It seems an odd thing to say, perhaps, but the further back I go into Marc Bolan's career, the more I love his work. One would think the earlier material would be the weaker, especially as "Doves" starts with his earliest recorded demos--after all, how good of a song can one write when one is 16? But in Marc's case, the results are startling. Not fully polished yet perhaps, and sometimes obviously an attempt to imitate others' sound, but also beautifully fresh, endearingly enthusiastic, and youthfully imaginative. Such wide-eyed optimism, such childlike confidence!
It's interesting when I compare his career to Bowie's--one can say they both hit their commercial peak in 1972 (not considering "Tonight"), but otherwise they seemed to be moving in opposite directions. Marc's commercial stuff is great fun--as pop songs, they're top of their line: but I think I prefer his early work. Not that it's not poppy itself; Marc was always pop--but after '72, commercial interest (not necessarily tied to money) turned his head a bit.
This album is a collection of singles and demos from '66-'67, and I was more than pleasantly surprised by their quality. At first, that is, I was pleasantly surprised. After several listens, I forgot all about being surprised, because I was too busy being amazed. Not a bad song on here, no matter how amateurish. (Well, maybe there's one mediocre one.) I knew that Marc Bolan started off with an interest in rock n' roll (and blues, etc), and went hippie-folk-acoustic out of necessity as much as anything else--but upon getting this record, I still expected it to sound more like Tyrannosaurus Rex. Instead, it starts off very classic rock n' roll, Chuck Berry and such--but already with Marc's unmistakable warbly vocals (at their very warbliest), and already with his poetic imagery in the lyrics. Beautiful, vibrant, full of lively spirit and fairy tale dreaminess. One of my very favorite CDs of his now, in fact. And it provides an intriguing link between the Tyrannosaurus Rex and T. Rex sounds, being at times an amalgam of the two.
And at 14 bucks for 37 tracks, how can you let this great album pass you by?