Monday, January 14, 2013
T. Rex - January 1971, French TV Pro-shot
Dangerous Minds, which finds the coolest things, recently updug a clip from French TV of T. Rex playing as a three piece at the Taverne De L’Olympia in Paris in January 1971.
Marc Bolan's baby, Tyrannosaurus Rex, was a two-piece band with Marc on vocals and acoustic guitar and Steve 'Peregrin' Took on bongos, vocals, squeals, howls and Pixiphone. Singing mostly about elves, seals, Celts and the general milieu of Lord-of-the-Rings British landscape, the duo played hippie haunts as the quiet antidote to the brain-burner bands like The Who and Jimi Hendrix. This worked, though Took's hippy outlook compared with Marc's all-encompassing ambition eventually caused friction and Took was out, replaced by the high cheekbones of Mickey Finn - who stepped up to congas as well as bongos and did less vocal theatrics.
The sound was more electric, too. With Took, Marc had recorded King of the Rumbling Spires, a loud rock track, and with Finn, he produced two albums filled with elves, landscapes, Celts and strangely incongruous guitar feedback and extended solos. (They were A Beard of Stars and, once they shortened the name, the album known as T. Rex.) No drums though, and they had producer Tony Visconti filling in on bass on the few occasions anyone deemed it necessary.
But Marc had always wanted to be a rocker - in the sense of Eddie Cochran. (Not in the sense of 'opposite of Mod' - he was definitely a Mod.) In October 1970, Marc's muse came through big time and he wrote and recorded a song that combined, yes, witches, landscapes etc., but also a slice of glorious danceable pop. This was Ride A White Swan, and once in place, the pop talent was not to desert him for several years. Realizing the sound needed to be fuller to support the heavy rock of Jewel, or Elemental Child, he brought on bassist Steve Currie in December 1970 - announced in the press on the 12th, in fact. And the trio toured as Ride A White Swan hit the charts
Marc's muse revisited quickly, and Hot Love was out and charting in February 1971. A drummer was brought in for the session - Bill Legend. But on TOTP, as Hot Love went to #1 in the UK charts, Mickey Finn played congas and the band was still formally a three piece. Bill Legend did not join the band permanently until March 1971.
The clip that Dangerous Minds found is from that tiny portion of T. Rex's life when the band was touring as a three piece (with Currie, but with no Legend), with Ride A White Swan in the repertoire in its stark contrast to the earlier electric efforts still being played in the same set. It's incredible that this little sliver of rock history was pro-shot, and the film survived.
Here it is.
“Ride A White Swan”
(For the picture at the top I used one from the same session as Dangerous Mind's picture, just in case there's any collectors out there who would like a second one!)
Edited for typos 01/14/2013