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Electric Warrior
T. Rex

Reprise 6466
Released: November 1972
Chart Peak: #32
Weeks Charted: 34

Mickey FinnMarc BolanWell, this is the group rock and roll fans. I feel it is important to impress on you the ingenuity of these two young Englishmen who have somehow, ingeniously, constructed a rock album that will enter the annals of rock history as one of the most original sounding, unusual sounding, obtusely, cleverly and creatively written albums ever. The sound could only be accurately pegged as "mystic boogie." Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn are the two dinosaurs involved here. Bolan does all the writing, singing, and plays guitar. Finn takes care of the percussion end of things. The rhythms this unique duo create, with the help of various session musicians (who play saxophone, flugelhorn, bass and drums) are devastating.

This is the group's second album on the Reprise label and fifth album together. They were originally on Fly Records in London and later on Blue Thumb where they came out with two albums: Unicorn and Beard of Stars. Tony Visconti has produced all the albums and on Electric Warrior he has coupled the T. Rex sound with an orchestral accompaniment: strings, cellos, bowed string basses which creates a sound so penetrating as to be awesome. But the paramount beauty of T. Rex lies in Bolan's singing and writing. His voice is hauntingly trebly, weird to the extent of being quite beautiful. His style is so unique as to resemble something non-human -- cosmically science fictive if you will. His writing draws upon stunning allusions and brilliant juxtapositions in words and thoughts. There is a duality to what he writes/sings/plays in that a listener can cruise along with the throbbing electric bass and resonant, moody drumming, or he can pay close attention to the lyric and reap a harvest of new insight from what Bolan has to say. At first his lyrics appear nonsensical but, upon a few listenings, one begins to understand the clever, highly individualistic description of reality the writer wants to convey. Bolan's rhyme schemes and word choices are solely unlike anything I have ever heard in rock and roll. He creates his very own special approach to rock that only few, highly creative artists have done. It is almost as though Bolan managed to establish a concept so "foreign" to standard rock and roll while still employing the artifice of the musical genre. He is avante-garde but in very captivating, understandable and inviting way.

T. Rex - Electric Warrior
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
"Jeepster," "Mambo Sun," "Cosmic Dancer," "Girl" and "Lean Woman Blues" highlight the eleven cuts on this album with lyrics that are inescapable.

"Jeepster": "You move so fine, with bones so fair, you've got the universe
reclining in your hair... Girl I'm just a Jeepster for your love..."
"Cosmic Dancer": "I danced with myself right out the womb, Is it strange to
dance so soon?... What's it like to be a loon? I'd liken it to a balloon..."
"Mambo Sun": "Beneath the bebop moon I want to croon with you. Beneath
the mambo sun, I want to be the one for you."

There you have a sampling, but without the music integrating with the words, mere reading does not do the group justice. With better promotion and a few American tours under their belts, T. Rex are, without escape, destined to become the very next supergroup of our heretofore doggerel-ridden rock and roll "universe."

- Jay Ehler, Phonograph Record, 1/72.

Bonus Reviews!

Marc Bolan, the five-foot-four dandy who is the central figure of T. Rex, inspires the coining of yet another term: weirdo rock. His lyrics are just slightly sick, and his delivery is genuinely funky and yet also a bit unsettling. I like this album much more than his other one (predominantly acoustic) under the name T. Rex -- perhaps because I've had so many interruptions lately. It's best to listen to one cut at a time; heard straight through, the album offers too little variety, sounding as if Bolan had reworked the same song a dozen different ways. His melodies often cover only tiny ranges and can be maddeningly repetitive. His electric band does suit his style, however, and "Cosmic Dancer" or "The Motivator" makes a welcome change of pace on the radio. There's no mistaking T. Rex for the Coca-Cola commercials, at least.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 8/72.

T. Rex is now the hottest group is England (consistent No. 1 singles). With the group and the company taking great promotional interest in this album, it won't be long before America also starts bopping to Marc Bolan's uniquely entertaining cosmic visions. Freakiest cut: "Jeepster"; prettiest: "Life's a Gas"; funniest: "Rip-Off."

- Billboard, 1972.

Kicking off with the fat guitars of "Mambo Sun," Electric Warrior winds through all of Marc Bolan's obsessions, from sleazy teenage rock & roll to spacy mysticism. "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" was the well-deserved hit, full of lust and flamboyance, but it's by no means the only good thing here. With the trashy blues stomps of "Jeepster" and "Lean Woman Blues" sitting next to the space-age rock of "Monolith" and "Planet Queen," Electric Warrior has nothing but teenage kicks; it's glam rock at its absolute best. Without question, the definitive, classic T. Rex. * * * * *

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Electric Warrior remains T. Rex' seminal work -- saucy, playful and filled with A-material such as "Bang a Gong," "Jeepster" and "Rip Off." * * * *

