T. Rex’s ‘The Slider’ Turns 40
1972 was the pinnacle year for glam rock, and ‘The Slider’ by T. Rex, which turns 40 years old this week, was in many ways the ultimate glam album.
T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan’s transformation from acoustic to electric warrior began in 1969 with a record called ‘King Of The Rumbling Spires.’ This seed was to bloom in a new direction for this one time mod turned hippie, as he would leave behind the fairy tale whimsey, summon his inner Eddie Cochran, and rock and roll.
1970 saw the release of the single ‘Ride A White Swan,’ another slice of electric folk, while Bolan’s legendary appearance on ‘Top Of The Pops’ in support of the follow up single, ‘Hot Love,’ proved prophetic enough to turn into a movement overnight. A little dab of glitter under his eyes and bam, glam rock was born.
With the 1971 release of the landmark ‘Electric Warrior’ album, all bets were off. T. Rex was officially ready to rock. It’s success led to a very Beatlemania-like adulation for Rex’s UK fans, often referred to as T. Rextasy.
Everything came into bloom with ‘The Slider,’ as perfect a rock and roll album as you could ever ask for. From the seductive surge of ‘Metal Guru,’ through the plaintive album closer of ‘Main Man,’ it’s got it all and then some — super-charged rockers side-by-side with pure pop and folk.
‘Telegram Sam’ was the first single released from ‘The Slider’ and it, along with the album’s second single, the too wonderful for words ‘Metal Guru,’ encapsulate the bump-n-grind coolness of T. Rex perfectly. Wonderful production by Tony Visconti, Bolan’s dynamic guitar and vocals, percussion by Mickey Finn, not to mention the spot on backing vocals from Flo and Eddie (the Turtles), together created the classic T. Rex sound. Just for the record, the legendary cover photo, long thought to be taken by Bolan’s close friend, Ringo Starr, was actually taken by Visconti.
The title track is a raunchy sexy rocker, while ‘Ballrooms Of Mars’ is a subtle groover and ‘Buick Mackane’ is riff rock heaven. Need we go on?! ‘Rock On,’ ‘Spaceball Ricochet,’ ‘Baby Strange’ – all classic stuff. While Bolan and company never really took off in America (why? who knows!) T. Rex were big business in their homeland. ‘The Slider’ and its singles were all monster hits. It’s no stretch to say that without Bolan unleashing the glitter beast, there may never have been a ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ let alone the clones that followed. Bolan would release one more classic LP, ‘Tanx,’ in 1973, before the glitter began to fade on his golden era
‘The Slider,’ along with certain records by the Sweet and Slade, is what the glam rock sound was really all about. Pristine bubblegum pop mixed with hard stompin’ rock and roll, street smarts and a fair amount of tongue meets cheek, all dolled up with everyplace to go. Now where did I put my feather boa?