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Old 03-03-2009, 12:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default T. Rex -"Electric Warrior"


T. Rex
Electric Warrior (1971)


Despite having heard the name "T. Rex" since I can remember, and the inclusion of the single "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" on classic rock radio's increasingly stale playlist, it's taken me until January of this year to hear "Electric Warrior". I've read about it's acclaim for years, but for whatever reason- perhaps the overplaying of "Bang a Gong" combined with my indifference towards the song, "Warrior" never got a proper chance until recently. I've since realized that not owning this album for the past 21 years is perhaps the largest musical crime I've ever committed.

Remember that scene in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" when one of the characters suggests that side A of 'Led Zeppelin IV' is what you should put on for the perfect makeout music? (If you do I hope you also remember that when it shows the plan unfolding 'Kashmir' comes on in the car stereo, which is actually on Physical Graffitti, a minor slip that's always really bothered me). Fuck that movie's advice, this is the perfect makeout music. The entire album is subtle, but never slow, electric, but not abrasive. The ballads are moving, but never cheesy or over-the-top, the background vocls smooth and well placed; never too choir or gospel-y. The entire thing might be the perfect album. Even the punch of guitar in tracks like 'Jeepster' never let the speakers blow out. Whether it's a simple cello line or Marc Bolan's oddly gentle vocals, everything about the album is both subtle in production, yet loud when it comes to hooks. It's like Bolan's whispering, but right next to your ear so you can still hear what he's saying.

Nevermind the sound of this album for a moment- the 11 songs stand very easily on their own without the glammy sound built around them. You have the bluesy rock songs like "Mambo Sun" and "Lean Woman Blues", you have the Bowie-esque ballads (better than Bowie, if you ask me) "Cosmic Dancer" and "Girl", and then you have these sort of slow glam songs that reach the end powered only by their own unique swagger- if "Electric Warrior" were a man, he would be the one man on the face of the earth that can whear cheetah-print underwear and pull it off. Fuck, he could do more than pull it off, he probably wouldn't be able to get away with wearing normal underwear.

Underwear fantasies aside, there is one anomoly on the album. The closer "Rip Off" sounds like one would imagine an album entitled 'Electric Warrior' would sound- it's a dirty, loud, 70's basher of a song, with both feedback and a saxophone solo (What a combo!). Although it differs greatly from the mood the other 10 songs set, it never seems disruptive, it somehow works in the context of "Warrior". I just wish that in 'Fast Times', the character has suggested side B of "Warrior" to make out to, and the resulting scene involved two awkward teenagers with "Rip Off" in the background instead of "Kashmir".

That's not all- if you get the re-release that I purchased, you also get a couple extra singles put out around the time of "Electric Warrior". Not only are these tracks far better than most 'extras' tacked on to the end of masterpieces, they somehow maintain the quality of the whole album. I listened to these for a week before I figured out they weren't part of the original album. Oh, and you also get this interview with Marc Bolan, which is okay for one listen, but not that great. But trust me, the bonus tracks are KEY if you ever decide to pick this album up.

Apparently T. Rex was HUGE in Britain, which is interesting because to me it's this great little overlooked 70's gem. I wonder if I would have the same high regard for it if I lived in England, and if T. Rex was overplayed my whole life like Pink Floyd or Zeppelin. In any case, if you are American and only have been exposed to "Bang a Gong" (which sounds much better in the context of this album than in-between Bob Seger bore-a-thon's might I add) or if maybe T. Rex has been forgotton wherever you live, this is a classic album that everyone should own, and ought to be mentioned in the same breath as "Abbey Road", "London Calling", "Loveless", and all the essential flawless rock albums of the past 50 years. LISTEN TO IT NOW

100/100
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't think T Rex are overplayed here. You might hear Get It On (No bang-a-gong , it was only called that in the US) occasionally and maybe a couple of the other singles but thats about it.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Hatemonger View Post
I don't think T Rex are overplayed here. You might hear Get It On (No bang-a-gong , it was only called that in the US) occasionally and maybe a couple of the other singles but thats about it.
That's good then. The liner notes to this and "The Slider" would have you believe they were bigger than the Beatles everywhere except the U.S.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I need to get this. Only have The Slider. Nice review.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Pornographie Nouveau View Post
I need to get this. Only have The Slider. Nice review.
I might review that album as well. I like "Warrior" better, but 'The Slider' is still really solid from front-to-back.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well they were huge between 71-73 and I think they did break a couple of the Beatles records for having the most songs or albums in the charts at one time.

Didn't last long though , their popularity plummeted after the Tanx album.
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you for the review.
Marc Bolan is an absolute genius and T. Rex is one of my favorite bands.
I think there's a lot to say about a review that doesn't just go track by track but focuses on the whole picture and influence and beauty of the album. Kudos bro.
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Old 03-05-2009, 01:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Mambo Sun is a perfect song. Great album, great review.
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Great review, and yet another album I should have a look for. I've heard it wasn't exactly recorded under ideal circumstances either - something like it was recorded in LA and New York while T-Rex were on tour and mixed in London in the space of five weeks (that's what I've been told anyway).
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Old 03-13-2009, 06:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Never heard it! Is it worth my time?
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