My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows

My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows is the debut album by psychedelic folk band Tyrannosaurus Rex (later known as T. Rex). The release of the album was planned for early May but delayed until 5 July 1968 by record label Regal Zonophone.

My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows
Studio album by
Released5 July 1968 (1968-07-05)
RecordedApril 1968
StudioAdvision, London
GenrePsychedelic folk
LabelRegal Zonophone
ProducerTony Visconti
Tyrannosaurus Rex chronology
''My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows''
Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels of the Ages

Recording, music and sleeve edit

My People Were Fair was recorded at Advision Studios in London, England in April 1968 and produced by Tony Visconti. Preparatory demo sessions for the album took place in March at Visconti's London flat as well as scrapped early studio sessions with producer Joe Boyd in late 1967. Advision was one of the first studios in the UK with eight-channel recording equipment. This Advision unit was a model 280 made by Scully Recording Instruments and allowed for far greater recording flexibility than the standard 4-track recorders of the era.

Two of the songs, "Mustang Ford" and "Hot Rod Mama" (a live BBC radio session)[1] had been recorded earlier by Marc Bolan's pre-Tyrannosaurus Rex band John's Children (the former retitled as "Go Go Girl" after Bolan's departure). Early versions of some of the tracks also appeared on The Beginning of Doves, a collection of demos and early tracks released in 1974. Journalist Paul Stewart advanced that the extended title album reflected "the faux mysticism of the time, even down to the dedication on the sleeve to Aslan and the Old Narnians" while biographer Mark Paytress wrote that the title and the songs "struck a chord with the whimsy-stricken elements within the British underground.[2]

The record featured Bolan on vocals and guitars, and Steve Peregrin Took on backing vocals, drums, pixiphone and percussion. It also featured disc jockey John Peel, who read a children's story written by Bolan for the album's closing track, "Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)", which also included a lengthy Hare Krishna chant.

For Bolan, the album's music represented a rejection of the electric guitar-driven music he'd been playing with his previous band, John's Children. The cover art (by George Underwood) and subject matter of many of the songs dealt with the fantasy themes that would pervade much of the subsequent Tyrannosaurus Rex catalogue. Underwood's artwork was based on Gustave Doré's illustrations of Dante's Inferno.

Release edit

My People Were Fair was released on 5 July 1968 by Regal Zonophone. It reached No. 15 in the UK Album Chart upon initial release, which allowed the duo to purchase new instruments and PA equipment.[3]

The album was paired with Tyrannosaurus Rex's follow-up album Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels of the Ages (1968) and reissued in 1972 as a double LP, following the success of T. Rex's Electric Warrior (1971) and The Slider (1972) albums. It reached No. 1 in the UK.[3] The double release remains the longest album title of any UK No. 1 album.[4] In the US it was released by A&M Records as Tyrannosaurus Rex: A Beginning.

In 1985 it was re-released on Sierra Records. An expanded edition CD was released in 2004, which included the mono mix of the album, one single track and three alternate studio takes. A new mono mix was created for a deluxe edition, released in January 2015, which also included home demos for the album recorded by Visconti and exploratory studio sessions with Boyd.

Reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [5]
Sunday Express     [6]

Initial reception for the album in Bolan's home country was highly positive, with reviews in Melody Maker, New Musical Express and Disc and Music Echo emphasizing the originality of the duo's sound and its "simplicity, fun and beauty", with Disc and Music Echo rightly predicting it would be a big seller.[7]

Retrospective reviews have been favourable. AllMusic praised the album saying, it "approaches the listener from a totally unique angle" "The Bolan voice [...] blends so perfectly with the bizarre, almost Eastern-sounding instrumentation. Reviewer Dave Thompson called it "an irresistible affair, if absolutely a child of its psychedelically-inclined time".[5] adding, "It's hard not to be drawn to the actual dynamics of My People Were Fair, the uncanny way Tyrannosaurus Rex take the slightest musical instruments, pixie phones, glockenspiels and a Chinese gong included, to make them sound like the heaviest rock & roll band on the planet".[5] In a 5 out of five star review, Paul Stewart of Sunday Express wrote that it was "varied and vibrant". "The textures grab your attention but not in a hard rock, slap you round the face kind of way. This is chill out music from a time before people called it chilling out".[6]

Track listing edit

All tracks are written by Marc Bolan

Side A
1."Hot Rod Mama"3:09
3."Child Star"2:52
4."Strange Orchestras"1:47
5."Chateau in Virginia Waters"2:38
6."Dwarfish Trumpet Blues"2:47
Side B
1."Mustang Ford"2:56
2."Afghan Woman"1:59
4."Graceful Fat Sheba"1:28
5."Weilder of Words"3:19
6."Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)"5:55
2004 Expanded Edition
1."Hot Rod Mama" (Mono Mix)3:11
2."Scenescof" (Mono Mix)1:04
3."Child Star" (Mono Mix)2:51
4."Strange Orchestras" (Mono Mix)1:48
5."Chateau in Virginia Waters" (Mono Mix)2:40
6."Dwarfish Trumpet Blues" (Mono Mix)2:46
7."Mustang Ford" (Mono Mix)3:01
8."Afghan Woman" (Mono Mix)3:01
9."Knight" (Mono Mix)2:41
10."Graceful Fat Sheba" (Mono Mix)1:29
11."Weilder of Words" (Mono Mix)3:19
12."Frowning Atahualpa (My Inca Love)" (Mono Mix)5:55
13."Debora" (single track)3:07
14."Hot Rod Mama" (Stereo Mix)3:10
15."Scenescof" (Stereo Mix)1:39
16."Child Star" (Stereo Mix)2:19
17."Strange Orchestras" (Stereo Mix)1:45
18."Chateau in Virginia Waters" (Stereo Mix)2:37
19."Dwarfish Trumpet Blues" (Stereo Mix)2:46
20."Mustang Ford" (Stereo Mix)2:57
21."Afghan Woman" (Stereo Mix)1:56
22."Knight" (Stereo Mix)2:36
23."Graceful Fat Sheba" (Stereo Mix)1:27
24."Weilder of Words" (Stereo Mix)3:18
25."Frowning Atahualpa (My Inca Love)" (Stereo Mix)5:54
26."Child Star" (Take 2)2:40
27."Chateau in Virginia Waters" (Take 2)2:54
28."Debora" (Take 2)3:09

Note: There is a short, unlisted title track at the end of side B.

References edit

  1. ^ Smashed Blocked (CD liner notes). John's Children. Burning Airlines. 1997.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ Paytress, Mark. Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a 20th Century Superstar. Omnibus Press. 2003.
  3. ^ a b "T. Rex | Artist | Official Charts". Official Charts. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Albums with the longest titles to reach Number 1". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Thompson, Dave. "My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows – Tyrannosaurus Rex". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b Stewart, Paul (3 February 2015). "Album Review: My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... by Tyrannosaurus Rex". Sunday Express. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  7. ^ McLenahan, Cliff (2019). Marc Bolan: 1947-1977 A Chronology. Helter Skelter Books.

External links edit