Edsel Bolan died on 16 September 1977 but the public demand for his work has remained consistently high ever since, including rarities as featured in this quietly magnificent box set via Edsel. This box set is a compiled collection of individual CDs that were originally released via the label over a period of two years from 1994 to 1996. A subsequent demand has followed their delisting which has resulted in this eight CD set which sits in a hard-back CD sized, book format with gatefold sections containing each CD. An informative booklet spanning twenty-five pages details each CD plus its context along with rare photographs. The musical content varies wildly from very basic demos recorded onto a cassette tape with an acoustic guitar to full studio affairs.
Disc one takes some intriguing sections from the likes of ‘Jeepster’ and ‘Alligator Man’ to form new and exploratory ideas that venture down introspective roads. Disc two features ‘Is It True?, a sensitive classic that some believe was too close to revealing the real man behind the large ego. Discs three and four include studio sessions from 1973 for ‘Zinc Alloy’, the 1974 LP and the first which lead to the media declaring that Bolan had ‘lost it’.
Disc five shows a wealth of material that didn’t make it to the album, ‘Zip Gun’ leading some observers to think that this album could have been a double album. Disc six examines the Bolan-proposed concept piece known as ‘Billy Super Duper’ with five songs that were prepared for it. Discs seven and eight sees his output from the last eighteen months of his life and his addressing of the emerging punk culture. This is a significant Bolan archive. Any fan who doesn't have it needs it.
Record Collector, December 2010
‘Treasures for a bargain at £25.99...’
Over three decades have passed since his tragic early death, but Marc Bolan’s music and visual panache remain as vibrant as ever. Edsel originally released these eight discs as separate albums between 1994 and 1996 and, since their deletion in 2001, pressure has built for their reissue.
Demand is now satisfied with a set that serves as a perfect frame for material ranging from the bones of ideas sung into a portable cassette recorder, to unheard full studio recordings. Two CDs devoted to 1972 reveal Bolan’s creative juices in overdrive at his commercial peak, ranging from the Delta Bolan blues of Shame On You to two versions of Mr Motion. The first 1973 disc kicks off with a 48-second organ piece, which expands into the strut of Dance In The Midnight, before we find Bolan alone with his guitar – “Just like BB King and an onion ring” – on This Is My Life.
The most fascinating material is on Discs Six, Seven and Eight, recorded as Bolan was getting back on his horse. Tracks such as Brain Police, Swahilli Boogie Woogie (with a Kraftwerkian synth melody line) and a Christmas Bob showcase that he never lost it – ever!
Between 1995 and 1997, Edsel released eight volumes of previously unissued demos, alternate takes, unused and abandoned songs and unfinished recordings made by Marc Bolan and T. Rex. Long out of print, those albums now fetch silly prices, but that situation should be remedied by the release of this set, which brings together all eight albums- comprising 184 tracks – beautifully bound in a limited edition book that features extensive new annotation. It is not a collection that will appeal to the casual buyer, despite the laudably low list price – which allows a decent margin on a £30 sale – but for the legions of Bolan completists it is a worthwhile acquisition.