Electric Warrior (Deluxe Edition) – T.Rex
Once upon a time children there were popstars. I don’t just mean the ‘singers’ of today that run around in the latest gear and warble, I mean popstars. Those people who seemed to be from another world entirely, the likes of David Bowie with his androgynous alien appeal or Jim Morrisson with his filmstar looks. Glam rock overlord Marc Bolan sits proudly amongst these characters that appear larger than life, mysterious, glamorous and certainly not going to be living in a two bed terrace down your street; at least that is how it felt.
But here we are in 2012, the pop world has changed over the decades so does Marc’s persona still hold the thrill it once did? Empathically yes. Just take one listen to Electric Warrior and you will be hooked all over again. Remember this album is now over 40 years old and the impact is even more impressive. 2012 sees the release of the ‘Super Deluxe Edition’ of the album which contains the remastered album plus bonus tracks, demo CD and DVD featuring rare 1970s Top Of The Pops performances. Combined this really does offer a sumptuous collection.
There is little that can be said about the album that has not already been written by a thousand mightier pens than mine, but with the addition of the Number One Hot Love along with the original B-side tracks (not on the original album – but on the Rhino reissue sometime back) this now provides a comprehensive snap shot of T.Rex circa 1971.
The singles Jeepster and Get It On (Bang A Gong) still sound incredible, 40 years on and there are still bands that would kill to sound like this. Cosmic Dancer has the sixties hangover hippy appeal whilst Rip Off still rocks with a barrage of sound that was really a few years ahead of the curve. Electric Warrior still stands as one of the finest albums of the 1970s and defined a new era for T.Rex, gone were the folk leanings of the past, glam rock and superstardom awaited.
The demo disc offers up plenty of ‘previously unreleased’ tracks and unlike so many rarities discs, the sound quality is really high. The most striking thing is how complete many of the demos sound, take the electric demo for Jeepster, rough, ready but the essential elements are there. The acoustic version of Get It On is endearingly raw, little more than Bolan strumming away and capturing the vocal melody.
There are even glimpses into the private world of the studio with the Life’s A Gas (working version) featuring the studio banter and drummer Bill Legend complaining he couldn’t hear anything before Bolan helpfully informs him it is because ‘nothing‘s happening that’s why, no one’s playing anything!’.
For the completists and enthusiasts alike, the disc offers up a plethora of treats and you can pick out the subtle differences, changed lyrics and evolution of most of the Electric Warrior tunes from this collection to your heart’s content.
The DVD acts as a fascinating time capsule, a window back to a time when T.Rex were one of the biggest bands around. They were the only band to have TWO number one singles in 1971, back when a Number one actually meant something to.
Bowie and Bolan were friends and friendly rivals, Bolan’s appearance on TOTP in March 71 caused some controversy for his androgynous dress sense and between him and Bowie they would test the boundaries of the time throughout the early part of the decade. The Christmas special from 71 where the band performs Get It On also features a cameo from Elton John on the piano, sparking some confusion as to whether he was now to be part of the group.
There are also the previously unreleased ‘blue screen’ performances for the German Beat Club tracks along with the official promo cuts for Get It On and Jeepster. The two tracks taken from the Empire Pool Wembley are particularly interesting, Bolan sat crossed legged on the stage, playing a battered (and out of tune) acoustic but clearly with the crowd hanging on every glittery note.
There is nothing worse than a half arsed ‘Deluxe Edition’, something scraping together some grainy footage and a distorted demo just to shift a few more units. Electric Warrior Super Deluxe however is far from this, the DVD provides some stunning quality tracks (both audio and visual) and the demo disc is a glimpse into the world of Bolan we didn’t get to see that often. As a casual fan, this has got me hooked and I’m willing to bet I won’t be the only one either.
The Super Deluxe Edition is released on Monday 23rd April via UMC / A&M Records.