Review Summary: Crazed ramblings from the glitter king
Honestly, it’s really surreal to think T-Rex went from... this to being one of the most successful bands of the 70s. Before they shortened their name and laid out hit after hit, Tyrannosaurus Rex were an odd little folk duet from London. While they were championed by renowned DJ John Peel, the group were never really commercially successful bar the odd modestly charting single and this album, which peaked at #15 on the UK charts and later #1 when reissued during the band’s heyday. Lord knows what the public thought of this beast upon its first release or worse, hoe they felt listening to it expecting more super charged glam rock but that’s beside the point. ‘My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows’ is a... weird little record. One could even say it’s completely insane. If you’re expecting a blazing set of boogie tinged glam rock, best not get your hopes up, because ‘My People’ couldn’t be further away from that.
Sounding more like two senile drugged up hermits, banging away on their instruments deep in some misty mountain cave than the glittery band they’re more well known as, Marc Bolan and percussionist Steve Took spend 33 minutes churning out some of the strangest music ever put to tape. It’s almost alien in its sound and approach. While there are flashes of melody and structure occasionally, this is an album which feels more like a lengthy deranged LCD powered jam session than a cohesive set of songs. Over a frantic flurry of bongo hits, Bolan sometimes plays pastoral folk with tinges of eastern sounding melodies and sometimes he just goes nuts and starts strumming wildly. His vocals are often completely unintelligible, either buried under the hurricane of bongos and strums or sung in a drunken impenetrable mumble, where very few understandable words break through the chaos. Many of the tracks suffer because of this, be it the lack of understandable lyrics (which is a bit of a shame considering Bolan penned some fairly wild and unique sets of words for these tracks), the abrasiveness of the music or the overall busy and cramped sounds of the record. Even then, the songs themselves are often rather short and snappy, with most lasting around 2 minutes. The shortness of the songs doesn’t help the album’s fairly repetitive nature either and many tracks blend together easily. Generally, this isn’t really a fun or overall nice record to listen to.
The album’s best moments are undoubtedly the more relaxed and melodic pieces, such as the low key ‘Child Star’ and the pleasantly steady ‘Knight’. Still, if you’re up for a deranged mess, ‘My People’ has plenty of songs to offer in that regard, most notably the closer ‘Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)’ with its lengthy Hare Krishna Chant and a John Peel spoken word section plus the terrifying and frantic opener ‘Hot Rod Mama’. Still, it’s a very unique and one of a kind experience and is worth picking up if purely to see where the group starter. Just don’t expect ‘Get it On’. Or much for that matter.
Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)