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Download AngelHeaded Hipster: The Songs Of Marc Bolan & T. Rex

by Various Artists
  • Release type: Album
  • Year: 2020
  • Tracks: 25
  • Duration: 97:00
  • Size, Mb: 222.51
  • Bitrate: MP3 320
  • Genre: Pop/Rock, Electronic, International

Review

In the often lamentable field of multi-artist tribute albums, no one put together better or more interesting ones than the late Hal Willner. While Willner had a real gift for matching artists to material, his real talent was the juxtaposition of diverse talents under one tent (1985's Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill is the only album where you'll find Sting, John Zorn, and Johnny Adams in the same place), and finding imaginative ways to link the material (using the recitations of Ken Nordine to bookend 1989's Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films). More than just a bunch of folks covering songs from the same artist or genres, Willner's projects were ALBUMS, using their diverse ingredients to create something more than the sum of the parts. Willner died on April 6, 2020, and at the time of his death he was working on an album honoring Marc Bolan, the flamboyant mind behind T. Rex. Five months later, that record appeared, and Angelheaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex is at once very much his kind of album and something of a disappointment. Bolan's songs were the joyous ramblings of glam rock's greatest hippie, blessed with a playful, trashy, but decidedly cosmic world view. Angelheaded Hipster, however, takes the unexpected approach of taking Bolan's songs seriously. The boogie that was the trademark of his best-known work is almost entirely absent, and while Bolan's wordplay was often marvelous, many of these artists opt to treat them as grand philosophical statements, ignoring the wit that was so much of his lyrics. A few of the performers make this work, notably Lucinda Williams, who sounds beatific on "Life's a Gas," and Nick Cave, who somehow finds a mournful nostalgia in "Cosmic Dancer." However, most of the time this album offers us grandly arranged and beautifully rendered covers of songs that were never meant to sound this way, and for every grand surprise (Peaches sounding just the right amount of sleazy on "Solid Gold, Easy Action," King Khan shaking out "I Like to Boogie," and the orchestral sweep of Emily Haines' "Ballrooms of Mars"), there's another that just doesn't click (Gavin Friday trying to scare us on "The Leopards," U2 being upstaged by a barely audible Elton John on "Bang a Gong," and Marc Almond's klezmer-infused "Teenage Dream," fine in theory but clumsy in execution). Every artist brings their A-game, the accompanists are in stellar form, and in the last third of the album, things start to jell in a Willnerian manner as Todd Rundgren, Sean Lennon, Victoria Williams, David Johansen, and Maria McKee drift through well-chosen samples from an old comedy album. In those moments, Angelheaded Hipster sounds like the visionary tribute to Marc Bolan he truly deserves; the rest is brilliant craft and genuine heart in search of a sense of purpose, though there are far too many good things here for any thoughtful music fan to ignore.

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