Marc Bolan & T. Rex

T. Rex Unchained: Unreleased Recordings, Vol. 8

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T. Rex Unchained: Unreleased Recordings, Vol. 8 offers up close to three dozen songs, demos, and fragments that Bolan taped as he prepared to start work on his planned 13th album. Of course, those sessions never took place and, for two decades after his death, the only real indication of his intentions were the sheer strength of his last album (Dandy in the Underworld) and single ("Celebrate Summer"), and the uncoordinated mass of material that leaked out on sundry bootlegs and ill-considered compilations through the 1980s. Much of this was then swept up by Vol. 7 in the Unchained series -- this eighth and final album, then, rounds up all the waifs and strays that were left over -- and, sad to say, that's exactly what it sounds like. Past volumes in this series all had their share of rough sketches, but Bolan's musical promiscuity always ensured there would be a smattering of classics in amid the clutter. The contents of Vol. 8, however, don't appear to have even been close to a proper studio session; rather, its 33 tracks are exclusively home recordings, generally under two minutes in length, and in terms of simple listening pleasure...well, there isn't any. Neither is it a matter of good songs/bad songs. Given time, almost any of the ideas here could have blossomed into a bona fide classic -- not, perhaps, another "Metal Guru" or "Teenage Dream," but certainly a "Venus Loon" or "Light of Love." "Messing With the Mystic," "Purple Prince of Pleasure," and "When I Was a Child" all fall into that illustrious category; so does a new version of the seven-year-old "Sailors of the Highway" -- a beautiful song that Bolan had long since completed, but had regularly revisited over the past five years. Here, however, all are indistinguishable from the other scraps served up on what amounts to a disordered heap of aural Post-It® notes, scrawled with reminders of chords and couplets. Bolan fans who have already committed themselves to the Unchained series will, of course, have no alternative but to pick up this final volume. Everybody else, though, should steer well clear of it, and buy themselves a guitar instead. The end result probably wouldn't be that much different.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:52
2 1:50
3 1:42
4 1:31
5 1:56
6 2:12
7 4:13
8 0:55
9 2:13
10 1:13
11 0:55
12 0:51
13 1:51
14 1:31
15 1:15
16 2:03
17 1:49
18 0:49
19 2:04
20 0:57
21 1:49
22 1:33
23 1:04
24 2:22
25 1:16
26 0:33
27 0:33
28 1:13
29 3:11
30 3:27
31 2:58
32 8:13
33 2:15
blue highlight denotes track pick