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My brother, even though he is 14 years older than me was my main influence on my musical tastes when I was growing up. He used to make me listen to The Beatles, when I was 5 years old and throughout my life he has planted the seeds for me to develop my own individual tastes in music. Being born in 1974 (3 years after this album was released) I didn't have the pleasure of growing up in the Glam Rock era and it wasn't until after my brother had got me into The Jam and the whole Mod thing in my late teens, that he helped further my education by introducing me to Glam Rock some twenty something years after it was popular(Yes I think I was born in the wrong era sometimes). I had heard about T-Rex with the re-release and popularity of "20th Century Boy", due in no small part to a Levi Jeans commercial and my brother just gave me a gentle nudge in the right direction from there.
T-Rex were formed as Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1967 by Marc Bolan (vocals, guitar, organ, bass) and Steve Peregrin Took (percussion), the duo recorded three folk infused albums together before Bolan replaced Took with Mickey Finn (percussion) for one final album under the Tyrannosaurus Rex moniker and the first with a new electric guitar sound. 1970 saw the band change the name to T-Rex and release a self titled album, this was also the year that T-Rex hit mainstream success with their first hit single; "Ride a White Swan" reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and Glam Rock was born!
1971 saw T-Rex release a taster of what was to come with their first UK chart topping single "Hot Love", with it's catchy chorus and sublime vocal from Bolan, incidentally this track remained at the number one spot for a whopping six weeks. The following month the band went into the studio again to record what would be their sixth studio album and the pinnacle of their career....Electric Warrior.
The album opens with a nice meaty bass and percussion; "Mambo Sun" although not lyrically great, it is quite catchy and Bolan sings in his soft tones, often overshadowed by the music. The song has the feel of a raw demo about it but it works really well as an album opener.
If you have seen the film Billy Elliot you will definitely have heard the next track, "Cosmic Dancer". This is one of the stand out tracks on the album, the vocal just kind of floats along and while listening to it you can feel yourself float along with it. Marc Bolans vocal as ever softly sung beautifully.
Next up we have a song that was to become the bands 2nd number 2 UK single, "Jeepster", it was only kept off the number one spot by Benny Hills novelty record "Ernie". The song was released by T-Rex record company Fly without permission from Bolan, which angered him so much that he refused to promote the song, such was their popularity it still managed a very good chart position. The song is very rocky and fits in well with the Glam Rock era. The lyric seems to be about the love of a woman who seems to be out of the singers league, he likens the situation to him being a lowly Jeep and the woman being a Jaguar.
After the rocky "Jeepster" we have a very typical Glam Rock sound complete with a backing choir, the lyrics of Monolith seem a lot of nonsense but perhaps they meant something to Marc. The song has one verse that repeats throughout the song with various guitar solos and Marcs screaming "ahhh yeaah" throughout. This song seems like a precursor to the bands 1974 UK Singles Chart #13 "Teenage Dream", there is definitely a similarity between them both.
The album takes a slight change in direction with the bluesy "Lean Woman Blues", it sounds really gritty, the type of song you would be quite happy to listen to in a rock themed bar.
If anyone asked you to name a song that defined T-Rex, then this next track would be the first one to come out of the hat..."(Bang a Gong) Get it On" is the bands definitive track, their first single release from this album, and also became their 2nd number 1 UK hit single. The song is more commonly known in the UK as "Get it On", but due to an American band called Chase having a song with the same name, T-Rex decided to add the (Bang a Gong) part, so as not to cause confusion to their American listeners. The song was the groups biggest U.S hit, reaching number 10 on the U.S Pop Singles Chart, incidentally 1980's supergroup The Power Station reached number 9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1985 with their cover of the song. I never get tired of listening to this track, it is not the best track on the album, but it is up there with the best of them.
Another nonsense song, the bongo heavy "Planet Queen", some of these lyrics make me wonder what Bolan was smoking at the time, "Well it's alright, love is what she want, flying saucer take me away, give me your daughter".. very catchy tune but just don't think too heavily on what you're singing about and you'll be alright.
