Tyrannosaurus Rex / T. Rex

A Beard of Stars

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Tyrannosaurus Rex's fourth album, A Beard of Stars, was the turning point where Marc Bolan began evolving from an unrepentant hippie into the full-on swaggering rock star he would be within a couple of years, though for those not familiar with his previous work, it still sounds like the work of a man with his mind plugged into the age of lysergic enchantment. "A Daye Laye," "Pavilions of Sun," and the title tune sure sound like the writings of an agreeably addled flower child, and Bolan's vocals are playfully mannered in a manner that suits his loopy poetry. However, after shunning the corrupting influences of electric guitars on Tyrannosaurus Rex's early recordings, A Beard of Stars finds Bolan plugging in as he turns on, and he sounds like he's clearly enjoying it; the wah-wah solo that closes "Pavilions of Sun" demonstrates how just a little electricity gave this music a new lease on life, as do the guitar and bass overdubs on "Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart," and the lo-fi raunch that dominates "Elemental Child" was the first manifestation of the amped-up proto-boogie that defined Electric Warrior and The Slider. A Beard of Stars was also the first Tyrannosaurus Rex album after Mickey Finn took over as percussionist from Steve Peregrine-Took, and his more straightforward approach (as well as his occasional basslines) gave this music a far more solid foundation than Peregrine-Took's expressive but frequently unpredictable rhythms, further setting the stage for the group's Grand Transformation. A Beard of Stars holds on to the charm of Tyrannosaurus Rex's early work while letting Bolan's natural charisma and rock moves finally take hold, and it's a unique and very pleasing entry in their catalog.

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