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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars

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on 31 July 2017
Marc Bolan was a very different artist before he became a big pop star in the early 70s. He was the little prince of the underground, with DJ John Peel as his champion. This album showcases Marc's unique talent for writing poetic lyrics full of imaginative imagery and wrapped up in catchy tunes. His chordings of his songs on this album are also more interesting than a lot of his T.Rex songs, proving that Marc could come up with more than three chord boogie and the myth that he only knew 'seven chords' as has often been written. Bolan always had an ear for a hook and he refined this later in T.Rex. It's true to say that this album is very much of its time, there is a lot of hippy dippy mysticism in the songs but it nevertheless has a charm that you can't resist. The album is an important one in the Bolan canon as it is the electric transition that is evident on this album, soon to lead to his first big hit single 'Ride a white swan'. (not on this album by the way) For many Marc Bolan fans, this is his best album and on the right day and in the right mood, I am inclined to agree!
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on 19 April 2014
This review is for the 2014 release of A Beard Of Stars [Deluxe] [Double CD, Deluxe Edition
What could one expect for an Album that has been put out many times over the years on CD.
Well right from the very first track Prelude I noticed a clear warm sound to this Beautiful album.
The opening thimble cymbals on Prelude were always a bit smeared on previous versions of this CD.
So you know that they have in fact gone back to the analog tapes and made a new digital master
which sounds warm and natural.
The bonus CD includes some really nice home recordings of Marc working on the songs before He went into the Studio.
There is also some really good Alt. versions and works in progress from the Studio.
Along with some good liner notes and some great photos I feel this package is well worth the money.
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on 3 March 2014
After first being exposed to Marc Bolan through his Electric Warrior album when it first came out, I came across a copy of Beard of Stars in the cheapie bins for next to nothing. When I first heard it I didn't know what to make of it. But something about the songs kept drawing me back over and over and again and again. Many spins later...and this ended up being the record that made me a T. Rex fan for life. This album is often overlooked and yet it contains some of Marc's strongest lyrics and melodies. Beard of Stars has held up exceptionally well over time. Easily one of my top favorite recordings of all time. It's right up there with Marc's next release, the self-titled T. Rex album.

Though they will most likely only be appreciated by Bolan fanatics, the demonstration recordings (on the second disc in this set) are truly mindblowing. I never even knew there were any demonstration recordings for this album that survived. A whole ton of them are included here. Hearing the demonstration recording of "Find A Little Wood" is alone worth much more than the price of this double disc set. Twenty-seven extra recordings in all...YES!
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on 3 May 2014
The last Tyrannosaurus Rex Album – Beard of Stars – and the first, eponymously named, album of the newly abbreviated T.Rex are very much a pair. Stylistically similar they both feature Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn as a duo; Bolan’s previous musical collaborator, Steve Peregrin Took, having departed after a less than wildly successful 1969 US tour. Together they also mark a transition from the shimmering and whimsical, acoustic psychedelia of the first three Tyrannosaurus Rex albums, to the highly polished “Glam Rock” sound of Electric Warrior and The Slider; performed by an expanded, four piece T.Rex.

By the summer of 1969 multi coloured paisley and psychedelia was giving way to faded denim and hard rock/blues. To some extent, these albums reflect that shift: although gifted with more imagination than virtuosity, Marc Bolan’s next step was not going to be the obvious one. All the same while they are still laced with Bolan’s personal (and borrowed) mythology, most of the tracks on A Beard of Stars and T.Rex feature an electric guitar and are palpably Rock music. T.Rex also includes – for the first time – the string arrangements, scored by producer Tony Visconti, and the backing Vocals of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (of The Turtles fame); that would become an integral part of the classic T.Rex sound.

As someone who has loved these albums for decades, I would give them both five stars each as LPs. However, I am actually reviewing these particular CD releases so different criteria will result in different scores.

With their range of two disc Deluxe Editions, Universal Music seems to be reworking through its (now very extensive) back catalogue; tagging on bonus discs to supplement, often already re-released and re-mastered, CDs. These bonus discs are of varying quality. In some instances, such as The Who Live at Leeds, they result in a package of outstanding quality where the bonus disc seems to have been simply missing from all previous releases. This is not the case here – and I speak as a Bolan fan.

Both A Beard of Stars and T.Rex, along with the previous three albums, were re-mastered and released back in 2004 as single disc “Expanded Editions”. Both of those previous releases had a handful of extra tracks, following the original running order.

While 2004’s Expanded A Beard of Stars oddly lacked the Single B-side (Find a Little Wood) sensibly included on the Deluxe Edition, it did include a wealth of fascinating alternative takes. These particular tracks are not present on the Deluxe Edition. There are a few other interesting, previously unreleased, alternative takes on it though. However the rest of the extra material comprises of a BBC session (which I already have) and 18 home demos which at best can be described as of historical interest only.

Both the Expanded and Deluxe version of T.Rex logically include the single Ride a White Swan and it’s B-side, Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues (which I think is better than The Who’s version, by the way). Although the Deluxe version also has a clutch of BBC session tracks, which again I already have, the bulk of the extra material are good quality alternative takes. The other item of interest, included, is the original unaccompanied Children of Rarn Suite demo. Recorded in Tony Visconti’s living room, as a sketch for a proposed concept album, it is far superior to Bolan’s home demos. This long track, comprising of several songs, first appeared in 1978 on a memorial compilation; when Visconti had added backing tracks and various studio wizardry to give the piece a fuller, late Tyrannosaurus Rex / early T.Rex sound. I really loved that enhanced version and feel it is a shame that it was not included instead.

Although a diehard like me will always be prepared to pay slightly over the odds to hear stuff I have never heard before, I would resent it less if the material was compiled more logically. I would have been happier (and happier to pay a little bit more) if both albums had included all the contemporaneous A-sides and B-sides and all the alternative studio takes, in order for them to be truly definitive. The home demos could always be put out separately. I might even buy them too. Might.

However given that the same re-masters are now available at half the price, in their one disc incarnations, these two disc Deluxe Editions are not great value.

For the vast majority of music lovers, wanting to hear these albums, the cheaper Expanded Edition versions are the five star choices.

These Deluxe Editions do get an extra star each, than they other wise would have, for their great packaging and extensive notes by Bolan expert and biographer, Mark Paytress.
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on 1 June 2015
Great package and lots of unreleased material. Much of it has also been available before in the expanded edition from about 8 years ago. We'll probably see another extra deluxe edition in a few years with a dvd I'm sure. Nonetheless, worthy.
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on 26 April 2014
What can be said that has not already been said ? A wonderful creative album from start to finish. Hauntingly beautiful songs, simple arrangements make this a jewel in the tyrannosaurus/T.rex cannon. What is the hidden gem is disc two, full of unreleased versions and home demo's which only add to the mystery and unfolding beauty that is beard of stars. Just goes to show you don't need a big production and a huge line up to produce a wonderful atmospheric album, this has it in bucket loads. Get it before it disappears.
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on 11 December 2015
Should be in every music fan's collection. A triumph of Tony Visconti's genius in the studio and Bolan's other-worldly visions. Awesomely addictive tunes too .
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on 23 July 2014
Brilliant CD one of my favourite albums by Bolan.
a dreamy album full of mystical songs
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on 29 October 2015
i bought it by mistake as i already got it.
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on 19 August 2016
One of the best T. rex albums
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