"It was the first time I ever listened to a guitar part. Because back then girls didn't really listen to guitar parts, it was a guy's thing. And guitars were really macho things then and I couldn't bear say, Hendrix's guitar playing, it was too in your face and too threateningly sexual, whereas Marc Bolan's guitar playing was kind of cartoony. And I could sing the parts. They weren't virtuoso, they were funny, they were humourous guitar parts" - Viv Albertine - The Slits
T. Rex (1970)
The Children Of Rarn/Jewel/The Visit/Childe/The Time Of Love Is Now/Diamond Meadows/Root Of Star/Beltane Walk/One Inch Rock/Summer Deep/Seagull Woman/Sun Eye/The Wizard
"'T. Rex' is the quiet before the storm of 'Electric Warrior', and it retains a loopy energy and easy charm that makes it one of Bolan's watershed works" - Mark Deming - AllMusic
From 1970, Marc Bolan's first transition from folky guitar strumming pixie to the electric warrior we would all come to know and love.
Dropping Tyrannosaurus and becoming T. Rex, Marc strapped on an electric guitar and with Mickey Finn on percussion he introduced a rocky element to his fairy, poetic semi-nonsense lyrics. Examples are Root Of Star with its stunning guitar parts, Childe which ends all to soon, the rock n roll-ish Beltane Walk, One Inch Rock and Is It Love?. In fact, pretty much all of them show include Marc's electric guitar and show just what a great guitarist he was. All against a background of Finn's rumbling bongos. They couldn't quite shake off the hippy accoutrements just yet.
Seagull Woman had the bass added to it as well, and it is consequently so powerful. I t is a great, underrated Bolan track. I love it. I read a quote that said that this album was "the calm before the storm of Electric Warrior". How very true.
Why, if only Marc could add a full band. How would he sound?
Well - 1971's Electric Warrior would tell you. Before that, though, there was the little matter of six weeks at number one with Hot Love.
Electric Warrior (1971)
Mambo Sun/Cosmic Dancer/Jeepster/Monolith/Lean Woman Blues/Get It On/Planet Queen/Girl/The Motivator/Life's A Gas/Rip Off
"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" - Marc Bolan
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...
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 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...".
The non-album material from this period included, of course, the enormous breakthrough number one single, Hot Love, with its Hey Jude-style singalong extended "la la la" fade out and its double b sides, the rocky Woodland Rock and the dreamy King Of The Mountain Cometh.
The Slider (1972)
Metal Guru/Mystic Lady/Rock On/The Slider/Baby Boomerang/Spaceball Ricochet/Buick McKane/Telegram Sam/Rabbit Fighter/Baby Strange/Ballrooms Of Mars/Chariot Choogle/Main Man
"'Metal Guru' is for all gods around... someone special, a godhead. I thought how god would be, he'd be all alone without a telephone" - Marc Bolan
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."
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 into 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!
The non-album material, of which there was always lots from T. Rex, included the b sides, the chugging Bolan rock of Cadilac (misspelt with only one "l", from Telegram Sam), the typically riffy, catchy and quality Thunderwing and the "Beatles-influenced fade in" acoustic merged groove of Lady (from Metal Guru) and the genetic rock of Jitterbug Love from the chunky, huge-riffed non-album single Children Of The Revolution. Just check out that massive intro again - it's always worth it. Elton John and Ringo Starr all appear on the song. Also a b side from this single was Sunken Rags, another impressive piece of archetypal T. Rex riffery.
Funnily enough, these b sides don't seem to have been remastered as well as the actual album has. That goes for the next two albums too, they have been remastered but their stand-alone singles and their b sides haven't.
