Posts Tagged ‘Get It On’

On this day today 9th October 1971 , 44 years ago today – T. Rex:  released the album  Electric Warrior is released.
Electric Warrior was the sixth album by T. Rex, released in the USA on  September 24th, 1971. It reached #32 on the Billboard 200 Top LP’s chart, and reached #1 for several weeks on the UK Albums chart. It features the single, “Get It On”, which reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2003 it was ranked number 160 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Marc Bolan, in a 1971 interview, said of the album:
“I think Electric Warrior, for me, is the first album which is a statement of 1971 for us in England. I mean that’s… If anyone ever wanted to know why we were big in the other part of the world, that album says it, for me.”

Prior to Electric Warrior’s release, T. Rex (or, as it had mostly been known, Tyrannosaurus Rex) was a folk-rock duo that played acoustic guitar and bongos augmented by the occasional electric and full drum kit. While some of the hippie-prophet philosophy that dominated Tyrannosaurus Rex’s music can still be heard here (especially on the dreamy geneology of “Cosmic Dancer”), Electric Warrior, for the most part, represents a revolution in attitude and approach. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Marc Bolan expanded the band here for a full rock sound, and focused on lean, hook-heavy pop songs that relied on slinky grooves and the riveting energy of early rock & roll. Married to Bolan’s cheeky and charasmatic sexuality and theatrical flair, the results were undeniable.

From the mid-tempo thump of “Mambo Sun” to the crashing yowl of “Rip Off,” Electric Warrior is fuzzy, nasty, and immediately appealing. Songs like “Jeepster” and Get It On “Bang A Gong” pump straight from the elemental heart of rock & roll, yet the songs are fleshed out beautifully with strings, handclaps, backup vocals, and Tony Visconti’s expansive production. Bolan’s glitzy, sexy aesthetic directly sparked the glam movement (he was a huge influence on David Bowie and the creation of his Ziggy Stardust persona), while his punchy, back-to-basics approach also presaged the stripped-down, three-minute song attack of the Ramones and the punk movement in the later ’70s. As a result, Electric Warrior can be seen as one of the most enduring and quietly influential records in the rock canon.

So elegant, so fey (check the cover of T. Rex, his first on Reprise), Marc Bolan is a stripling, a sylph. Too old to be innocent in today’s world, though his years number 23, he plays to the post-J.F.K. set, yet with enough decadence and sarcasm for any war baby to hum along. He’s been rewarded with three No. One singles in England, where their sense of youth is less pristine (and besides, how old is the average singles consumer anyway?).

Marc is one of the eternally precocious, fated to live outside the world of adults forever. But he is an outsider in another sense, too. Back when T. Rex was known as Tyrannosaurus Rex, Marc sang of and inhabited a medieval world of wizards and unicorns. Now his subject and medium is rock ‘n’ roll, and his outsider’s stance (chronologically young because historically young) enables him to see things with a special clarity and vision. Marc’s lyrics still sound like nursery rhymes, and he sings with a puckish quaver, but he now plays a mean lead guitar.

What Marc seems to be saying on Electric Warrior is that rock is ultimately as quaint as wizards and unicorns, and finally, as defunct. It is a self-contained, completed form, with T. Rex and Black Sabbath, both parodists in their own way, its parentheses. His targets are your common rock & roll cliches, as well as your common pseudo-poetic, pseudo-philosophical rock & roll cliches. E.g. “Monolith,” or Stanley Kubrick meets the Duke of Earl: “And dressed as you are girl/In your fashions of fate/Baby it’s too late,” or “And lost like a lion/In the canyons of smoke/Girl it’s no joke.”

“Jeepster,” which sounds a lot like Carl Perkins, carries the great tradition of Chuck Berry and Beach Boys car songs one step further: “Just like a car/You’re pleasing to behold/I’ll call you Jaguar/If I may be so bold,” while several of Bolan’s specific images are Dylan-derived, like “society’s ditch,” “burning up your feet,” “Egyptian ruby,” and “Mountings of the moon/Remind me of my spoon.”

“Lean Woman Blues,” a takeoff on blues-rock, begins as Marc yells to the band, “One, two, buckle my shoe,” and then goes on to encounter wrong notes, chaotic over-dubbings, distorting guitar, and an extraneous “And I’m Blue” tagged on at the end of every stanza.

In “The Motivator,” Marc considers the aesthetics of government (“I love the velvet hat/You know the one that caused a revolution”), but saves his most profound convictions on you-know-what revolution for “Rip-Off”:

In the moonlight
Fighting with the night
It’s a rip-off
Kissing all the slain
I’m bleeding in the rain
It’s a rip-off
Such a rip-off…
etc., etc., for 16 stanzas.

Marc’s voice, appropriately, is Buddy Holly at several removes; Buddy, notwithstanding his genius, being, via Tommy Roe, the patron saint of bubblegum. At the same time, the combination of an effete vocal and an aggressive back-up is reminiscent of the early Ray Davies and the Dylan of Blonde on Blonde.

All of which goes to show that with Electric Warrior, Marc Bolan establishes himself as the heaviest rocker under 5’4″ in the world today.

Side one
“Mambo Sun” – 3:40
“Cosmic Dancer” – 4:30
“Jeepster” – 4:12
“Monolith” – 3:49
“Lean Woman Blues” – 3:02

Side two
“Get It On” – 4:27
“Planet Queen” – 3:13
“Girl” – 2:32
“The Motivator” – 4:00
“Life’s a Gas” – 2:24
“Rip Off” – 3:40

CD Bonus tracks:
“There Was a Time” – 1:00
“Raw Ramp” – 4:16
“Planet Queen” (acoustic version) – 3:00
“Hot Love” – 4:59
“Woodland Rock” – 2:24
“King of the Mountain Cometh” – 3:57
“The T. Rex Electric Warrior Interview” – 19:35

30th Anniversary Special Edition CD bonus tracks:
“Rip Off” [Work in Progress] – 2:30
“Mambo Sun” [Work in Progress] – 3:57
“Cosmic Dancer” [Work in Progress] – 5:15
“Monolith” [Work in Progress] – 4:47
“Get It On” [Work in Progress] – 4:43
“Planet Queen” [Work in Progress] – 0:56
“The Motivator” [Work in Progress] – 4:19
“Life’s a Gas” [Work in Progress] – 3:14