Electric Warrior :: T-Rex
Quintessential Album Tuesday
A Little History:
Electric Warrior is the sixth studio album by British rock band T. Rex (being the second album under the name “T. Rex”, with the first four billed as “Tyrannosaurus Rex”). The album marks a big turning point in the band’s sound as it drifts away from the folk-oriented music of the previous albums and takes on a new music genre, glam rock. The album also drew attention to the band in the USA with the massive hit Get It On.
The album contains two of T. Rex’s most popular songs, Get It On and Jeepster. In the United States, Get It On’s title was modified to Bang a Gong (Get It On) to distinguish it from Chase’s song Get It On, which was also released in late 1971.
The printing of the song title Bang a Gong (Get It On) on the back cover of original Reprise Records US copies of Electric Warrior is in a different typeface from the surrounding text, with the song’s original title retained when printing the lyrics.
Get It On was T. Rex’s biggest selling single, and became the band’s only top 10 US hit after appearing on the soundtrack of Jarhead in 2005.
Electric Warrior reached # 32 in the US Billboard 200 chart. It went to # 1 on the UK Albums Chart, and stayed there for several weeks, becoming the best-selling album there in 1971.
In 1987, Electric Warrior was ranked number 100 in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Albums Of The Last 20 Years” list.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 160 in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.
In 2004, Pitchfork Media listed the record as 20th best album of the 1970’s.
In the November 2001 issue of Vanity Fair American musician Beck chose it as one of his 50 favorite album sleeves.
Marc Bolan, in a 1971 interview contained on the Rhino Records reissue, said of the album,
“I think Electric Warrior, for me, is the first album which is a statement of 1971 for us in England. I mean that’s… If anyone ever wanted to know why we were big in the other part of the world, that album says it, for me.”
Electric Warrior is often credited to be the album that kick-started the “Glam Rock” craze. The album highlighted T-Rex’s transformation from hippie folk-rockers into flamboyant avatars of trashy Rock and Roll, a transition seen elsewhere at the time in the music scene, most notably with David Bowie.
Ben Gerson wrote, in a 1972 Rolling Stone review, of Marc Bolan and the album:
Marc is one of the eternally precocious, fated to live outside the world of adults forever. But he is an outsider in another sense, too. Back when T. Rex was known as Tyrannosaurus Rex, Marc sang of and inhabited a medieval world of wizards and unicorns. Now his subject and medium is rock ‘n’ roll, and his outsider’s stance (chronologically young because historically young) enables him to see things with a special clarity and vision. Marc’s lyrics still sound like nursery rhymes, and he sings with a puckish quaver, but he now plays a mean lead guitar.
Among the list of musicians who died too early, Marc Bolan/T-Rex had just begun to make a name for themselves outside of the UK. What his next moves would have been, in terms of style and sound, the world will never know.
What Makes This “Quintessential” In Three Sentences:
Electric Warrior is one of those albums that will forever be remembered as a style and scene changer, bringing to life Glam Rock, or at least giving it a damn good shove. For me, this album is overflowing with memories of my late 80’s club life, my late teens and early twenties, and a sound/style/collection of songs that helped shape the way I lived and looked, at that time in my life. The album also contains a song that is among my personal soundtrack (Jeepster), a song that was sung to me, and attached to me, by a someone that was once very important to me, and who I suppose, at least in memory, still is.
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
2. Cosmic Dancer
4. Planet Queen
5. Bang a Gong (Get It On)