THIS WEEK I’M READING... MARC BOLAN On Track (Sonicbond Publishing)
The latest in the On Track series isn’t so much a book but a love letter to author Peter Gallagher’s first infatuation. The superstar born Mark Feld is very much back in vogue at the moment and Gallagher’s overview of his work, from the faltering steps of Toby Tyler, through John’s Children to the Tolkienesque ramblings of the Tyrannosaurus Rex duo and finally T.Rextasy and beyond, is a welcome recap of the huge body of work Bolan created in such a short space of time.
To misquote Shakespeare, Gallagher comes to write about Bolan, not to praise him, and although – as might well be expected – praise is indeed lavished on the best of the glamster’s output the author doesn’t shy from highlighting his subject’s slide into egomania, self-obsession and mediocrity. So while the golden triumvirate of ‘Electric Warrior’, ‘The Slider’ and ‘Tanx’ are rightly catalogued as Bolan’s best work (and highlighted as “essential to any record collection worth the name”), of ‘Dandy In The Underworld’ he writes that “neither band nor band leader walk away with any glory.” A fan he may be, but Gallagher is not blind to his subject’s increasingly-numerous shortcomings.
Also of interest is the precognitive ‘conspiracy theory’ which supposedly surfaces in Bolan’s work. Instances include the fact that the flip side of his first single (as Toby Tyler) was ‘The Road I’m On (Gloria)’ and of course it was Gloria Jones who was driving the car in which he was killed on 16 September 1977, just two weeks short of his thirtieth birthday; or the line ‘easy as picking foxes from a tree’ from 1972’s ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’ – the Mini in which he died (when it did indeed hit a tree) carried the licence plate FOX 661L. But as Gallagher soberly points out, “if he really possessed some degree of foresight, he wouldn’t have got in the car.”
A good story, beautifully told.
© John Tucker June 2021