You’re dirty and sweet :: VOTD

Get It On (live) :: T-Rex
live from Top of the Pops

Get It On is a song by the British glam rock group T. Rex, featured on their 1971 album Electric Warrior. Written by front-man Marc Bolan, Get It On was the second chart-topper for T. Rex on the UK Singles Chart. In the United States, the song was re-titled Bang a Gong (Get It On) to avoid confusion with a number of the same name by the group Chase.

Marc Bolan claimed to have written the song out of his desire to record Chuck Berry’s Little Queenie, and said that the riff is taken from the Berry song. In fact, a line (And meanwhile, I’m still thinking) of Little Queenie is said at the fade of Get It On.

This was the song that virtually ended the once-solid friendship between Marc Bolan and John Peel, after Peel made clear his lack of enthusiasm for the song on air after playing his advance white label copy. Bolan and Peel only spoke once more before the Bolan’s death in 1977.

During the December 1971 Top of the Pops performance (seen in the video above), Elton John mimed a piano on the song.

The song was recorded at Trident Studios, London and the piano glissando on the record was performed by Rick Wakeman. Wakeman, who was desperate for work at the time to pay his rent, had bumped into Bolan in Oxford Street, who offered him the session. Wakeman pointed out to Tony Visconti that the record did not actually need a piano player. Visconti suggested that he could add a gliss; Wakeman said that Visconti could do that, to which Bolan replied, “you want your rent, don’t you?” Wakeman did and earned £9 for his efforts.

Grand piano was played by Blue Weaver and saxophones by Ian McDonald of King Crimson. Producer Visconti later recalled: “He played all the saxes, one baritone and two altos. I kept the baritone separate but bounced the altos to one track. I bounced the backup vocals to two tracks, making an interesting stereo image.”

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of The Turtles (later known as Flo & Eddie, and later still as members Mothers of Invention) fame provided back up vocals on the song.

While the song only spent four weeks at the top in the UK, starting July of 1971, it was the group’s biggest hit overall, selling nearly a million copies in the UK. It peaked on the US Billboard Pop Singles chart at number # 10 in January 1972, becoming the band’s only major US hit. The song reached # 12 in Canada in March of 1972.

Editor’s note: I have an undying love of Glam Rock which started in the 70’s, but growing exponentially in the late 80’s when I frequented a weekly club in Hollywood called Club 1970. T-Rex was a huge favorite of mine, and this song was part of the reason, though Jeepster is my all-time favorite. I am also quite fond of Duran Duran spin-off band, The Power Station’s, cover version.

One thought on “You’re dirty and sweet :: VOTD

  1. Although Rick Wakeman now claims to have played the piano on this track, while appearing on the BBC Music Show ‘Buzzcocks’ a few years ago he denied even knowing the song! While on dvd footage, Blue Weaver asks Tony Visconti who plays piano on ‘Get It On’ him or Rick, and the answer Tony gives is ‘you most certainly play piano on Get It On’. There is only 1 piano part played on the track – the glissando intros to the verses and choruses. It is suspect as to who plays the piano part as neither Rick or Blue will give in. It is possible that both layed down the piano and Tony ended up using just one of their contributions, but I don’t think we’ll ever get to the truth now no matter who says what!

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