Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Subtitled with true teeny-bop hyperbole 'The Rise and Fall of a Twentieth Century Superstar', this was a depressing read.  Not because it was poorly written - it is competently done - nor because Marc Bolan died young, but because so much work and effort has been put into describing the life of what is, by any objective standard, a minor talent.  I loved T. Rex myself, and Bolan wrote half-a-dozen first class pop sings.  But we're not talking Irving Berlin or Paul McCartney, Randy Newman or Cole Porter.  Bolan made a little go a long way, and the earnestness with which this book's author writes about this little is bathetic.  So why start reading and why not stop?  Well, I thought there might be a life worth dramatising (there isn't - Bolan emerges as a delight in short bursts and a boring egomaniac in the long run) and I kept on to the end because - well, one enjoys gossip, which in the end is the stuff of which this book consists.  In addition, and perhaps shamefully, the fact that Bolan's fatal crash happened bang outside my best friend's house has made me possessive of his story. There may be a touch of irony in the author's 'Superstar', with its nod to Glam modes of exaggeration and preening, but I don't think that's something the publisher would have noticed.  Bolan was a pop idol for a year or so, and for those of us of a certain age six months will not pass without an occasional uttering of a T. Rex lyric, silent or perhaps in front of one's children.  My own tends to be "she's faster than most / and she lives on the coast / ah ha ha". Wonderful, but hardly worth 400 pages.

Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a Twentieth Century Superstar
by Mark Paytress
Omnibus, 2006

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