[Review] Tyrannosaurus Rex: My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair… But Now They’re Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows (1968)

The original pothead pixies, Tyrannosaurus Rex puts the tokin’ in Tolkien.

Kronomyth 1.0: Lord of the ring-curled hair.

“You’ll get used to it in time,” said the Caterpillar. I was horrified when I first heard this album. It didn’t sound anything like “Metal Guru” or “Jeepster.” Instead, it sounded as if some pixillated Pan who had subsisted entirely on the works of Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame and his bongo-playing friend had smoked a lot of dope and accidentally wandered into a recording studio. Which, as it turns out, isn’t that far from the truth (Bolan was naturally psychedelic, but Took was known to toke).

“To me the first album always sounded horrible. We were victims of a low budget and we didn’t know what we were doing. It was very thin sounding and didn’t represent the fullness of that amazing duo. It was literally recorded in two, maybe three days, and on the fourth day we mixed the entire album.” – Tony Visconti, in a 2015 interview.

Now, as I said, that was my first impression. Over repeated listenings, My People Were Fair… spins its simple spell of fantastic faces and places with a modicum of chords, thumps and Bolan’s immediately identifiable, trilling voice. Although willfully childish in spots, the songs point to the great things to come, particularly when Bolan opts for a slightly more serious vibe (e.g., “Chateau In Virginia Waters,” “Afghan Woman,” “Graceful Fat Sheba,” “Frowning Atahuallpa”). “Weilder of Words” (yes, I know, just wait until you hear him butcher Dvorak) is also a notable mention as it captures the joyous feel of vintage T. Rex. As for the contributions of Steve Peregrine Took, well, he took more than he gave, although you’ll be thankful that it isn’t just Marc Bolan and two chords for forty minutes.

Despite the fact that this is the formal debut of Tyrannosaurus Rex, it feels more like a demo recording, and approaching it that way is likely to cause less frustration/disappointment. It is, if nothing else, an important and authentic relic from the psychedelic underground. In an age when everyone was jumping on the psychedelic bandwagon, Tyrannosaurus Rex were the original hippie gypsies.

Original LP Version

A1. Hot Rod Mama
A2. Scenescof
A3. Child Star
A4. Strange Orchestras
A5. Chateau In Virginia Waters
A6. Dwarfish Trumpet Blues
B1. Mustang Ford
B2. Afghan Woman
B3. Knight
B4. Graceful Fat Sheba
B5. Weilder of Words
B6. Frowning Atahuallpa

All songs written by Marc Bolan.

2CD reissue bonus tracks
A13. Highways
A14. Scenescof
A15. Child Star
A16. Dwarfish Trumpet Blues
A17. Pictures of Purple People
A18. Hot Rod Mama
A19. Knight
A20. Afghan Woman
A21. Frowning Atahuallpa
A22. Strange Orchestras
A23. Deborah
A24. Mustang Ford
B1. Highways (take 4)
B2. Child Star (take 2)
B3. Dwarfish Trumpet Blues (take 2)
B4. Chateau In Virginia Waters (take 3)
B5. Marc Bolan Interview About Dwarfish Trumpet Blues
B6. Hot Rod Mama
B7. Scenescof
B8. Child Star
B9. Strange Orchestras
B10. Chateau In Virginia Waters
B11. Dwarfish Trumpet Blues
B12. Mustang Ford
B13. Afghan Woman
B14. Knight
B15. Graceful Fat Sheba
B16. Weilder of Words
B17. Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)
B18. Deborah
B19. Puckish Pan
B20. Dwarfish Trumpet Blues
B21. Knight
B22. Scenescof
B23. Knight – with bass guitar
B24. Lunacy’s Back
B25. Marc Bolan Interview – with Deborah

The Players

Marc Bolan (vocals, guitar), Steve Peregrine Took (vocals, bongos, Chinese gong, assorted percussion, and a pixiephone) with John Peel (narrator). Produced by Tony Visconti; engineered by Gerald Chevin.

The Pictures

Front cover by George Underwood.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in 1968 in the UK (Regal Zonophone, SLRZ 1003).

  1. Re-packaged with Prophets, Seers & Sages The Angels of The Ages on 2LP in the UK (Fly, TOOFA 3/4) with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1993 in Japan (Teichiku, OOCP-1501).
  3. Re-released on 200g vinyl elpee on October 10, 2007 in Japan (Universal, UIJY-9033).
  4. Re-released on expanded 2CD in 2014 in the UK (Polydor, 535 388-7) with 37 bonus tracks.
  5. Re-issued on compact disc in 2016 in Europe (Universal, 5372261).

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