Tyrannosaurus Rex

Midnight Court at the Lyceum

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The Bolan bandwagon might not have emptied the cupboard yet, but one would be excused for thinking it had at least reached the bottom of the barrel. The Tyrannosaurus Rex-era live Midnight Court album is essentially an update -- and not even an upgrade -- of music that has already been on the streets for years as a well-circulated bootleg cassette, which even devotees don't listen to too much. Transferred to CD...well, at least you don't have to mess around with the fast-forward button to find your favorite piece of hiss and distortion. That is not to decry the recording's historical importance. It is, after all, one of the precious few live Tyrannosaurus recordings to be around in its entirety, while its initial release was accompanied by a reprint of Bolan's now-legendary (and impossible to find) Warlock of Love poetry book, a good first edition of which would now set you back more than an entire set of Bolan CDs. Essentially a collection of Unicorn/Beard of Stars-era lyrics that never made it onto record, Warlock was first published in 1969, around the same time that Bolan and original Rexmate Steve Took headlined London's cavernous Lyceum. And the concert, for all its lo-fi warbling, captures precisely the same mystic magic as the poems, a world of elves and unicorns, Afghan women and Abyssinian seas, and Bolan's inimitable grasp of life through lyrics set to a churning sea of half-electric rumination. The segue into his own "Do You Remember" from an uncredited cover of Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" (!) is worth the price of admission alone. Elsewhere, the live appeal of the duo is not hard to see, even if it is a little difficult to discern -- the sound quality is akin to standing outside the hall with a tin can pressed to the fire escape, and some of the subtler nuances of the music are certainly lost in the translation. But a powerful set drawing from all three Tyrannosaurus Rex releases to date highlights the magic that was theirs for the taking, and if a better quality tape ever turns up, it would be the rival of any other live Bolan out there. As it is, only the near (or at least, comparatively) pristine quality of the final two tracks, recorded in Denmark earlier in 1969, lets listeners hear what they're missing.

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