Review : T.Rex - The Slider
PopmattersWhen Marc Bolan made Electric Warrior in 1971, he took the masculine ethos of brass-tacks rock ‘n’ roll and turned it inside out. The raunchy, hardline blues rock of “Jeepster” and “Bang a Gong” subordinated the core sincerity of the form to the external trappings of sleaze and vanity. The Slider, T.Rex’s follow up the next year, was a proclamation that he was never going to look back. Everything from the cover to the explosive opening track, “Metal Guru”, is an unapologetic exercise in egotism. Of course, there’s something a little tongue-in-cheek about the whole getup, but it’s not self-awareness that saved T.Rex from self-indulgent insignificance. In fact, it was something of the opposite. Bolan’s uncontainable imagination transformed every absurdity into an irresistible drug for the bored or frustrated listener. It’s no wonder that the Bolan mania which swept the UK was termed “T.Rextacy”.
Electric Warrior is the album that’s been immortalized on best-of lists and dorm room walls as T.Rex’s legacy in the rock canon, but The Slider is just as addictive. The 1972 follow-up was Bolan’s best-selling album, his moment in the spotlight after the previous year’s classic paved the way for mega-stardom. His swagger and his swing are consistently, magnificently promiscuous. His lyrics and his guitar playing are passionately, gratuitously emotive. Take the title track. The song’s form enacts its content, sliding exquisitely through just three and a half minutes of swirling violins, plodding guitars and vocal shenanigans. Bolan sings nonsense with unerring bravado: “I could never understand the wind at all / was like a ball of love / I could never never see the cosmic sea / was like a bumblebee”....full text
BlogcriticsYesterday, September 30, 2008, would have been Marc Bolan’s sixty-first birthday. In recognition of that and to remember him I would like to take you back an incredible thirty-six years to March 1972. Marc and his band T.Rex were flying high. Their last album Electric Warrior, often sited as his best work, had underlined Marc’s position as glam-rock’s leading exponent.
By that time he was being filmed by Ringo Starr at the sell out Empire Pool, Wembley concerts for the film Born To Boogie. The hysteria at these concerts was something that hadn’t been seen since the Beatles. He was also working on his follow up album to Electric Warrior, The Slider.
The Slider was the first album released following his move to the EMI label, which came about when his previous label Fly released the single “Jeepster” without his agreement. His contract lapsed and he moved on. In an indication of how much of a coup this was to EMI, they gave Marc his own design for both record and bag under the title T.Rex Wax....full text
SuperseventiesIt seems to be layed out for us in Ringo Starr's incredible grainy high contrast b&w cover photograph, but what is it? Boy, man, girl -- it's not a woman but these days you never know. The human who writes the one graph record blurbs for Billboard looked at the picture and came up with an astute connection: Marc Bolan looks like a silent film star, a tossled Theda Bara, a black-haired scarecrow Lillian Gish. It's an amazing photograph, even more so on another level when you consider who shot it: Ten years ago England's children were creaming over the photographer; today several million British kids are faunching over this weird hermaphrodeity, this electric metal faun, Marc Bolan, forking over pounds and new pence for singles and albums by the million, shimmying and orgazumming over the Slider's hypnotic, synapse-searing brand of Robot Rock. Where will it end? Certainly not in England, where the T. Rex phenomenon had captured the hearts and minds of yet another generation -- 14 million records sold in three years, more than the Beatles or Rolling Stones ever did, more than Billy Fury, Cilla Black, Adam Faith and Lulu rolled together. The cat's got the whole island wired!
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
But maybe not in these United States where the good Warner Brothers paid more than a million fazools to Marc's own record works for the American rights to his music, hoping to laugh all the way to the bank on the teeny shoulders of this latest of Monsters. The fickle yank record-buying public was not so impressed: Bolan's first album for Warner, Electric Warrior, (there's an earlier and worse one on Blue Thumb) sold only moderately well, with the simian single "Ban a Gong (Get It On)," with its imagery of motive copulation and rhythmic dullard/hoodlum ambiance, going Top 10 all over the land late last winter.
And so here comes The Slider, released in late August in the eye of a "T. Rextasy" hype hurricane, having already blasted off back home to the tune of ringing cashboxes and hysteria-crazed squeals from the now usual wet-pantied audiences. Bravely, the Warners rushed two separate singles into the breach: "Metal Guru" ended up buying the farm in every market from Delaware to Burbank except for the lovely village of Detroit (where else?), where it did quite well, while "Telegram Sam," the archetypal Bolan strutting robotic, died a thousand deaths from sea to shining sea. Just so. I can imagine the ghosts of the crotchety old brothers Warner going Hmmmmm...
Which is unfortunate, because T. Rex/M. Bolan have cranked out maybe the strangest, most viscerally foreign sounds to emerge from the whole of western rock & roll, something so new as to be downright outrageous and scary yet something so familiar, a hybrid of Chuck Berry rock & raunch grafted to the most monolithic, surreal of Beatle orchestrations -- indeed, it seems that almost any of The Slider's tunes could have come from the Beatles' White Album. No wonder Ringo is so interested (he's even made a film of Bolan's English performances): the aging moptop is probably vicariously getting his ego-rocks off while suffering from a nagging case of nostalgia-past shock. It must be tough for the old boy not to be screamed at anymore.
In any case, The Slider (recorded in Paris and Copenhagen) starts off the insidious but catchy "Metal Guru" with the diabolical castrato caterwauling of Messrs. Howard Kalan and Mark Volman, ex-Mothers presently reincarnated as the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, perfectly high-strung companions for Bolan's leap into musical purgatory. Their somehow perverse wailing is the perfect foil for young Marc's macho yet omnisexual car fetish (Stick shift as lingam? Bucket seat as yoni? Exhaust pipe as anus?): "Metal Guru has it been/Just like silver-studded sabre-tooth dream/I'll be clean you know/Pollution machine/Oh Metal Guru, is it you?"
"Mystic Lady," with its gorgeous surreal chorus, is a lovely lump of flash, slow and easy, the most sophisticated piece on the album. "Rock On" gets us back into the cybernetic metal-man effect as does "Baby Boomerang," both devoid of any meaning other than you can dance to it (more about that later) and hat their scat-dada lyrics ar fun to sing. Other than that, Marc's lyrics read like those in a vintage 1959 Anthony Burgess speculative sci-fi yarn about the androgynous teenagers of the future.
"The Slider" is a slow and very sad song with an ominous thump beginning and clattering, disturbed delirium tremens rattlesnakes:
I have never kissed
A car before
It's like a door
I have always, always
Grown my own before
All schools are strange
And when I'm sad
Whew! What? Where am I? Slide into what? The album gets scarier as it goes along. But the psychic energy is startin' to build: "Spaceball Ricochet" is an acoustic trance tune that leads into "Buick Mackane" (will you be my girl?), two minutes of more chilling glandular energy....full text
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