Monday, 4 June 2018

T. Rex - Electric Warrior (1971)

You got a hub cap diamond star halo....

  

Released September 1971

Recorded at Trident Studios, London

Running time 39.02

This was the album that saw Marc Bolan put away his patchouli oil and carpet, strap on an electric guitar, applied some glitter tears, said a few spells and there you go....

It was the album, on the back of the huge summer hit, "Hot Love" that began the creation of the T. Rex glam juggernaut. Not only that, it pretty much started the whole UK glam genre. Indeed, Bolan had this to say about its effect -

"I think Electric Warrior, for me, is the first album which is a statement of 1971 for us in England. I mean that's... if anyone ever wanted to know why we were big in the other part of the world, that album says it, for me."

It has subsequently influenced a lot of bands, from glam ones a few years down the line, to punks, to new wavers, even to Brit Pop groups like Oasis. There is a joyful, confident freedom of expression to it that makes it irresistble. The old hippy days still float around a bit in a couple of the acoustic ballads, but most of it is full-on electricity. Oh and those riffs...

TRACK LISTING

1. Mambo Sun

2. Cosmic Dancer
3. Jeepster
4. Monolith
5. Lean Woman Blues
6. Get It On
7. Planet Queen
8. Girl
9. The Motivator
10. Life's A Gas
11. Rip Off                                         

Encouraged by producer/collaborator Tony Visconti, he produced arguably the first “glam rock” album. Full of Bolan’s trademark guitar riffs, some melodic acoustic strumming and those nonsense couplet lyrics, you had the archetypal T. Rex album. Those riffs on “Jeepster”, “Get It On” and also on the excellent thump of “The Motivator” are timeless and the lyrics too - “you’re built like a car, you got a hubcap diamond star halo”. Umm. Ok Marc. “Love the velvet hat...”. There was a camp sleaziness to Bolan as he combined rock 'n' roll sensuality with dreamy hippiness. Nobody did that like him. Silly rhyming wordplay would become his speciality over the next few years. This is apparent from the album's solid, bassy and riffy opener, "Mambo Sun" - "girl, you're good, and I've got wild knees for you, on a mountain range, I'm Dr. Strange for you...". What is odd is that beneath such obvious pretentiousness lies a playful, tongue-in-cheek basic urge to rock that makes it such an appealing album. This is the equal of "Ziggy Stardust" in many ways. It never quite made it that far in critical kudos, however, which was a shame. Just listen to the late fifties rock 'n' roll balladry married to early seventies electric guitar on "Monolith". This was as innovative as anything around at the time. 

There are nods to the old acoustic Tyrannosaurus Rex in the now iconic “Cosmic Dancer”, “Life’s A Gas” and “Planet Queen” but also some hard blues rocking in “Lean Woman Blues”. "Girl" is a dreamy, acoustic number and we get some proto-punk posturing in “Rip Off”. The bonus tracks are excellent, the mammoth hit “Hot Love”, the rocky “Woodland Rock” and the dreamy “King Of The Mountain Cometh”.

The remastered sound by the wonderful Tony Visconti is warm and full and does this minor classic justice. Check out "Cosmic Dancer"'s bass and strings for proof. Great cover too. Put it on and let yourself be take straight back to the late summer of 1971. "You've got the universe reclining in your hair..."

B+

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