September 30 would've been Marc Bolan's sixty-fifth birthday. Roughly three weeks prior to entering his thirties, glam rock's cornerstone elfin crooner passed on after a fatal automobile accident on September 15, 1977. Ironically, his landmark hit-making band, T.Rex built much of their lyrical success around hot rods, in addition to sexually primed double entendres. T.Rex were celebrated for their clunky, yet nimble sound in many corners of the globe during the seventies (unfortunately the United States views Marc Bolan and his band as little more than culty bubblegum.) Thirty five years later, Marc Bolan's spangly leopard print star is shining with a nova of rebirth from countless fan clubs, album reissues, merchandise, and internet enthusiasm. From his days in a hobbit hole with the Tolkienesque, Tyrannosaurus Rex folk duo to his brazen climb to success with the electrified, five-piece T.Rex, the Warlock of Love is now the subject of many autobiographies/period books pertaining to glam rock, and is fast becoming a word of mouth character in the twenty-something vinyl community. With all this posthumous power rising, the United States may be readying itself for an invasion from the glittering dino-king. If this is the case, I'd like to contribute my own touch and bring to light Mr. Bolan and T.Rex for a new generation (mine.) What I have here is a review for my definitive T.Rex LP: The Slider, released some forty years ago, during the summer of 1972.
The Slider by T.Rex
The Slider is the best selling album from T.Rex, on either side of the Atlantic, and continued Bolan's tenure as glitter god royalty. The only artist seen as a potential threat to the T.Rex dynasty, was none other than Ziggy Stardust himself, David Bowie. Although Slider failed to yield any hit singles in America, it did secure a foothold at number seventeen on the Billboard charts. Just a year earlier, the band had put out their first runaway success, Electric Warrior (if you live in the US, you've probably been exposed to the album single, 'Bang A Gong (Get It On)', on the radio and the abundance of soundtrack appearances its made over the years.) Warrior made Marc Bolan a media darling over night, after a decade of minor achievement in the UK mod/hippie circuit. The album featured a very small strand of hippie-folk influence (think Donovan or Dylan,) but had nearly shed the sound entirely, due to Marc's allegiance to Chuck Berry guitar arrangements and the burgeoning revolt against any remotely political propaganda in pop music.
Marc's new album slid across the stage and shot up to space. It perfected the band's signature sound of whimsical sensuality set to the rough and sweet stomp from electric guitars. On Elton John's word of recommendation, Slider was largely recorded at the Chateau d'Herouville, near Paris. Recording wrapped up in Copenhagen, and the album's net worth was invigorated, since it had dodged British tax policies. Former Turtles bandmates, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (AKA: Flo and Eddie) lent backing vocals in Elektra Studios, and were critical to the success of the album's vocal harmonies (as they had done for Electric Warrior.) The LP was balanced by two mega-hits in England, 'Metal Guru' (the opening track), and 'Telegram Sam' (also off the record.) Since the album was propped by a higher budget than Warrior, the production was fuller, and it allowed the songs to vibrate their fun house aggression.
Many argue and tag The Slider as the cheap clone of Electric Warrior's formula for success. The two albums are both rewarding listens in their own right, and they could easily be coupled together as an extravagant gatefold LP, but I feel that Slider is just a tad superior to its predecessor. Sure, the formula is almost identically similar. Bolan resonates his usual nonsensical poetry combined with a lion's share of sexual innuendo. The band blows tribal fire through their instrumentation, and Marc's Les Paul let's us enjoy living any way we'd like (and we still have a rollicking good time!) Still, thanks to their higher production values the album is louder and Marc's voice sounds more glam-boyant than ever. Also, the transition from Middle Earth hobbit bard to androgynous Star Trek elf looks to have come full circle, and there is not a trace of Fairport Convention-strumming on the entire record. Hence, this is a truly unified glam rock album, as it never veers from its indulgence with eroticism/outer space mythos, and it wears it's radiant shock frock with pride, never failing to be less than outrageous.
Although September 30 was yesterday, I am extending belated birthday wishes to Marc, as he continues his atomic reptilian romp among the stars. The twentieth century boy lives on in the new millenium! Accompanied by his children of the revolution, he rides free, atop their futuristic dragon. I'm sure, Bolan, Steve Currie, Mickey Finn, and every cosmic dancer from the band is rocking into eternity. Happy birthday, Marc!