Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
30
4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
26
4 star
4
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£5.25+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

VINE VOICEon 30 November 2006
Unicorn was the third of four albums by Tyrannosaurus Rex and the last with Steve Peregrine Took. Released in May 1969, it followed the failure of their third single, Pewtor Suitor, in January. This had followed in the mould of the first two singles and albums by largely replicating the acoustic sound the band created onstage over the last year or so. The same could be said of the B-side, Warlord of The Royal Crocodiles, recorded near the start of the sessions for the album in December 1968.

Given that the duo had released two albums within the last twelve months, all written by Marc Bolan, the quality of the songs on Unicorn was remarkably strong, showing his considerable development as a writer, lyrically and musically, and fully utilising the flexible creativity of his musical partner Steve Took. Not anyway given to self-doubt, Marc Bolan must have been particularly confident at the outset of the sessions, and was therefore severely challenged by the commercial failure of Pewtor Suitor.

He met the challenge during the sessions, which lasted until 2nd February 1969, by experimenting with more instruments and multi-track overdubs, with the help of regular producer Tony Visconti and engineers Malcolm Toft and Rob Cabel, to create a much more complex panoply of chromatic sounds that incorporated Spectorish reverb and percussion. If not exactly a Wall Of Sound, they brilliantly complemented the beautiful idiosyncrasy of the songs. Marc added harmonium, lip organ and fonofidels to his repertoire, while Steve additionally supplied bass guitar, piano, drumkit and pixiepipe. Tony Visconti added some piano to Catblack. The result was a worthy 16-track successor to My People and Prophets and reversed their commercial decline by making a very healthy showing in the album charts.

The bonus tracks begin with Pewtor Suitor (in stereo) and show the way forward with the next single, not taken from Unicorn but freshly recorded in April 1969: King Of The Rumbling Spires/Do You Remember. This represented a quantum leap with electric guitars, Woolworth's organ and full drums in evidence. The remaining tracks are early takes of the songs from Unicorn and an early version of Do You Remember featuring as far as I know the only lead vocal that Steve Took recorded with Tyrannosaurus Rex. His enunciation is clearer than Marc's and allays a worry I have had for 35 years about one of the words in the lyric when he sings "Her face was like a coat to me".
33 Comments| 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 October 2011
'Unicorn' is more a product of certain aspects of its time than many other albums produced in 1969, which makes it interesting of itself. I like Marc Bolan and the various incarnations of T.Rex very much but did not find 'Unicorn' particularly easy listening. This review was written after a first playing of the album with the aim of giving a sense of initial impressions. I bought it because I have enjoyed snatches of 'pixiefied pop' on T.Rex compilations in the past but odd snatches interspersed amongst other musical styles is a bit different from a well packed, very good value expanded edition album all in 'pixiefied' style. Perhaps we're too used to expecting to instantly connect with music these days and one step removed from the album listening experience? Despite the hippie influence, coming through strong here is the enthusiasm, talent and charm Marc will rightly be remembered for. I wouldn't say every track here is a total gem but certainly some of the harmonies are glorious and very inventive. There's tremulo a plenty which, if you like Bolan too, you're unlikely to be averse to as it so much underpins his vocal style. 'Pewter Suitor' is possibly my favourite track; the vocals are reminiscent of the extended versions of 'Deborah'. I think 'Unicorn' will grow on me. If it doesn't, it won't be because I don't want it to.
22 Comments| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 December 2007
We all know of Marc Bolan as the iconic lead singer of T. Rex; that grand, strutting peacock of rock, the eternal star-child of glam, peeling off those ferocious guitar-lines amidst nonsense verse spiked with blistering innuendo. But few casual listeners have ever bothered to delve further into the musical Mecca of records that Bolan released prior to the abbreviation of the unwieldy Tyrannosaurus Rex moniker, and indeed, before the addition of Micky Finn, Steve Currie and Bill Legend to create that archetypical T. Rex sound.

