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Tyrannosaurus Rex (not T. Rex) - Unicorn CD (album) cover

UNICORN

Tyrannosaurus Rex (not T. Rex)

 

Prog Folk

3.42 | 20 ratings

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Alitare
4 stars Unicorn - Tyrannosaurus Rex (1969)

Best Song : Iscariot or Chariots of Silk or (what the hell) 'Pon a Hill (It's that sort of album, friends).

Rating : 12/15 :

Aye, most folks know ol' Marc Bolan and his big honking T.Rex beast as a formidable glam rock troupe that rawked the early 70's with his big glammy...glam. Well, this record here more than shows him as a spaced out, hippie, Tolkein folkster, before all the glitz, glamour, image, and commercial success, and he's not one bit less formidable! In fact, I'd say he's even more formidable, this way, because in this version of the band, he didn't have anything to lose, had full artistic vision, and wasn't looking to keep the pay a-rolling.

Ain't that how it goes, folks? I'm not saying I think this is intrinsically imaginative and objectively superior, and his later, iconic glam rock days were all bloated, lifeless, commercially-minded sewer garbage, but this is certainly more daring, and boasts a personality I can only easily describe as "defiantly uncompromising". The dynamic duo takes their ques from pocketbook fantasy and hippie psychedelic folk. Making a sort of... bridge between the pomposity of Led Zeppelin and the modesty of early Cohen, only with a deranged twist. Some of the songs are more your standard folk rockers, like the opener Chariots of Silk, only with fantastic melodies. The atmosphere you get is tantalizing, really, and the singing gets under my skin, each time. The melodies themselves are hardly traditional, and in some cases, literally stunning and puzzle-like in their esoteric nature. My personal favorite, Iscariot, is a terrific example, but don't think there aren't several highlights thrown about, willy-nilly.

Bolan knows not to let a melody overstay his welcome, so instead of the usual progressive fare (give folks 5 great songs that should end 10 minutes before they actually do), he goes with the folk-y fare, in a progressive tone (you know, giving you 16 great songs that shouldn't end for another 10 minutes, but does, anyway.) There are some funky studio tricks, some weird sound clips of what I can only assume are goblins from some random grassy mud fortress. Or maybe they're hobbits? Hell if I know, but they open up Pon A Hill, which has a short, but gorgeous melody, that actually stands as one of the moments I love, most, even if it's only about a minute long.

Sometimes he's so bloated, you can't help but grin, and think: "Hell, this guy can't be serious." And other times he's so humble, you can't help but smile, and think: "Hell, this guy is too serious!" Which might make the album seem disheveled and inconsistent, but in all actuality, it makes the whole experience more diverse and easily digested, because this is a pretty far-fetched listen, even if the rewards are as rich as his crazy singing can be. As weird, uncompromising, and inconsistent as Unicorn might seem to the discerning listener, there's really no getting around how many truly thrilling moments there are to be dug up.

Oh, boy will you get dirty, though, because don't you know? It's Tyrannosaurus Rex! These suckers aren't cleanly, but they can be jaw-dropping in their beauty, in a perverse way. Lyrically, it's all the high fantasy stuff, with the most blatant example being the glossy Cat Black. While I really don't care for this sort of thing, I can get lost in it, because it seems that at least HE believes in all this crazy sorcerer shehooligarkery, even if I don't. Fuck lyrics, anyway, man. No one ever changed their way of life because of Van Halen, did they?....Did they?

The only song I don't care for is the album's closer, Romany Soup, which is a short story, read aloud, and in the end they chant the song's title rather predictably. It's neat for one listen out of pure amusement, but after that you don't really have any use for the song. Despite this, Marc leads us all to battle as the babbling, drug addled Hippie Hobbit Hellion on his most varied, engaging, and...dare I say...gorgeous album. That is, if you can handle the hardy atmosphere.

Four Stars

Alitare | 4/5 |

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