THE SLIDER – T. Rex – T. Rex (UK)/Reprise (USA) – 1972
By 1972, British music had fully renewed itself on the American scene in the form of glam rock. David Bowie, Slade, and Roxy Music were all part of this musical landscape that Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex expanded and exemplified. Glitter, platform boots, sci-fi imagery, and ’50s rock n’ roll roots made this sub-genre exciting, fresh, and new to kids of the ’70s who may not have realized that this was the rock n’ roll of Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Richard — just amped up and fuzzed out for the new generation.
T. Rex’s album The Slider made full use of all of these elements to create a vibe that spoke to a new generation of rock fans. The album was the pinnacle of the dreamworld that Marc Bolan created, and it leaves us spellbound more than 40 years later. In this episode, we theorize over some extremely poetic lyrics, attempt to decode Bolan, introduce a new hashtag (#RespectTheSequence), and somehow, somehow connect T.Rex to DJ Khaled.
Episode notes and postscript corrections
- We sound better! Thanks to our friend Jesse Berney for the mic recommendation.
- And, yes, we actually bought a kids’ teepee.
- We’re on Facebook! Like and follow us here, or just search for us. We are literally the only thing that comes up when you search 77 Music Club.
- Here’s a summary of how T. Rex morphed from psychedelic folk group Tyrannosaurus Rex to glam rock T. Rex.
- “Ride a White Swan” was T. Rex’s real breakthrough to glam rock in 1970.
- Pitchfork placed “Metal Guru” at 154 on their best 200 songs of the 1970s (more about that later) — read what they had to say about it here.
- Our last episode highlighted a band whose method was music first, then lyrics. With Marc Bolan, the lyrics came first, then the music. When met with criticism that T. Rex’s music was often repetitive or formulaic in composition, Bolan explained that this was intentional: the music needed to remain simple to let his complex lyrics shine.
- “The Slider” definitely references drugs, definitely has exaggerated coke sniffing lines, and allusions to growing pot. Just @ us if you think we’re wrong, but it screams “Hm, do you get high? Do you? I don’t know, why don’t you tell us more.”
- Marc Bolan’s lyrics are bonkers poetry and we absolutely love them. Just read “Baby Boomerang” and see for yourself.
- “The songs were mostly nonsense, but rather than sounding like gibberish, Bolan seemed to be speaking in an alien code that, to this today, we’re still not cool enough to decode.” — Pitchfork, getting something right in their deeply flawed (our opinion) 200 Best Songs of the 1970s list.
- The Shins covered “Baby Boomerang” in 2004 and you should definitely give it a listen.
- Anyway, here’s “Spaceball Ricochet.”
- Part of punk rock’s merits was that it heralded in a greater acceptance of songs that weren’t joyous or pompous, rather, songs that were real, songs that were honest about insecurities in their lyrics and weren’t pretending to be cool. We think “Spaceball Ricochet” stands as a precursor to the genre; we’d love to know your thoughts on this hypothesis.
- Listen to “Buick McCane.” Then listen to the Black Keys. (They’re both in our playlist; and, actually, it’s been noticed more than once that they wrote a song that is basically “Mambo Sun,” so.) Let us know if you think they could totally kill a T. Rex cover.
- “Telegram Sam” is about Marc Bolan’s accountant, not his drug dealer. Sorry.
- Can anyone tell us what “Rabbit Fighter” is about? Because we are truly stumped.
- If “Ballrooms of Mars” sounds like a very Bowie-esque title (and song), don’t be surprised— Bowie and Bolan were bros.
Favorite track(s): Telegram Sam and Ballrooms Of Mars (Carly) | Metal Guru (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Rabbit Fighter (Carly) | Rabbit Fighter (Carrie)
Marc Bolan – vocals, guitar
Steve Currie – bass guitar
Mickey Finn – percussion, vocals
Bill Legend – drums
Mark Volman (“Flo”) – background vocals
Howard Kaylan (“Eddie”) – background vocals
Tony Visconti – production, sleeve photography, string arrangements
Ringo Starr – sleeve photography
Dominique Blanc Francard – engineering
Freddy Hansson – engineering
David Katz – orchestra contractor
Andy Scott – engineering assistance
Mark Paytress – liner notes
Chris Welch – liner notes
T. Rex – Get It On (Bang a Gong) on Top of the Pops | 1971 (Note: Bolan wears glitter under his eyes in a move that many music historians credit as the ushering in of glam rock)
T. Rex in Concert – Wembley | March 1972
Marc Bolan-Russell Harty interview | 1972
The Slider reissue review | Consequence of Sound (October 2010)
The Slider reissue review | Pop Matters (December 2010)
The Slider box set review | The Quietus (December 2012
The 10 Best T. Rex songs | Stereogum (June 2013)
Revisiting a Glam Milestone, T. Rex’s The Slider | Ultimate Classic Rock (July 2012)
The T. Rex Wax Co. Singles review | Pitchfork (January 2006)