Marc Bolan

Marc Bolan at the BBC

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When Marc Bolan entered the world of rock & roll after a brief stint as a teenage model, his path was winding and full of sharp turns. Almost every step of the way, the British Broadcasting Corporation was in full support of Bolan's remarkable evolution, and Marc Bolan at the BBC is an exhaustive collection of archived performances from various showcases and concert broadcasts during his endlessly productive years of 1967-1977. The six-volume collection offers over 100 tracks of on-air performances and interviews, beginning with Bolan's contributions to the relatively short-lived mod psych group John's Children. Early on in the collection, it's amazing to see just how quickly things were moving and shifting for Bolan. John's Children and Tyrannosaurus Rex offer up two very different readings of Bolan's early boogie rocker "Hot Rod Mama," downshifting from high-powered guitar rock to a proto-hippie mystical folk approach on recording dates that happened just three months apart. Throughout his career, Bolan never wasted time on drastic transitions, and At the BBC highlights this with grainy fidelity footage of all his various phases. There's an interesting series of tracks that sees Marc reciting Tyrannosaurus Rex's spectral lyrics in poem form before sometimes launching into their respective tunes. Different performances from the Top Gear program chronicle T. Rex's early-'70s minimal pop days with spare tunes like "My Baby's Like a Cloud Form," as well the band's rise to glam superstardom in the '70s with performances of hits from Electric Warrior, The Slider, and less popular later albums like Dandy in the Underworld. The amount of material here is staggering, and some of the recording quality is exceptionally spotty, but the package gives an idea of just how ravenous Bolan's creative appetite was and how much he gave the world in his tragically short life. While not a particularly great jumping-off point for new fans due to the mass of interviews and repeated songs, super fans will find new layers of the T. Rex story as well as deep cuts.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:37
2 0:49
3 2:45
4 2:11
5 3:08
6 0:12
7 1:52
8 2:34
9 2:19
10 3:01
11 2:51
12 3:19
13 2:28
14 4:37
15 1:55
16 2:04
17 3:18
18 3:17
19 1:51
20 1:39
21 2:08
22 1:32
23 2:55
24 0:31
25 1:43
26 1:21
27 2:30
28 1:41
29 2:24
30 1:46

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:20
2 1:33
3 2:31
4 2:28
5 2:23
6 2:24
7 2:03
8 1:05
9 1:37
10 0:51
11 0:56
12 2:36
13 2:51
14 2:01
15 2:46
16 2:32
17 2:15
18 3:43
19 3:35
20 4:26
21 3:48
22 7:04
23 9:22
blue highlight denotes track pick