Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels Of The Ages

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Regal Zonophone, 1968

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._Rex_(band)

REVIEW BY: Ken DiTomaso

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/24/2015

Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels Of The Ages is, from its general sound down to its awkward title, very much of a pair with the band's debut. It's no surprise that the two records made for a successful release when they were paired together as a double album to capitalize on the band's future success. But however similar they are in sound and approach, they are far from equals in quality.

Prophets was originally released merely three months after their debut, which is the direct cause of all the record's issues. Even the best bands would have had trouble coming up with an album's worth of new material in that amount of time, let alone have the chance to evolve and progress their sound. So a lot of this inevitably sounds like outtakes and lesser versions of material from their debut.

Right off the bat, we're treated to a weird bit of filler with the mostly backwards “Deboraarobed,” which is just a garbled version of their “Deborah” single. It's a good song, but there's no reason to listen to this when you could hear the single version instead. A few tracks later, Took gets ahead of himself with some horribly awkward bongos on “Trelawny Lawn.” I have no idea what he was going for and the results are absolutely cringe-worthy. It's a major shame too since it completely ruins what is otherwise a pretty nice tune.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now there are some gems here. Aside from the two hiccups I just mentioned, the first half of the album hosts some pretty solid material. “Stacy Grove” and “Wind Quartets” are of the same high caliber as the tunes on My People.

Past that point, however, things get dicier. There aren't too many ways to vary a setup that consists of nothing more than percussion, acoustic guitar, and vocals, but at their best, Bolan and Took found a surprising number of ways to do just that. That's not the case here, though; most of these songs sound pretty much the same as one another. The tunes aren't particularly memorable either, likely because they used up all their best material on their first record and didn't have enough time to come up with enough good new songs for this rushed release. Thankfully, at barely past 30 minutes, this album is the shortest in the band's discography. So even though many of the songs are kinda dull, they usually fly past too quickly for me to get totally bored.

It doesn't help that they saved the worst (and longest) for last. At first, “Scenescof Dynasty” makes for a nice change of pace, with its solo vocal laid over of clapping and loopy background speech. But it's just so damn long! Seriously, if this were cut down to a tenth of its length nothing of significance would be lost. It's just the same thing over and over and it doesn't build or change or go anywhere once the main vibe has been established. And then at the end instead of resolving it just stops. It's infuriating.

The bonus tracks provide not one but two near-complete recreations of the entire album using alternate takes. While there aren't any revelations here (the good songs are still good, the bad songs are still bad, and the boring songs are still boring) it makes for an intriguing alternate experience. Hardcore fans could potentially compare the different takes and reconstruct their ideal version of the album using only their favorites. The bluesy single-only “One Inch Rock” is here, too, and it's certainly better than anything on side two, and would have significantly livened up the record if it were a part of it. The only other significant non-album track present is “Nickelodeon” and it's extremely cloying and obnoxious, so they were right to exclude it.

All things considered, out of the four albums the band released before they shortened their name, this is by far the least essential. If you're a fan who already has the other records and just can't get enough of the band's acoustic hippie vibes, there's just enough solid material here that it's not a total waste of time. But new listeners and casual fans won't miss much by skipping it.

Rating: C+

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© 2015 Ken DiTomaso and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Regal Zonophone, and is used for informational purposes only.