Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Bolan + Clavinet = Glam Funk

One thing you will not experience in a Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million:  finding something inside the book you just bought, such as a newspaper clipping that pertains to the book in question (typical) or a press release from the publisher (also common).  More unusual would be to find cut-up pages of the liner notes to a Marc Bolan & T. Rex CD anthology, which is what I found inside Marc Bolan:  The Legendary Years by John & Shan Bramley this past summer in, of all places, Ocean City, Maryland – one of the least literary places on Earth.

Marc Bolan, according to the authors, would try – and fail – to achieve in the U.S. the level of fame that he enjoyed in the UK, Europe and elsewhere.  In 1974, around the peak of his popularity, Bolan’s new album would be attributed (to the horror of EMI) not as Marc Bolan and/or T. Rex but as Zinc Alloy & the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow!

Japanese pressing

Zinc AlloyCheck out the prominent Clavinet in the opening to “The Avengers (Superbad)” from Zinc Alloy’s A Creamed Cage in August – an obvious nod to The Godfather of Soul:

“The Avengers”     Zinc Alloy & the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow     1974

As the authors explain:

“Far removed from white swans, magical moons and metal gurus, the new album was awaited eagerly.  The final change was to the band’s title.  By Marc’s own admission, T. Rex was no more.  What he now had was a solo career with a great bunch of musicians and the official band title became:  Marc Bolan and T. Rex as Zinc Alloy & the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow.  Supposedly, this was to give Marc the scope to bring in changes, as and when he felt them worthy, without confusing his fans.  A rerun of the uncertainty surrounding the band’s survival in 1969 when Tyrannosaurus Rex lost Steve Took was not to be allowed to happen again.

Bramley & Bramley help remind us of the album’s historical context:

“A little-known fact is that, although when released the album was accredited to Marc Bolan and T. Rex, and the title was as given, this was not as Bolan had planned it.  When the album artwork was first delivered to EMI, the names of neither Marc Bolan nor T. Rex were anywhere to be seen.  The artwork was innovative for its time:  a cream-coloured sleeve, with an interwoven photograph of Marc in its centre and the words on the cover, Zinc Alloy & the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow were written in a flowing ink-pen style.  The sleeve then opened upwards and to either side, each movement taking a little of the image of Bolan with it finally to reveal an airbrushed portrait of his face.  In the bottom right-hand corner, in the same style as the name, was the title:  ‘A Creamed Cage in August’.” reveals that Zinc Alloy would enjoy release in the UK, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan in 1974.

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