A beautiful simple acoustic track up next with "Girl", the kind of song for sitting having a chill on a Sunday afternoon, "Well I can't sit still, so baby lets dance with the girl in the thunderbolt suit" Bolan sings so wistfully.
"The Motivator" has a nice feel to it, like a cross between "Mambo Sun" and "(Bang a Gong) Get it On", another track about wizards hats and golden cats (it's difficult writing this review without assassinating the lyrics and it's such a good track too, so I do apologise to any hardened Bolan fans out there).
Without a doubt my favourite T-Rex track ever! "Life's a Gas", should have been an A' side, instead of the B' side to "Jeepster" in my opinion. The thing that ruined this song for me was the cringe worthy rendition of this track by Cilla Black, check it out if you dare, I'm sure you will find it on YouTube. Anyway this song is absolutely amazing, from the vocal to guitar parts (acoustic and electric). It truly is a beautiful love song.
The album finishes with the rocky grittiness similar to that which kickstarted the album, almost punk well before it's time; "Rip Off", the track ends with a mish mash of instruments similar to one of early Pink Floyds psychedelic arrangements. What an end to a fantastic album.
The album reached the number 1 spot in the UK Album Chart and remained there for several weeks, it went on to become the best selling album of 1971. From here T-Rex's popularity remained for a while, yet their next albums were nowhere near as popular as Electric Warrior and just as Bolan was on the verge of another comeback in 1977, his life was untimely ended in a car crash at the age of 29. He left a legacy of work behind him 10 top ten UK Singles, four of them UK number 1's, 3 top ten UK Albums, one of them (this one) a UK number 1.
The album cover shows what seems like an electrified silhouette of Bolan in front of an amp with his electric guitar, the background is black and the outlines are in yellow, designed by Hipgnosis, who designed many album covers including Led Zeppelins "Houses of the Holy" album.
This album can be purchased via amazon.co.uk for the humble sum of £6.19 including postage and packaging.
All songs written and composed by Marc Bolan
1) Mambo Sun
2) Cosmic Dancer
5) Lean Woman Blues
6) Bang a Gong (Get it on)
7) Planet Queen
9) The Motivator
10) Life's a Gas
11) Rip Off
This album should be the starting point for anyone who is interested in listening to T-Rex, aside from the greatest hits, I think the best of Bolans material is to be found wrapped up in these 11 tracks. There is not a single bad track on the album, yes granted the lyrics might be a lot of waffle but these are all fantastic tunes, and very catchy, so very soon you will be singing along, as I am now as I listen to it. This was a time when the hippy folky T-Rex took a sharp change in direction, alienating a lot of their original fanbase and it worked out for the better.
Although Marc Bolan had already produced some electric product before Electric Warrior this album can be considered to be a turning point as Bolan rushed headlong into 'pop' and more particularly glam rock music. If the aim was to achieve immense sales and huge stardom then it was successful. Alas it alienated the fan base Bolan had built before then and though many stayed loyal it was now the teenage market he satisfied most.
The album produced 2 massive singles. The first 'Get It On' was typical new Bolan. A happy singalong track during which he could pout and strut about the stage. The second 'Jeepster' achieved pretty much the same but at least was slightly raunchier. It also had the benefit of better lyrics of the style for which Bolan had already become famous. A little different with a feel of a make believe magical world. Never could Bolan be described as writing predictable and leaden lyrics. Well, not for a few years anyway.
The album opens with 'Mambo Sun' which is a party song with excellent guitar playing by Bolan. His abilities with the electric guitar were underestimated. He could play with precision and gusto and without any apparent effort. Bolan was comfortable with his guitar and used it as an extension of his persona and stage act. 'Cosmic Dancer' and 'Girl' are very similar tracks. Both are much slower than ever would be considered for a single and full of extravagant orchestral arrangements. They give proof that Bolan was an expressive though not particularly gifted vocalist.
