM SOUNDS, January 26, 1974

It has been a while since I last printed an article with this influential artist on the blog, so here goes once again. I hope you like it.

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T. REX on the wane? An emphatic no comes from the lips of Marc Bolan as he unveils the new Zinc Alloy persona for his first British tour in two years.
From bopping elf to rock and roller to teen idol, Bolan says:

I`ve never been just a pop star

Feature by Steve Peacock

Well, whatever happened to the teenage dream? It came true, that`s what, and then Marc Bolan veteran of the 21s, self proclaimed king of the mods, and latterly sage of the hippies, became a teen idol.
He was fond of saying that he`d known it would happen all along, that he knew he was destined to be a star, that it had been planned that way. It was four years ago?
Somehow it doesn`t seem as long as that, but it`s getting on that way that Tyrannosaurus Rex became T. Rex and electric. “Ride A White Swan” hit the charts, and Marc Bolan dressed up, made up, and waggled his arse into a million teenage fantasies.
It`s true, he did lead that particular revolution, shimmying from mystic romanticism with stars in its hair to million dollar romance with glitter round the eyes: and he took the mainstream of British pop with him – always rock and roll, that broadest of musical definitions, but a revolution in style.
Now he`s saying “Glitter Is Dead” – a good headline, but a rather strange statement if you`ve been watching `Top Of The Pops` lately. What it means is this: “Of course, showmanship and glamour will never be dead, but the impact of what that change meant is over. As far as I`m concerned, it has no use any more.
“If you went to a talent show – do they still have those things? – you`d find that ninety per-cent of the groups would be in satin jackets and make-up; that`s what I mean by the impact being over, and if I was managing a group now I`d avoid it like the plague.”

Mind you, that good and faithful satin jacket served him well. Tyrannosaurus Rex was a reasonably saleable project, but interviews were invariably at the top of an old house off Ladbroke Grove, with a bed in one corner and a stove in the other. These days there`s the well-appointed West End office with gold discs on the wall, and he can off-handly remark “Oh, I never have to worry again, anyway if you`re talking in those terms” and move swiftly on to something else.
See, appearances can be deceptive, especially with a man who says he never plans, and who makes a point of living for the moment. With his singles automatically zipping into the charts, his face in all the teen-mags and his concerts sold out to a mass of waving arms and screams – and him so obviously enjoying it – you began to wonder just what had happened to Marc Bolan. You`d dug him, enjoyed his music, liked his style, but it all seemed a bit distant and smacked a bit of the instant hero. Was he blowing everything for the instant buzz of being this year`s craze?
Well, T. Rextasy did fade: but Marc Bolan ain`t no fallen heart-throb, sitting back with his feet on a pile of royalty cheques while his investments provide a handsome pension. The tour which started at the weekend marks the return of T. Rex to the British stage after an absence of two years, some changes in the line-up of the band, now known as Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow, and a new approach to presenting the music on stage. Where he used to rely on the basic strut your stuff and hear `em scream approach, this time the presentation will be more subtle, with more extravagant lighting: more of a total stage-show concept.
And the music? Well, he`s been developing the use of a particular sound – mainly on record, but with the augmenting of the basic band with extra singers, horns, two drummers (Dave Lutton and Carmen`s Paul Fenton) and guitarist Jack Green, you can expect Zinc Alloy`s band to sound a lot fuller, and a lot different. Though they`ve been away from England, and they`re coming back in a new style, it is something that`s been evolved through working in America, Japan and other far flung reaches of the world.

“It`s true, I did get a bit tired of playing concerts at one time,” he says, “but I haven`t just been lazing around. We`ve been round the world twice since we last played here, and I`ve been writing, recording… you know. It wasn`t a conscious decision to leave England alone either – it was good that we did, but it took care of itself really. I spent practically a year doing the new album, and at one stage I had 33 tracks down for it…do.”
And the fact that last year wasn`t as successful for him as the year before in terms of chart singles neither worries him nor makes him think that T. Rex are on the wane. He points out that he only released two singles last year, says that although he`s quite prepared to admit that “Truck On” wasn`t his strongest single, it also got lost in the pre-Christmas rush, and he says that his audience is still very definitely and visibly there. “The reason I was late this afternoon was because I couldn`t get out of the house because there were about 100 girls outside.
“The thing is that I know what`s going on, and the kids know what`s going on, so it really doesn`t matter what other people think, what the media think.”
But again, he recognises that while there is a strong T. Rex following still, with his last few things he hasn`t really caught the attention of people who might have bought the odd T. Rex record that caught their fancy, but don`t automatically buy everything. “There are probably 200,000 people who are super-dedicated to T. Rex, definite T. Rex fans, but there are another 400,000 or so who`d buy a record if they liked it, or come to a concert if they liked the last album or something. That`s the same for any group – it all depends on what you put out.”

