"AngelHeaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan & T.Rex" - Various Artists


Track Listing:

Full Track Listing

Disc One:

  • “Children of the Revolution” – Kesha (02:35)
  • “Cosmic Dancer” – Nick Cave (05:54)
  • “Jeepster” – Joan Jett (03:57)
  • “Life’s A Gas” – Lucinda Williams (04:03)
  • “Scenescof” – Devendra Banhart (02:36)
  • “Solid Gold, Easy Action” – Peaches (02:19)
  • “Dawn Storm” – BØRNS (05:07)
  • “Hippy Gumbo” – Beth Orton (03:05)
  • “I Love to Boogie” – King Khan (03:30)
  • “Beltane Walk” – Gaby Moreno (03:38)
  • “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” – U2 featuring Elton John (04:26)
  • “Diamond Meadows” – John Cameron Mitchell (03:51)
  • “Ballrooms of Mars” – Emily Haines (06:16)

Disc Two:

  • “Main Man” – Father John Misty (03:22)
  • “Rock On” – Perry Farrell (04:14)
  • “The Street and Babe Shadow” – Elysian Fields (03:40)
  • “The Leopards” – Gavin Friday (04:18)
  • “Metal Guru” – Nena (02:27)
  • “Teenage Dream” – Marc Almond (05:54)
  • “Organ Blues” – Helga Davis (04:24)
  • “Planet Queen” – Todd Rundgren (04:36)
  • “Great Horse” – Jesse Harris (01:52)
  • “Mambo Sun” – Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl (04:16)
  • “Pilgrim’s Tale” – Victoria Williams & Julian Lennon (04:09)
  • “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” (Reprise) – David Johansen (02:38)
  • “She was Born to be My Unicorn / Ride A White Swan” – Maria McKee & Gavin Friday (04:19)

Background Information

This album, originally planned to celebrate what would have been Marc Bolan’s 70th birthday in 2017 faced numerous delays, and finally was released in 2020. On the album, U2 cover “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” and the recording features Elton John on piano and backing vocals. Originally announced for a September 4, 2020 release, a special limited white vinyl pressing was released early on August 28, 2020 to independent Record Stores in North America in advance of Record Store Day 2020. The black vinyl pressing, and CD version, and digital versions of the release will follow on September 4, 2020. (In the UK, the white vinyl version is listed an HMV exclusive, although other shops in the UK are listing it as well. It appears to have a September 4, 2020 release date in the UK.)

U2 covers “Bang A Gong (Get It On)”, the original track was released by T. Rex on their 1971 album Electric Warrior, and later released as a single, and became the groups only US hit. The song originally titled just “Get It On” was re-titled to avoid confusion with a song by another artist. The song as recorded by T. Rex hit the #1 spot on the UK singles chart, #10 in the Billboard Hot 100, and had strong chart placement around the world. The song was covered in 1985 by The Power Station, and that version did quite well in the charts. Although he did not play piano on the original recording of the song, when T. Rex appeared on Top of the Pops in 1971 to perform the song, they had Elton sitting in on piano. That performance is often used as a video for the original song.

The T.Rex album was put together and produced by longtime U2 collaborator Hal Willner. He worked on the album for a number of years starting in 2017. In the past Hal Willner worked extensively with Bono on the soundtrack to The Million Dollar Hotel. He also produced the album Rogue’s Gallery to which Bono contributed the song “A Dying Sailor to his Shipmates”. Hal Willner recently passed away from the COVID 19 virus. U2 recently posted a remembrance of their friend and collaborator on U2.Com.

The album includes liner notes from David Fricke on Marc Bolan, and an exploration of how the album came about by Producer Hal Willner, who wrote the essay in January 2020 before his death from COVID-19 in April. Of the project Willner mentions “The project started in Los Angeles with Nick Cave doing ‘Cosmic Dancer’ and culminated with Sir Elton John playing jaw dropping funky piano on U2’s performance of ‘Bang A Gong (Get It On)” in Nice! And lucky me got to go…”

U2 recorded their version of the song for this compilation in New Orleans on September 14, 2017 while the band was there to perform on The Joshua Tree Tour 2017. The Edge, interviewed on radio mentioned “I am outside a recording studio in New Orleans, we’re in the middle of recording a track for a friend who’s putting a T.Rex tribute record together. It’s sounding great.” The song will feature Elton John as well. At the session in New Orleans, Trombone Shorty was present as well, and he posted photos of himself with Bono and Hal Willner at the recording studio. Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has previously worked with U2 performing the song “The Saints Are Coming“ live in New Orleans which was used as a B-Side to the single of the same name. Elton John’s piano portion of the song was recorded separate, recorded in Nice after the U2 recording.