'Monolith' and 'Lean Woman Blues' complete side 1 with the both tracks having heavier weighty arrangements than the lighter treatments of the singles. 'Planet Queen' is a track of obscure lyrics full of apparent meaning and yet strangely devoid of meaning. It is sometimes suggested that Bolan only used some word forms as a collection of phonic sounds and this track could be just that. 'Girl' though is again typical Bolan elevating his love to that of the love of a God equating the female form with deity. The track is slower than the usual ones but is simply produced and quite haunting.
'The Motivator' is more up beat and could easily have succeeded as a single. It has a skipping beat and is an example of the pop sound Bolan was developing before it became compromised by excessive posturing both musical and physical. 'Life's A Gas' was famously done as a duet with Cilla Black on her TV show. A truly simple but effective song it is a throwback to the earlier simplicity of his first albums. Short and sweet. 'Rip Off' rounds of the album. I have a short live recording of this but even as a studio track it sounds superb. Almost a chanted anthem but not one which aims for, still less hits, any specific targets.
'Electric Warrior' was, indeed still is, a good album. Bolan is largely forgotten as he is strongly associated for his commercial success with glam rock. Glam rock was never particularly glamorous nor was it particularly good rock'n'roll. Still it knocks the current boy band - girl band - boys'n'girls band monotony for six. Electric Warrior is a must for T Rex fans but probably unlikely to garner new fans.
Electric warrior - Bolan's post-acoustic masterpiece, and I can't be dissuaded from that opinion! I discovered Marc in the the late eighties - late in the day by a few years but the excitement and drive in this heady music held its appeal for me, and just served to make me wish I had been around at the peak of T- Rextacy.
This is fine album surpasses all of Marc Bolan's electric work - even the Slider which was to come next - spawning mega - singles 'Get It On' and 'Jeepster'. This was Bolan's first foray into heavier rock, and it marked the beginning of Glam which was to rules pop, and the Top Of The Pops Studios, for the next several years. Yet there are hidden quieter gems in this work. Sure, we all get up and dance to the hipnotic bluesy rock of 'Get It On' - and what a party track that is!- but the recent success of the film 'Billy Elliot' have brought lesser-known tunes from the album more into the public domain. Listen to the divine 'Cosmic Dancer' at top volume and just wallow in those strings! 'Girl' is a beautifully melodic song too, circling round in your head seemingly forever - and I mean that in a good way! Take a look at 'Life's a Gas' too - a lovely, lilting number - and then imagine Marc duetting with Cilla Black on it, as he did on Cilla's show in the early seventies. If a song can survive that, it'll live forever!
Electric Warrior's mostly about Marc lessing loose the Rock God within, however, the quieter tunes serving to break up the more raucous hits. I love 'Lean Woman Blues' - I learned to play it on my guitar as a teen! - but what a finish is 'Rip-Off'! He was really angry (about what, who knows?) when he wrote that! Play it all loud and proud!
The album that really jump-started the glam rock craze in the UK, Electric Warrior completes T. Rex 's metamorphosis from hippy folk-rockers into ostentatious avatars of trashy rock & roll. There aren't many vestiges of those early days present in the acoustic-driven ballads, but Electric Warrior spends most of its time in a swinging, hip-shaking groove driven and guided by Marc Bolan 's warm electric guitar. The music brings back not only the catchy simplicity of early rock & roll, but also the unspoken sexuality — except that here, Bolan happily brings it to the surface, singing out loud what was once only communicated through the shimmying beat. He takes obvious delight in turning teenage bubblegum rock into campy sleaze, not to mention filling it with pseudo-psychedelic hippy poetry. In fact, Bolan seems to be just as obsessed with the heavens as he does with sex, whether he's singing about spiritual mysticism or begging a flying saucer to take him away. It's all done with the same theatrical style, but Tony Visconti's spacious, echoeing production makes it very convincing. Still, the real reason Electric Warrior stands the test of time so well — despite its intended disposability — is that it revels so freely in its own absurdity and willful lack of substance. Not taking himself at all seriously, Bolan is free to go with whatever silly wordplay, cosmic fantasies, or non sequitur imagery he feels like; his abandonment of any pretense to art becomes, ironically, a statement in itself. Bolan's lack of pomposity, back-to-basics songwriting, and elaborate theatrics went on to influence everything from hard rock to punk to new wave. But in the end, it's that sense of playfulness, combined with a whole heap of irresistible hooks, that keeps Electric Warrior such an infectious, invigorating, and excellent listen, even today.