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DESTINY

In a way though, it is fair to say that the new tour, the single “Whatever Happened to The Teenage Dram” – which will surprise you – and the album all add up to something of a re-launch. He did cool it for a while, even though it happened as much by circumstances as decisions, and the Zinc Alloy thing shows a definite maturing of both music and approach, and what appears to be much more positive thinking from Marc than came out at the height of the teen-mania.
He says he`s never felt so free as he does now, admits that although he obviously enjoyed having his face all over the colour mags and the win-a-chance-to-meet-Marc thing “it was all getting a bit too close to Donny and David for comfort. Any rock star can do that.”
But equally, he says he wouldn`t change what happened – it was something he conceived and dreamed when he was nine years old, it happened, and he dug it. “Of course, for the first two years I was really enjoying it, anyone would, but once you`ve done that… I just didn`t want to lose sight of what I originally did it for, which is to play music. It`s nice to be screamed at. Jagger still likes to be screamed at, and I do too, but there`s more to it. I`d still put a recording session before anything else, but two years ago I wouldn`t have.
“Whatever happened I wouldn`t change and I`d like it to happen to everyone who wants it, but what I am is a craftsman. I`m a craftsman at what I do, and whether people like it or not is none of my concern.”
T. Rex lives on, but so too does Marc Bolan as a solo artist. The official title these days is Marc Bolan and T. Rex As Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow – which gives him plenty of scope for surprises and a range of different ideas around the basic T. Rex axis. The new single is in effect a Bolan solo track, cut in America with 40 piece orchestra and friends, including War`s Lonnie Jordan on piano, and he`s working on ideas for a solo album alongside future T. Rex records. He hadn`t intended “Teenage Dream” as a single, but record company people picked up on it “and who am I to fight destiny?”.
The search for a sound was much of the reason for the album taking so long. They recorded in various places, and it wasn`t coming out as he`d heard it in his head, until one time it just happened.

RE-LAUNCH

“I had a definite conception of what I wanted, most of which I get in the mixing anyway, but suddenly I got it, it was there. Mostly it`s got a lot of spaces – kind of intergalactic Neil Young, very under-produced in a way. But compared to the last two albums, it`s very wordy too – I think “Teenage Dream” the best record I`ve ever made lyrically, and I just wrote that down in the studio, just wrote it down without thinking about it. I got what I wanted on the album, got what I`d been looking for, and I`m proud of it. Unintentionally, it`s very different.”
Destiny strikes again. It`s difficult to say before you`ve seen the tour and heard the album, but from what he says and from hearing the single, it seems that Bolan pulled back from becoming last year`s face, and has – as he says – regained his sight of what he originally did it for. The glitter hero stage has given him the opportunity to ease back and get on with as many projects as he`d like, and apart from T. Rex he`s about to set up his own label and produce and release music of a kind you might not necessarily associate with him.
He hopes T. Rex will be accepted as a band of musicians, as people who play music and happen to be successful. “I hope we`re seen as not just going out to make a hit record – that`s a different part of the business, a perfectly valid one, but I`m not involved in it.
“Anyway, I`ve never been just a pop star.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bob Dylan, Status Quo, Ralph McTell, Incredible String Band, Kiki Dee, Carl Palmer, Jethro Tull, Pointer Sisters.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Marc Bolan FROM SOUNDS, April 29, 1972

Bolan was a huge star at the time of this interview. But still, he tries to downplay his fame and status amongst his fans despite the interviewers insistence to follow this up with several questions. Good man and down to earth is two ways to describe Mr. Bolan after reading this article.

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Bolan: rock and roll star through the people

By Steve Peacock

Walking into Marc Bolan`s new offices in Holborn last week, you were walking off the street onto a film set. People everywhere, cameras, bright lights, hush-signals from the office people; a film crew who said they wanted half-an-hour in the morning, were still there at four.
It`s been one of those days and Marc Bolan is very tired – even after the film crew has gone, it takes a while to settle into an interview. We talk first about the new album, due out next month, which is mostly recorded (basic tracks with the band in France, then mellotron and Marc overdubs in Denmark, Mothers Mark and Howard putting on backing vocals in America, and still some strings to be overdubbed) but not yet mixed.
For Marc, it is the most important album so far, and the best. It has, he says, the best songs he`s written on it, and he`s lived with it for a while, using a lot more in the production, making the sound fuller.
“There`s a couple (of tracks) which are so solid, they`re as solid as anything that`s ever happened in rock and roll, and there are some which sound like something I could have written when I was 12. It`s strange the way it`s come together.”
After all that`s happened with T. Rex and their enormous popularity in the last year, recording has become a lot more important to Marc. Gigs aren`t that frequent now, because they`re such monsters to organise, so it`s the one sure way he can involve himself in rock and roll – in a studio.