I suppose it's still easy to dismiss Bolan's early work as nothing more than trite, hippy-era, airy-fairy nonsense; with some critics still seeing the icon (at this stage in his career, at least) as a bargain bin Syd Barrett, and no doubt instead preferring to think of T. Rex as a brand name that began its life with the release of Ride a White Swan in 1970 and died, alongside our hero, on that fateful night in September, 1977. But really, there was so much more to the legacy of Bolan, pre-T. Rextacy, that it seems almost criminal to ignore it -- with a clutch of underrated albums, like the preposterously titled My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows (1968) and the later A Beard of Stars (1970) in particular standing out as exemplary pieces of work that could easily be ranked alongside the better known albums like Electric Warrior (1971) and The Slider (1972). Central to this early legacy of forgotten works is the third and arguable best album from Tyrannosaurus Rex - Unicorn - which, like the first two albums, would pit Bolan's adolescent tales of woodland elves and high-road hotrods against a series of repetitively strummed and simplistic acoustic guitar melodies and the hypnotic bongo rhythms of original percussionist Steve "Peregrine" Took.

This combination of instruments would become the backbone of early Tyrannosaurus Rex until the magisterial Took was ousted for his rock n' roll attitudes and continual substance abuse; famously being replaced a few days later by Mickey Finn (who's unique style and good-looks appealed to Bolan's later desire to launch T. Rex as serious chat act). Personally, I always saw this is a bit of a tragedy, as the percussion here is the real salient factor of T. Rex Mk. 1, lending Bolan's songs an exotic authenticity that suggests both traditional Eastern and Asian folk influences and something more Medieval in design (perhaps suggesting the gypsy folk and remnants of chamber music that would come to inform much of Donovan's music - on albums like Sunshine Superman and The Hurdy Gurdy Man in particular - or similarly-themed albums by The Incredible String Band and Forrest). These influences are integrated alongside Bolan's fondness for early rock & roll rhythms, with the obvious ghost of Buddy Holly enthusing and enlivening some of the more up-tempo three chord strummers in a way that would set the template for all of those future T. Rex chart-topping hits.

Regardless of the later allusions and musical foreshadowing of Bolan's eventual shift towards blistering glam-rock, Unicorn fits firmly in the bracket of psychedelic-folk, with the combination of both strummed and finger-picked acoustic guitar melodies double tracked alongside the bongo-like percussive elements, really creating a rhythmic and hypnotic groove that is further augmented by unlikely instruments such as the kazoo, mellotron, Chinese gong and pixiephone to add background ambience and various surreal atmospherics. Added to this, we also have the interweaving vocal shrieks, screams and yelps of both Bolan and Took merging seamlessly, whilst simultaneously creating meaning from incompressible improvisations and almost mystical religion chants. All of this further combined alongside those surreal, fairy-tale-like lyrical vignettes to create an album that takes us on an enthralling, colourful and continually imaginative little journey over purple hills of rarn and beyond the kaleidoscopic sea of green, where Debora rides a galleon stallion through a psychedelic cloud of woolly, black-perm.

The overall sound of the album ties in nicely with the certain other acts previously mentioned throughout this review; with the Bolan of Unicorn seemingly inspired by the work of Robin Williamson and Mike Heron of The Incredibly String Band, the Donovan of A Gift from a Flower to a Garden and the Barrett of Bike and Gnome. It also foreshadows many of the current wave of highly acclaimed alternative folk singers gathered together under trendy catch-all banners like psyche-folk, nu-folk and anti-folk, with the sound of early Tyrannosaurus Rex apparent in the work of Animal Collective (in particular some of their solo projects, most notably Young Prayer (2002) by Panda Bear and Pullhair Rubeye (2007) by Avey Tare & Kría Brekkan), Angels of Light, Joanna Newsom (in particular her first album The Milk Eyed Mender (2002)), Vetiver (certain elements of their 2004 debut) and most prominently the work of "nu-folk" pioneer Devendra Banhart, who claims to have never heard anything by Tyrannosaurus Rex, which is fortunate, as the majority of his work, especially in comparison with albums like My People Were Fair... and Unicorn, seriously tows the line between homage and theft.

