Tuesday, 22 November 2016

"A Beard Of Stars" by TYRANNOSAURUS REX [feat Marc Bolan, Mickey Finn and Steve Took] (2004 Universal/A&M/Straight Ahead Productions Ltd. 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue - Gary Moore Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Woodland Bop..." 

The final TYRANNOSAURUS REX LP "A Beard Of Stars" was released March 1970 and achieved an impressive No. 13 placing on the British LP charts. But it marked an end a new beginning. The four-album hippy-dip Folk-Rock duo of Marc Bolan and Steve Took would be soon trounced and forgotten for Bolanmania when Marc and Mickey Finn (who'd come on board September 1969 for "Beard" after Took was dropped) went into the Glam Rock monster that would become T. REX. 

The wind cheetahs, dragon's ears and mighty dawn dart warbling of "A Beard Of Stars" must have seemed eons away and so far ago when the seriously hooky Pop-Rock of "Ride A White Swan" was released only months later in October 1970 on Fly Records BUG 1 – a No. 2 smash for the newly anointed T. REX. moniker. Soon pretty painter and bongo-wielding MICKEY FINN and the equally photogenic always-cultish MARC BOLAN would be making male and female hearts pulse a tad faster up and down the land and for the next few years to come. 

This fourth and last Tyrannosaurus Rex album on England’s Regal Zonophone Records is where that superb transition to 'Electric Warrior' truly began and you’d have to say that this generous and superb-sounding Gary Moore CD Remaster has done that forgotten LP a solid. Here are the starry details...

UK released October 2004 (reissued August 2011) - "A Beard Of Stars" by TYRANNOSAURUS REX on Universal/A&M/Straight Ahead Productions Ltd. 982 251-2 (Barcode 602498225127) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with 16 Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (75:47 minutes): 

1. Prelude 
2. A Daye Laye 
3. Woodland Bop 
4. Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart 
5. Pavilions Of Sun 
6. Organ Blues 
7. By The Light of The Magical Moon
8. Wind Cheetah 
9. A Beard Of Stars [Side 2] 
10. Great Horse 
11. Dragon's Ear 
12.  Lofty Skies
13. Dove
14. Elemental Child 
Tracks 1 to 14 are their fourth and final studio album "A Beard Of Stars" - released March 1970 in the UK on Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1013. The 1st US version was released June 1970 on Blue Thumb BTS 18 as the same 14-track LP - but in December 1970 - it was re-issued again on Blue Thumb BTS 18 - but this time came with a bonus single - the British hit "Ride A White Swan" b/w "Is It Love" (Blue Thumb SP-6115). The American 'Bonus' 45 was credited to Tyrannosaurus Rex and had only two tracks - the British 45 was credited to T. REX and had a second B-side - a cover version of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues". 

15. III Starred Man (Take 1)
16. Demon Queen (Take 1)
17. Once Upon The Seas Of Abyssinia (Take 1)
18. Blessed Wild Apple Girl (Take 1)
19. Find A Little Wood (Take 1)
20. A Daye Laye (Take 1)
21. Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart (Take 2)
22. Organ Blues (Take 2)
23. Wind Cheetah (Take 4)
24. A Beard Of Stars (Take 1) 
25. Great Horse (Take 1) 
26. Dragons Ear (Take 1 & Take 2)
27. Dove (Take 5)
28. Elemental Child Parts 1 & 2 (Take 1)
29. By The Light Of The Magical Moon (Take 3)
30. Prelude (Take 1)

MARC BOLAN - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Organ and Bass
MICKEY FINN - Backing Vocals, Moroccan Clay Drums, Tabla, Bass and Finger Cymbals

The rare lyric insert that came with Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1013 is reproduced on Page 4 of the 16-page booklet along with loads of black and white photos of the photogenic duo and memorabilia including the Melody Maker advert where Bolan went looking for 'a gentle young guy who can play percussion'. Renowned Bolan and T. Rex expert MARK PAYTRESS has provided the superb liner notes explaining how some of the outtakes are Steve Took songs Bolan chopped once Mickey Finn came on board. But the big news here is a stunning GARY MOORE Remaster - an Audio Engineer I've name-checked many times for his huge amounts of work across a large number of Universal's labels. Primarily Acoustic - the strings rattle - the bongos bong and Bolan's expressive and unique voice floats over proceedings like an elf on helium gas. 

With only Bolan's face on the front cover of the original LP (Mickey Finn's handsome visage graces the rear) - you might think "A Beard Of Stars" is a 'solo' album and with all tunes written by Bolan - at times it feels like that - his voice and presence dominating everything. Highlights include "Woodland Bop"  which he would use as one of the B-sides to "Hot Love" in February 1971 whilst the trio of "Woodland Bop", "Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart" and the uber-rare Tyrannosaurus Rex UK 7" single "By The Light Of The Magical Moon" would all turn up on the June 1971 compilation LP "Bolan Boogie" - a UK No.1. 

Backwards guitars fill out the short but sweet "A Day Laye" while he urges you to 'come into my garden lady love' on "Pavilions Of Sun" (did that wicked electric guitar break). "Organ Blues" tells us there's 'gold in the mountains and people living in the sea' (know what you mean mate) while you can so hear why Regal Zonophone thought "By The Light Of The Magical Moon" would be a good single for the LP (the acoustic and electric guitar licks are wonderfully clear). "Wind Cheetah" is probably the most hippy tune on here - a sort of Incredible String Band whine on an organ with layered voices. "Great Horse" sees his lyrical muse go wild as a 'strange beastie from the legend lair' seems to be master with his 'skull powdered cord'. I love the wild and grungy electric guitar finisher "Elemental Child" - a hooky little rocker that pointed the way to "T. Rex" in December 1970 and "Electric Warrior" in September 1971. I wish there was more of this on the album. Amidst the Bonus Tracks are the Steve Took Psychedelic contributions of "Once Upon The Sea Of Abyssinia" and "Find A Little Wood". 

"A Beard Of Stars" is probably the most accomplished and 'together' of the Tyrannosaurus Rex foursome of LPs - and this excellent 2004 CD Remaster of it makes that long forgotten music from 1970 ripe for rediscovery in my books.

Rock on you Wizard in the Lofty Skies - we the Children of Rarn salute you...

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