“It`s strange,” he says, “because a rock and roller is only alive when he`s doing what he does, which is rock and roll. It`s like a carpenter working with steel is no good – he has to work with wood, so if you`re not actually doing what you do, you function, but you don`t function well. It`s a great dilemma.
“What happens is that one becomes so big that you can`t play anywhere, so what happens is you don`t play at all, and that`s cool. But then recording becomes all important – which is probably why I groove on this album, and the single, I love the single so much. I always know, when I feel that I really don`t care if it doesn`t sell, not that there`s really any problem in that direction, obviously. But I mixed it for me and I played it about 20 times, and each time I got off on it, and the overall feel of the three tracks is just so fine. And that`s what it`s about, that and getting into people`s homes. The rest is garbage.”
Did he feel he`d been driven back into himself by what had happened? “Yes, being very honest. It`s hard, because while you`re there you have to totally disappear and be unobtainable, which is very boring. Or you have to go out and do it – and you have to go out and do it regardless actually, it doesn`t really matter, it doesn`t matter what people say. What matters is that you can put up the electric fences to keep the people that are a drag out. But one mustn`t dwell on it too much.”
But did he feel at all close to T. Rex fans – the people who idolised him and bought records and stuck posters on the wall? He did, he said. But in what way, because it was impossible for him to have any personal contact with them?

“When you make a record though, I believe you put basically 95 per cent of the goodness that`s in you onto that record – it`s very revealing. If you do it seriously. If you`re singing a double track melody by Itch Miller and it goes out and it`s a million seller, and you weren`t even on the session, it doesn`t really mean too much; but if it`s a thing that you`ve thought about and lived with for three months and re-mixed 12 times, and cut and made sure it was loud enough and got a good design on the cover – lived with it for three months, it means everything to you.
“So consequently when it goes out it`s me. No more, that`s it – the most I can give, and it`s there. So people accept that, and they take that to their hearts or wherever, to their heads, I don`t care, I`m not going to diagnose the way they use it. I don`t really care, because I have moments of being really into lyrics, and then it`s a guitar lick, and then it`s the sound, and then if it sounds good in mono, I flash on a million different things all at the same time anyway, so if they can pick up on one of those sections it`s right on. I demand nothing – I only demand the radio plays it; that`s all one needs with a record.
“If radio plays it I know we`re going to have hit records for ten years. If they don`t play it, like they didn`t play `Deborah` when it came out, we won`t have hit records. I mean I knew `Deborah` was a hit, I knew `One Inch Rock` was a hit – the only one I never liked was `Pewter Suitor`, and it wasn`t really my decision to release it. The B-side, `Warlord Of The Royal Crocodiles` was a monster, and I`m going to re-record it.”
Putting yourself out through a record is surely a very one-sided form of contact, though – contacting people, rather than having contact with people.

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“But I get the knowledge of knowing that they enjoyed it, which is ultimate contact. You know – and on live gigs there`s so much atmosphere that it doesn`t really matter, as long as you play well. I still believe that you have to play – I don`t believe all that stuff about a group can go out and cough and get a standing ovation. I don`t believe that for one moment – I don`t care who you are. I`ve seen people deteriorate during a performance -they go out and it`s all over, and then by the ninth number people were leaving. That would upset me.
“But we`re only here for 60 years or something – if we`re to do it, do it, don`t jive about. We have an allotted amount of time which we can make as funky as we want, and we have to be funky or not at all. We have nothing to win and nothing to lose either way. So if you`re going to do it, do it. Don`t worry about other people.”
He doesn`t worry about other people?
“How can you? You can ask them, but how can you be worried about them? How can you get over-concerned? If you do what you do and you do it well, and you know you do it well, you do it well. If someone else thinks you do it well, that`s for them to decide.”
How did it feel to be on stage, like at Wembley and know that all those people were focusing right on him idolising him?
“I`m more concerned whether my guitar`s in tune, to be honest. There`s too much to think about on stage because I know that if I stop playing, or if no-one plays for 10 minutes the whole thing will be a shambles, so you try to keep the motion of the show together. Because it is a show – I don`t deny showbiz. I`m not a part of it, but I don`t deny it. So people come and you can`t let them hang for 25 minutes while you tune a guitar, it doesn`t feel good; if they`re up they want to get higher, and once they`re down you won`t get them up, I don`t care who you are.”

