Personnel: Marc Bolan (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, harmonium, organ, bass); Steve Peregrino Took (kazoo, piano, bass, drums, bongos, percussion, gong, background vocals); Ian McDonald (saxophone); Burt Collins (flugelhorn); Dino Dines (keyboards); Mickey Finn (bass, drums, tabla, percussion, background vocals); Steve Currie (bass); Davey Lutton, Willie Legend (drums); Flo & Eddie, Vicky Brown, Barry St. John (background vocals).
Producers: Tony Visconti, Marc Bolan.
Compilation producer: Bill Levenson.
Recorded between 1968 & 1976. Includes liner notes by Dave Thompson.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Marc Bolan & T. Rex never troubled the pop culture radar in the US beyond one minor hit single, making them perhaps the biggest UK stars to never leave any significant stateside impression. As a result, their catalogue has rarely been properly served by US labels, with the songs that made Bolan's name remaining out of print for years at a time while UK labels large and small released every tiny scrap of rehearsal tape, often multiple times.
After Mitsubishi Motors used the stomping "20th Century Boy" in an ad campaign (somewhat ghoulishly, considering that Bolan was killed in an auto accident) in 2002, Universal's Hip-O reissue imprint took the opportunity to rectify the poor state of Bolan's catalogue with the solidly impressive 20TH CENTURY BOY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION. Thoughtfully, the set starts with five tracks from Bolan's lesser-known early psychedelic period as Tyrannosaurus Rex, including the spectacularly weird "King of the Rumbling Spires," before laying out the classic string of '70s glam-rock boogie hits ("Bang a Gong [Get It On]") and a few choice B-sides. For those wanting to stick to a single T. Rex disc, this is the one to choose.
Rolling Stone (9/19/02, p.110) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Bolan's singing, songwriting and stinging guitar prove why his band inspired everyone from Bowie to the Ramones."
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