Featured Album – The Slider – T. Rex

All of Marc Bolan’s signatures are here — mystical folk-tinged ballads, overt sexual come-ons crooned over sleazy, bopping boogies, loopy nonsense poetry, and a mastery of the three-minute pop song form. . . It’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in the irresistible rush of melodies and cheery good times.
—-AllMusic

The television man is crazy
Saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks
Oh man I need TV when I got
T. Rex

Oh brother you guessed
I’m a dude now

—All the Young Dudes

Ah, yes. T.Rex. A band which you may love or hate but with which you must deal. I would never call myself the world’s biggest Marc Bolan fan but some of his stuff I really like. And I really like the album The Slider,  which was produced by Bowie’s producer and bandmate, Tony Visconti.

T. Rex’ music isn’t in the least complicated. Simple chord progressions, easy to play. It’s like candy, sometimes super sweet candy. But I have a wicked sweet tooth. Marc Bolan and Jeff Lynne were contemporaries, born in fact, within months of each other. And they seemed, to these ears, to have similar DNA.

A little history is in order: The band Tyrannosaurus Rex was formed in 1967 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Marc Bolan. The early albums were standard rock ‘n roll fare that eventually grew – under Bolan’s direction – into lusher more melodic stuff. Reportedly, Visconti got tired of writing Tyrannosaurus on the tapes and shortened it to T. Rex.

T. Rex along with other bands started to fall under the appellation of glam rock. Per Wikipedia, glam rock is a “style of rock and pop music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s performed by musicians who wore outrageous costumes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform shoes and glitter.

The flamboyant clothing and visual styles of performers were often camp or androgynous and have been described as playing with nontraditional gender roles.”

So in addition to T. Rex, there were David Bowie, Lou Reed, Sweet, Roxy Music, New York Dolls. Were they gay? Were they straight? It took your standard rock jock a while to get his head around it, sexual identity being quite a bit less fluid then than it is today.

In that era, T. Rex, having already had hits such as “Get it On” and “Jeepster” were about as big as you could get in the UK. (And pretty popular in the US too if not garnering the same level of adulation.) The Slider was released in 1972 to some measure of critical acclaim but was actually more popular in the US than in the UK.

Spotify link

What I like about this album is it’s just very tuneful, not serious at all and under its supposed glam rock image, has a decided Fifties and even sometimes, bluesy feel. It features the unmistakable harmony vocals of ex-Turtles Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan. (Or Flo and Eddie, who had been working with Zappa.)

“Ballrooms of Mars.” Some blistering guitar here by Bolan who, according to his own words, likes to rock:

You dance
With your lizard leather boots on
And pull the strings
That change the faces of men

You diamond browed hag
You a gutter-gaunt gangster
John Lennon knows your name
And I’ve seen his
Rock!

Spotify link

Next up, “Baby Boomerang,” displaying Bolan’s trademark discretion:

Baby Boomerang
Baby Boomerang
Well, you never spike a person
But you always bang the whole gang
Thank you ma’am

Spotify link

Herbie Flowers, T. Rex bassist in the later years, of Bolan said, “He was the guv’nor.” (We’d say he’s the man here in the States.) “Like Bowie, he stuck to the great tradition, the Shakespearean minstrel, the masquerade. He wasn’t afraid to dress up and get the bird for it. I mean, you don’t go and hear a band, you go and see a band.” (I dunno, I kinda think you do both.)

Of historical note is that around this time, Bolan and crew filmed a live concert that included Ringo Starr and Elton John. Called Born to Boogie, I have never seen it and it appears to have disappeared into the ether or Amazon or someplace.

T. Rex continued on for a few more years hitting heights with songs like “20th Century Boy.” But their run of UK hits had begun to subside and the band started to fall apart.

On September 16 1977 – 40 years ago today – Marc Bolan’s girlfriend Gloria Jones was driving them home after a night of partying. Failing to negotiate a turn, she drove his car into a tree. Jones was injured; Bolan died instantly at the age of 29. The site is marked with a memorial called Bolan’s Rock Shrine.

To which one can only ask the musical question – Are you My Main Man? Are you now? Are you now?

Spotify link

15 thoughts on “Featured Album – The Slider – T. Rex

  1. I’ll bite Doc. This was another album in my brothers pile that i used to play a lot (at risk of life and limb). It was a little different than his other records but I still dug it. I had to get past the whole “Glam Rock” thing and just hear the music. Same as a few of those other bands and artists you mentioned. T Rex and Bolan had a unique sound and like I said I dug it. The whole Flo and Eddie thing blew my mind and added cred. Some how CB inherited the album or maybe I stole it from the brother. He hasn’t mentioned anything in over 40 years so maybe I’ll keep my mouth shut. Good choice and a good read.

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    1. Yeah, that glam thing was just image. The music was kinda pop rock. I wondered if I’d still enjoy it but I’m finding myself digging it. Ive listened to these tunes a couple of times already. Love ‘Main Man.’ Not surprised there isn’t a big response. Forgotten band?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember Bolan and Bowie kind of leading that “Glam”thing. Mott the Hoople (Ian Hunter) are the ones I drifted to. ‘Slider’ is an album I’ve been threatening to do a take on (You did a fine job). ‘Spiders’ by Bowie was a few years later wasn’t it Doc?

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        1. “Dudes”, “Memphis” hooked me on Mott. Then Hunter hooked up with Mick Ronson and did some good stuff. Back to T Rex. I enjoy the reminders and the revisits I get from your takes. Keep pulling them out. Oh yeah, just thought of this. I watched ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and one of the characters had a Bolon fixation, it’s funny. I mentioned it to 1537 a while back.

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        2. I got back into Ian Hunter with his record ‘You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic’. He got a bunch of help from the ‘E Streeters’. Then he did a great album called ‘Welcome To the Club’. Ronson is a big part of both. ‘Memphis’ is a killer tune.

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    1. This whole thing started for me by hearing “Rabbit Fighter” on the radio a few weeks ago. I said, “Is that on The Slider?” Because I hadn’t heard the album in ages. I wondered if the album would still hold up and it did as I mentioned to CB. When choosing songs, I originally hadn’t picked “Ballrooms.” Then I listened to it and said, Oh, yeah. “Main Man” does it for me. Don’t know why. Three chords – D-Emin-G. Bolan had a great melodic sense.

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