The feeling I got at Wembley, though, was that while Marc Bolan, the person, was up on stage rocking out with his tongue half into his cheek, there were thousands of kids out there going through all kinds of very intense changes, with a very different idea of what he was doing.
“But it`s science fiction, you`ve got to realise. I mean there`s some dude on the moon now isn`t there? Nothing is real to them, it`s all gone. If that thing blows up now it`s got nothing to do with what`s happening here now in this room.
“We used it for the movie, basically, but I don`t consider having 20 foot blow-ups of me egotistical, even. I consider it setting a mood, because I`m not that thing – no-one is that thing. It makes a mood, creates a situation, which is acceptable in the life of a person. It makes it slightly more ecstatic. I find it much more enjoyable to listen to rock and roll through cans than listening through a radio, because I can`t hear people talking. And that`s what I was trying to do with that concert – vibe them up.
“To me it was unique, to them it was unique, and it was unique anyway. Right on. That`s all it was – we made a night. Everyone in that place was an artist, everyone at that concert helped create a piece of art. If there`s going to be a rock and roll history it`ll go down in it. End of story. But this is seven weeks later – really. That was the end of an era for me, that concert.”
Bolan admits to what, in Los Angeles, they call a faultline mentality – where people reason that they might disappear in an earthquake any minute, therefore do what you have to do immediately, don`t plan for security, and try anything you want. “Do you not think it`s wise to look at your life like that? … I mean that`s what it`s about man, there`s nothing more. Any moment. If you don`t live your life like that then you don`t have a life, because there`s nothing – only people.”

But what I felt at Wembley was an overwhelming sense of people submerging themselves as people, becoming not people but worshippers.
“But they`re tuning in to that feeling from me, maybe. I don`t know, I haven`t seen that. I read your article and it read very strange to me because I didn`t see that – I wasn`t there. I see the movie and it`s a movie. It`s bigger than I remember, and the people were more excited than I remembered; but I was thinking about guitar leads and wah-wah pedals working. I was thinking about holding the gig together. I didn`t see what went down, I just know that the impression it made was very strong.”
He said the cardboard cut-out thing was a jive, camp, and the same could be said, I suppose, of the tambourine and guitar-neck trick, the whole boogie stage act. But even when it`s jive to him, to the kids it`s not, they don`t realise.
“They don`t want to.” So it`s down to them, not to Marc Bolan? “It`s nothing to do with me. I`m what I am and I can`t change what I am. I do what I do, and I respond – it`s all the same thing, it`s one. Without them, I`m just a poet. With them I`m a rock and roll star – trophies man, like rhinoceros heads. I didn`t shoot them though. I didn`t shoot the rhinoceros. That`s the difference.”
But did he see what I meant about the effect it has on people?
“Yes, but I don`t experience it. You see what I don`t see, so I can`t really comment. The times change, and things expand, and it`s just odd for all of us to see what`s happened with T. Rex in the time now, because it`s a very odd period of history, very fast. We`ve done in a year what took the Beatles four years. And if I never put another record out we`d stretch out this year.
“So if one had a Manson complex one could convince everyone you were a god – you really could. But that`s not what it`s for. It just depends what you want; I`d find it incredibly empty and boring.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Wishbone Ash, Maggie Bell, David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears), Matching Mole, Jon Lord, Ornette Coleman, Peter Frampton, Rod Argent, Rita Coolidge, ELP, Robert Altman, Happy And Artie Traum.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Marc Bolan FROM SOUNDS, November 20, 1971

There is still a lot of interest in Marc Bolan out there, even if he`s not been around for a while… In fact, in my all-time statistics for this blog, the blog article from NME dated November 11, 1972 is in 9th place when looking at the number of views on single articles.
I often wonder where he would have been today if his sudden departure from this world didn`t happen way too early. Unfortunately, we will never know.

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Just a touch or sight of Bolan

Steve Peacock, on the road with T. Rex, reports from Liverpool

Marc Bolan grins and says hello, but he looks tired. In fact, all the band and their travelling entourage do, but then it`s the last night of a long tour and there are two shows to do that night.
Liverpool stadium is a boxing hall, or it was until boxers gave way to wrestlers and, on some nights, rock music. The equipment is set up on the ring, and half the stadium – behind the ring – will be empty. It`s not an ideal place for rock music, with every echoey acoustics, but then there isn`t really another good big hall in Liverpool except the Philharmonic, and they`ve stopped doing rock concerts.

