Marc Bolan: Love + Death (1991)

Love of Bolan triumphs over death, or so it would seem. In a gesture initially appalling, Simon Napier-Bell dusted off his old Marc Bolan demos (from 1966) and hired studio musicians to record instrumental tracks behind Bolan’s vocals. Like John Lennon’s postmortum appearance with The Beatles, the results are better than you’d think if a little creepy, Napier-Bell evoking the vintage ‘70s sound of classic T. Rex. Of course, Bolan hadn’t adopted that classic electric sound in ’66, so Love + Death is graverobbery with an eye toward historical revision. If you can get over that (and it’s a big “if”), Love + Death is actually an interesting experiment. In fact, the song “You Scare Me To Death” charted in the UK back in 1981 alongside the pickled curio, “The Perfumed Garden of Gulliver Smith.” While the disc’s dubious intent is the proverbial gorilla in the room, there is some pleasure in hearing songs like “Eastern Spell,” “You’ve Got The Power,” “Jasmine ‘49” and “Cat Black” performed in the fashion of Marc’s vintage glam years. The end result may have nothing to do with Bolan’s musical legacy (that door closed for these cuts in 1966), but it says something about his public impact that songs with such a distant connection to the Bolan legacy could still warrant considerable interest in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Since most of the posthumous Bolan releases are aimed at serious collectors, those with a casual knowledge of T. Rex have no business buying Love + Death. Compared to the endless demos and acoustic recordings now on the market, Love + Death provides better music than some, even if it’s historical integrity has been taken away. If the “what if” scenario is intriguing, then you might want to add this to the shrine.

The Songs
1. You Scare Me To Death
2. You’ve Got The Power
3. Eastern Spell
4. Charlie
5. I’m Weird
6. Hippy Gumbo
7. Mustang Ford
8. Observations
9. Jasmine ‘49
10. Cat Black
11. Black & White Incident
12. The Perfumed Garden of Gulliver Smith
13. Recorded Quotes From The Book (You Scare Me To Death)

All tracks written by Marc Bolan.

The Players
Marc Bolan (vocals, acoustic guitar), Dyan Birch (backing vocals), Frank Collins (backing vocals), Bernie Holland (electric guitars), Graham Jarvis (drums), Paddy McHugh (backing vocals), Brian Odgers (bass guitar), Graham Todd (piano). Edited, arranged and produced by Simon Napier-Bell; engineered by Peter Hughes, Steve Prestage, Dave Siddle; mixed by Steve Prestage.

The Pictures
Art direction & design  by Empyre Design.

The Plastic
Released on compact disc and cassette in December 1991 in the UK (Cherry Red, CDM RED 70) and in 1992 in the US (Futurist, FS 1011).

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