Freddie Matthews writes from London: If you’re stuck with a load of vouchers after Christmas and you don’t know what to spend them on, then here’s the best suggestion you’ll have received for a long time. Buy yourself the 40th Anniversary T.Rex box set which features the lovingly re-mastered album from 1972 called The Slider.
1972 was a big year for Marc Bolan’s T.Rex. This was one of the first albums to feature Glam Rock at its finest and Bolan was quite possibly one of the original pioneers of this scene. The Slider was the band’s 7th studio album and they were at their commercial and creative peak. The album was their 2nd album in this new-fashioned ‘style and sound’, whereas their previous incarnation was far more folk-oriented and nowhere near as commercially successful. Quite amazingly 40 years later the original producer Tony Visconti has returned to oversee the re-mastering of the album, which is now only available as part of this complete T.Rex box set.
The box set contents are very appealing:
- The classic The Slider album, newly re-mastered by the original producer Tony Visconti and Ted Jensen; a second cd; an 180g-vinyl edition of the original album and three 7” singles.
- A DVD featuring a brand new 1 hour 45 minute interview with Tony Visconti, conducted by expert journalist and author Mark Paytress, as well as contemporary TV footage from Top Of The Pops and ITV programmes.
- A hardback book with essays by Tony Visconti and Mark Paytress with photos.
- A selection of reproductions of T.Rex memorabilia including the A4 sheet music book of “The Slider”, promo badge, a Bolan Fan Club letter, membership card and concert tickets and a sew-on patch.
Wow, that’s a terrific set of memorabilia by any fan’s standards and all for about £120 (Amazon UK), which doesn’t seem too bad to be honest. Then again, if you take into consideration that you can download the original The Slider album with all the historic beauty of a 1972 production for probably about £5 then this box-set is big bucks.
Tyrannosaurus Rex released 4 albums before changing their name to just T.Rex and for whatever reason that change also changed something in the writing talent of Mark Feld or Marc Bolan, as he called himself. The band subsequently became one of the coolest on the planet. With early success from Ride A White Swan and Hot Love from what was T.Rex’s debut eponymous album, their destiny was secured. On the follow up album Electric Warrior, Bolan upped the glam rock format, which produced two seminal singles, Get It On and Jeepster: they achieved No.1 and No.2 in the UK Top 40 respectively.
The Slider is a masterpiece. It showed progression for T.Rex including hits like; Metal Guru, Telegram Sam. Both were to be the final UK No.1 singles for the band – both in 1972. Morrissey was once quoted saying that Metal Guru was, “Pop perfection”. That’s not to say the band would be successful again, as their next 4 UK singles were all UK Top 5 but just not No.1s.
They may not have been hits but there are many other standout tracks from The Slider, including: Mystic Lady which sounds a little bit like a song by The Beatles in places and is stripped back and almost fragile; Rock On is a menacing song and I’m quite frankly surprised it wasn’t a hit but then like many other T.Rex album tracks it does lend itself to much of their other songs; Spaceball Ricochet could be a David Bowie song but then again it was very much of that time in the early 1970s and Marc was a great friend of David Bowie’s. Then there are others certainly worth a listen like: Buick McKane, Rabbit Fighter, Ballrooms Of Mars and Main Man where the band were either on something or just experimenting with vocal effects.
Marc Bolan tragically died, as a passenger in a road traffic accident, on 16 September 1977, just 2 weeks before his 30th birthday. Just think what he could have produced had that not happened. The world was his to own.
Marc Bolan was a unique and extraordinary pop artist. The Slider was both personal, hugely accessible as well as an insight into the world of pop perfection. For the first time ever this box set tells the true story behind T-Rex and its personnel.
As great as The Slider album is, just imagine not only owning a wonderfully re-mastered copy but every other exciting part of this box-set. This is a must have for any T.Rex fan and fortunately it’s still on sale.
This is no coincidence that The Slider sounds as good in 2012-13 as it did when it was originally recorded 40 years ago. It’s just a shame only one member of the band remains alive to appreciate it.
N.B. I don’t have the complete box set so can’t mark it as a whole, what I do have is the digitally re-mastered cd of The Slider.