This excellent release compiles the biggest hit singles from T. Rex (1970), Electric Warrior (1971), and Bolan Boogie (1972), plus a few B-sides. Titled The Early Years -- meaning the formative years of T. Rex, not the earlier Marc Bolan and Tyrannosaurus Rex phases -- this disc is perfect for those in search of just the cream of Bolan's popular output from this period. Big chart-toppers include "Ride a White Swan," the band's first hit single, which peaked at number two on the charts, as did "Jeepster," "Hot Love," and, of course, "Get It On" reached number one status. The highlights are many: Bolan's mellow vocals on the soft, rhythmic "Seagull Woman"; the laid-back groove of "Mambo Sun"; the perfect marriage of electric and acoustic guitars on "King of the Mountain Cometh"; and the anthemic glam rocker "Get It On." In addition, Marc gets tough on "Rip Off," an in-your-face onslaught of raw electric rock fronted by lyrics delivered in short, rap-like lines. Ian McDonald and Burt Collins heighten the heist with sax and flügelhorn. Of special, noteworthy interest are "Raw Ramp" and "There Was a Time," both originally released on the B-side of the "Get It On" single. "Raw Ramp" is a two-part rocker, the second part of which mirrors the basic structure of "Get It On." And the elegant "There Was a Time," running one minute in length, is one of the harder-to-locate T. Rex tunes, despite the supersaturated T. Rex and Bolan market. Although focused on a more concentrated era, The Early Years is actually quite similar to Bolan Boogie in that both releases are singles compilations, overlapping in content with seven identical tracks. Boogie goes back a bit farther, including tracks from several pre-T. Rex albums (mainly A Beard of Stars), while Early Years yields more cuts from Electric Warrior. Both CDs are in print, available as imports only.
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AllMusic Review by David Ross Smith