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T.Rex - The Slider (Fat Possum)

T.Rex - The Slider (Fat Possum)
17 January 2011

Though it’s surprising to see this former major label 1972 smash hit record (U.K. #4, U.S. #17), originally released on EMI, reissued these days on an indie—despite growing in respect/esteem/influence in the 38 years since it first appeared—that says more about the state of the music business nowadays than about the quality of this recording or the band. The greatest of the original Brit glam bands (after an initial folk incarnation as John Peel favorite Tyrannosaurus Rex) before David Bowie ran away with the influence (grabbing the band’s terrific producer, Tony Visconti to make sure of it) made two classic albums, and this is the second of them. And without question, it rivals 1971’s Electric Warrior for consistent grooves, tough, heavy guitar sounds, and leader Marc Bolan ’s highly sexy, John Lennon -like delivery/tunes/lyrics (making the influence clear, Lennon is namechecked often on “Ballrooms of Mars”). Bolan was a rock god back in Britain, continually topping the charts with his big sound as well as one of the few glam stars to breakthrough in America—1971’s still-ubiquitous “Get it On (Bang a Gong)” had made it to #10. His simple approach was like a much cooler Troggs, with a more muscular guitar flash, more fluid rhythm, and more soulful singing, making each song both stomp and sway, sometimes even incorporating supporting strings to add sweet ‘70s luster to the thunder.. That The Slider ’s prime single, 1972 U.K. #1/U.S. #67 “Telegram Sam” (composed for the band’s accountant Sam Alder ) was memorably covered by Bauhaus for a gothy art-rock classic 45 eight years later, and that Big Star wonderfully revived “Baby Strange” when they reformed in 1993, are just two reminders about how good The Slider ’s songs are—without mentioning other precious stones, such as the single “Metal Guru” (their fourth straight and final U.K. 1 hit!) and the sweet waltz “Rabbit Fighter.” While Bolan’s approach is somewhat narrow and repetitive over 13 songs, there’s no denying the pleasures rife in this hedonistic party time with top tunes. And though none of the group’s LPs thereafter could match it and the classic lineup withered, his last act prior to his sad car crash death in 1977 was to embrace the nascent punk rock explosion he’d helped birth with his proto-punk tough sound—even getting The Damned to open what turned out to be his final U.K. tour as a solo act, and lauding them in the press. The man knew his own children, even if they didn’t sound exactly like him, and reveled in such paternity. (