Friday, July 28, 2006

T-Rex - Electric Warrior (1971)

Since Neil Young has been dubbed "The Godfather of Grunge," an argument could just as easily be made for dubbing Marc Bolan "The Godfather of Glam Metal."

Often seen sporting a feather boa and big hair, his style of showmanship was a pre-cursor to the over-the-top look and sound of eighties glam metal by the likes of Def Leppard, Poison, Motley Crue, and Skid Row (to name but a handful).

But in Bolan's music one can hear the strong rockabilly influences of the likes of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, and Chuck Berry. However where their music merely implied sexuality, Marc's lyrics were often overtly sexual.

Take for example Raw Ramp:

"Ohhh woman I love your chest too
Baby, I'm crazy about your breasts
Ohhh woman, you think your a champ
But girl you ain't nothin' but a raw ramp"

Or even his mega-hit Bang a Gong (Get It On):

"Well, you're windy and wild
You got the blues in your shoes and your stockings,
You're windy and wild, oh yeah!
Well, you're built like a car
You got a hubcap diamond star halo,
You're dirty, sweet and you're my girl"

Electric Warrior marked the start of T-Rex's ascendance in popularity. An ascendance that would continue with The Slider, and Tanx.

While there are still some vestiges of T-Rex's folk roots, for the most part T-Rex's shift to glam was essentially completed by the release of this album.

Unfortunately, Bolan never enjoyed the same level of success in the United States that he enjoyed in his native England. He had a sense of musical adventurousness that was evident in his use of horns and sometimes even strings in many of T-Rex's songs. Had he lived longer, one wonders if he'd ever have attained the musical cult-hero status of his contemporary and friend, David Bowie-- a fellow artist who has often cited Bolan's lasting influence on his own music.

It's almost ironic that Bolan's blunt and overt lyrical style was largely influenced by the very Americans who have never really given him his due. The recent CD re-release of this classic album contains a handful of bonus tracks, and an extensive and thoroughly interesting radio interview Bolan did at the time of the album's release back in 1971.

When all is said and done, this album has a timelessness that prevents it from sounding as dated as much of this other music from this era now does. If you're not already familiar with his music, this album is the perfect introduction to T-Rex.


Layla said...

BRAVO!!!! Excellent review of one of my all time favorite bands. I think you know how I feel about Marc! This was very well written as always. I am going to link to this since I never did get around to doing my post about Marc Bolan/T Rex. Thanks for taking the time to write this! It was fabulous as always!

Your fan and friend,

David Amulet said...

The re-release may be my opportunity to finally get into T Rex, one of the few classic rocks bands I have never really epxlored. Great review!

-- david