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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 21 June 2005
It is really easy to underestimate A Beard Of Stars particuarly in light of Marc's commercial breakthrough with the albums that follow but this album really does represent Marc at his peak.
There's great beauty within many of these songs - the simplicity of the acoustic sound in addition to the sparing use of electric guitar adds up to a really effective mellow and intimate feel.
The use of electric adds more variation between the songs than can be found on some Tyrannosaurus Rex previous albums.
There aren't any weak moments on this album - every song has earned the right to be on the album and that includes the couple of instrumentals.
I personally prefer it to Marc's more commercially popular albums (Electric Warrior, The Slider etc). It represents the core of Marc's unique lyrical and musical talent before the commercial sheen was added.
T.Rex were great of course but they were different. Marc in achieving his commercial aspirations made sacrifices.
However successful he became he rarely made music with such emotional purity and simplicity again.
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on 6 January 2007
This is probably the best of the 21st century Fly reissues simply because it comes with - near enough - a good second album's worth of bonus cuts including some gems; 'Find a Little Wood' and 'Once Upon the Seas of Abyssinia'. This is right on the borderline between the fantasy folk and the rock n roll periods and the moods and ideas collide to make this an enchanting collection. Having already bought it on vinyl, tape and the earlier CD I'm still glad I got this collection.
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on 23 October 2007
If, like me, the early Tyrannosaurus Rex LPs were the real-time soundtrack to your tie-dyed youth, you may remember how "A Beard of Stars" divided the band's fanbase: hard to imagine in these po-mo mix `n match times, but droves of sandle-shod freaks were outraged that their underground "progressive" band had embraced (whisper it, softly) POP! With its shorter songs, catchier melodies and electric riffs, "Beard" smelt to them of "sell-out".

Bare months before its release, Bolan had sacked Steve Took, his partner of three albums, during sessions that would yield several tracks intended for the new album. (One of the joys of this reissue is its inclusion of these lost gems, most noticeably, "Find a Little Wood" and "Once Upon The Seas of Abyssinia") Took, unlike Bolan, was a genuine, acid-dropping hippie who provided the band's link to the W11 Freak Scene. His less-than-amicable departure certainly lost Bolan support, but his "underground" following was, in any case, fading along with the last blooms of Flower Power. A deceptively canny study, Bolan drafted in an easier-going, if less virtuoso, side-man in Mickey Finn. Finn played broadly the same range of instruments as Took and, with the addition of a beard, he even resembled his predecessor physically: "The kid's `ll never notice the difference!" exulted Bolan.

"A Beard of Stars" cemented and reflected the new dynamic perfectly. Gone are the lyrical excesses of the preceding albums, replaced with simpler, more direct poetry that retains its preoccupation with classical mythology and Tolkienesque legend, but does so in simpler words and sweeter melodies. (Even die-hard disciples had to admit that The Elf's earlier flights into Edward Lear Land could grate painfully on the ear: producing a rhyme for "Stonehenge" by the expedient of inventing a mythical serpent called a "clenge" might be permissible once or twice; to scatter neologisms until the lyrics read like an Esperanto shopping list, smacks of desperation.)

The new maturity in Bolan's craft becomes apparent even before the disc is spun. Compare and contrast these ungainly lines from the lyric sheets preceding "Unicorn" LP:

Of the misty coast of Albany
With its charm
Pining pillar of the wild willows end
Womanly waiting
For your manly friend.

To the simple radiance of "Beard"'s opener, "A Day Laye":

Every Dawn of our lives
A Heart is forged
And liked with Lore to one so similar
Born with life-dust
Stored beneath its Soul
To bless and pass on to its Children

"ABOS" is loaded with similar gems. The lucid stanzas of "Organ Blues" would surely please Haiku-Master, Basho:

Well there's Gold in the Mountains
And a People living in the Sea

This new purity of approach illuminates every track, sometimes to transcendental effect. "Lofty Skies" captures a moment of epiphany between two lovers; "Fist Heart, Mighty Dawn Dart" an Ur-Rex foray into grandiose mythology displays a new urgency, propelled by pounding percussion and multi-tracked handclaps, while the original LP's closer, "Elemental Child" is a joyous six-minutes of alliterative nonsense that catches Bolan's wide-eyed delight at his rediscovery of the electric guitar at the moment it happened, and features some of his best Buddy Holly yips and hiccups into the bargain. If your cup of joy ain't overflowing by now, you shouldn't have bought this record in the first place: you just ain't worthy.

So say it loud, "A Beard of Stars" is Tyrannosaurus Rex at the peak of their form, a collection of songs and sounds fit to stand beside the so-called "Classic Albums" of the period, and many times more enjoyable generation or so later: have you actually tried listening to "Disraeli Gears" or the Floyd's "Piper" all the way through lately? Of course not; they sound atrocious.

The expanded, re-mastered CD package offers these timeless songs in clear, tactile sound with extra tracks, rare band photos, lyrics and more. You won't buy many records this year that will still delight and surprise you in a year's time, let alone a generation's time. This will, I promise.

