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4.3 out of 5 stars11
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2003
Years ago I purchased 2 very scratched up old LPs: "Unicorn" & "Beard Of Stars." I think I had read some reviews claiming that these were Marc Bolans' best works before he went electric and morphed into T. Rex. The records were in absolutely terrible shape, but behind the clicks and pops were some of the most spellbinding, beautiful songs I have ever heard in my life.
20+ years later I'm amazed to find that their impact has not diminished one bit. This music falls somewhere between the Beatles and Syd Barrett but I personally find it more evocative and interesting than either. One of the incredible things about the music of the Beatles is the doors that it opened for other artists to expand upon. Truly talented people did not merely mimic the sound of the Fab Four, but actually took that sound into new realms. Nowhere is that phenomenon more evident than on "Beard Of Stars." There's a really strong "mythical beasts and wizards of yore" kinda vibe, but what is really being communicated is a yearning for warmth and innocence, that is very heartfelt and quite powerful. I don't know what else to say but if you're curious about this at all, find a copy of this album!!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2003
"A Beard Of Stars" followed hot on the heels of the extraordinary "Unicorn" and while very similar in lyrics and general musical style to that album, the addition of electric guitar and bass ended up making it the first of two transitional works from the early acoustic hippie purity of Tyrannosaurus Rex to the full-blooded glam rock of T.Rex. It is also an extremely beautiful and moving album with some of Bolan's best-ever melodies and playing; the replacement of Steve Took with the slightly less talented Mickey Finn shows, but not too noticeably.
Bolan's vocals took a slight step forward here for the first time toward comprehensibility, and the addition of electric guitar lines made his songs (which had always seemed like catchy pop/rock songs down deep, underneath the bizarre acoustic trappings) much more recognizably accessible and direct. Nearly every track is a highlight: the gorgeous opening anthem "A Day Laye" (with a stunning lyric and one of the most entrancing instrumental breaks of its time), the forceful rockers "Woodland Bop" and "Pavilions Of Sun" (which mix acoustic and electric guitars to great effect), the classically-tinged gothic "Wind Cheetah", tear-jerking ballads "Great Horse" and "Dove" and the maniacal closing track "Elemental Child"--with guitar work that, while still technically formative, emits a magical aura and intensity which makes it one of the greatest of all time--all contribute to make this the second masterpiece in a row from the man (of which three more--"T.Rex", "Electric Warrior" and "The Slider"--would follow), but one that is curiously overlooked.
It is unforgivable that the early Tyrannosaurus Rex albums have not been remastered and released domestically (the benefits of remastering having been seen on the stunningly loud and clear
"Best Of Tyrannosaurus Rex" set a few years back); however, this import does at least give one a chance to hear the future UK superstar only a year before his big breakthough.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2001
I bought this CD just because it had a cool title. I was a little disappointed to see that it was just the two man lineup. However, once you listen to the music, it is truly fantastic, essential, enchanting and totally unique. This CD will give you a great look into the progression of Marc Bolan from acoustic to electric. Bolan is no guitar god, but he has a very pleasant sound and enjoyable style. This is one of my absolute favorite T.Rex albums. Listen to it and enjoy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2005
From the Fairy Master himself Marc Bolan. Beautiful acoustic melodies permeate throughout the mystical morass as the elvish singing puts you away. Bolan here best capsulizes the whole hippie mythos and delivers it in short fantastical sonnets to love,eternity and spiritualism.
You either love Bolan or not.
He had me at Prelude.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2002
I am a T REXer from the very beginning and I do believe this is the very best, very rounded and moving. Although I do love all of the classics, Beard of Stars is my very favorite for sure!
I would highly recommend adding this to your collection if you LOVE Marc Bolan as much as I do.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2003
Consider this, Billy joel is in the Rock n Roll hall of fame and Marc Bolan is not. SHUDDER!!! What are those people thinking. The only thing I can come up with is that Bolans music goes right over there little pea brains. Come to think of it, whats so great about being in the Hall of... if the Slider ain't there. Answer: It ain't that great.
Oh yeah the record Beard of stars. Well.... its like all of Bolans material, PURE DAZZLING GENIUS misunderstood except by a lucky minority. ROCK ON IN HEAVEN MARC!! LOVE ALWAYS
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2006
This is a fantastic record. Magical, brilliant, everything the other positive reviewers have said. Not a weak moment. It's also the first T. Rex LP I've heard and I'll be getting more for certain.

However there is one problem with this particular edition. It's mastered from a vinyl copy. It's not a bad transfer, and there are no loud pops or heavy-handed noise reduction. There's some low level vinyl noise most noticable at the beginnings of each side and spots of light distortion here and there, most prominent at the ends of sides. The record is still very enjoyable, but some people may want to know so they can pick the edition that's right for them.

