PM Pick

Danced Myself Right on to the Stage: Born to Boogie: the DVD and CD

Dan Nishimoto

Born to Boogie, Marc Bolan and T.Rex's famed concert film, is finally receiving a proper reissue. To get to the heart of this project, PopMatters spoke with key figures close to both Marc and the DVD/CD: legendary producer Tony Visconti; reissue director Mark Allen; reissue producer Mark Roberts; and Rolan Bolan, Marc's son.


Tony Visconti

PM: What is your favorite moment from the original feature film?

RB: I actually didn't see the film until 1997, but it was just amazing to watch him play and perform. It was amazing to see just how much energy they had for a four-piece band ... But I loved the part where he throws the tambourines in the crowd. He's just letting the crowd play with him; it's a group effort.

TV: I also loved the Mad Hatter's tea party scene. It was conceived around using the actor Geoffery Bayldon as the butler. Marc and I adored him playing the part of a befuddled wizard in a children's TV show called Catweazel. He didn't disappoint us when we met him. He was a consummate professional and a perfect gentleman.

PM: What is your favorite moment in the additional footage?

TV: I loved when Marc was singing his acoustic numbers and his mic continued to droop. Not a single member of his road crew ran out to tighten the stand. Marc was continuously nudging up the mic with his nose while he sang. This happened in the first show and is a bonus take.

MR: I love the multi-audio track, "Jeepster", on Disc 2; you can switch between several of the microphones on stage, including Marc's microphone. To me this is very significant because it proves almost everything you hear across the two discs is exactly as the band performed it, live -- no backing track, no overdubbing. It's just T.Rex delivering a massive rock 'n' roll sound exactly the same as the crowd heard them play on 18th March 1972. Fantastic!

MA: The 8mm footage shot by Marc himself -- it was shot on the road around the time of the concerts -- I think Ringo asked Marc to shoot it for the credit sequence. We have pieced it all back together and cut it to the song "Born to Boogie" -- a very underrated song -- I love it -- and it makes me cry -- very moving.

Boogie Down

PM: Marc predated the glam movement, and he has been name-checked by major figures in punk and new wave. Please explain why you feel Marc has been such a universal icon.

TV: He was chock full of talent and charisma. He had a good sense of the times he lived in and knew just what to do, sing and say. He knew he was gorgeous and charming and he worked it! Most pop stars seemed very subdued by comparison. It's as if Marc is one of the few who actually woke up and smelled the coffee.

PM: What is the significance of this reissue to music fans in the UK and around the world?

MA: It reminds those who were there, and the millions who weren't, that T.Rex were a rock band -- not glam -- but T.Rex Rock...

RB: [I hope people will learn about] how good of a guitar player and how much of a performer he was. You don't need special effects and lights. Blues is the blues, rock 'n' roll is rock 'n' roll. And it wasn't glam rock. It was fuckin' rock 'n' roll.

MR: The DVD shows Ringo's epic surrealist film at it's best ... This film is a piece of rock 'n' roll history for Beatles fans and for T.Rex fans around the world.

PM: Many younger music enthusiasts (especially in the US) do not know a great deal about T.Rex and the extent of his popularity. Please describe what was so unique about Marc's popularity. How did this translate into or influence his live show?

MA: Historically it was the first time we had seen mass fan worship since the Beatles. More importantly he changed the music world forever. He single-handedly wrote the obituary of the hippy. He was on the hippy circuit but then he changed and went electric.

TV: Marc was androgynous. Boys and girls loved him. He was petite and at times very macho. His music reflected what he was, both very sensitive and very ballsy ... His charisma was overwhelming at times, and he couldn't turn it off in the studio either. He'd perform to us as if we were an audience of 1000.

RB: When you can play in front of 8,000 people on acoustic guitar and still keep the crowd screaming ... wow. I think his songwriting is beautiful.

MA: Today, when you speak to many contemporary artists, they cite Marc Bolan as one of their greatest influences. These include the likes of Oasis, Morrissey, Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand, the Black Eyed Peas, and the Libertines, to name but a few.

PM: What role does Born to Boogie play for the youth of today?

MA: Marc cared about his fans -- he had a lot of young fans at the time -- he respected them and dealt with them as equals ... Don't forget he was very young himself -- about 24 years old in this film -- and of course he died before he made 30.

PM: Any closing thoughts on Born to Boogie, or Marc?

TV: It's a much better film than I remembered. It has heart. Our work together always had heart, very brave heart. Marc was a great artist in both his work and himself. He was his own creation.

MR: I think Born To Boogie will be a testament to a rock 'n' roll legend who, like Elvis and Jim Morrison, will continue to stand the test of time ... Born To Boogie is going to be as important as Led Zeppelin DVD.

RB: A woman came up to me in London -- it was probably right when I was born -- she comes from a mixed-race family ... and my dad just kinda looked at her and smiled ... He saw the future of the world in the sense that it's about love, and it's not about color ... He was original, and he believed in himself, and he achieved his goals ... I think he's happy right now, I feel him everyday ... I just want [the DVD] to grow and grow, and I want it to be looked at as a musical piece, but also as a historical piece of filmmaking ... I want people that don't even know about T.Rex to have a reason to check it out.

The double-DVD and double-CD Born to Boogie packages are slated for simultaneous release. The UK release date is 16 May 2005; the North American release date is 7 June 2005. Audio on the DVD is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1; dts 96/24. The picture is in 16:9 Anamorphic, Full Color; it will be available in PAL and NTSC (Region Code 1, 2, and 4). Total running time is roughly 5 hours 25 minutes. DVD list price is £13.61 and CD list price is £8.25.

For more information, visit the following sites:
www.borntoboogie.net (Official Born to Boogie website)
www.noblepr.co.uk/Press_Releases/sanctuary/born_to_boogie.htm (PR company's page for Born to Boogie; scroll to bottom for more links)
www.tonyvisconti.com/artists/trex.shtml (Tony Visconti's official site, and his detailed explanations of his work with Marc Bolan)
members.cox.net/dregenold/marc/marc.html (an excellent and thorough bio of Marc Bolan)



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