Marc Bolan & T. Rex

Marc: Songs From The Granada TV Series

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For the last six weeks of his life, Marc Bolan was presenting his own, eponymous, early evening music show on British TV, combining his own music with a string of special guests. The Jam, Generation X, Boomtown Rats, Radio Stars (featuring former John's Children bandmate Andy Ellison), Hawkwind, and his old friend David Bowie all appeared on screen with him, and their performances live on one bootleg video -- some magnificent performances as well. For obvious reasons, their contributions are absent from this official recounting of the series' musical highlights -- instead it's Bolan and Bolan alone. But it's also the best sound quality ever, and for anyone who's followed the sad saga of these tapes, that alone is makes this disc a must-have. Past releases of this material barely even tried to disguise their television origins, with thin sound and way too much tinniness. Edsel's release, contrarily, packs a completely unexpected punch, with a handful of performances (the opening "Sing Me a Song" most of all) howling with a vitality which no other version could even aspire toward. The nature of the original recording means that Bolan's on-screen introductions, premature fades, and dubbed canned applause remain irritatingly attached to each track, and do get a little grating after a while. But the actual performances are great -- a state-of-the-art (1977 version) trawl through the best of Bolan's back pages. It is incredible to hear him rustling through them as well -- "Debora," hauled out from the second Tyrannosaurus Rex album, "Get It On (Bang a Gong)," "Jeepster" -- and it's invigorating to realize just how fresh they still sound, rubbing shoulders with his latest work, highlights from the newly released Dandy in the Underworld album, with generous hints of his intended next move. Not every performance from the series in included -- over six weeks, Bolan reprised his current single, "Celebrate Summer," a few times, and threw in a few repeats as well -- the CD booklet gives the full run-down for each of the shows. But every song does appear, including a sensational cover of "Endless Sleep" and, okay, a less-than-essential version of "Let's Dance." There are also a couple of bonus performances taken from another program entirely to wrap the package up and, again, there's a great booklet stuffed with priceless info. Fans may, after all, never get a fully sanctioned chance to experience Marc in all its uncut glory. But at least they can all sit and salivate at what they're missing.

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