Sunday, 1 June 2014

"Tanx" by T.REX [featuring Marc Bolan] (2002 and 2014 Edsel 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Unstrap My Knees..."

Following the artistic and commercial highs of albums like "Electric Warrior" in 1971 and "The Slider" in 1972 was always going to be hard – yet The Jeepster delivered again in the spring of 1973.

This stunning 2002 Edsel 2CD Deluxe Edition of “Tanx” (reissued in 2014) offers up a huge slice of T.Rex and Bolanmania from a primo period. Here are the Electric Slims and the Tenement Ladies…

Originally UK released August 2002 – "Tanx" by T. REX on Edsel MEDCD 716 is a 2CD set in a card digipak (Barcode 740155171629) and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (51:52 minutes):
1. Tenement Lady
2. Rapids
3. Mister Mister
4. Broken-Hearted Blues
5. Shock Rock
6. Country Honey
7. Electric Slim And The Factory Hen
8. Mad Donna
9. Born To Boogie
10. Life Is Strange
11. The Street And Babe Shadow
12. Highway Knees
13. Left Hand Luke And The Beggar Boys
Tracks 1 to 13 are the album "Tanx" – originally released 23 March 1973 on vinyl in the UK on EMI BLN 5002

Tracks 14 to 20 are EXTENDED PLAY - the A&B-sides of three British singles most of which were non-album at the time:
14, 15 and 16 are Children Of The Revolution b/w Jitterbug Love and Sunken Rags – September 1972 UK 7” single on EMI/T.Rex Wax Co. Label MARC 2
17 and 18 are Solid Gold Easy Action b/w Xmas Riff – December 1972 UK 7” single on EMI/T.Rex Wax Co. Label MARC 3
19 and 20 are 20th Century Boy b/w Free Angel – March 1973 UK 7” single on EMI/T.Rex Wax Co. Label MARC 4

Disc 2 BONUS DISC – The Alternate Tanx (“Left Hand Luke”) (53:04 minutes):
1. Tenement Lady/Darling
2. Rapids (Incomplete)
3. Mister Mister
4. Broken-Hearted Blues
5. Country Honey
6. Mad Donna
7. Born To Boogie
8. Life Is Strange
9. The Street And The Babe Show
10. Highway Knees
11. Left Hand Luke
Tracks 1 to 11 are collectively called The Alternate Tanx ("Left Hand Luke") – studio rough mixes of almost every track

Tracks 12 to 14 are Extended Play – Children Of The Revolution [Incomplete], Solid Gold Easy Action [Alternate] and Free Angel [Alternate]
Tracks 15 to 18 are Acoustic and Bass Demos of Mister Mister, Broken Hearted Blues, The Street And The Babe Shadow and Tenement Lady
Tracks 19 to 23 are Acoustic Demos of Tenement Lady, Broken Hearted Blues, Mad Donna [with Different Lyrics], The Street And The Babe Shadow and Left Hand Luke

The three-way fold-out digipak is pretty – alternate artwork on the inner flaps – press adverts and promo stuff beneath the two see-through CD trays - detailed 16-page liner notes by T.Rex/Marc Bolan expert MARK PAYTRESS – lyrics – and both CDs carrying the T.Rex Wax Co 7" single Logo which on this reissue is blackened to resemble the sleeve instead of the usual blue and red colouring (I remember for all those 45s we used to grab in Woolworths with the excitement of buying the next Beatles seven). The remasters are fabulous too – full of power and muscle – giving tracks like the acoustic strum of "Life Is Strange" and the chugging rock boogie/vocal phasing of "Rapids" huge presence.

"Tanx" achieved the same top chart position of 4 in the UK that "The Slider" did in the previous summer – yet I’d argue it actually has better tracks. To this day the seductive strings and melody of "Electric Slim And The Factory Hen" get me – sounding so advanced for its time. Thanks to Mark Paytress and his tireless search for all things Marc - I now know that the girl who giggles the intro to the brill "Mad Donna" is the daughter of an executive at CBS France! I still don’t know if I like the sax intro to "The Street And Babe Shadow" but I like the song and his musical progression. Yet the sax works in tandem with the Mellotron on "Mister Mister". The "oh baby" groove of "Shock Rock" has great guitar boogie but awful lyrics. But then Bolan goes all soulful and gospel girly vocals on the wonderful album finisher "Left Hand Luke And The Beggar Boys" which Paytress rightly suggests bears more than a passing resemblance to tracks on The Stones 1972 opus "Exile On Main St."

As with "The Slider" 2CD reissue – the bonus tracks on Disc 1 add hugely. Who amongst his fans doesn’t hold a torch for the non-album singles Children Of the Revolution, Solid Gold Easy Action and 20th Century Boy (and their equally cool B-sides). As you can imagine the 'alternate and demo' versions on Disc 2 are a mixture of the fabulous and the throw away. The 2:13 minute frantic alternative of "Solid Gold Easy Action" is fantastic – rocking T.Rex unleashed - while the Acoustic Demo of "Mister Mister" may be hissy but it’s wonderfully intimate. The demo of "Tenement Lady" sounds like he’s using a heavy-stringed Dobro and comes complete with false start - and it's strange to hear "Left Hand Luke" dropped from its near 6 minutes on the album to a two-minute acoustic strum - tender and moving (lyrics from it title this review). Nice.

Great remastered sound – quality presentation - and a reasonable price tag for a 2CD DELUXE EDITION. You have to say that Edsel have done the business by his memory and musical legacy. There is an album-only single-disc version on Edsel’s budget label CODE 90 (Catalogue Number Code 90 NINETY 16 - Barcode 740155301620 - 34:56 minutes) – but I’d plum the few extra quid for this (so worth it).

On the spoken intro to "Xmas Riff/Born To Boogie" he says...

"This is Marc Bolan here. 
I’d like to wish you all a super funk Christmas and a golden New Year…"

Job done my son...

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