Bolan Boogie (1972)
Get It On/Beltane Walk/The King Of The Mountain Cometh/Jewel/She Was Born To Be My Unicorn/Dove/Woodland Rock/Ride A White Swan/Raw Ramp/Jeepster/Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart/By The Light Of The Magical Moon/Summertime Blues/Hot Love
Between 1971 Electric Warrior and July 1972's The Slider came this compilation album of T. Rex's recent singles, 'b' sides and some earlier songs from their hippy, trippy Tyrannosaurs Rex albums (notably Beard Of Stars). At the time, despite being a compilation, it was treated as a "proper album". After all, it contained recent hit singles, so many customer were not really aware that much of the other material was "filler" from earlier in the band's career. I remember really liking the cover, all black with bright seventies-style lettering. The title Bolan Boogie was instrumental in pushing Marc Bolan forward as the essence of T. Rex. It was now all about him, no question. A star was born.
It is a bit of a patchy affair, but sill enjoyable, although the difference in quality between the later and earlier material is pretty apparent. Also, as opposed to T. Rex's other albums, it has not been remastered, so the CD available does not have such good sound quality as their other albums.
The highlights are obvious - the huge singalong hit Hot Love and two tracks introducing that iconic Marc Bolan guitar riff - Get It On and the underrated Jeepster. Beltane Walk and Woodland Rock are jaunty, lively sort of rock 'n' roll folk, if that makes sense, with Bolan stamping his quirky vocal presence all over them. The King Of The Mountain Cometh has an acoustic, dreamy and beguiling appeal, as indeed does the entrancing By The Light Of A Magical Moon and Raw Ramp is a chunky, solid number from the Electric Warrior period It was the 'b' side of Get It On.
They do an infectiously appealing cover of Eddie Cochran's Summertime Blues, full of congas and acoustic riffery and this was the 'b" side to the hit single Ride A White Swan, which remains Bolan's most affectionately remembered early single. "Catch a bright star and place it on your forehead, say a few spells and baby there you go....". Bolan established the whole "bopping elf" persona with this one. Such a great song.
Tenement Lady/Rapids/Mister Mister/Broken-Hearted Blues/Shock Rock/Country Honey/Electric Slim & The Factory Hen/Mad Donna/Born To Boogie/Life Is Strange/The Street & Babe Shadow/Highway Knees/Left Hand Luke & The Beggar Boys
"It is a sad indication that Bolan really hasn't progressed and I can't see many people being truly pleased with it. But I've been wrong before" - Paul Gambaccini
For me and, I think, for quite a few other followers of the so-called "Bopping Elf", this was where it all started to go a bit awry.
Firstly, this 2012 Tony Visconti remaster is excellent, the best it has ever sounded. This is the version that appears on the now hard-to-obtain Complete Studio Albums Collection. The bass is, as on The Slider nicely up in the mix, negating the "glam" tinniness considerably and bringing a new warmth of melody to the table.
Back to the music. 1972's The Slider had been a tour de force of Bolan mini-masterpieces of glammy nonsense backed by irresistable riffs. On Tanx he tries to replicate that but, to be honest, a lot of songs are even shorter than that album's two and a half to three minute average. Thirteen tracks lasting only thirty-five minutes. In that vein, many of them, particularly the first two, Tenement Lady and Rapids, feel somewhat unfinished. Others, like the dreamy, saxophone-driven Broken Hearted Blues and the brief, chunky boogie of Shock Rock are good tracks but just seem too short, ending at around 1 minute 50 seconds. The riffy Country Honey is exactly the same. It has the feel of an album that was "work in progress" but never got finished. Not quite Bolan's Smiley Smile but it feels rushed and nowhere near the pleasure to listen to that is The Slider or the earlier Electric Warrior. You can't really repeat an album like The Slider again, though. One is fantastic, but two...hmmmm.
Furthermore, something about the cover seemed to suggest Marc was starting to believe his own myth. Tongue in cheek it obviously was in its schoolboy puerility (the toy tank sticking out between Bolan's legs) but it belies an "I'm untouchable now" arrogance that never sat well with such a sometimes shy guy.
