Hi, I’m Michele Myers. Every Friday night at 9pm I spin a show on KEXP called Nite Life. And every week at 12 o’clock I do a Midnight Album Spotlight. This Friday night, I’ll bring you tracks and stories from T. Rex‘s fifth album Electric Warrior.
Electric Warrior was released in 1971, but it still rocks in a timeless way. Marc Bolan, the composer, singer and guitarist, was a man who lived a short life. In his late 20’s, he had a dream where he died in a car crash, and at age 30 he was in the passenger seat when his friend’s car hit a tree. Bolan died instantly.
When you see pictures of Marc Bolan he looks very early 70’s. Huge hair, top hat, feather boa, platform shoes and a mischievous smile that seems hazed by drugs. But no matter how hard he may have been trippin’, his music is innovative. He could be considered the missing link between the solid fire of Chuck Berry’s rhythm and blues and the psychedelic warmth of bands from the 70’s and 80’s like Led Zeppelin and Love and Rockets. Check out “Jeepster”:
I recently watched Born To Boogie, a movie about T Rex. In this largely botched attempt at surrealism, bad poetry and silly characters are mixed with live clips of T Rex in concert. The acted parts are very weird. Or maybe I just shouldn’t watch this movie sober…. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr wears some kind of rodent suit. A huge cardboard cutout of Bolan drifts across a desert. A midget appears out of nowhere to eat a chocolate mirror that’s attached to a convertible. Directed by Ringo Starr, who fancied himself a filmmaker, the biggest success of this movie is the live concert footage. Bolan is a star. Entirely confident, he’s not only singing and fronting the band, but he’s playing both the rhythm and lead guitar parts by himself. The bass, drums and conga are incredibly solid. They crescendo and Bolan takes off. He is gorgeous, glowing, incredibly talented. The crowd screams for this band who was said to be “bigger than the Beatles.” Here’s “Cosmic Dancer” — live footage of the acoustic song from the Movie “Born to Boogie”… The crowd is going mad! Even Ringo said he’d never seen screaming like that.
The best thing about T Rex’s Electric Warrior is that it feels timeless. It sounds like it could have come out last year. The worst thing is that it is near impossible to find the original album version on CD. This is really common for vinyl albums re-issued on CD. Music industry salesmen take a PERFECT album and add 4 crappy “new” tracks (usually demos or outtakes) and ruin the end of it. Sigh. Anyhow, this is still one of the best records ever. Bolan sounds as close to us as he ever did. And he is…
Join Michele Myers for Nite Life every Friday night at 9pm on KEXP.