I’d all but ignored T-Rex until about 6 months ago. I bought Tanx when I was in Austin three years ago, but just ‘cuz Jeffey told me I should. I didn’t even listen to it until a month ago. Even when Brendo was buying expanded-edition double discs of The Slider, I had my head in the sand. I was probably neck deep in fresh worship of Guitar Romantic, with some yellow and pink paint-splattered blinders on.
I have no explanation for this, really, other than the fact that sometimes I’m a stupid stupidhead. The fact that I have no idea what the turning point was (if it even existed) that lead me back to Electric Warrior is a curious one, but ultimately unimportant. The important part is that Electric Warrior is casually AWESOME in ways that I can’t shake. I don’t have a thesis, or, like BIG POINT necessarily, but figured I’d share some thoughts I’ve had as EW’s been on mega-repeat the last few weeks.
First of all, I’ve shocked myself by so deeply loving an album that sounds largely backbone’d by WHITE BOOGIE BLUES. I mean, not that I’ve heard enough Butterfield Blues bootlegs to say whether the “TRUE” white blues is worth a hoot, but, ummmm, HELLO Blues Hammer and Double Trouble and Kenny Lame Shepherd and shit, amirite?? Even infants do a fucking eyeroll when they hear some “since my baby left me” Em -> Am pentatonic shit. I know, I know, the peanut gallery backseaters are gonna start lobbing softballs about Led Zep and Jack White and ETC ETC, but right off the bat:
a) Exactly – that’s why, as much as I sometimes dig ’em, I can’t go apeshit for the Leds and Stripes of the world.
b) This isn’t hard rock blues, this is more like some BOOGIE WOOGIE shit which is troubling cuz it evokes more HOT TUNA than hot drummer.
Here are a coupla things that seem to make Bolan’s blues awesome and NOT-THAT enough to ease the boogie pill down my throat:
I know this seems random as my first point out of the gate, but: listen to how SLOW the drums are! It’s like they’re being played underwater. They drag and almost, you know, SWING. It’s sexy and offhanded and hit me from way out in left field. They crackle super crisp and jock the hi-hats bigtime.
CRISP is a key one, here, too. The whole operation is, if this is possible, an INTIMATE reading of glitter boogie. There are all these dual acoustic guitar parts panned both ways over those woozy drums and the dude is basically COOING. Nevermind that he’s cooing shit like “Woman, I love your chests ooh/Baby, I’m crazy ’bout your breasts.”
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the WWW, lyrics are kinda neither here nor there for me. And mostly, the “baby baby”-isms of Electric Warrior fly by pretty much shuffling back and forth between inoffensive and kinda stupid. Seriously worth noting, though, is the Momentary Malkmus (MoMa, anyone???) moment on “Bang A Gong.” In the midst of some odd chick-chasing stuff (“you’re built like a car,” “you’re windy and wild”), we get: “you’re a hubcap diamond star halo…that’s the truth with your cloak full of eagles.” It’s a head scratchingly stunning enough moment of WTF to turn the most squeaky polished track on the whole record into an oddball pop gem.
I’ve listened to Electric Warrior a TON recently and less-so The Slider, but I think there’s a DEFINITE reason that EW gets preferential canonization out of the two. I think it ABSOLUTELY has something to do with MYSTERY and MAAAAAYBE something to do with studio mic positioning.
But that’s a discussion I’ll have with the web void another time. Maybe five months? YA NEVER KNOW, CUZ I’M A FLAKE…
Over and out.