Mad Donna with its cute "French kid" intro and Born To Boogie are two bona fide T. Rex fully fledged rockers and Life Is Strange could have come from Electric Warrior, but I am left rather frustrated by the rest, due to their unfinished nature.
The backing starts to be dominated by several female backing voices, something that would be taken to the nth degree on Bolan's Zip Gun. Saxophone is added a lot, sometimes taking over from the trademark guitar riff-driven T. Rex sound. A good example of this is found on Mister Mister, which is full of swirling sax breaks. Bolan was trying to get away from that and produce a more hybrid slightly funky sound - interestingly, Bolan was dabbling in this sort of thing two years before David Bowie, the great innovator, did so on Young Americans. Electric Slim And The Factory Hen, despite its ludicrous title, displayed definite experimenting in more soulful, rhythmic material. Check out its quirky, infectious bass line, strings and congas. The Street And Babe Shadow is in the same vein too.
The final two tracks, the rocking, more recognisably T. Rex of Highway Knees and the anthemic, overblown ballad Left Hand Luke And The Beggar Boys are longer tracks and, for that reason, are more fulfilling. Incidentally, "...myxomatosis is an animal's disease..." is one of Bolan's most bizarre lines!
The usual slew of non-album tracks from this period included the iconic single 20th Century Boy which needs no introduction, its b side, another obviously T. Rex riff-driven track in Free Angel and a another stand-alone single in the singalong glammy pop "hey, hey, hey" of Solid Gold Easy Action. Also from this period but often paired with the following album was the single from the summer of 1973 The Groover and its b side, Midnight. I have mentioned them here, viewing them as the last pure glam tracks from T. Rex and they were related to the feel of this album. The former has a great riff and that wonderful T.R.E.X. vocal intro. "It don't make no deee-frohwance..." sings Bolan in true style. the latter track has some solid heavy guitar and is a muscular punchy rock number.
This was definitely the band's last glam hurrah. The era of Teenage Dream was up next, and that was considerably different.
Zinc Alloy & The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow (1974)
Venus Loon/Sound Pit/Explosive Mouth/Galaxy/Change/Nameless Wildness/Teenage Dream/Liquid Gang/Carsmile Smith & The Old One/You've Got To Jive To Stay Alive/Interstellar Soul/Painless Persuasion vs. The Meathawk Immaculate/The Avengers (Superbad)/The Leopards (feat. Gardenia & The Mighty Slug)
Released in 1974, as Marc Bolan unfortunately entered his "washed up teenage idol" phase, attracting derision from the music press as they trotted out their "poor old Marc Bolan" articles by the score. However, although the glam star was fading, after three years of phenomenal singles chart success, and giving this album a "Ziggy Stardust" rip off title, there are signs of a desire to change things a little on here maybe slightly ahead of David Bowie in that regard. Just.
Adding soon to be wife Gloria Jones on funky clavinet, there are definitely "soul" and "funk" elements on some of the material. Check out Explosive Mouth for starters. The are soul echoes in the backing vocals and bass on Galaxy too. While the extended rock balladry of the album's only single, the delicious Teenage Dream is hardly an audition to appear on Soul Train there are just strains here and there that hint at letting soul stylings creep in. The beautiful, rich, melodious bass and laid back feel on Change is another example. A bit like the wah-wah guitar on Bowie's 1984 from Diamond Dogs hinted at influences from elsewhere, so we are able to grasp at many small nuances on this album. Change is maybe the cornerstone of this album, despite its sub-three minutes' length. Interstellar Soul with another killer bass line, is up there with it too.
Elsewhere, though, the old riffy glam rock sounds are still there, notably on the opener, the lyrically perplexing Venus Loon and the guitar choppy Sound Pit. Nameless Wildness has echoes of The Slider's Baby Boomerang too. Liquid Gang and Carsmile Smith & The Old One have some rocky guitar present, but they are slowed down, nothing like the glam anthems of yore. The latter even has some synthesised brass on it too.
