Marc Bolan & T. Rex

T. Rex Unchained: Unreleased Recordings, Vol. 2: 1972, Pt. 2

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Bearing in mind that Marc Bolan himself probably never played these tapes more than once or twice after recording them, it is no surprise that the Unchained series is a minefield for the listener. Comprising nothing more than the ghostly sketches, scattered demos, and loose home recordings which Bolan knocked off between 1972-1977, listening to the entire series can give even the most forgiving fanatic pause for thought. Sampled carefully and selectively, however, some fascinating insights into the Bolan creative process are brought to light, together with some mystifying questions as well. On volume one, "Over the Flats" represents one of the best songs Bolan wrote, and his failure to complete it seems baffling. On volume two, "Would I Be the One" is not quite so superlative, but would still have looked good on any one of his later LPs, while "Is It True" is absolute dynamite, defused only by Bolan's failure to write more than two lines for the lyric. Shortly after this album's release, St. Etienne cut a lovely version of the song, proving just what the world lost when Bolan abandoned it. Indeed, while the best of Bolan's 1972 outtakes and off cuts were rounded up for volume one, this edition still boasts its fair share of fab peculiarities -- two early takes on "Mr Motion," a song he'd return to in 1973 (and then quietly shelved), a rambunctious acoustic try-out of the future B-side "City Port," and "Fast Blues" is nothing less than a frenzied demo for "Solid Gold Easy Action," shot through with guitar which burns. Ghosts of other future compositions can be found in "Zinc Rider" and "Electric Lips," while "Ellie May" offers up another of Bolan's automotive ruminations. And it turns out to be almost as good as any of them.

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