Thursday, August 21, 2008

transformers, three

T. Rex, Electric Warrior and The Slider. After Marc Boaln and Mickey Finn changed their name from Tyrannosaurus Rex to T. Rex and recorded "Ride a White Swan", a crackling gem of a single, they went on to make the first album under their new name. T. Rex, which continues and solidifies Bolan's great creative relationship with producer Tony Visconti, is essential listening for those of us interested in hearing the 60s become the 70s. The twee-hippie stylings of Tyrannosaurus Rex are still there on "One Inch Rock", "Suneye" and "The Wizard", and we are even graced with a meditative 'om' at the end of "Children of Rarn." But with "Beltane Walk", "Root of Star" and "Is it Love", the album also offers preliminary tastes of the fuzz toned wah wah dream fog that later became more commonly associated with Bolan at the height of T. Rextacy in Britain... Listening to T. Rex recently, it struck me that its most memorable songs straddle the line separating Bolan as winsome folk gnome and Bolan as God of Glitter. "The Time of Love is Now" has a throwback flower child message, weedy acoustic guitar, and Tolkeinesque lutes, but the song's hand claps and insistent chord progression offer a small taste of nascent T. Rex Boogie. Similarly, "Jewell" and "Summer Deep" feature the elfin vibratto that was such a distinctive part of Bolan's style with Tyrannosaurus Rex, and yet the songs are propelled forward with the kind of filthy hooks that would shortly make Electric Warrior and The Slider so irresistible. ...T. Rex is an aural bridge connecting two periods. 'One day we changed from children into people', Bolan sings on "Seagull Woman." The album seems to recognize transformation in the air, but the nature and significance of the changes have yet to be fully absorbed. I know there’s a metaphor somewhere in here involving dinosaurs, archaeology and evolution, but it's probably a bad metaphor, and I’d rather just say that, while uncertainty can sometimes be paralyzing, the sense of flux and interstitial ambivalence that comes across on T. Rex contributes mightily to the record’s appeal.

More on T. Rex next time...

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