ORGANISED

The audience for the first house are filing in. They look mostly very young (it`s a 6 p.m. show) and a bit edgy – as if they`re not quite sure what to expect, nor quite what is expected of them. There`s the feeling in the air of schoolkids on an organised outing who aren`t quite sure how to behave; quick backward glances to see if someone`s going to push them back in their seats if they get up and rave.
Down at the front there`s a band of dedicated screamers – some close to tears at the frustration of being ten feet from Marc, Mickey, Steve and Bill, yet knowing that`s as close as they`re likely to get. They`re lip-biters and hand-claspers, rather than arm-stretchers. They came later.
The whole thing`s a bit tense in the first house, but it loosens up with the last few numbers. The band`s warmer then, punching out the hits and the “Summertime Blues” encore, and standing out in the audience you could feel the energy flowing. They`ve got a lot to get out, these kids, and it`s beginning to come now, but there`s still a block somewhere, and as the set ends you feel neither they nor the band quite made it.
Back in the dressing room everyone`s a bit more lively. It`s warmer in a physical sense and in atmosphere; it`s still essentially a musician`s waiting room, but this time you feel they`re building up to something, rather than hanging around, almost impatient to get out there and get it over.

GIGGLING

The feeling`s different out in the hall too. The people coming in are still young, but a bit older than the last lot, and there are more of them. They seem more at ease, noisier, more alive. The girls gather in groups and chatter excitedly – there`s a lot of giggling – and the blokes move in in gangs, swaggering a bit, shouting to each other over the hall. Just before the lights go down, one guy stands up on his seat at the back of the hall to cheers from his mates, waves to the crowd, and drops his trousers, waving his arms around to a mime of exaggerated potency. A strange moment.
Bob Harris – the phantom autograph signer – takes the stage and gets some nice things going with the audience, starting off with the Who`s “Let`s See Action” and building through various moods to Rod Stewart`s “Maggie May”. Bob`s been doing a lot of the dates on the tour (the ones he couldn`t make B.P. Fallon did the opening spot) and later he said that he felt it was a good audience when it felt right to play Cat Stevens as well as the harder things. The electricity is building up.
Bob announces the band, and they bound on stage – Bill Legend, Steve Currie and Mickey Finn first. Pause. Then Marc. The place erupts with screams and cheers and clapping and shouts. Rock on. The joint was rockin`. The band`s playing well from the start a lot better than the first house, the people are stomping and round the stage – at the front and at the side – girls are leaning forward as far as they can, arms outstretched, trying to touch, trying to touch.

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DRAGGED

Will he notice me? Some of them scream a name, over and over again, some of them throw rings, pendants, anything, some of them have fingernails painted bright red, bright green. Will I stand out?
From the stage it`s a sea of faces and arms waving, pleading, pushing forward. It`s rare to see a couple – at the back maybe, but near the stage it`s mostly girls, with groups of blokes either dancing in the aisles or standing on their seats shaking shoulders and heads, arms up, flashing peace signs with the beat.
The band retire, and Marc sits crosslegged to sing. “Spaceball Riccochet”, “Cosmic Dancer”, “Deborah” with Mickey. Three or four times, girls make it over the edge of the stage and lurch towards Marc, grab him round the neck, hang on for dear life until they`re dragged off and gently but firmly pushed back into the crowd.

VISIONS

The band come back for the final push up – “Ride A White Swan”, “Hot Love”, “Get It On”. I`m beginning to get a bit scared. The bass cabinets have already been pushed over once, a spotlight has been toppled from the PA cabinets, and I`ve got visions of them tipping over on top of people. It doesn`t happen.
“You want more?” asks B.P. “Gimme a T”… and so on. They come back. “Summertime Blues” it is. It`s a good way to end – hard rocking but loose enough. You think back over the music, separating it in your mind from the whole thing, and you realise that without thinking about it you`ve been hearing some great playing.

CONFIDENT

Marc`s still out front, but his guitar playing is much less flash, much more part of the band than it used to be, and the rhythm section is really strong. Steve Currie, particularly, had been playing some excellent bass, and the combination of Bill and Mickey is just right.
Back in the dressing room, the group have gone, and so have most of the autograph collectors. Four girls are left, wandering around, confident they`ve every right to be there. They don`t say it, but you feel their attitude is “we pay their wages so…”
They`re picking over the debris on the table – empty bottles, cigarette packs, bits of paper. “Who smokes these?” One of them is holding up an empty cigarette pack. June, she`s told. “Marc`s June? Does he smoke them too?” No, we don`t think so. Disappointed, she drops it back on the table.

