T. Rex were riding an unstoppable wave throughout the early part of the 1970s. Everything they seemed to touch appeared to turn to gold and speak with the youth on a seldom seen, universal level. ‘Children of the Revolution’ is a shining example of zeitgeist like status that Marc Bolan achieved, which remains a freeze-frame for that sacred moment in time.
When the group made their rise, the musical landscape was in a state of flux, and new heroes from Britain were a necessity. While Zeppelin and Sabbath began to lean towards the darker side of the psyche, T. Rex answered the call to start something new, which happened to be in the form of glam-rock, which sparked kaleidoscopic life into a gloomy Britain. Admittedly, the sub-genre may have lost its way today, with acts still trying to replicate Bolan’s persona rather than repeat the contagious level of zest, sparkle, and vim that he threw into everything he did.
To give some context to how popular they were, remarkably, ‘Children of the Revolution’ was regarded as a flop for T. Rex. On reflection, this says more about the unsustainable magnitude of success that the band were floating upon in 1972 rather than the song failing commercially. It still charted at number two, however, which would have been deemed as a triumph if four of their last five singles didn’t all make their way to the top spot.
The line-up of personnel featured on the track provides further evidence of Bolan’s star power during this period, with both Elton John and Ringo Starr making an appearance. Meanwhile, his close confidante Tony Visconti produced the effort. Everybody wanted a piece of Bolan, and he was the face of a whole new generation who were making their voice heard loud and clear.
“People knew him as a great musician, a songwriter, a guitarist, but he was also a poet,” Ringo later said about his collaborator when he posthumously welcomed Bolan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “He was always telling me that he was the number one selling poet in Britain. In fact, his poetry was as important to him as his music. He had great style and was really unlike anyone else I have ever met.”
He added: “We lost him way too young, but in his short life, he made over 12 albums that are as far out and ahead of their time as he was.” Starr went on to discuss Bolan’s relationship with Tony Visconti which helped make Ziggy Stardust possible, and in truth without, T. Rex, then that era of Bowie doesn’t exist.
‘Children of the Revolution’ came out just as that chapter of his friend’s career was picking up steam, and they’d both made their graduation from being the new, young kids on the block to the stars of today rather than tomorrow.
The revolution had already taken place, Bolan had made his journey to the pinnacle of pop, and he was still only 24. Over the next few years before his premature death, things did slowly start to decline as their relevancy began to fade, yet, in 1972, T. Rex were the only band that mattered. Marc Bolan led a bright new dawning for music and spearheaded a revolution, with ‘Children of the Revolution’ representing his victory lap.