While this album is definitely less catchy and upbeat glam as Bolan's next and far-superior 'Slider' LP, 'Electric Warrior' is a groundbreaking masterwork which saw the T-Rex crew take things to the next level(in terms of utilizing more hot, sweaty electric guitar work, that is). Created in 1971 in the States, I believe it was New York, this record is a varied collection that started a downright phenomenon. Well okay, in all fairness, 'Ride a White Swan' started the big ruckus and being an american I have no idea of just how massive the ruckus was( people haven't really heard of this awesome band over here). Marc Bolan is one of my favorite songwriters, he is- for me- the quintessential glam rocker(aside from Brian Eno, and especially moreso than Bowie- though Bowie had a more bizzare fashion sense) and possibly the most underrated song swordsman of that decade. His strange lyrical penchant for mystical gnomes and sorcerers and the like(kinda like Wayne hussey) was here replaced by hearty balls-to-the-wall street slang, a jive-talking elve who played a killer guitar lick. Contrary to the name, 'Electric Warrior' is a primarily acoustic album, continuing in the vein of past releases, but laced with more mainstream popular sensibilities. Every track has an acoustic riding the wave of bass, and the electric guitar is really there to accentuate and inject more vitality. 'Mambo Sun', a cool little number with steady, well recorded drums(those compressed drums which were the staple of Glitter rock), a laid-back bass, cool backing vocals and Bolan's unmistakable voice. His cheesy but lovely lyrics amuse and mortify at the same time. 'Cosmic Dancer' is a classic, and one of the top five T-Rex tracks of all time(in my book). A pleasant acoustic track, and a live favorite. 'Jeepster' is typical of the teeny pop trite Bolan was known for at the time, it features a sugary sweet melod
y, spritely tempo and is complete ear-candy. 'Lean Woman Blues', as the name implies, a blues number: more warm, soulful backing vocals and those oh-so-groovy Bolan leads. Anyone who's ever listened to a classic rock radio station has heard the overrated 'Get it On'- this is the only song T-Rex had managed to make break some ground with in the states, and its probably one of his lesser substantial works. Twelve-bar-blues, glittery soul singers, saxaphones: its glam-incarnate( and gives you an idea of where Eldritch of the Sisters of Mercy got the idea for 'More'). 'Girl' is another cool track, an indictment of teenage bombast. 'Motivator' is just fine as well. 'Planet Queen' is my favorite song on the album, with Bolan imploring the aliens to "give me your daughter". Its got a killer backbeat and the redundant, but T-Rex trademark backing vocals. 'Monolith' is more twelve-bar blues rock. 'Lifes a Gas' is yet another Classic in the Bolan repetoire- and one I cover from time to time. 'Rip Off' is a baffling tune, which is not the best way to end a record, as it leaves the listener scratching his head in confusion. A chaotic exercise which I think is tongue-in-cheek. All in all, even though it doesn't have the vitality of 'Slider', or carry the mature soulful mark of later Bolan releases, its still a very cool CD, and recommended.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Mambo Sun
2 Cosmic Dancer
5 Lean Woman Blues
6 Bang a Gong (Get It On)
7 Planet Queen
10 Life's a Gas
11 Rip Off
12 There Was a Time [*]
13 Raw Ramp [*]
14 Planet Queen [Acoustic Version][*]
15 Hot Love [*]
16 Woodland Rock [*]
17 King of the Mountain Cometh [*]
18 T. Rex Electric Warrior Interview [*]