Marc Bolan & T. Rex

Best of Unchained Series

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It's something of a musical obstacle course, navigating the complete eight-volume, 184-track bulk of the Unchained series. Seemingly capturing every last inch of tape that Marc Bolan recorded between 1972 and 1977, from the lowliest home demo to the best-fulfilled studio outtake, on the one hand it represents the most thorough archive-scraping that any collector could hope for and, on the other, it's a monument to the sheer futility of trying to judge any artist's career from his "official" releases alone. There are directions posited within Unchained that one could never have guessed at from the regular albums. But there's also a lot of rubbish as well, which is where this single-disc distillation of the series' most obvious highlights steps in. Trimmed even from the two-disc Work in Progress package, The Best of Unchained Series rounds up 27 songs, almost any one of which could easily be proclaimed among the best of Bolan, full stop. The opening salvo of "Over the Flats," "Children of the World" and "Shame on You" is especially riveting, and had Bolan completed these songs, instead of those that made up Tanx, the follow-up to Slider could have been his best album yet. "Downhome Lady," "Jet Tambourine," "Brain Police," "Savage Beethoven," "Mellow Love," these are excellent songs, by both Bolan's standards and those of the time, and it seems incredible that he did not see that himself. So intuitive through the first half of his career, it is as though he gave up trying after 1972, and so the gems piled up on the cutting-room floor, while the chaff sailed out to its doom. But The Best of Unchained corrals them all (or almost all -- the marvelous "Is It True" is absurdly absent here) and, no matter how many T. Rex compilations you own, whether it's a single-hits collection or the entire Unchained series in its own right, you really need to hear this disc.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:48
2 2:20
3 1:45
4 1:18
5 2:20
6 2:05
7 1:22
8 3:20
9 1:56
10 2:57
11 0:55
12 0:40
13 1:57
14 6:10
15 5:02
16 2:55
17 3:26
18 3:07
19 0:57
20 2:39
21 2:01
22 5:24
23 4:02
24 0:58
25 2:51
26 1:21
27 2:15
blue highlight denotes track pick