Sound — 10
Surprisingly Marc Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex years are becoming just as influential on a younger generation as when he switched over to glam rock and proto-punk as a rocker, leaving behind the aesthetics of psychedelic folk. The band change is drastic and should be acknowledged for the first four albums the group would be Tyrannosaurus Rex as a folk duo with Marc Bolan on guitars and vocals with Steve Peregrin Took also accompanying on vocals and playing drums, percussion along with pixiphone. Bolan's first four albums - 1968's "My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows," 1968's "Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels of the Ages," 1969's "Unicorn," and 1970's "A Beard of Stars" - weren't released as T. Rex, the band Bolan fronted in his era of ridiculous celebrity, but as Tyrannosaurus Rex. And Bolan wasn't some swaggering, cocksure rock-god wielding his phallic axe wildly, but an earnest hippie babbling Tolkienesque poetry, pushing a platform of vegetarianism and Eastern mysticism, and strumming a beaten-up acoustic guitar.
Marc Bolan had rejected his electric guitar music the band he was in called John's Children was making. Bolan had intriguingly played acoustic guitar in a rock and roll sense with such abrasive precision it's impressive and provide another unique element to the album along with some slightly middle eastern sounding instrumentation with a medieval backdrop. The vocals on here are uncompromising and still sound beautiful in their own right and the skill to make great organic music with just two guys is amazing and shows why the producer Tony Visconti recognized it. He cover art and subject matter of many of the songs dealt with the fantasy themes that would pervade much of the subsequent Tyrannosaurus Rex catalog. The most astonishing vocals are provided on "Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)," a triptych in which Bolan becomes possibly the first person to introduce Hare Krishna chants to Western secular music along with George Harrison, climaxing a rollicking love-song with devotional Vaishnava mantras; and of course the fairytale story that reminds me a lot of a Donovan type setting and really reflects on the album cover, showing what the album is themed around and the deamscape and fantastic elements here.
Lyrics — 9
Disc Jockey also appears on this album as a narrator on "Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)" for the children's story that would end the album and also paired with a hare Krishna track. The real changing point had yet to blossom and would really take off on "A Beard of Stars" and "T. Rex" starting with the replacement of Steve Peregrin Took by Micky Finn who would steer the group in a different direction along with Marc Bolan. So these are essentially two different groups: T. Rex and Tyrannosaurus Rex which came before T. Rex and had the replacement of Steve Peregrine took on the last album released but still retaining the psychedelic folk sound while adding the rock elements that would later form T. Rex. Whilst the instrumentation is theoretically skeletal with just acoustic guitar and hand percussion, Bolan and producer Tony Visconti build evocative arrangements by multi-tracking Bolan's voice. On "Strange Orchestras" Bolan's voice barks, squeals, hiccups, and carols all over itself; whereas, on "Dwarfish Trumpet Blues," the many layers of vocal work in harmony, building broad walls of wailing. "Child Star" finds the song - a tale of a self-destructive piano prodigy who dies on the cusp of adolescence - ebbing and flowing on tides of Bolan; his sinuous singing wildly swinging through meter and pitch. "Hot Rod Mama" he use of Chinese gong on here is just far out and makes me need to get m bearings for the opening track that has a raga drone psychedelic and strong folk emanation, it's just brilliant and it pertains to a bluesier country type of folk and his vocals may be different but they are really impeccable and never go off key; reaching incredible lengths with nice backings and that gong kicks in to add more fuel to the ravenous fire. The second track "Scenesof" has lovely melodic backing vocals and some interesting percussion going on with some highly creative guitar playing in pure serenity.
Overall Impression — 10
This album definitely inspired artists and it's quite clear and even more modern ones like Devendra Banhart's "Oh Me Oh My" (full title "Oh Me Oh My... The Way the Day Goes By the Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit") released in 2002 and possibly many other low-fi indie folk artists of the modern era along with other psychedelic folk artists like Donovan and even the more obscure Michael Yonkers as I've mentioned before. But there's also something secretly, unexpectedly magical about it; a sort of innocent wonderment that creates a transcendent long playing and even spiritual state. To some it may sound heavy enough or generic and mainstream, but for me, and countless others who've been influenced by it, these beginnings are quite important in music history. "My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows" is one of the most innovative albums in rock's history whether it's lyrically or musically. The songs titles themselves are refreshing not to mention the album's. The album is great all around, but real stand outs are: "Hot Rod Mama," "Scenesof," "Child Star," "Strange Orchestras," "Knight" and "Weilder of Words." There is some kind of sitar like raga drone going on throughout the strings that gives it more earthy and psychedelic folk quality I love and reminds me of The Incredible String Band, another favorite of mine.