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A really classy ad from Zeppelin. So famous they didn`t need their name in it all, just the symbols.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ray Charles, Roger Daltrey, Bell & Arc, Ornette Coleman, Rory Gallagher, Paul McCartney, Felix Pappalardi, Van Morrison, Mr. Fox.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Marc Bolan FROM SOUNDS, August 14, 1971

In this article we get to know that the change of Marc Bolan`s musical style came as a shock to some, but the journalist quite fancy him as a rock star. At the time of writing he was on the verge of being one of the biggest with the release of his album “Electric Warrior” on the 24th of September 1971. The album went to number one in the UK charts.
A nice tidbit that I decided to include here is the equipment for the band and individual band member. Today this would count as a really modest set-up, but I guess it was different at the start of the 70s. For the fanatic T. Rex fan, I hope this is useful when you start your T.Rex cover band.

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Elf King`s switch to a rock star

By Penny Valentine

All the aficionados of the elf with stars in his hair got quite a shock this year. Surely the most amazing success story of the 70`s must be Marc Bolan`s transition from Elf King to commercial rock star.
Hands were raised in horror by the Bolanised minority – the people that had come to expect a never-ending impression that Marc Bolan was carrying on where Donovan had left off: a pop poet with a strong leaning towards magic and mystic references during the course of his lyrics.
The first shock came when “Ride A White Swan” suddenly appeared in the singles chart – a fact that meant Bolan was no longer solely confined to one audience. And the inverted snobbery which has existed since pop music began raised its head and howled. Marc Bolan had taken T. Rex out onto the commercial market. What was more, he`d made it work.
You`d have thought the Eiger had fallen over or the Mona Lisa had said “arse” the way everyone carried on. “Sold out,” they cried and yet how much real difference is there between “Desdamona” and “Ride A White Swan”, between “Woodland Bop” and “Get It On”?
In breaking into the mass market, he has lost none of the charm, the insidiousness, the musical technique that first brought him to notice.
Bolan raises what might be described as an ethnic point in music. I have always considered that a musician`s job was first of all to do what he thought was right and gave him most pleasure as a musician, and secondly what people enjoyed. Bolan has done both.

PHALLIC

But the fact is that when people look on you with the same rapture as they look on Bilbo Baggins they don`t take easily to having you turn into Elvis Presley overnight. And what was worse for them was that Marc Bolan was actually enjoying it. Actually enjoying rushing off to Mr. Freedom for sparkly jackets and skin-tight trousers and behaving outrageously on stage. Actually rolling around with his guitar and getting pretty phallic in the meantime.
Bolan himself with Mickey Finn spreading further to record in America with a couple of the Mothers is, he says, just naturally extending from the point he started at. On his own admission, he took a Rick Nelson guitar riff and put it into many of his numbers, including “Ride A White Swan”, and nobody complained or even noticed then.
“You can hear,” he says, “parts in my old material which were completely based on the rock music I`d been brought up with as a kid.”

ROCKER

So the music basically remains unchanged. What Bolan needed to do – get extrovert on stage – came through easily with the success on the commercial market. One naturally bed the other, and Bolan took to his new role like the old rocker that had laid beating always under the fairy glades and elfin gambols.
Perhaps today the mystic aura and the attentive audience (small) has been replaced by the wild sexuality and riotous audience (large). But in the ensuing change-over Marc Bolan as musician and composer has lost nothing and gained much more. Not just success in monetary terms, or recognition from the world at large that he never had before but, lo and behold, here`s Marc Bolan and T. Rex a real life rock and roll idol – the kind everyone said we needed a couple of years back!

Bolan

T. Rex`s equipment

PA:
3 Vampower 100 watt amp
3 Vamp cabinets
2 Vox Supreme amps
1 Vox Supreme cabinet
1 Vox AC30 amp
1 WEM echo unit
1 fuzz box
1 treble booster
1 wah wah pedal
8 100 watt stereo quad amps
5 RCA cabinets – custom built by Kelsey and Morris
5 monitor speakers – custom built by Kelsey and Morris
1 studio mixer deck – custom built by Kelsey and Morris
5 horns – custom built by Kelsey and Morris
1 transformer – custom built by Kelsey and Morris

Microphones:
9 Shure microphones

MARC BOLAN
1 Fender Telecaster guitar
2 Fender Stratocaster guitars
1 1947 Les Paul guitar
1 Custom Les Paul guitar
1 Epiphone acoustic guitar
1 Woolworths organ
Picato strings

MICKIE FINN
1 Mexican conga
4 African talking drums
2 sets bongos
1 Chinese gong
Set of Mexican claves
Various marraccas
Various tambourines

STEVE CURRIE
1 Fender Precision bass guitar
1 Fender six-string guitar
Rotosound strings

BILL LEGEND
1 Hayman Professional drum kit
Zyn cymbals, 1 ride/1 crash/1 Hi-Hat
Ringo Starr drum sticks

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Alun Davies, Roger McGuinn, Rev. Gary Davis, Judy Collins, Ottilie Patterson, Gentle Giant, Black Sabbath, Moby Grape, Henry McCullough, David Bowie, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Family, ELP, Jethro Tull, Grease Band, Osibisa, Strawbs, Pink Floyd, Mimi Farina.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Marc Bolan FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 1, 1975

Bolan says some true words in this article printed by the NME shortly before the tenth album by T. Rex “Bolan’s Zip Gun” was released.
Hope you like it!

