T. Rex "Born To Boogie" -- my thoughts
Yes, I bought the T. Rex Born To Boogie DVD and its 2-CD soundtrack on June 7th, the day they were released in the U.S. It was worth the wait. As a concert film, it definitely delivers the goods. Ringo Starr directed the "new Beatle", Marc Bolan, filming two T. Rex concerts at Wembley Stadium on March 18th, 1972. It's great fun to watch the pompous and entertaining glitter-rock guru performing at his peak. The 61-minute film also contains bizarre fantasy sequences, in which Bolan and Starr were aiming for Fellini-like surrealism. In one sequence, Ringo is dressed in a dormouse costume, and Bolan is dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland. A dwarf eats the rearview mirror on their car. Yes, it's that kind of self-indulgent mess, but it's somehow fascinating to watch. In another sequence, T. Rex perform "Tutti Fruitti" and "Children Of The Revolution" with Ringo and Elton John, and Bolan's head protrudes from the top of Elton's piano. The best sequence is the Mad Hatter's tea party, which was filmed on John Lennon's property. Bolan and Micky Finn (dressed as a vampire) played four T. Rex songs acoustically, accompanied by a string quartet, which gives them a feeling like their earlier Tyrannosaurus Rex recordings. The sound and picture restoration were very well-done. I remember watching the film on VHS years ago, and this DVD looks and sounds much better than I remember the VHS version looking and sounding.
Of course, the 2 discs contain about 4 hours' worth of bonus material, including the two complete concerts that were filmed. Rolan Bolan, Marc's son, interviews several people who were involved in the film and its restoration. Marc died when Rolan was barely two years old, and watching Rolan conduct these interviews has a certain poignancy, as he seemingly seeks to learn more about the father he never really knew. Among the interviewees are producer Tony Visconti (who worked with Marc from 1967 until 1974) and drummer Bill Legend (who is the only surviving member of the 1972 lineup). One bonus feature I was thrilled to see: b&w footage of the original Tyrannosaurus Rex duo -- Bolan and Steve Peregrine Took -- performing the song "Sara Crazy Child" in a small hippie club in 1967. Coolness!
Interestingly, this DVD set rarely, if ever, mentions Bolan's post-1972 years of personal and professional decline, except for the unavoidable mentions of his 1977 death. This set was clearly meant to glorify Bolan, and glorify him it does. It focuses on his 1972 peak, when Bolan was a star in the U.K. on a Beatles-and-Stones scale. It is difficult for an American viewer (especially one like myself who cannot remember 1972) to realize just how big a sensation Bolan was on the other side of the pond. But this set effectively shows what "T. Rextasy" was all about. Aside from one moment where Visconti tells Rolan, as gently as possible, that his father was "arrogant", this set portrays Marc Bolan as an icon who could do no wrong, as if the glitter never faded.
The first disc of the 2-CD soundtrack contains audio of nearly every second of the film, musical and spoken word. So, would you like to watch the film or listen to it? Also, the same disc contains part of a late-1971 BBC interview with Bolan that does not appear anywhere on the DVD. The second CD contains the complete "matinee" concert at Wembley on 3/18/72, as opposed to the evening concert that was used for the proper film. Of course, the afternoon concert is included on the DVD as well.