Monday, 4 June 2018

T. Rex - The Slider (1972)

He's a natural born poet....

  

Released July 1972

Recorded at various studios in London, France and the USA

Running time 43.55

Along with Electric Warrior, The Slider is among the best of the T. Rex albums, released at the height of their glam rock domination in 1972. Later albums tried, with varying levels of success, to repeat the same formula but never quite got there.

If killer minimal note riffs and bizarre rhyming couplets are your bag, it doesn't get much better than this. Marc Bolan had stopped sitting around on Persian carpets with an acoustic guitar and a bongo player at his side, inhaling incense. He had gone full electric, thankfully. The album is absolutely full to the brim of archetypal Bolan guitar and nonsensical, rhyming lyrics. This was T. Rex at their creative glam best. Of course, they were a chart-oriented glam group, but despite its obvious comparative shallowness this is actually a highly credible album of its era. It should not be overlooked. 

Incidentally, the album's iconic cover is credited to Ringo Starr, who was filming the documentary Born To Boogie with Bolan at the time. Producer Tony Visconti disagrees, however -

"Marc handed me his motorised Nikon and asked me to fire off two rolls of black and white film while we were on the set of “Born to Boogie”. Ringo, the director of the film, was busy all day lining up shots. But Marc apparently saw a photo "credit" opportunity and gave Ringo the credit for the photos."

TRACK LISTING

1. Metal Guru

2. Mystic Lady
3. Rock On
4. The Slider
5. Baby Boomerang
6. Spaceball Ricochet
7. Buick McKane
8. Telegram Sam
9. Rabbit Fighter
10. Baby Strange
11. Ballrooms Of Mars
12. Chariot Choogle
13. Main Man                                                   

Back to the music. This 2012 Tony Visconti remaster is the best I have ever heard The Slider, which in the past has suffered from mastering problems. He has nailed the "wall of sound" attack of Metal Guru and the standout single Telegram Sam, with its great T. Rex riff and Dylan reference ("...Bobby's alright... he's a natural born poet... he's just outta sight..."), has lost some of its earlier scratchiness. The bass is lovely and strong, pounding as I love it to be. The album now has a fullness and warmth that it previously lacked. Check the acoustic, bass, drum and cello (?) on one of my favourites, Mystic Lady. It now has real punch - a punch I didn't think I'd hear on a glam track. 

This remaster is also the version that appears in the Complete Album Collection box set, now unfortunately virtually impossible to get hold of. No matter, just get this and Electric Warrior and you'll be ok. Check out Rock On and The Slider too. Some of these tracks are not as glammy as you might expect. They may all be relatively short, but they are well-constructed, inventive rock songs that wouldn't have been out of place on something considered far more credible, like Ziggy Stardust, for example. 



Apart from the afore-mentioned wonderful singles, The Slider is packed full of two and a half minute Bolan barnstormers - listen bibbety-boo, get those boogaloo titles and back off man - Chariot Choogle, Spaceball Ricochet, Ballrooms Of Mars, Baby Boomerang, Rabbit Fighter ....One cannot analyse these tracks really, they are all just deliciously bonkers, daft lyrics underpinned with that trademark Bolan lead guitar and wailing backing vocals. Finally, Bolan tells us on Main Man that "...Bolan likes to rock now, yes he does, yes he does...". 

Hey Marc, man - rock on!

Below is a clip of T. Rex performing Telegram Sam


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