- Todd Wicks, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

Both irresistible and trashy, sexy and sultry, this playful breakthrough from the English group founded and fronted by the late Marc Bolan, the guy who invented glam rock, doesn't take itself too seriously. Essential listening for any fan of straightforward, electrifying R&R, it includes songs about cars and girls, like "Jeepster" and, most notably, "Bang a Gong (Get It On)," their only U.S. hit. * * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

"A successful hit rock & roll record is a spell," T. Rex leader Marc Bolan told Rolling Stone. Muttering eye of Bowie, toe of Slade, Bolan cast a spell over all of England. He took his Tolkienesque hippie music and gave it a glammed-out Chuck Berry update on sexy singles such as "Bang a Gong (Get It On)"; this was rock that thrusted, quivered and recklessly employed metaphors equating cars with sex ("you got a hubcap diamond star halo"). He outdid himself with "Jeepster," an entire song on the topic, vibrating with lust, a shuffling beat, lots of guitar and the sound of Bolan stomping on the studio floor.

Electric Warrior was chosen as the 160th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.

Further reading on
Super Seventies RockSite!:

Album Review:
The Slider

Album Reviews:
2006 T. Rex Reissues

Single Review:
"Bang a Gong (Get It On)"

Seventies' Greatest
Album Covers:
The Slider

"Glam Rock 101"

T. Rex Lyrics

T. Rex Videos

Marc Bolan Mugshots

- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.

Marc Bolan is one of the most compelling characters in rock history. With his updated Byronic style and delightfully obscure brand of hippy mysticism, he was never less than audacious. While his career featured some maddeningly uneven output (as well as a bestelling book of poetry entitled The Warlock Of Love), its pinnacle was Electric Warrior. And, like all of his work, it was packed with surprises.

T. Rex had already achieved success in the UK -- however, Bolan wanted to reach the unconverted across the Atlantic. Hitting the road with new members Steve Currie on bass, and drummer Bill Legend abetting percussionist Mickey Finn, the band began cutting tracks on the fly in London, New York, and Los Angeles. While singles released at the time hinted at a bolder sound for the group, the full wonder of Electric Warrior only became clear on its release.

Its cover art epitomizes the dangerous promise of rock's power, with Bolan wielding an electric weapon before a munitions dump of amplifiers. However, instead of blasting the listener with a metal onslaught when the needle hits the groove ...Warrior begins with a sultry guitar chug, easy backbeat, and an invitation to croon "beneath the bebop moon" on "Mambo Sun." The wide-eyed acoustic strum of "Cosmic Dancer" follows, with its rich string arrangement. So goes the record, by turns raucously salacious and meditatively romantic. While single "Bang A Gong (Get It On)" would reach the U.S. Top Ten, T. Rex never achieved Bolan's large ambition of international superstardom -- at least not in his lifetime.

- Tim Sheridan, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.

The major hit from the British proto-glam band T. Rex, "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" is a rock classic with an afterlife that nearly overshadows its original impact. It has helped sell cars (Mitsubishi) and spaghetti sauce (Ragú), and its hormone-driven exhortations have wormed into countless movies, including Moulin Rouge and Billy Elliot. The song has been used so much it's become a kind of shorthand, filmic code for the wayward, slightly troubled "dirty sweet" girl.

Oddly, no matter how much commerce or symbolism is attached to "Bang a Gong," this cool-strutting three-minute miracle from 1971 retains a hint of outsider menace. This comes primarily from the slightly spacey head-in-the-clouds orientation of Marc Bolan, the corkscrew-curled vocalist and driving force. Bolan approaches rock as both a musical and a mythmaking challenge -- at times it seems he's tuned to some otherworldly frequency nobody else is picking up. Electric Warrior taps into that transmission, while reflecting the greatness and the rampant excess that distinguished rock circa 1971. Some of its best tunes, the trippy "Cosmic Dancer" and "Jeepster," resonate as ridiculously pretentious and insanely beautiful in the same instant.

When this album was released, Bolan was already a big star in the U.K. He was then seen as something of a preposterous figure in the U.S., but not anymore.

He looms as a kind of linchpin now, one of the few to transfer the lofty disconnected ideas floating around early '70s rock -- blues and boogie, ethnic rhythms, ornate orchestral textures -- into something visionary. How visionary? This album taught David Bowie and Mott the Hoople the meaning of glam, helped hard rock bands get in touch with their inner druid, and presaged the feral abandon of punk. The spirit of T. Rex lives still in the garagey hooks of the Strokes and the disinterested cool of the White Stripes, and really whenever the sudden urge to get it on strikes.

- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.

Marc Bolan took the Tolkieneque hippie music of his first couple of albums and gave it a glammed-out update on sexy singles like "Bang a Gong (Get It On)." He outdid himself with "Jeepster," which vibrates with lust, lots of guitar, and the sound of Bolan stomping on the studio floor.

Electric Warrior was chosen as the 188th greatest album of all time in a Rolling Stone magazine poll of artists, producers, critics and music industry figures in Oct. 2020.

- Rolling Stone, 10/20.

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