Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mark Paytress' "Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a 20th Century Superstar"

Marc Bolan and T.Rex were very much part of my teen years. Marc Bolan represented a foreign force (from the U.K.) that made one realize that there was something "out" out there. I dug the catchy aspect of his idiotic lyrics, but when sung by him, was pure poetry on (almost) highest level. But then David Bowie came on the scene and totally tore the T.Rex need out of my life. But many years later I have come back to the sound of T.Rex and realize what a remarkable and eccentric talent he was. 
Mark Paytress wrote a really good biography on the man, the music world at the time, and why Marc Bolan and T.Rex are important. In the U.K. he ruled the country, but only for two years or so. After that he was struggling to get his crown back. But David Bowie pretty much took the crown and not only that, he was not going to give up the jewel hat. Bowie was at the time (and still is) very much a genius and an exceptional songwriter on top of that. Bolan, had his brilliance and his moment, but couldn't really repeat that moment. But the beauty of Bolan's work is not the grand gesture, but the small paint strokes that he made with respect to his music and records. Especially the Tony Visconti produced recordings. Which are brilliant. Both Visconti and Bolan added textures to rather minimal rocking tracks. But there is also the melodies - and Bolan I think is really strong in that department. And a classic T.Rex track had that Sun records sound, but it sounds like it was recorded on the planet Saturn. 
The Bolan story is a sad one. The typical rock n' roll drugs, drink, and dry up of talent. And of course the tragic car accident. But the classic T.Rex (Marc Bolan) record is one to marvel at, because it is a moment or a series of moments that are perfect.
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