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`74 – A bad year for Geniuses

Marc Bolan didn`t have a very good time of it either

By Roy Carr

When photographers are barred from an interview suspicions awake, so that when such a communique came from none other than image-conscious Marc Bolan, I knew that all was far from being kosher. As I was about to discover, the truth behind his sudden bout of camera-shyness is that Marc Bolan appears to be…pregnant!
As he pads around his hotel room on the fifth floor of the Carlton Towers Hotel in mangy “Moon Boots” and a flowing black and purple Mothercare maternity smock, I can`t think of any other way to explain the current obese shape of the body Bolan and the accompanying double-chin; unless he`s swallowed Mickey Finn.
Slugging on the first of a succession of mid-morning beers, Bolan, who after six months of self-imposed exile in America is back in Britain on a four day business trip, momentarily glances at a rather disturbing photograph of his plump personage attempting to slip incognito through Heathrow Air Terminal, and grunts: “Oh God, just look at the state of me. I look like an old totter…”
With the evidence firmly in his grasp, Bolan expresses a wish never to see the offending photograph again. Yep, this kid`s got problems and they`re not all down to counting the calories.

To put it mildly, 1974 wasn`t a particularly good year for Marc Bolan`s somewhat tattered reputation. Come to think of it, neither was `73 a memorable vintage.
A lot of people had long since chosen to write Bolan off as a transitory figure, and each successive T-Rex release (and by Christ, there were enough of them) only seemed to corroborate the belief that Bolan had blown whatever credibility he once possessed, and was content to both xerox and parody existing licks without so much as bothering to camouflage their source. He made Chuck Berry look like a novice when it came to feeding off a single riff. Moreover, he appeared to be ignorant of the fact that he was close to the point of, boogieing himself to oblivion. One can only assume, that at the time, he felt that if he ignored it long enough, then it would go away. Well it didn`t.
Now, for the first time, he`s quite prepared to own up to his mistakes; well almost.
“I agree, 1974 was the worst year of my career,” he admits. “But then, it has been a very bad year for all Libras – John Lennon for instance. (What about Ferry then? – Ed). It ain`t just been a crazy year for rock`n`roll,” he continues, “it`s been a crazy year for the whole world.” You don`t hear Sheik Yamani complaining.

The truth as Bolan presents it for the first time, is that it was quite unintentionally that he became a leading participant in the rat race for supreme success. Sure, it was great fun to begin with (it always is); but after 18 months of staying just one juhp ahead of his nearest competitors, Bolan suddenly realised that he couldn`t continue to meet the recurring 12-week deadline for new product he was committed, contracted and sworn to.
“I really was putting out far too many records.”
Isn`t that what we all said?
“It wasn`t so much a question of maintaining quality, but my mental consistency. After four years of being a hit machine, I`d suddenly become a victim of my own success, and I`d be lying to you if I said I wasn`t. I wasn`t able to give sufficient attention to every aspect of my career. If you want to know, I was getting bored. After 16 hit records the thrill had gone, there`s no two ways about it. I was in a position where I couldn`t sit back and say, `Do I really want to put a single out? Do I have a single?` People were ringing up and saying, `So where is it?`

“When you get to that stage, it`s pretty obvious that all the records can`t be as good as each other. Sometimes, a thing won`t be particularly good, but because an artist is hot it can still sell millions.
“`Paperback Writer` wasn`t as good as `Hey Jude`. Likewise, `Watching The River Flow` wasn`t nearly as good as `Positively 4th Street`, but that doesn`t mean that they were total bummers.
“Now though I love `Teenage Dream` I agree I should have changed drummers before that time.” I didn`t mention anything about drummers!
“I never liked `Solid Gold Easy Action` but it sold half-a-million in England alone and the same goes for `Truck on`.
“Though I had pressures, it didn`t affect my mind completely, even though I have to admit I was going up the wall…over the edge as they say…over the edge and ending up on the hill the other side.”
Seems like in retrospect, Bolan is now willing to concede that he was breaking under the many pressures that automatically arrive with the kind of success he had. The reason that this was never made public at the time, was due to Bolan`s preference to confine any acute emotional distress and deterioration to the strict privacy of his own home and not, as he says, “in Tramps”.

