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Paul Roland – ‘Uncut’ Interview, Spring 2016

In the Opium Den, album by Paul Roland, cover artwork

Paul Roland – ‘In The Opium Den’ (2016 Cherry Red Records)

“Occult hero’s eccentric, psychedelic post-punk … patchouli-oil scented esoteric pop [and] paisley shirt recidivism… Roland has been acclaimed a steampunk prophet…not without honour in his own land, either.”

(from the album review by J. Wirth)

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Why should we all like the same songs?

I HAD a very interesting discussion this week with a fellow Bolan fan who enjoyed ‘Cosmic Dancer’, but was “annoyed” that I didn’t share his passion for some of Marc’s later tracks. Fair enough. Why should we all like the same songs? Just because we are drawn to the same artist there is no reason why we shouldn’t have our personal preferences.

I have a particular fondness for the Tyrannosaurus Rex era which I know many fans and a previous biographer don’t share and I happen to play the early (Sixties) singles almost as often as I play ‘Electric Warrior’ or ‘The Slider’. I would like to think that I have a broader taste in Boley music than many – beginning in ’65 and taking in (almost) everything up to and including ‘Tanx’ in ’73 – but having been both a music journalist and a recording artist myself for more than 30 years I would also like to think that I have acquired an ear, or a sense, for when an artist is cruising in neutral or recycling the same old clichés until something more interesting turns up. All songwriters do it, but the best have the courage to dump a song when it doesn’t cut it. Read the rest of this entry

More Bolan goodness from Cosmic Dancer research…

Did you know that Gloria has written a book but it is yet to be published?

A fan we know claims to have seen extracts in which she talks about the evening she and Marc were staying in a high-rise apartment in the US just after Marc had signed to Casablanca, so this would be 1974. At one point they became aware of two small lights on the window. Marc swore that he saw a demon sitting on the outside window sill looking in (shades of ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet’ from ‘The Twilight Zone’, don’t you think?). He returned to England a short while later claiming the demon was the reason for his return. What is interesting—and not a little disquieting—is that Gloria claimed that Marc saw the demon again at the house in Richmond only days before his death. He told her that he had also seen the image of a lady in the garden which he described to the builders who were working there at the time. They weren’t surprised to hear of the spectral sighting as the description fitted that of the lady who had previously lived there. She had committed suicide.  (Thanks to ‘G’ for this story).

Here are another couple of titbits of information I came across during my research but left out of the book. Read the rest of this entry

The day I visited Bolan’s house

I said in my previous posting that I wasn’t as affected by Bolan’s death as other fans had been, but people react in different ways to loss and I think I simply didn’t believe, or want to believe, that we wouldn’t be hearing any new music from him, and that my dream of meeting him and one day even maybe having an album produced by him, could never be.

I was also, I must confess, possessed by a feeling which The Who described in the song ‘5:15’ as being “sadly ecstatic that their heroes are news”, as Bolan was once again on the front pages of all the newspapers, on the radio and TV and so I thought that everyone would now realise how important he had been. There was also the hope that we would now finally hear all those unreleased tracks we suspected were gathering dust in the vaults of Essex Music and EMI as every fan knew that Marc hadn’t released some of his best recordings. But then I am still writing about this subject 35 years later so perhaps that speaks for itself.

I remember asking my father as we watched the funeral on television what happens to someone when they die, so I was obviously in some form of shock and preoccupied by death, but the fact that Marc had been cremated meant, to my mind, that there wasn’t a body in the ground to visit and to which one could pay one’s respects. If there is such a thing as the soul, and my own childhood out-of-body experiences had convinced me that this is so, then Marc was now somewhere else and there was no proof that he was dead. Of course it made no sense, but then it is not unknown for those experiencing loss of any kind to go into denial and the fact that Marc Bolan was not a personal friend or family member didn’t lessen the sense of loss, as any fan will know. When you are a hypersensitive teenager the sudden death of your hero can be as traumatic as a family bereavement. This is not the same as a hysterical 12 year old girl being upset because her favourite boy band have just broken up. Bolan created a unique style of music, a cache of songs and a sound that enriched the soul of those who could appreciate it, and his sudden exit from this world left it a less vibrant and colourful place. Read the rest of this entry

Cosmic Dancer: Bolan lives every time we hear his music

GREETINGS fellow Bolan admirers and welcome too, to those of you who may be curious as to why the diminutive Mr Feld retains a fascination for connoisseurs of quality rock music more than three decades after his untimely death.

This site, together with the Cosmic Dancer Facebook page,  is not simply a source of information and a place to post feedback on the book, unpublished photos and other items you might have unearthed, but will also serve as a place to share anything Bolan related. Maybe some of you remember reading my fanzine ‘Cosmic Dancer’ back in ’78, or going to screenings of ‘Born To Boogie’ at the Essential cinema in Soho? Care to share your memories and your thoughts on how much Marc has meant to you, or what you think of recent releases?

By the way, the pix that appear on the Facebook page include two unpublished photos of Marc taken, we think, in ’71 and could not be included in the book because we couldn’t identify or trace the photographer. Thanks to Marc Arscott for allowing us to feature them here. The two young men seen in Bolan T-Shirts recording their debut single in July 1979 are yours truly and his friend Danielz who went on to form tribute band T.Rextasy. Both of us owe an incalculable debt to Marc for inspiring us and speaking for myself, it is only with the publication of ‘Cosmic Dancer’ that I finally feel that I have repaid it.

But first, let me address the subject of why I kept myself out of the book… Read the rest of this entry

Cosmic Dancer: ‘Near Definitive’ Bolan Biography

IF I had to name one musician who has influenced and inspired me throughout my career it would have to be Marc Bolan, one of the most underrated artists in the history of rock.

And because he has not been given the credit he was due I have never lost my desire to make the case for a serious reassesment of his work and to share my enthusiasm for someone I consider to be unique.

I had written a slim biography of Marc, (‘Electric Warrior’ Omnibus Press 1982) when I was a teenager and several substantial articles for ‘Sounds’, ‘Record Mirror’ and ‘Uncut’ over the years, but it was only after having written the 30 books I have had published on other subjects in the last ten years or so that I felt that I could finally do justice to a subject that has haunted me since his untimely death. Read the rest of this entry