Wednesday, 10 February 2016

"Electric Warrior" by T.REX [featuring Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn] (2012 Universal/A&M/Fly 'Expanded' SINGLE CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Cosmic Dancer..."

Losing my lovingly kept vinyl copy of the Rex's iconic "Electric Warrior" with the 'sticker' on the front cover (inner and poster inside too) a few years back has remained one of my big LP regrets over the years (needs must at the time and it had to be done). The British album on Fly Records sold loads (sleeve by Hipgnosis) - but for some reasons copies of an original with the sticker still intact (on the front sleeve) are far rarer than most fans know.

A similar tale of selling-woe with CD reissues... I bought the January 2012 Tony Visconti/Paschal Byrne 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' and lived with it for a while (great audio, same as this issue) – but I found the extras lacking (sold it) and I've plumed instead for this single disc version with four 'Bonus Tracks' that I actually want. A case of less is more I think (and its under four quid). Time to 'Get It On' and indeed 'Bang A Gong' for the original Jeepsters - T.REX...

UK released 17 April 2012 (1 May 2012 in the USA) – "Electric Warrior" by T.REX on Universal/A&M/Fly 533 780-1 (Barcode 600753378014) is an 'Expanded Edition' single CD Remaster and plays out as follows (55:58 minutes):

1. Mambo Sun
2. Cosmic Dancer
3. Jeepster
4. Monolith
5. Lean Woman Blues
6. Get It On [Side 2]
7. Planet Queen
8. Girl
9. The Motivator
10. Life's A Gas
11. Rip Off
Tracks 1 to 11 are the 2nd album "Electric Warrior" by T. REX (formerly known as Tyrannosaurus Rex for the four previous LPs) – released 24 September 1971 in the UK on Fly Records HIFLY 6 and in the USA on Reprise RS 6466. It peaked at No. 1 in the UK and No. 32 in the USA.

T. REX was:
MARC BOLAN – Vocals and Guitars
MICKEY FINN – Vocals and Percussion
IAN McDONALD – Saxophones
BURT COLLINS - Flugel Horn

HOWARD & MARK VOLMAN – Backing Vocals
RICK WAKEMAN – Piano on "Get It On" (uncredited)

12. There Was A Time/Raw Ramp (B-side of "Get It On" – UK 7" single released 2 July 1971 on Fly Records BUG 10. Although listed as a two-part B-side – it has in fact three distinct musical sections in the song with the uncredited Part 3 sometimes known as "Electric Boogie" because of the lyrics. "Get It On" peaked at No. 1 in the UK charts and was billed as "Bang A Gong" in the USA on Reprise 1032 when it was released December 1971

13. Hot Love (Non-Album A-side – UK 7" single released 19 February 1971 on Fly Records BUG 6) – peaked at No. 1 on the UK singles charts

14. Woodland Rock (1 of 2 Non-Album B-sides to "Hot Love" – UK 7" single released 19 February 1971 on Fly Records BUG 6) – peaked at No. 1 on the UK singles charts

15. The King Of The Mountain Cometh (2 of 2 Non-Album B-sides to "Hot Love" – UK 7" single released 19 February 1971 on Fly Records BUG 6) – peaked at No. 1 on the UK singles charts

Reproduced beneath the see-through tray is that gorgeous Fly Records label with the script track lists for Side 1 and 2 - while the CD itself has the Marc Bolan/Mickey Finn photo that adorned the other side of the LP label (nice touches). The generously outfitted 24-page booklet is a fan's dream – beautifully and smartly laid out. You get updated (new research especially for this 2012 issue) and in-depth liner notes from noted Bolan expert MARK PAYTRESS – as well Melody Maker, NME, Sounds and Beat Instrumental front page repros, snaps of Bolan in the studio, on stage with T.Rex and relaxing (the poster shot). There is the rare sheet music for "Hot Love" and a picture of Bolan by a bus with his girlfriend as well as the beautiful George Underwood pencil drawings that were the inner bag (Bolan on one side, Mickey Finn on the other) – they adorn either side of the centre pages.

Original Producer TONY VISCONTI has remastered the album for this issue while the hugely experienced Audio Engineers PASCHAL BYRNE and BEN WISEMAN handled the Bonus Tracks. All of it sounds renewed and incredibly alive. There are hissy passages for sure but no tampering with the original sound has taken place to my ears - it's just breathing better now. A job sensitively done...

Right from the opening guitar chug of "Mambo Sun" – the vocals, the strings and backing singers and those cool swinging guitars – all of it sleeks out of your speakers with the swagger of a man on the up. There is a lot of hiss as "Cosmic Dancer" opens with the Acoustic and Strings – but there's no denying the loveliness of the song. The whack off "Jeepster" is shocking – that foot-stomping guitar boogie still gets me too (another effortless No. 1 single dashed off in his sleep). That lone guitar rip at the beginning of "Monolith" threatens to punch a hole in your speaker cones on this ballsy remaster – the lurching slugger beat somehow now even more epic than I remember it ("...shallow are the actions of the children of the men...oh yeah!") Side 1 ends with "Lean Woman Blues" – a one two and buckle my shoe set of Bolan Blues where he bemoans his lady's 'lean love' while those guitars riff and groan ("'re the love of my life...then you gorge me with a knife...")

What can you say about "Get It On" - a winner to this day. I was a kid in Dublin 1971 and we'd gone with the scouts to Todd Vale Camp Site near Liverpool in England for a summer outing. On the site someone had a portable singles deck and the rare picture sleeve of "Get It On". Sun shining down – campfires nearby cooking dinner - bopping to that infectious beat - man we must played that sucker nine times in a row (the memory still sends chills up my arms). And here it is again with that fabulous Visconti production only better – bang a gong baby! Many peoples other fave is the slinky Acoustic Rock of "Planet Queen" – a great Bolan groove. Burt Collins provides the Flugel Horn for the pretty "Girl" – a song where Marc sounds most like Bowie - who would of course release "Hunky Dory" in December of that great year (1971). More cool Bolan riffage with the " the way you walk..." groove of "The Motivator" – while both 'Life's A Gas" and the angry live-in-the-studio "Rip Off" have healthy amounts of hiss for sure but still sound like they've been given a right old dust off - unleashed even.

What I also love about this reissue is that the Bonus Tracks provide you with four truly great non-album single sides – “Woodland Rock” and "The King of The Woodland Cometh" like some Tyrannosaurus Rex boogie outtakes, the so sexy sway of "Hot Love" and that amazing 3-part B-side to "Get It On". I’ve even isolated "Electric Boogie" as a track by itself (begins at 3:23 minutes) – what a blast.

Marc Bolan would go on to "The Slider" and "Tanx" albums and so much more until his sad loss in London in 1977 – but "Electric Warrior" is the one in the hearts of his original fans. As Bolan sang in the irrepressible "Jeepster" - "...I'll call you a jaguar if I may be so bold..." Amen to that you slinky mother...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 245 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

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