T. Rex was a band formed in the late 1960s by singer-songwriter, Marc Bolan. The band released their first album in 1968, and released albums throughout the 1970s. Bolan was killed in a car crash in 1977. The band made it to number one in the UK on four occasions, with the songs “Hot Love,” “Get It On,” “Telegram Sam,” and “Metal Guru.” Bono has previously covered a T. Rex song with his friend Gavin Friday. They recorded the song “Children of the Revolution” for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Asked about Bolan, and who was the bigger fan, he or Bono, Gavin Friday answered, “The way it worked in the ’70s is that I bought all the records and he nicked ‘em off me! I’m sure if you checked under his bed there’s a big pile of scratched T-Rex 45s belonging to yours truly.”

There are also plans for a documentary called The Children of the Revolution which is being produced by BMG and London Films. The documentary will feature the recording of the tribute album, and we will see the songs being performed in studio and it will include interviews with the artists about the impact Bolan had on their own careers. The film will also interview other stars who are not on the album, such as members of Guns and Roses, Boy George, and Ringo Star, as well as others. A list of contributing musicians featuring in the documentary confirms U2’s participation, as well as Elton John’s and that of Gavin Friday. A release date for the documentary is not known at this time and appears to have been part of the delays associated with this project over the years.

The official announcement of the album is as follows:

Marc Bolan has been famously cited as a major influence by some of the biggest names in music from David Bowie to Johnny Marr.

Bolan’s golden era was in the late sixties and seventies when he was the biggest selling singles artist since the Beatles, movie star and the electric spark behind Glam Rock. He died in 1977 aged just 29, after a car crash in Barnes, London but his reputation has only grown.

Later this year Marc will be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame and 50 years since the first T.Rex single and album, illustrious fans have gathered to pay tribute and argue for his place amongst the music greats.

For ‘AngelHeaded Hipster’, a collection of major stars including Nick Cave, U2 featuring Elton John, Joan Jett, Peaches and Marc Almond have reinterpreted and reimagined some of his greatest tracks including Jeepster, Bang A Gong (Get It On) and Ride A White Swan.

Every track reveals a different Marc and offers a unique appreciation of a multifaceted musician, writer, poet and composer.

The album was made under the direction of Hal Willner, a veteran of tribute records with a reputation for creating alchemy with diverse artists. His touch points are great composers – Nina Rota, Thelonious Monk, Kurt Weill, Kurt Weill, Charles Mingus.

AngelHeaded Hipster was lovingly created by the late Hal Willner, who passed away on April 7 from COVID-19. The acclaimed music producer, who “for nearly four decades bent and shaped the dimensions of almost-popular music” (New York Times), produced albums for artists including Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull and William S. Burroughs, and concept albums drawing upon the music of Thelonious Monk, Kurt Weill, vintage Disney films and others.

Liner Notes

Bang A Gong (Get it On):
Music and lyrics by Marc Bolan. U2 featuring Elton John.
Bono – Vocals. The Edge – Guitars, vocals. Adam Clayton – Bass. Larry Mullen Jr. – Drums. Elton John – Piano, vocals.
Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews) – Trombone. Ray Moore III – Baritone saxophone. Brad Walker – Tenor saxophone. Jeff Albert – Trombone. Ashlin Parker – Trumpet. Charlie Halloran – Trombone. Arranged by the Edge. Horns arranged by Jonathan Freilich. A Hal Willner Production. Recorded at 3240 Dauphine Street, New Orleans, LA.

Produced by Hal Willner. Recorded and mixed by Marc Urselli. Mastered by Howie Weinberg. Conceived and Executive Produced by Bill Curbishley and Ethan Silverman. Supervising producer: Rachel Fox.


Cover Design: GraphicTherapy
Photos by Gloria Stavers, Danny Fields
Interior Layout: Hayden Miller

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