“When it looks like you`re going to make it…hit the big time, everyone is right there behind you. But once you`ve made it, then those very same people just can`t wait for an opportunity to kick you down.
“A year ago,” Bolan confesses, “I was actually beginning to believe what people were saying and writing about me, you know the things: `Is Bolan Slipping?`.”
Well, were they correct, were you slipping?
“Let`s put it this way, I was feeling bored, so obviously it was only a matter of time before the public felt precisely the very same way about me. So I stopped. I`m 27-years old and, though it`s younger than most of the other studs, I`m now a man. I`ve done my five years as teen idol…I`ve been very lucky and I appreciate it, but the pressure is off me now and I could only achieve this by staying away. I no longer want to overcompete; to start worrying what Gary Glitter is doing or what the new Slade album sounds like. If I hadn`t organised myself quickly then I could have suffered.”

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Jeez, if ever a man had the ability to rationalise his own misfortune…Some people would say that you left things a little too late?
He laughs. “I know what I`ve got on tape…no less than five hit singles that I`m going to put out this year and you better believe it. Listen, when you`ve fought this hard to get somewhere, you ain`t going nowhere else. If I didn`t think I had a place in rock`n`roll, I`d be out of it like a bullet. But this is my life, I`ve put ten years into it and I think I`m pretty good at it.”
I know people who`ll argue the point.
There seems to be only one subject that both Marc Bolan and his critics agree upon and that`s his vulnerability as an easy target.
“Last year it was me, this year it`s Bowie. There`s no overnight sensations in this game anymore. I must have been a success and a failure at least eight times in my career. I was a star in `65, the Face of `66, the has been of `67 and that`s all before I`d even made it.

“You know, it`s bleedin` lonely to be into that whole superstar thing, but the trouble is that nobody really understands it, unless you`ve either been one, are one, or know a very close friend who is one. And that`s why so many rock stars go over the  top and screw up completely.”
So is it really worth all the effort?
“No”, he yells, laughing at the same time. “To a certain point I suppose it is, but mentally…there comes a time when you really have to sit down and question it, and that`s precisely what I`ve just been doing. I wanted to find out where I wanted to go and not where I was going.”
So: Quo Vadis, Boychick?
Well, first there`s the problem of renegotiating a new American record deal which has always been tough territory for the tyke, which demands getting the facts straight about whether or not T-Rex are worth more than a plugged nickel in the States. Bolan has always had this hard-fast rap about how he`s pure dynamite with the American public but, now he`s telling me, that it was only on the last tour that he made a profit.

“This time there was no hope..the Americans have always over-hyped me and this has worked against me.” (This really is own-up time, kids.) “I thought on this last tour if I was going to bomb again, then I was going to make sure I bombed quietly.”
Anyway, as Bolan tells it, T-Rex are now established on the B category circuit at ten grand a gig and not, as he used to infer, the A circuit which is the stomping ground of Zeppelin, Jethro, the Allmans, the Who, and the rest of the Sixth Form. Returning to the subject of Bolan`s immediate future; in March he`s due to commence filming the role of a psychotic killer with sexual and drug hang-ups (what else?) in “Obsession”, alongside David Niven.
“If I`m any good in it, it`s definitely an Oscar touch,” he admits in all modesty. “I`ve always talked about doing serious acting for ages, in very much the same way as Pete Townshend was always talking about writing a rock opera, and you can only talk about something for so long. I`ve always been pretty good at firsts and this looks like opening up a whole new career for me. I mean, I was the first one to point out that glam rock was dead.”

Still Bolan seems to have this uncanny knack of being able to survive where others perish.
“If you don`t believe in yourself,” he insists, “then no one else will. I`m like John Lennon – an egomaniac. I don`t believe in `genius`, but if they exist then I`m one. But tell people that and they`ll call you a bastard.”
But Marc…oh never mind.
Upon reflection, Bolan attributes his will to survive to the fact that he surrendered his virginity at the age of nine.
“Self-confidence,” suddenly interjects a friend out of left-field “was always regarded as the greatest asset by the Greeks.”
“But second only to screwing,” Bolan insists.

When the Kiki Dee band were  touring Britain with Sailor.

When the Kiki Dee band were touring Britain with Sailor.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Lowell George (Little Feat), Alan Hull (Lindisfarne), Kiss, Doobie Brothers, Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, John McLaughlin, The Soft Machine, Bob Pegg, Little Milton, Ian Bairnson (Pilot).

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.