The bulk of this CD consists of a dozen demos that Bolan did in 1966, augmented by plenty of additional full rock instrumentation and backup vocals added in 1981, several years after Bolan's death. In other words, only Bolan's vocal and his acoustic guitar were recorded in 1966; the rest was overdubbed 15 years later. It is very rare indeed that this approach yields satisfactory results, and this is one more in the long line of misbegotten attempts to make material never intended for release suitable for the contemporary market with inappropriately modern arrangements. Bolan's songs weren't too substantial at this point anyway -- "You Scare Me to Death" was actually a proposed television jingle for breath tablets -- although he would re-record "Hippy Gumbo" as his third solo single. At any rate, if Bolan fans want to check out his warbling folk-pop ditties at this formative stage, they would probably have much preferred to hear them in their original bare-bones state, regardless of any shortcomings in fidelity or performance, than listen to these gussied-up concoctions. Not only is the production not good, but the overlays often nearly bury the original voice and acoustic guitar tracks. As a bit of a saving grace, the disc also includes both sides of his 1965 Decca debut single, "The Wizard"/"Beyond the Risin' Sun" (without any overdubs), a weird and unmemorable pop-folk-rock release, as well as "Rings of Fortune," also licensed from Decca and presumably recorded around the same era, although it wasn't released in the mid-1960s. Scraps of spoken observations from Bolan comprise the final track, "Recorded Quotes from the Book (You Scare Me to Death)."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger