Among the 21 bonus outtakes and demos on this three-CD book set (which includes detailed notes, press clippings and lyrics like ‘get you high as lightning’ rhyming with ‘don’t marry Fanny Frightening’), there’s a highpitched blast of gospel called Sky Church Music. It lollops about with crazy euphoria, and one imagines an alternative universe in which Bolan bravely released it instead of pilfering its refrain for the sluggish Zip Gun Boogie.
While on the surface these two late-period albums represent a creative and commercial decline, they’ve always been attractively odd. Self-produced, they’re busy, shrill, feverish. The restless Bolan was desperately trying to reclaim fame yet paradoxically intent on exploring new styles. He was still stirring the “spaceage soul” music that had lit up Zinc Alloy, but also talking about reviving “surrealist rock’n’roll” and being a punk.
Thus the albums fall somewhere between muddle and marvel. 1975’s Bolan’s Zip Gun shows how much he misses Tony Visconti’s guiding hand but does score scorchers with the breezy Light Of Love, the nagging Think Zinc and the freakily romantic Token Of My Love.
The next year’s Futuristic Dragon gave us New York City and Dreamy Lady (the latter has actually endured more happily). Its lesser-known curveballs like All Alone and My Little Baby transcend the toppy avalanche of eagerness, made even weirder by a Tyrannosaurus-hippie spoken intro.
Bolan was hurt, confused, flailing, but that ego-savant genius flickers through the blaze. He wasn’t done yet.