T. Rex: Born To Boogie (A Homemade Anthology)
The band's albums are a bit more of a mixed bag. While T. Rex had a nice run of good-if-not-great albums in the early part of the decade, after Bolan left behind the freaky folk music of the original Tyrannosaurus Rex, switched on the amps and shortened the band's name -- most notably 1971's Electric Warrior (their most consistent and essential album), 1972's The Slider, and 1973's Tanx -- later albums saw diminishing returns. To his credit, Bolan did try to broaden his sound as time went on, leaning more into R&B, soul, and even prog, much of which, while lacking the pure magic of the singles, deserves more recognition. But most of his albums had plenty of great songs worthy of inclusion alongside the better-known singles in the band's canon, and even the later albums had a few great and largely overlooked tracks apiece, right up to his untimely passing in 1977. Indeed, when it comes right down to it, his final album, 1977's Dandy In The Underground, is surprisingly tight.
Given Bolan's amazing gift for the perfect stand-alone single, I've always found T. Rex better suited to a decent collection than heard as an album band, as much as I like many of the albums. Which is why it's so frustrating that, despite countless posthumous anthologies over the years, nobody can seem to get it right. While many collections include the obvious hits ("Bang A Gong (Get It On)," "Jeepster," "Metal Guru"), their inclusion of equally indispensable non-album tracks ("20th Century Boy," "Solid Gold Easy Action") is more hit and miss, and almost all the collections I've seen overlook the great (if less appreciated) gems on later albums. One of the better collections on the market is the 20th Century Boy collection from a few years ago, but even there the album includes a few tracks from the pre-T. Rex folk days (which I'm not crazy about) in lieu of the far better later material.
So I've pretty much had to cobble together my own T. Rex mix. The version I made myself is a fairly inclusive double-cdr package, with pretty much everything one needs from the '71-'77 era.
I've pared this down to a single-CD-length Spotify mix, shared below, which sticks with the truly essential tracks. (It's missing a couple tunes absent on Spotify, most notably his late-period single "Celebrate Summer," and includes a few tracks available on Spotify only in alternate versions.) But it'll do. Enjoy.
Here's how we Get It On: