Glam Rock was a strange offshoot of Hard Rock in the early 1970s. Artists such as David Bowie and the New York Dolls made history by dressing up effeminately, complete with extensive makeup making Hard Rock styled tunes. It was as though it wasn’t just Rock and Roll to have long hair alone, but also to look like a woman if you were male. However, the overlooked T. Rex band featured superstar Marc Bolan, although never reached the popularity of other musicians of this era, had contributions to the music scene that are undeniably important. This is seen as the best T. Rex album in their second incarnation as a band (previously known as Tyrannosaurus Rex earlier on) and should be a worthy and interesting listen. Let’s hear it.
Mambo Sun begins with a basic drumbeat and cool guitar lick, with some murmured vocals over the top. Immediately, this sounds very, very good and makes an impression from the start of the song. A really decent and flowing tune that should be listened to by Classic Rock fans, the sounds present are audibly delicious and excellent to hear. There is a fuzz guitar solo present, as well as handclaps and some other interesting song based sounds. An enjoyable and listenable tune throughout, this is an unusual sounding piece that sounds better than anything David Bowie was doing around this time, this certainly makes a good impression upon the listener. A little repetitive, but definitely worth hearing, this is a magical tune from start to finish. Some great Syd Barrett-esque vocal sounds are present towards the end, whilst the band play along with a weird keyboard sound. Nice start to the album.
Cosmic Dancer begins with some nicely multitracked acoustic guitars, Marc Bolan’s wonderful murmured singing and a great sense of excitement is here. Some viola is present as well, making this tune sound very different, yet decent. This song predates Disco music by a few years. Even so, this is a tranquil, wonderful and unique listening experience for Classic Rock fans that sounds indebted to some of the simpler Rock music around this time, rather than being a Progressive Rock piece with a 15 minute keyboard solo or something similar, which wasn’t uncommon back then. Nonetheless, the story changes into something tragic along the way lyrically. This is quintessentially British and wonderful at the same time, mind you. This gives many of the Glam Rockers at the time a real run for their money and points to the fact that, apart from T. Rex, the rest of them were cashing in on a trend. A great piece of music that is the Classic Rock equivalent of Crooner based music. There are some amazing backwards guitar parts present that are brilliantly executed and deserve repeat listens. Fantastic to hear, there are some powerful drum rolls and distant yet heavily reverberated vocal background harmonies to conclude here. Great song, it ends with the string section concluding it. Excellent work.
Jeepster begins with a powerful, yet basic drum beat and matching guitar riffs. Soon enough, this launches straight into another Pop/Rock gem that fits the album and music scene of the early 1970s wonderfully. The song’s title likely refers to the Jeep car company who makes unique cars and four wheel drives. Nonetheless, this is clever, cool and different music from Britain in the early 1970s, when things were beginning to get very Progressive Rock based. The music just works tremendously well. The midsection has an unusual rhythmic change to it, before resuming back into the powerful song section at hand. A great and excellent listening experience, this sounds energetic and different. The Gibson guitars present are fantastic sounding and brilliantly played by Marc Bolan and co. A catchy, memorable and decent tune to listen to, there are references to being a “vampire for one’s love” towards the end, followed by more proto-beatboxing, likely inspired by Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Fantastic music, and worth your ears.
Monolith begins with a hi-hat intro and has some Gospel style backing female vocals, pounding slow drum beats and wah-wah guitars. Soon enough, Marc Bolan gets singing and this tune sure sounds sweet. It’s a slower yet more enjoyable piece of Classic Rock that fits the album and music scene very well. Although this isn’t a hit single from this album, it is soothing and reassuring. Marc Bolan’s singing style is truly unique, nobody before or since came close to his style of murmured melodic singing. There is another awesome wah-wah guitar solo in the middle of this song that sounds really cool. This is followed by some excellent singing and musicality through the second half of this song. Take that, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. These songs are powerful, individually well worked on and unique. Marc Bolan oozes sex appeal and sexuality (depending on how you hear him sing), and the music present is a joy to hear. Great song, just like the other songs here.
Lean Woman Blues begins with a loose intro with Marc Bolan indicating it’s Take 10 of this song, perfectionists that professional musicians are. Soon enough, this very Blues influenced and heavy sounding piece of music launches right ahead. This is a sexual Blues song, no doubt, and is one for those who don’t like big butts on a woman (the whole Baby’s Got Back sort of thing, if you are a Pop culture fan). Marc Bolan makes this album come alive, and this short and sexually oriented piece of music paved the way for future bands such as AC/DC to shine later on. A great listen all the same, this is musically inspired and humourous to hear. A great Gibson guitar solo set is here, with two different guitar solos going at once in opposite channels. This is the sort of music that people like The Rolling Stones definitely would have dug back in the day, it just sounds dirty, sexual, sensual and interesting to hear. Even if you aren’t wooed over by its sex appeal, the music shines. Great tune, once again.
