on 22 June 2005
Everyone who only ever heard Marc Bolan fronting the short-named band (T. Rex) would do themselves an enormous favour by listening to the four Tyrannosaurus Rex albums.
Before Bolan learned to boogie he could write a melody that stood head and shoulders above those of his his peers. Prophets, Seers and Sages, while being a vast improvement upon its predecessor ('My People Were Fair.........') was but a muscle-flexing for the majesty that was to be 'Unicorn' (which begat the glorious 'A Beard of Stars').
But those melodies! Those vocal arrangements! Those orchestrations (mostly finger-clicks, claps and stuff)! Listen to 'Trelawny Lawn' and 'Salamander Palagander' and feel yourself falling under the spell of an innocence that is greatly missed.
on 13 November 2002
Marc Bolan's accoustic band 'Tyrannosaurus Rex' is little known, with more emphasis on the 'glam rock' offerings of 'T Rex'. Records such as Electric Warrior and The Slider are, of course, fantastic but Bolan's early work should be given credit too.
'Prophets' is a musically accomplished record with a strong sense of 'other world' magic. Old fashioned instruments and Tolkien/Narnian inspired lyrics really do put you in mind of noble warriors, wise sages, elves dancing in groves and kings in their timbered halls!
This record is a lot of fun but is also credible. The music and lyrics are perfectly devised and crafted. Prophets, as an example of Bolan's early work, is like nothing we will ever hear again.
* Stacey Grove
* Eastern Spell
If proof were needed that the times were less corporate and centralised in the sixties than now, one need only note that this second album by the not obviously commercial duo Tyrannosaurus Rex was released a mere three months after their snappily titled debut, My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair... But Now They're Content To Wear Stars On Their Brow. That totals 26 songs, plus a couple of stray singles, plucked from Marc Bolan's school notebook, all appearing in 1968, with plenty more lyrics saved for future use.
Unsurprisingly, it sold less well than the first to an audience anyway only recently weaned from singles onto albums, but remained a firm favourite over the years, and has been re-issued on CD several times since its first digital release in 1985, surely exceeding the expectations of its makers.
Their first single, Debora, had not appeared on My People Were Fair, which had followed it, as that was the practice of the time, but having been a surprise hit and still fresh in people's minds, was included in a completely newly recorded version which loops in on itself one minute and forty seconds through and plays out backwards through the second half, hence its new palindromic title, Deboraarobed.
One Inch Rock, the follow up single and a slightly bigger hit, was also not included on the new album (though was re-recorded in an electric version for the album T Rex), but has been added here as a bonus track in mono (it can be found in stereo on Essential Collection) along with an alternative, slower stereo version.
To Bolan's multi-tracked vocals, whistling and acoustic guitars have been added Steve Peregrine Took's complementary harmony vocals and percussion on a variety of exotic instruments including talking drums, chinese gong, kazoo and pixiephone, while the strong sense of melody, however strange-seeming at first listen it may seem, remains as memorable and haunting as on the first, and together with the extraordinary lyrics, seem to inhabit a world other than our own, but which would be eminently suitable for an extended picnic. The exclusive use of real instruments, most if not all unamplified, gives the album a timelessness which serves it well on reissue.
Whereas the first album was reissued containing both mono and stereo mixes, the careful engineering of the stereo mix of the album by Malcolm Toft, and the production of Tony Visconti, has made that unnecessary for this release. This has allowed room instead for 14 bonus tracks. Most of these are alternative takes of songs from the album, although there is one song which was dropped, Nickelodeon (Take 1)(mono).
The take numbers are given for the bonus tracks, but not for those of the final masters, so Conesuala (Take 9), for example, could be earlier or later than the released version. Most of the alternative takes are stereo but Salamanda Palaganda, Our Wonderful Brownskin Man, Eastern Spell, The Travelling Tragition and Juniper Suction are mono. Whether these are demos recorded in a mono studio or simply not mixed for stereo is not explained.
This album and My People Were Fair form very much of a pair, with recording for this album commencing even before the first had been released. Tyrannosaurus Rex's sound was to develop over two more albums before transmuting into T Rex, but this was the bedrock from which they sprang, and has material to match anything they subsequently did.
on 15 December 2014
I bought this when I was 15 in October 1968. I imagine that I was like most teenagers as I had spent the previous five years listening mainly to the Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Small Faces, Fleetwood Mac and The Move. Hearing this for the first time was absolutely stunning because it appeared to be music with no reference points apart from the fact that the inner LP sleeve helpfully said "File Under:Popular Music." Unlike the first album, "My People Were Fair.....", where Steve took wore sunglasses in the cover drawing and two songs Hot Rod Mamma (a re-write of Mystery Train?) and Mustang Ford were clearly prototype T. Rex, you just could not work out where this music had come from - it could have been anywhere or anytime. Added to this is the fact that Marc Bolan had written a really strong set of melodies with beautifully crafted and ingenious, percussive lyrics which means that, like so much of his work, it still sounds fresh, or at least, timeless, today. Among the great songs here are Stacey Grove, Consuela, Wind Quartets, Eastern Spell, Salamanda Palaganda, Oh Harley, The Friends and Trelawney Lawn. Tremendous stuff and this is a superb re-issue with extra tracks, fascinating sleeve notes and some rare photos. I love all Marc Bolan's output from The Wizard in 1965 to Hot George but, listening to this again, it is not hard to see why the underground music scene was so upset when he decide to focus more on commercial success and stop, as he put it, "bumbing along in dedicated obscurity." It is part of Bolan's strange genius that he managed to change so radically with his Cosmic Rock and Interstellar Soul yet somehow remain special and otherworldly. As for Prophets, Seers & Sages, anyone who loves the British 1960s underground, acid folk, or even Marc Bolan's later work should treat themselves and invest in this remarkable album.
on 13 October 2015
Marc Bolan is probably best known for his 1970s hit singles with T Rex such as '20th century boy' and 'Get it on'. However his work with the band's acoustic predecessor, Tyrannosaurus Rex, is well worth checking out. Tyrannosaurus Rex were a two piece outfit consisting of Marc Bolan on acoustic guitar and vocals, with Steve Peregrine Took on percussion and harmonies. Took played on three albums before he was replaced by Mikey Finn on the 'Beard of Stars' album, which was released in 1970. That album also featured Bolan playing some electric guitar, and it was a clear precursor to the T. Rex sound. Here, the music is acoustic throughout, and the lyrics are very psychedelic with the influence of J.R.R. Tolkein undoubtedly to the fore. The album is quite quirkly, but it has a lot of charm, and I would regard it as essential listening for anyone interested in either Marc Bolan or British psychedelia. Tyrannosaurus Rex were early favourites of Radio 1 veteran John Peel, and on the evidence of this album it is easy to see why.