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  • Desdemona EP (CS 7" (color))-1
    7" color
    MR 7308C apr 2018
  • Desdemona EP (7")-1
    7" MR 7308
Marc Bolan was only a member of John’s Children for a few short months, but the experience would have an indelible impact on the future trajectory of his music. Prior to Bolan’s arrival in March 1967, the group already had a couple of singles to their name, along with a distinctive image and a reputation for controversy. Kit Lambert had recently expressed an interest in signing the group to Track Records, but only if they got themselves a new guitar player.
“Simon [Napier-Bell] at that time was also managing a folk singer who had changed his name to Marc Bolan from Marc Feld and thought he’d try him out in our band,” recounts singer Andy Ellison. “So I was taken by Simon one day in his Bentley down to Wimbledon where Marc was living in his parents’ house. I spent the afternoon with him there discussing whether he’d join the band or not. The following day I took him down to our club in Leatherhead where we were rehearsing. We borrowed a guitar and set him up with our massive Jordan amplifiers. He’d never played an electric guitar before so virtually as soon as he plugged it in he jumped in the air and was like, ‘Oh my god!’ He couldn’t believe the amount of volume! During that afternoon we continued to work on a few things. Things weren’t working too well, but he was so awed with this electric guitar sound that we just left him onstage making all these noises.” Over the course of the next few days things eventually began to gel, and at the end of the week the group regretfully informed their old guitarist Geoff McClelland that he was out and Bolan was in.
The group’s first single for Track would be a Bolan composition, ‘Desdemona’. True to form, it was immediately blacklisted by the BBC because of the line “Lift up your skirt and fly.” Hoping to beat the ban, a revised lyric was overdubbed (“Why do you have to lie?”), but by then the damage had already been done. (The revised version is included here.)
The next single, ‘Midsummer Night’s Scene’, was scheduled for release in July but was cancelled at the last minute. “We recorded it upstairs in this tiny little studio in Mayfair,” remembers Andy. “When it was finished, Simon took it away and added stuff to it, cut things in, and made it sound slightly more psychedelic. Marc wasn’t happy with that at all and wanted the whole thing stopped so there were only about 20 copies that were pressed.”
The flipside to the cancelled single, ‘Sara, Crazy Child’, was carried over to their next release. “‘Sara, Crazy Child’ is probably my favourite Marc song,” confesses Andy. “The words of it are pretty fantastic. A strange song – I’m not too sure what it was ever about. I did ask Marc: he came up with a different theory each time!”
Bolan departed the group that summer after a calamitous tour of Germany, but John’s Children recorded one more of his songs, ‘Mustang Ford’, which they repurposed as ‘Go-Go Girl’, inspired by some dancers they’d got to know after a gig in Germany.
Although Bolan returned to acoustic music with Tyrannosaurus Rex, his time in John’s Children served him well when it came time to plug back in again. “A lot of people think that the first time Marc ever played electric guitar was in T-Rex,” points out Andy, “but it wasn’t, it was in John’s Children. Also, that’s where he got all his confidence. He was quite a meek guy when we met him. We changed all that.”
Mike Stax
Ugly Things Magazine

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