U2 record with Elton John for T. Rex Tribute Album

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2019-07-25)

We have been waiting patiently for information on U2’s participation in a tribute album celebrating Marc Bolan and we can finally bring you some additional information about the release plans. We are told by a source close to the project that the album should be out this fall, likely in September or October. But there are bigger plans, and the tribute album is only part of the planned release.

The tribute album is being directed and produced by Hal Willner, a long time collaborator of U2, and will feature contemporary artists reworking classic T.Rex songs. U2 had been tipped to have re-recorded “Bang a Gong (Get it On)” back in 2017 for the project. They will be joined on the album by a number of artists including Nick Cave doing “Cosmic Dancer,” Joan Jett covering “Jeepster,” Marc Almond recording “Teenage Dream” with a chamber ensemble and Kesha with a live orchestra performing “Children of the Revolution.” The early album title was Angelheaded Hipster: Another Look at Marc Bolan, with the title coming from Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” Other artists on the album include Perry Farrel, Marc Almond, Borns, the Foo Fighters, Father John Misty, Emily Haines, Todd Rundgren, Peaches, Nena and more.

Perhaps the biggest surprise? Willner has revealed that the U2 track will be done with Elton John. We previously revealed that U2 had recorded the song in New Orleans on a break from The Joshua Tree tour in 2017. They worked with Willner in studio there, and musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews was also present for the recording session.

The album will be a double CD, and there are plans to release the songs on vinyl as well. The album was set to feature 27 tracks last fall, and at that time was due to be released early this year (March or April.) It is not known if there has been any changes to the plans since that time.

But 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.

Originally planned to celebrate Bolan’s 70th birthday in 2017, the project has faced delays, but is now listed with a 2019 planned release. T.Rex was a band formed in the late 1960s by Bolan, releasing their first album in 1968. 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, himself 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.”

We’re excited to hear the results of this one, and will look forward to sharing more information about the tribute album and the documentary when we can. The album will be released on BMG records.

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