The final two songs are somewhat odd affairs - both around four minutes long, the play around with soul and funk - The Avengers (Superbad) and The Leopards Featuring Gardenia & The Mighty Slug (what was that all about??). However, they don't quite get there, but they are definitely not glam rock.
So there we have it - an album of palpable change, to an extent. Bolan's songs were always two or three minutes of often pretty nonsensical, repetitive lyrics and this didn't change throughout his career, whether against a glam, folk, rock or soul/funk backing. He was certainly no genius as a composer, but there has always been a strange appeal to his often lyrically odd ditties.
This Tony Visconti remaster is just SUPERB, as is his similar work on Electric Warrior, The Slider and Tanx. They are full, punchy and delightfully bassy. The excellence of the bass playing is really highlighted on these remasters. What were previously somewhat tinny albums are now warm works of aural beauty. To be honest, they made me re-visit and enjoy a flawed album again and listen to it through new ears. It sounds so much better than I remember it too.
The non-album singles from this period included the string-enhanced semi-glam of Truck On (Tyke) heralded an extinction, for sure - "Dino-sohwers" indeed and its side, the vaguely psychedelic Beatles-ish Sitting Here and the chunkier, heavier thump of Satisfaction Pony (from Teenage Dream released in some countries with Mad Donna as its b side). The layered, raucous backing vocals of Satisfaction Pony were a sign of things to come over the next few albums.
© Alec Byrne
Bolan's Zip Gun (1975)
Light Of Love/Solid Baby/Precious Star/Token Of My Love/Space Boss/Think Zinc/Till Dawn/Girl In The Thunderbolt Suit/I Really Love You Babe/Golden Belt/Zip Gun Boogie
By 1975, Marc Bolan's glam star had well and truly faded. His initial experiments with soul and funk stylings on 1974's commercially unsuccessful Zinc Alloy & The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow were built upon here in a similarly disappointing outing, sales-wise. Here, though, the emphasis would seem to be on a more stripped back but poppy sound. Bolan's Zip Gun is often described as his "soul album" but I can't really see it. A bit here and there, but basically it is slowed-down pop rock with VERY loud female backing vocals.
The ubiquitous penchant for two-three minute songs with relatively repetitive, often bizarre lyrics remained (as indeed it would throughout his career). However, there was a distinct lack of those Jeepster-style trademark riffs from 1971-73 that brought so much singles chart success.
The single Light Of Love had a bit of a "soulful rock" feel to it, as indeed did the upbeat Solid Baby, although the latter is more rocky. Precious Star is jaunty but pretty ineffectual. Token Of My Love is more blues rock than soul, and, as with all the material on this album, those screeching female backing voices dominate, which can be a bit off-putting. To be honest, the songs would have been better served without them, or at least render them a bit more subtle.
Space Boss is a soully saxophone-laden swirl with a heavy bass line and an almost "wall of sound" sonic crash. Soul hints, maybe, but it wouldn't have made it onto Young Americans! An interesting track all the same. Think Zinc utilises saxophone in a similar way. Still more rock than soul, though.
Till Dawn is not a bad song, but spoilt by some awful production on Bolan's voice. Lyrically and constructively, it has T. Rex written all over it, so not too much of a change. There is no doubt who this is. Again, a nice bass line underpins it.
By Girl In The Thunderbolt Suit (which has a nice Bolan riff by the way), one is getting highly fed up of those backing voices! It is the lasting memory of the album. Zip Gun Boogie was an ok Bolan single, but again, no doubt who it was, doing the same sort of stuff, certainly singles-wise. I Really Love You Babe is another potentially good song somewhat spoiled. Zinc Alloy really is a much better album, both in song quality and in production. Golden Belt redeems things somewhat, with a funky bass-driven intro and a sort of jazzy soul feel to it. My favourite on the album.