There seems to be a more expensive edition which was mastered from the original tapes and which has some bonus tracks. I'll be picking this up before long. I want to hear how good this record can really sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2011
I love this album. It is one of my all time favorites. Marc Bolan (Guitar and Vocals) really knew what to put into an album and how to make it good. This album is mostly acoustic with a little electric guitar in it. If you are a fan of Marc this should be in your collection. Marc's talents were extraordinary. Him and Mickey Finn (Bongos) did a great job on this album. If you are wondering wheather or not you are going to get this album, I highly recommend it. Sit back and enjoy the fantastic music. RIP Marc and Mickey. You are missed
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on October 18, 2001
"Unicorn" war eine schöne akustische und auch erfolgreiche LP. Diese LP ist ähnlich, neu war damals die elektrische Gitarre und der neue Perussionist Mickey Finn. Die Covergestaltung ist wieder hervorragend, der junge Marc Bolan in seiner ganzen - etwas verschwommenen - Androgynität. Die Texte sind sehr märchenhaft, Anspieltips "Dove" "By the Lights of the Magical Moon". "Lofty Skies" klingt etwas traurig, man glaubt sich als Hörer auf der Suche nach einer alten ursprünglichen Welt à la Tolkien. Kritik oder gar Analyse der Texte ist tabu, nicht erlaubt und würde die mit edlen Gerüchen wie Patchouli oder Myrrhe veredelte Parallelwelt des Künstlers stören.
"Beard of Stars" ist nur eine Instrumentalnummer, sie klingt irgendwie schwermütig (ich fühle mich in die alte Zeit um 1970 zurückversetzt, der Track war sogar auf einem Best-Of album von 1972 mit drauf) und zeigt, daß Marc Felds Gitarrenspiel (obwohl oft kritisiert oder ignoriert) irgendetwas originelles, wehmütiges und charmantes innewohnte.
Anschaffenswertes Sammlerstück des britischen Undergrounds Ende der Sechziger. Auch Hörer, die T.Rex nicht schätzen sollten einmal reinhören. Diese Musik paßt gut in Shops mit Weihrauch, indischen Trommeln und Patchouli-Parfüms. Nicht nur in London, München oder Kopenhagen, auch in den USA! Thomas Richter
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2011
A Beard of Stars is where T.Rex finally says goodbye to the forgettable folk rock elements of the previous albums and gives listeners a taste of some noticeable signs that the band was headed for a change. You can hear this change in both the songwriting and the background arrangements.

"A Daye Laye" is pretty good. A very pretty vocal melody with nice arrangements in the background. I really like how Marc Bolan elevates his vocal range during certain lines, and the "freak out" style of guitar playing reminds me of early Wishbone Ash a little bit. "Woodland Bop" is a depressing dance tune... sort of, haha. Definitely do NOT make the assumption that Tyrannosaurus Rex is trying to write dance music here- far *far* from it. It's darn near impossible to describe! I love the dramatic guitar lines during the chorus- it's intense, heavy and leaves a lasting impression.

"First Heart Mighty Dawn Dart" really shows that T.Rex is well on their way to commercial success in about a year. The guitar playing in the background reminds me of the style the band would utilize during their glam rock days in the near future. The guitar sound has finally been established- the signs are there, but subtle obviously (because the music presented on A Beard of Stars is *still* in the psychedelic folk rock style, or rather, in between folk rock and glam rock). Some moments of Marc Bolan's vocal work on "Pavilions of Sun" remind me of his popular work from the Slider album and specifically a song like "Rabbit Fighter". I can hear a resemblance in the verse melody at least- a more emotional higher register in Bolan's vocal range. A great psychedelic guitar solo near the end, too.

"Organ Blues" feature a sound that to me seems to be *drastically* ahead of its time, and reminds me of some of Brian Eno's late 70's experimental work. What beautiful arrangements too! They are incredibly rich and clean- I really like what Marc Bolan was doing here. I admit the songwriting on this particular track isn't up to Marc Bolan's usual standards, but it's forgiveable given the fact everything else about the song is just terrific.

"By the Light of the Magical Moon" has easy to understand lyrics, dreamy Hendrix-inspired guitar solos, and just a beautiful vocal melody overall. I have no problem saying this next part with authority- there's NOTHING from the 60's or 70's that sounds quite like "Wind Cheetah". It's indescribable because of the way Marc Bolan changes his singing style in order to make it work. It's unbelievably odd if you ask me. The guitar playing in the middle gives it a distinct haunted house feeling. It actually reminds me of Frankenstein, haha. I love it.

The title song is a *perfect* indication that Tyrannosaurus Rex was beginning to change into T.Rex in BOTH the background vocals and the guitar playing. Trust me- the moment you hear those vocals, the realization will set in that the trademark T.Rex sound you have come to love is right around the corner. Actually it's surprising that Electric Warrior wasn't the *next* album because a good portion of this album feels like the prequel to it. "Great Horse" is the next track, and surely you must be a stronger man than me if you're able to hold in your emotions when Bolan sings such a tender vocal melody. "Dragon's Ear" is slightly uplifting except... the uplifting vibe comes with an eerie atmosphere and a deep, ominous singing voice courtesy of Marc Bolan.

This album is seriously a big improvement over Unicorn is every conceivable way. "Lofty Skies" really takes advantage of Marc Bolan's emotional side. Actually, as you can probably guess, the entire album feels extremely personal. I wonder what kind of mood Marc Bolan was in during the recording of this album? The guitar solo at the end of this song is *unbelievably* good. "Dove" takes what would otherwise be considered a relatively simple vocal melody and makes it sound ominous and chilling. The 5-minute "Elemental Child" show the band writing an older, 60's style rock song in the guitar riff (think early Rolling Stones) but with an amazingly catchy vocal melody and a melodic guitar jam at the end.

Overall, A Beard of Stars does THREE things that really stand out to me. One- Marc Bolan really improves as a singer in both his ability to write vocal melodies and especially his ability to be personal and connect with his listeners. Two- the guitar playing is more frequent and interesting than it was a year earlier. Three- the background arrangements that would later be defined as distinctive and highly original have begun right here, on this album. Just a magnificent album the entire way through, seriously. It's better to think of it as a T.Rex album instead of a Tyrannosaurus Rex album.
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