Almost every band that makes it big has a turning point. Pink Floyd had one when Syd Barrett lost the plot. David Gilmour was brought into replace him, and after Floyd shrugged off their psychadelic roots and made their epic space-rock album, 1973's Dark Side Of The Moon, there was no looking back, as they were now international superstars. This was no different for Marc Bolan and his creation, T. Rex, which started out as a two man band named Tyrannosaurus Rex, playing mythological folk songs with Bolan on guitar and Steve 'Peregrin' Took on drums/percussion. After two years of playing and touring, Took got fed up of Bolan refusing to play any of his songs, and when they returned to the UK from a doomed US tour, Bolan replaced him with long-time percussionist, Mickey Finn...and so the T.Rex story begins.
The duo quickly assembled a band including Steve Currie (bass) and Will Legend (drums) and released a self-titled album in 1970, with 2 classics, 'Ride a white swan' and 'Hot love'. The album peaked at number 13 in the charts, But that album never came close to this very album...'Electric Warrior' This is the be all and end all of T.rex, spawning a list of classic songs, including 'Get It on' and 'Jeepster'. After this album, Marc Bolan began his steady decline, with a heavy alcohol dependancy and a list of mediocre albums, he tradgically died on September 16, 1977 in a car crash in South West London. Electric Warrior is T.Rex's one, true classic album and lives on as a defining album in rock music.
T.Rex- Electric Warrior
Marc Bolan: Vocals/Guitar
Mickey Finn: Percussion/Vocals
Steve Currie: Bass
Will Legend: Drums
Electric Warrior anounces iself with a simple rock drumbeat and a semi-muted electric guitar, called 'Mambo Sun', this song has the traditional Bolan vocal in which he sings in a quite tone, but piles on stacks of attitude, it also has a trademark Bolan solo. This is a nice steady opener that leads straight into Bolan declaring "I was dancing when I was 12" over the top of a soft acoustic guitar. 'Cosmic Dancer' doesn't really launch into a full-on rocker, instead letting Bolan croon his way over a string and horn arrangement, with a nice steady drumbeat and a intricate little solo towards the end as Legend rolls away on his toms, a very laid-back affair this one. A straight-laced rock drumbeat and 50's rock style guitar sends us into well-known classic 'Jeepster' , complete with a stylish bassline and hand-claps to make this a very swinging little number indeed, Bolan throws in some of his intricate lead work amongst the rhythm for added feel. 'Monolith' starts off with more simple rock drumming and a classy bassline, including gospel style 'Ooooooh's' and another leading riff from bolan. The song moves along at a steady pace throughout with Bolan adding more short solo's throughout and the backing vocals supporting Bolan's vocals, which at times throughout move outside of his softly sung tone to points where shrieks out lyrics like 'Oh yeh!' repeatedly.
Bolan shouting"1,2, and buckle my shoe!" greets us with 'Lean Woman Blues', a song that sounds very similar to AC/DC's 'The Jack', it moves along at a very bluesy pace, and consists of Bolan doing a fair bit of blues-rock lead work, while he lets loose on the vocals, really making it sound like he means it, this song has a very electric-blues sound similar to Cream. Next up, we have 'That' song, the one and only 'Get It On', easily the best song on here, it contains that blues guitar riff, pounding drums and brilliant backing vocals, but the real highlight of this song is Bolan's vocals, the way he sings it just spills with attitude, and the song contains some very nice saxophone work courtesy of Ian McDonald. Another simple rock drumbeat and backing'Oooohs' lead us into 'Planet Queen', a song similar in a way to 'Monolith', But with less guitar and a more soulful feel, as the backing vocalists really shine through on this particular track, Bolan also let's his vocals loose again to show his emotion. A soft acoustic guitar and Bolan singing leads us into the soft, emotional ballad that is 'Girl', This song is very subdued compared to rest of this album, and contains only the flugel horn and Bolan's acoustic guitar.
'The Motivator' starts off with a guitar riff very similar to 'Get It on', but this effort is very much stripped-down, only using the 4 main instruments and Bolan's trademark vocals. Mickey Finn gets in on the action here with some very stylish percussion work. A rhythmic acoustic guitar kicks off 'Life's a gas', which includes more of Bolan's trademark vocals and lead work, a song that could be taken as being serious or sarcastic, Bolan throws in some nice lead work for effect and again, Mickey Finn's percussion work is noticeable and puts a smooth edge to this very relaxed song. The album closer, 'Rip off' starts off with a pretty agressive vocal tone provided by Bolan complete with spiralling guitar riffs and pounding drumming, it also includes an effective string section and saxophones to give it a layered feel. It's quite different to the rest of the album, and could have been stuck in the middle to break up the more laid-back and relaxed songs.
'Electric Warrior' is a staple in the famed british rock era of the seventies. This album went on to inspire bands such as Oasis ('Cigarettes and alcohol' borrow directly from 'Get it on') and become a must-own album for anyone who enjoys classic rock. This album is claimed to have inspired the Glam Rock movement of the 80's, but I don't think we need to go there. Marc Bolan's legacy lives on, and this album embodies his spirit.
RIP: Marc Bolan 1947-1977