Unlike Electric Warrior, The Slider, Tanx and Zinc Alloy, this album has not been given that beautiful, bassy Tony Visconti remastering treatment, which is a shame, because it sounds much tinnier than that quartet. It is ok, but not as wonderful as Visconti's remasterings. Listening to it now, many years later, it is easy to see why it didn't really do very well. There is a half-baked feel to it, but now I find it has a sort of "faded glory" appeal to it.
Non-album tracks include the soul cover of Otis Redding's Dock Of The Bay with Gloria Jones on lead vocals, Marc on back up, and a funked up, bongo-ish cover of Cliff Richard's Do You Wanna Dance that harked back to the 1970 Tyranosaurus Rex era.
Futuristic Dragon (1976)
Futuristic Dragon (Intro)/Jupiter Liar/Chrome Sitar/All Alone/New York City/My Little Baby/Calling All Destroyers/Theme For A Dragon/Sensation Boulevard/Ride My Wheels/Dreamy Lady/Dawn Storm/Casual Agent
In 1976, Marc Bolan was pretty much irrelevant. His days lording it at the top of the singles charts with his riffy glam rock anthems were now three years past. His previous album, Bolan's Zip Gun was a patchy experiment between tinny pop and soul/funk, aided by excessively loud female backing vocals, provided mainly by his wife, Gloria "Tainted Love" Jones.
The omens weren't good for this album, especially when one considers the fantasy fiction-style cover that seemed like something from the worst of early 70s "prog rock". Many other reviewers have lambasted the album, as indeed did the music critics at the time. Re-visiting it again, many years later, I am pleasurably surprised.
Jupiter Liar is a great opener. Why, it is almost classic T. Rex - repetitive riff, repetitive intoxicating, bizarre lyrics. I love it. Chrome Sitar ain't half bad either, another killer riff and hook. Never mind that punk was catching fire all around and there was no need for T. Rex, it still sounds good. All Alone is a catchy little piece of funky pop, which seemed to be what Bolan was specialising in now. Many people have complained about the sound on this album. Yes, it is a bit trebly, but I believe this latest remastering has re-enabled the killer bass lines and given it a beefed-up feel. It is not too bad at all. Better sound, in fact, than on Bolan's Zip Gun.
The surprise big hit single from the album, the preposterous New York City - "Did you ever see a woman coming out of New York City with a frog in her hand?". No Marc, can't say I ever did. A great piece of driving sort of funky pop, though - glam backing vocals, organ, pounding barrel organ piano, saxophone - a sort of T. Rex wall of sound. My Little Baby is pretty disposable pop, while Calling All Destroyers experiments with all sorts of instrumentation. An interesting piece of madcap upbeat music, utterly impossible to categorise. Marc was just putting out whatever he liked by now, and you now what, it sort of worked. Both sides of the original began with brief instrumental tracks, as if this were some sort of concept album. Both are appealing enough, but completely superfluous. The second one, Theme For A Dragon has teenage girls' screaming on it, as if Bolan is back in 1972.
Bolan even tries to ride on the disco train dominating things at the time with the sort of electric disco of Sensation Boulevard, which would have made a great single, and the somewhat odd Ride My Wheels. The other single from the album, Dreamy Lady has a funky soul feel to it. Dawn Storm is a heavily orchestrated slightly raucous ballad, while Casual Agent continues Bolan's seeming tradition of choosing a unique song to close the album, this is a disco-ish, funky-ish, lyrically weird strange but interesting song.
Overall, it was not as bad as album as many would have you believe.
The non-album singles are the slightly corny London Boys and Laser Love, neither of which were particularly impressive, to be honest. The latter being slightly better. In fact, Laser Love is quite good, a sort of guitar-driven, rocking mid 70s throwback. Its b side was Life's An Elevator. It was acoustic and folky in a late sixties Bolan way. Once again, it has an appeal to it. It was completely musically irrelevant in 1976-77, however.