Peter Johnson,
King of Kidlington,
Overlord of Oxford,
Scourge of the Universe,
King of the Rumbling Spires
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on 19 November 2004
With much of "A Beard of Stars " already recorded before Mickey Finn arrived on the scene this album is very much a Marc Bolan and Tony Visconti collaboration. Mickey shouldn't be undervalued though, his contributions are simple, restrained and effective. Steve Peregrin Tooks unique and wonderfull vocal and percussion, that reached it's peak on "Unicorn", is largely compensated for by Marcs electric guitars and the use of bass guitar and organ, a Woolworths childrens one by all accounts. Mickeys percussion and vocals are kept very low key and simple on the finished product so it's especially interesting to hear the bonus tracks. Songs such as "Organ Blues" started out with much more going on and then were simplified .. refined . "A Beard of Stars" is an adventure of sound with instrumentation that really is unique and some lovely romantic and yearning lyrics such as "Lofty Skies" and "Lofty Skies". Things get boppier with "Pavilions of Sun" ... and when the bass comes in on "Elemental Child", well the album is worth listening to for that moment alone.
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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 as well as 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 rudely 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".

BONUS TRACKS:
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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on 16 April 2009
I remember hearing a Tyrannosaurus Rex compilation in the mid 70s and thinking how much better this early material was compared to Marc Bolan's glam rock output. Although the songs are stonger on 'Unicorn' there is some gorgeous electric guitar on this album. 'Great Horse' and 'Lofty Skies' sound like folk music from another planet while 'Elemental Child' is an impressive Jimi Hendrix-style jam.
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on 11 December 2012
After the brilliant "Unicorn" the signs were on the wall that Bolan had an inkling for change, and this is the delightful result. For a start, Steve Took had left and was replaced by Mickey Finn. Also gone was the sometimes chaotic but brilliant percussive work which Took supplied, and the general sound was more electric. Bolans not-inconsiderable skill as a guitarist was in evidence here, and showcased particularly on "Elemental Child" (possibly a reference to the failing relationship with June). "By the light of a magical moon" was released as a single, but failed to ignite the charts, although it did provide most of us with a hint of what was to come. The album (and the abbreviated name) pointed the way to a much more commercialised version T.Rex, greatly appealing to the masses of teenybopper fans of the burgeoning era of glitter and glam rock. Sadly, in my view, this was Bolan's swansong - the later stuff wasn't a patch on this. As with "Unicorn", the bonus tracks are fine, interesting but not startling, but worth having. Overall - a brilliant album which should be on everyone's music shelf.
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on 20 July 2010
The forth album to be released by the rather wonderful Tyrannosaurus Rex and the first with Mickey Finn replacing Steve Peregrine Took.
This 2004 expanded edition is superb with loads of alternative takes, great pics, lyrics and an outer sleeve.
Wow!
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on 27 March 2007
amount of tracks(not including bonus tracks):14
excellent:9
v.good:1
good:2
fair:2
poor:0

in the annals of music history there are five songwriters/songwriting teams from the uk who reign supreme. bowie,lennon/mccartney,davies,jagger/richard, and marc bolan (with roy wood and donovan close behind) bolan, however , eclipsed them all (even bowie) with the inventiveness and downright strangeness of his lyrics and melodies. never has there been a talent more under-rated than marc bolan. so many people only know him only for his chart hits (which were all FANTASTIC slices of pop rock by the way), and are completely unaware of the incredible diversity of this mans work, not only on the first four epic t.rex albums , but also on the otherworldly four TYRANNOSAURUS rex albums - this one, a beard of stars, being the very best.
ok....his lyrics ARE strange, out dylan-ing dylan with ease, but its not so much the wordplay as the quite incredible melodies and hooklines that are present within every song that are really something special, along with a voice that sounds like no one else before or since. in fact, NO ACT has ever come close to sounding like any of bolans projects. its very significant that bands tend to steer clear of covering his songs. of those that have attempted, ALL have failed!
But back to this album, its a quite extraordanary trip, ranging from the totally off the wall to exquistive peons to love such as 'dove' (surely one of the purest and most heart wrenching songs ever recorded) the highlights here are so many that im not even gonna bother listing them. suffice to say that this album, along with the other 3 tyrannosaurus rex and first 4 t.rex albums, are absolutely indispensible peices of masterwork. my only complaint here is that theres an inferior version of 'once upon the seas of abyssenia' included as a bonus. theres 3 or 4 versions of this song about, my advice would be keep looking until you find the definitive one - youll know it when you do!
marc - rock on brother, not everyone out here has a short memory. this day and age with the sad state everythings in, maybe youll never gain the recognition you deserve. but there'll always be some of us out here who KNOW the truth
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on 27 September 2012
Bolan fans well you have to buy, this is one of my fave albums by marc,
i love the cover pic and the songs from this cd are as fresh as the day they where recorded, a very slick album full on very magical songs from marc& micky finn,
elemental child dove by the light of the magical moon and loads more to get your teeth into, with all the demo work in ro extra tracks its a great cd to hear
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