September 27, 2011
Second in a series of posts — in honor of his birthday, on Friday — tracing Marc Bolan’s musical and philosophical development.
1970: A Beard Of Stars. Marc and his Muse are between percussionists, having sacked Steve Took and only loosely engaged future T Rex bongolator Mickey Finn (preposterously handsome). So who is it hammering those tocsin-like drumlets across the intro to “Fist Heart…”, with Marc giving panicky little pant-sneezes over the top? We do not know. A Beard Of Stars (in the words of Bolan biographer Mark Paytress) is “probably the closest Marc Bolan ever got to making a solo album.” In a sense it signals a slight regression: having flattened the area for miles around with 1969’s incredible “King Of The Rumbling Spires” — an avant-garde, fully electrified blowout of proto-“New Rose” drumming and plunging glamdozer chords — Marc has, like a frightened woodland animal, withdrawn his curly head back down the burrow and into his jingle-jangle comfort zone. Here he is once more among his fripperies and hippie-dipperies, strumming and warbling. But there’s a new muscle, and a new economy, to his writing — short verses, punchier imagery, as Marc rehearses a warlike mood: “Fist Heart, Mighty D-dawn Dart/ In some way” (a weirdly confiding growl) “our slain are yours.” (And then the newly plugged-in guitar goes down, down, down, down.) An actual bass bobs its head through the freaky non-chorus: “Funny how the day comes slo-wow.” Potent figures are stalking Marc’s inner landscape, kings and chieftains well on their way to becoming electric warriors.
READ similar HiLobrow series: ANGUSONICS — the solos of Angus Young | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM — 25 Jack Kirby panels | MOULDIANA — the solos of Bob Mould | SHOCKING BLOCKING — cinematic blocking | UKULELE HEROES