T. Rex – The Peel Sessions


At only 15 minutes and 30 seconds, T. Rex The Peel Sessions comes and goes in less than the time it takes to brew and make a pot of tea. Such is the fleetingness of this release that it’s hard to see why it was ever released at all, especially in the CD age. Captured at a time when T-Rex was little more than a predominately acoustic duo, made up of Marc Bolin (guitar/vocals) and Mickey Finn (percussion), this 1970 recording caught the former in transition, before he transformed himself into a glam-rock demigod only a year or so later, one which would also include a fall out with John Peel himself, who thought Bolin had crossed too far into the commercial mainstream. But obviously writing songs about elves and white swans had limited appeal, and ultimately never allow the artist to buy a property much less get around in a Rolls Royce.

“Jewel” is the first song here, and is a burning rocker albeit in stripped down form compared to its studio incarnation, where our effete brothers of Tolkien/Elfin-rock tear it up like a couple of mushroom eating fairies at the bottom of Lewis Carroll’s garden. “Ride a White Swan” was a Top 20 hit in the U.K. and a song that would offer a glimpse into Bolin’s future. Hearing his voice, fraught with that eccentric falsetto, no wonder Peel was such a supporter and champion of the man’s talents in the early days.

“Elemental Child” is an extended take on the original, and shows that Bolin could be an impressive guitarist when he wanted to be, featuring a wonderfully noisy, elongated guitar solo, including a little atmospheric wah wah thrown in for good measure. “Sun Eye” is a mildly played acoustic folk-oriented ditty, and an enjoyable one at that.

By today’s standards, this is fairly primitive stuff, but no matter. Die-hard fans no doubt already own a copy, having bought it years ago when it was going for a song. However why anyone today would pay more than £10 is beyond me, because fans of later T. Rex may have trouble in relating to it. That Peel had a natural ear for talent goes without saying, and we owe him an eternal debt of grateful for preserving for us such obscure gems as these.