Dandy In The Underworld (1977)
Dandy In The Underworld/Crimson Moon/Universe/I'm A Fool For You Girl/I Love To Boogie/Visions Of Domino/Jason B. Sad/Groove A Little/The Soul Of My Suit/Hang-Ups/Pain And Love/Teen Riot Structure
As we come to the final album of T. Rex's initially glorious, latterly less-so career, it is extremely easy to categorise most of the albums - Electric Warrior and The Slider as being great (which they are); and Tanx, Zinc Alloy, Bolan's Zip Gun, Futuristic Dragon as being "patchy" or being an "embarrassing fall from grace". This one, is often described as being Marc Bolan's "great swansong". In reviewing his work, I have found good points and bad points, especially in those latter four albums. The same is true with this one. In my opinion, it is not a "return to form" or whatever other reviewer's cliche it may be tempting to use. It shares many characteristics with the other "post chart success/glam rock royalty" albums. It is good in parts. Patchy and awkward in others.
The big hit single, and a track that has proved enduring is obviously the standout (because everyone knows it) - the impossibly catchy I Love To Boogie. The album's other single, Soul Of My Suit is one of those "Bolan dabbles ever so slightly in soul" numbers, but it has an appeal. The non-album single, Celebrate Summer (the band's last single) was a corker. Shame it made no impact on the charts.
Dandy In The Underworld is, along with Jupiter Liar from the previous album, one of the great forgotten Bolan classics. One feels had both of these been released in late 1973/early1974, for example, they would have been huge hits. Imagine replacing Truck On (Tyke) and Light Of Love with these two. Bolan's star might not have faded so soon?
On the whole, the album is rockier and possibly more "glam" than the previous two, harking back more in feel to Tanx and Zinc Alloy. The sound is still a little bit trebly, but this remastering has brought a bit more of the bass to the party, thankfully. The screeching female backing vocals that so marred Bolan's Zip Gun in particular have been toned down a little bit. Unfortunately, synthesisers replace guitar too often on many tracks. Imagine the material on here recorded in an Electric Warrior or Slider style? Crimson Moon is a delightful throwback to earlier days, with one of those Telegram Sam-style riffs. Another one that could have been a big hit had it been recorded and released a few years earlier. It borrows a guitar lick from Paul McCartney's Junior's Farm though, I am sure.
Universe is one of those soul/funk influenced slower numbers, with swirling organ parts and a funky guitar. The following track, I'm A Fool For You Girl is a similar mix of soul and rock music and vocals, more than a little appealing. It is as if what he trying to achieve on Bolan's Zip Gun had been reached with these two. Visions Of Domino has a very 70s uniform rock riff, but I can't place it (Mungo Jerry's Alright Alright Alright maybe?). Jason B. Sad unfortunately rips off Telegram Sam in both its riff and verses. It sounds vaguely odd when Bolan exhorts "Jason!" in the song, a bit like shouting out "Andrew!" or "Philip!".
Groove A Little starts off and continues with a Can I Get A Witness keyboard part. It has a funky ambience to it though and Bolan's voice sounds as good as it had for a while. He is struggling for originality, composition-wise, however. Hang-Ups is another funky one with some great Bolan guitar at the end. All the supposed funk experiments that were apparently on Bolan's Zip Gun seem to have ended up here, actually, to great effect. It makes this the better, more fulfilled album. Pain And Love sees Bolan's voice is really different on this one and Teen Riot Structure is an upbeat, nostalgic closer.
Overall, this is not really a bad album at all, it was just in punk-dominated 1977 it was just a little out of time. Had Marc Bolan lived, I wonder what would have become of him? I'm not sure that creatively he had much left in him. He would probably have continued playing his legacy for many, many years, and why not? It was one hell of a legacy.
Boogie on Boogaloo.
Regarding the extras, Gloria Jones singing To Know Him Is To Love Him is terribly sad, unsurprisingly. City Port is an excellent little gem. Celebrate Summer is a magnificent final piece of joyous Bolan pop, while Tame My Tiger is also surprisingly infectious in its slightly funky, dancey sort of way.