The T Rex Effect

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.

Ellis Jarrett – Chelsea Girl

Haven’t watched one of Ellis’s videos for ages. He always just sounds so good to me. Dunno why. He just has a nice voice and can strum along pretty well. Always seems quite effortless. I love the pace of this version and the quirks he brings to it.
No hi hat to endure! 😂😂😂😂😂

I Wanna Go To Mars (Bar) – Caught (Out) In A Dream

I have tentatively started to work on revising my Top 50 list of SM songs. Probably a good thing to do before finishing my “Why I love…” posts that I started over 5 years ago. Where the fork has that time gone? Us humans have the most bizarre relationship with time, don’t you think? On one hand, a certain passage of time feels so much longer than it has been – on the other, it can disappear within the blink of an eye.
I can’t believe it has been 5 years since I was last spending time with mum.

Back to last night. There was a song I had in my memory. A song that I had asked Jim about and he (it already becoming a rarer thing by that point) replied to me about it. And I wanted to find that bit of “conversation” with him. Me in that eternal need to feel like…I could talk to him…that it meant something – not just to me, but to him too. Albeit just as the singer and songwriter of the band I fervently follow most passionately to all others. It just being that and nothing more to him.

But I couldn’t for the life of me remember what the song was called! And I knew I had written about it on my blog. Well, I would assumed I had – because I’d have been over the moon that he replied to me. I would have made something of it! But without remembering the song’s name, how the heck was I going to find it?

I had other songs in me head – Take Me To The Angels and Sweet Things. I listened to Take Me To The Angels – not entirely convinced it was that. It lead nowhere on a search of my blog. Had it been that, it would have unearthed my “tete-a-tete” with Jim about it. Nada. The song is great though.

Sweet Things I was even less convinced about as I know before listening to it, it became the track Destiny on the Life In A Day album. And I knew the conversation I had with Jim was about a song that never made it on Life In A Day – it was my premise for asking him about it – why hadn’t this song made the cut? What happened to it?

Although I was doubtful, I listened to Sweet Things too. Again, great. Although Jim’s lyrics are hard to decipher on a rather worn out old bootleg, obviously the song’s melody and tune is there – its musical structure in tact (albeit with a MUCH longer intro than what Destiny ended up with on the album). I guess Jim just wore his heart on his sleeve a bit more then? That he was fine with completely rewriting songs . The songs he’s rewritten? They obviously all work…but I canne help feel something gets lost along the way. Even if just the matter-of-fact notion that the previous words are discarded.

I am still no closer at this point. My search took me to Flickr as well, and my old catalogue of things. Art that I saved. Endless screengrabs of snippets of things that happened on SMO (what was THEN Simple Minds Official – no need for officialdom now, it seems). Bits of interactions with Jim. I quickly combed through it but I really couldn’t see anything that was relevant. Perhaps I hadn’t saved it? Hmmm. That would be odd!

So…how the heck was a going to find this thing?!

A theme became apparent to me from the other tracks I had just listened to. Both Sweet Things and Take Me To The Angels came from live recordings. I was working a bit blind last night (in bed, glasses off) so in my mind they had both come from the same gig at the Mars Bar. It is only looking again this morning that I see that Sweet Things came from a recording at Grangemouth at the end of 1978.

But I had a tentative thread in my mind – Simple Minds at the Mars Bar in 1978. That search on YouTube finally came up trumps!

Caught (Out) In A Dream! That’s the one! I listened to it again last night. It meanders a bit. It’s a bit drawn out. But…it’s band history. It still has its own bit of importance. If nobody else wants to champion discarded songs – esp. Jim (I have only just in these past few minutes read over his reply to me), then I will! Even if just for band history sake.

I’m sure there are a few songs that never even got recorded that are truly lost for good. That makes me feel sad. It’s kind of tragic. Jim may not see it this way…but everything Simple Minds has made and produced…it all has its special kind of magic. And, well, it might not all be magical to me…but I appreciate that certain things that don’t mean much to me can mean a heck of a lot to others. I’m sure he’d scoff at the notion but just…what if Caught (Out) In A Dream (I always add the “out” in brackets because I am sure he sings “caught out in a dream” which would then make more sense it was titled that way rather than dropping the word “out” in the song’s title?) was the song that cemented a person’s early fandom? Who knows? Yes, perhaps the band didn’t miss it but…you guys knew all the songs! Duh!

Anyway…I awoke this morning dreaming of a TARDIS and of the Mars Bar – a just turned 19 year old Jim in that David Bowie shirt he is wearing when Laurie Evans takes photos of the band outside – what I believe *is* the Mars Bar in 1978. Oh, he just looks glorious even then. And I hear the words from John Grant’s song…

“I wanna go to Marz (Mars Bar)
Where green rivers flow
And your sweet sixteen
Is waiting for you after the show
I wanna go to Marz
You’ll meet the gold dust twins tonight
You’ll get your heart’s desire
I will meet you under the lights”

I can never help but think of Jim with those lines. And me wishing I could time travel, and be that “sweet sixteen” waiting for him after the show. That he would meet me “under the lights”.

Dreaming of a life never lived….

P.S. It was so much further back in time than I had anticipated. Nearly three years ago was his reply to me! And I hold on to them so tightly…it felt to me like it was maybe a year ago, two years at most. Oh…I hold on to every little morsel SSSOOO tightly. I miss this SSSOOOOOO much!

On My Radio – CAD and JDB

Firstly – coming up this evening, Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler are talking to Janice Long on BBC Radio Wales about their collaboration producing the album set for release next month, In Memory Of My Feelings. The album was originally due for release last Friday but some vinyl pressing issues meant that the release was delayed by four weeks.

Click on the photo of Janice to be taken to the relevant page. You can listen in live tonight from 7pm on Radio Wales via the BBC Sounds app.

In connecting Welsh relations – James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers joined Gary Davies (sitting in for Ken Bruce) for his “Tracks Of My Years” playlist. Included in his choices was Speed Your Love To Me. Someone kindly extracted the relevant part of the program on Radio 2 and posted it to YouTube.

Get listening!