It's still very much a T. Rex album at it's core, with particular songs like The Seal of Seasons, She Was Born to Be My Unicorn, Evenings of Damask and Like a White Star, Tangled and Far, Tulip That's What You Are no doubt sounding just as great if they'd be performed with a fully switched-on, glam-rock arrangement (and slipped onto the track listing of later albums like Electric Warrior, The Slider and Tanx). In other words, they continue the legacy of Bolan perfectly; tying into the various themes and obsessions that would underline his much more iconic work of the 1970's, such as decadence, love, rock-star idolatry, and the various mystical musings around ancient history, poetry, literature and bonged-out hippy-bliss philosophy. There's no obvious stand-out track for me, with the twelve songs here all complimenting each other perfectly, while simultaneously adding to a continual mood wherein all tracks blur seamlessly into one riveting, rhythmic whole. A remarkable album then, not simply within the context of Bolan's career, but within the wider cannon of the psychedelic-folk movement, and the 1960's in general.
33 Comments| 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 October 2007
There is not a great deal to add to the review below but just to put my twopenneth in,I often think that this record demonstrates the quality of Marc's vocal ability, possibly like no other.The whole sound on this album is a rich cocophony, the likes of which you will probably never hear again (nor,it seems to me, is it likely that anything quite like this record will ever be produced by anyone ever again !)
This is a really marvellous Tyrannasaurus Rex album & shows how Bolan & Took had built significantly on the first two albums.
This is quite a nifty extended version of the album, how much the extra tracks add is debatable but it makes for alot of music for you hard earned money.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 December 2014
The Tyrannosaurus Rex albums alternate between colour and black and white covers and somehow this seems to be reflected in the music. Coming after the black and white cover and autumnal feel of "Prophets, Seers & Sages.....", Unicorn has a bold colour photograph for the cover and a warmer, more realised, sound suited to being originally issued in the summer of 1969. The percussive, often frenetic songs accompanied just by guitar, gong and bongos on the previous album was replaced with a more lush, unhurried sound with some of the most beautiful, cascading melodies Bolan ever wrote, fleshed out with more expansive production and greater instrumentation including piano,drum kit, lip organ & phono fiddle. The songs are among the very best Bolan ever produced at any time in his career to the extent that it is impossible to pick out the album highlights and the lyrics are more credible, well-crafted and accessible than before. Even though John Peel later expressed embarrassment at reading Bolan's kids story, I do not know why as it is fun, innocent, charming and reflects the idealistic naivety of the time perfectly. Lovingly re-issued and including the first Tyrannosaurus Rex electric track, the Top 40 single, King of The Rumbling Spires, with its odd but wonderful B side, Do You Remember?, this is Bolan at a creative peak, recording one of the greatest albums from the acid folk underground. The album charted and, from recollection, reached number 13. I cannot believe that any Bolan fan will not already own this but, if you have begun to explore Marc's early work, this is the best of the first three albums as a starting point. The follow up A Beard of Stars was the launch of a new semi-electric era and the clever transition to the huge success of Electric Warrior.
11 Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 January 2012
This was one of my most favourite vinyl albums, now sadly long gone, and when I saw it was available on CD I was unable to resist and wasn't dissapointed. All the great original tracks supplemented by additional tracks equals great value for money. If you were around in the 70s, this will resurrrect those memories of long hot summers, big hair and flares. If you weren't it will help you imagine what it was like. Certainly makes me feel like a twenty-something again. As the grey hair and wrinkles set in, sit back, relax and return to those carefree days ...........
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 December 2012
This has been one of my most played vinyls since I bought the original about a hundred years ago and it was time to get it on CD. If it appeared today as a completely new act, I'd still say "wow !" Their beginnings had been a bit less "wow" than this, but at the time there was a lot of very flowery hippie whimsical stuff about, and most of it was pretty poor in comparison to this. Bolan's great fan, John Peel has a guest spot on the album, reading a short story which was, and still is, a nice quirky surprise to unfamiliar ears. This album was the last of the largely acoustic work before Steve Took left, and the electric era began with Mickey Finn on "A Beard of Stars". I urge music fans with a curiosity for all things "different" to listen to this...the real Marc Bolan at his lyrical best. Forty three years on, it still sounds fresh.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 September 2011
There are so many great tracks on this album it's almost an embarrassment of riches. There's the sassy, Beatles-ish 'Cat Black (the Wizard's Hat)', the Tolkienesque, slightly sinister 'She was born to be my Unicorn', the chiming, infectious 'Stones for Avalon' and 'Iscariot', a quintessential Tyrannosaurus Rex song.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 June 2013
If I ever appeared on Desert Island Discs ( Roy Plumley man getting old ) This would be my first choice . Every song on here brings visions to the mind Chariots Of Silk The evenings of Demask and the best The Seal Of Seasons. Pure magic Ive got all the Bolan music from Doves to Dandy but compare this to Bolans Zip Gun NO COMPARISON .Sit back enjoy and Steve Took take a bow man you make this album the masterpice it is. 100% Classic
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 March 2015
Some of Bolan's best melodies - perhaps his best album - wonderfully revamped - transports you back to a time when things were less cluttered!!
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse



Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)