I’m still listening to the MainMan podcast each week. Avidly devouring each new episode every Thursday night (a distraction from an otherwise hollow “Kerrsday”).
This week’s episode was centred around the early career of Marc Bolan – as a rival (but also sometimes collaborator) and contemporary of David Bowie’s and how firstly with Tyrannosaurus Rex and then, latterly, the diminutively titled T Rex, Bolan got the early success.
They spoke with both Tony’s Defries and Visconti about their thoughts and feelings on Bolan. Visconti being the producer of the early Tyrannosaurus Rex albums, first of which was the succinctly (not!) named “My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair…But Now They’re Content To Wear Stars In Their Brows.”
Up for discussion within it was Ride A White Swan – which I freely admit to not knowing that well. Or at least not as well as I should do, perhaps. Actually, truth be told, Bolan and T. Rex hadn’t been something I have ever much immersed myself in to. Of course I have been aware of Marc Bolan for many years and have known several T. Rex songs. Love several of them, in fact! And I have been long aware (as an avid Bowie fan) of the rivalry, bond and – quite often grudging – respect both men had for each other.
I decided that once I had listened to the podcast, I’d give Ride A White Swan a listen. I would be able to hear it with completely fresh ears as I had never really taken much notice of it at all to be fair. Unlike knowing my way around Get It On, Jeepster, Children Of The Revolution, 20th Century Boy, Cosmic Dancer or Metal Guru…for example.
I did a bit of research first. Just a quick look around the Tyrannosaurus Rex discography, just to see if (at a glance) you could detect the dividing line between what was Tyrannosaurus Rex to T. Rex. The first defining part is when Marc Bolan fires Steve Peregrin Took. The second is the move from acoustic to electric guitars.
So, what did I think of Ride A White Swan? Not a lot, be honest with you. I’m all for nonsense pop. And things that are upbeat and lightweight but. I dunno. It’s quite repetitive and his vocal on it really is the most annoying version of that “baa lamb” singing style he had.
Released almost 50 years to the day, it only seemed to have appeared as a single. It wasn’t a track on the T. Rex album, nor did it appear on Electric Warrior. Tyrannosaurus Rex had THREE albums out before Bolan ousted Steve Peregrin Took and replaced him with Mickey Finn and shortened the band name to T. Rex, went electric and released the fourth, eponymously titled album. In fact, a lot of the T. Rex album had already been written – and some already previously recorded.
I am actually surprised how indifferent I feel to the song as from Hot Love onwards, right up to 20th Century Boy, I love every single there is.
Perhaps I need to do more delving as well? More exploration.
One also can’t help but wonder how things would have continued for Bolan, had tragedy not struck on that fateful day in September, ‘77. Esp. as it had seen Bowie and Bolan back recording together since recording The Prettiest Star together way back in 1970.
Marc seemed less adaptable than David. Who knows how his career would have continued on? Perhaps he’d have found his own way of reinventing himself? We’ll never know.
Anyway, despite my own indifference, I wish a happy 50th anniversary to Ride A White Swan – it’s a whole week older than me!
So…what do you people think of Ride A White Swan? I’d like to hear from anyone reading this on your thoughts about it. Get in touch in whatever means. Comment here on the blog, or if I’ve shared via social media comment there. All thoughts are welcome.