Bang A Gong (Get It On) is the standout song from this album, and the most famous piece from it as well. It begins with a Blues influenced set of riffs that was lifted for Oasis’s own Cigarettes And Alcohol classic song, probably with a fair amount of money exchanging hands on their part. Nonetheless, this is an awesome, powerful and original tune that sounds very catchy, groovy and punchy. The chorus in particular is very memorable, and this song sounds like it is pulsating full of energy, despite its relaxed groove. Very excellent music, there is also some sleazy saxophone and some great vocals here, too. Enough to keep one’s headbanging along, this is no doubt a lovemaking anthem for many people in the early 1970s to hear. There is a touch of piano and a load of other clever arrangements through. This is interesting without being an overthought. A true Rock music classic, and something that is worth repeat listens over time. The saxophone solo in the second half is really fantastic, and the song is a great and awesome listen throughout. Great tune, and four minutes of your ears worth hearing. Beyond good, this is a defining moment of the 1970s and is really excellent to hear.
Planet Queen begins with some studio chatter, before pounding bongo beats and acoustic guitar launch this song ahead. Instantly, one is caught up in the amazing vibe of this song. Marc Bolan sings over some Theremin style vocal harmonies in the background, and this is something that potheads out there will likely enjoy. Even if listening to this sober, this is fantastic music, and has some pretty musicianship and interesting lyrics on this song. A minimal, yet effective acoustic ballad to listen to, it simply works well on a listening level. Brilliant and image evoking lyrics are present here, and this is something that is a cross between inner space exploration and outer space themes, with a large dose of male lust. Great three-minute-long song and the chanted lyrics at the end finish up this interesting tune. Artistic and enjoyable.
Girl begins with some oddly tuned strummed acoustic guitars, straightforward singing and has some lyrical singing about God and love present. This music present here is a step back from the power chord based Rock and is a gentle acoustic ballad instead. A lone horn part is present as well, adding a different sort of flavour to the music here. Singing about a passionate love on one’s mind, this is another outstanding and interesting song, complete with a vocal harmony section of do-do-do’s. Great tune and very short at two and a half minutes long. It is sensationally superb. Worth hearing.
The Motivator begins with some interesting Gibson guitar riffs, bongo drums and a very Bluesy feel to the music at hand. A really good and interesting piece of music played here, with some image evoking lyrics as well. This is proof that music and great lyricism can motivate the imagination without being heavily Psychedelic in nature, it simply just works very well at what it does. An enjoyable, punchy and catchy tune with a 12 Bar Blues sort of feel to it, this song has some excellent guitar playing and supporting sounds. This whole album is definitely worth repeat listens, and this is very much desired, even by this song. The singing here is a great multitracked mixture of some interesting emotions and singing styles at hand, without overbearing screaming. Marc Bolan just sounds extremely cool, and this is another memorable and catchy gem of a song. Excellent to hear, the guitar solos here are very Cream-ish and are played extremely well. It sounds really like Marc Bolan wants to get it on towards the end here, and some loose guitar riffing concludes this song, before finishing. Top.
Life’s A Gas begins with dual-strummed acoustic guitars before Marc Bolan sings in his own inimitable way. Singing about the planets above Earth and other great imagery, this is as close as Glam Rock gets to art. This puts a lot of the imitators of the time to real shame, David Bowie included. An enjoyable, short and sweet listen, Marc Bolan was one of the most sensual and sexual-sounding vocalists since Jim Morrison of The Doors a few years before. He does a brilliant job. The song title is about enjoying life to the full. Sadly, Marc Bolan didn’t have a lengthy life, but he achieved success here. A great song nonetheless, this is once again, excellent.
Rip Off is the last song here, and begins with a count-in. Rolled bongos, drums and a rather weird sounding tune is present here, along with acoustic guitars. This isn’t necessarily a rip-off for a song, but it isn’t great. It lacks the musicality and flow of the other songs on this album. However, having said that, this is easily forgivable as the rest of the album sounds extremely good. Anyway, for the lack of quality here, this is definitely interesting. Singing about corrupt politicians and being fairly cynical about it all, Marc Bolan goes out with a bang. The album could have stopped earlier after the previous track, as this is pure filler. The saxophone and strings do some justice, however, ending this song very nicely. Weird and wacky, the outro has guitar feedback and strings to finish up. An interesting and strange listen.
This isn’t simply a good album that needs to be heard once, or even now and again. With the exception of the last track, this is absolutely fantastic and cleverly done listening that makes it both a Hard Rock and Glam Rock classic album worth repeat listens. Nobody could match this release at the time in some sense, Marc Bolan and T. Rex were seemingly unstoppable. Unfortunately, later releases were not as good as this one and Marc Bolan tragically was killed in a car crash in 1977. Still, his influence is huge in the Rock world to this very day. A must listen for those who like raunchy, out there Rock music from the 1970s.
Get it on.
Great review. Agree with most of that. I think I prefer The Slider, as I came to that first, but this is ine of the greats.