Monday, February 6, 2012

T. Rextasy

This love-god, a sex-man, with milk skin and hair of soft silk, eyes like arrows and a throbbing guitar pulse erupted and blew a groove all over the world. The Rolling Stones were more popular and they still are, but this dude was as big in the UK in the 70s as Rihanna is here and now. Appreciating T. Rex these days means you've got taste and discernment, and man yes I do. I think about that time back in the day, ten or twelve years ago it must be or more, when I got the promo single of "Ride a White Swan" (b/w "Is It Love") out of my A Beard of Stars LP and I played it and then I played it again and again and then I kept playing that same song for like, what, an hour? And I was just trying to be it, I mean I couldn't even understand half the stuff he was saying cause he's got that weird high dusty voice and he's all talking about "Wear a tall hat like a Druid in the old days, wear your hair long man you can't go wrong" I mean I get that part but he's got kind of a weird accent and it's all fantasy stuff but that hook! On the guitar! And how he plays it! The fingers on the frets! And off. Touching and pressing and living. So I could just keep hearing that song forever, "Ride a White Swan", I mean wow, and so he had a bunch of records, first Tyrannosaurus Rex, a duo paired with another good-looking hippy who played bongos, first this wasteoid named Steve Peregrin Took after the Tolkien, and then when that dude got on the acid bus but good this other guy Mickey Finn and then he was like, ok fine if I have a whole band I can sell more records and more people will love me so he made a whole band and changed the name to T. Rex to make it easier to say so he'd get more airplay (I'm getting this story from the jacket of the album T. Rextasy: The Best of T. Rex 1970 - 1973 which is the Frances Picks pick so reading that the details get to be a little more lucid, thanks guys, and also I get to hear like "unreleased" and "UK-only" versions and stuff like that, also, great, thanks) and then that's when the lava blew out into the sky and another concession he made was to start singing more about like the modern world instead of like dragons and beasties and stuff and it worked, the concessions worked, he gave the people what they wanted man.

I can recommend all I want but if you're not trying to hear it if you don't have the ears to hear if you're not receptive then the recommendations (recs!) don't work you won't hear it. Not a bit.

Really the one thing that this Best Of comp has helped me with is cutting up the work in a new way. It's not really a "fitting introduction to the work of a prolific genius", like I'd recommend The Slider or A Beard of Stars if you never heard Marc Bolan cause those ones you just put it on and then you're like holy shit what the fuck for like 45 minutes, I mean "Woodland Bop" wow. Or "Chariot Choogle". Or when you drop the needle on The Slider and "Metal Guru" comes on and there's this crash of rock and then "Oh WAAH OH YEEEAAAAAAHHHH" they just like scream but it's barely contained in some notes and it's like the complete joy of music right there in those first five seconds. Or "Elemental Child" puts my jaw on the floor, it's like a lava flow. Ok maybe that one's not "for the masses". But damn. The problem with Marc Bolan is that he has so many hooks though, I can't tell the difference between the songs and I don't know what songs are on what records or what the names of the songs are , it's just like one big hook, the guy's whole career is one big hook. What I didn't get before I played this Best Of comp is how his throbby guitar never changes, it's the liquid metal skeleton of all his work and it always sounds the same, like a beating heart. And then I never heard "Hot Love" which I guess was just huge in Europe but it wasn't ever on a regular T. Rex album so it was cool to hear that. I can see why it caught there and we Yanks didn't catch it so much - it's based on this "La la la la la la la" singalong that's totally European that you can hear in everything from like Mouth & MacNeal to Opus to Lordi, the winners of the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. I mean we get it in America but our pop is a little different from their pop, so we didn't have the ears to hear it. That's why the heads like me are all "Man Tyrannosaurus Rex is the SHIT!" and everyone else is all "Whatever man, Springsteen." Also cause Marc Bolan is just a tiny bit precious, and the Stones just let it all hang out.

Whatever man, Springsteen.

Also, if you didn't click that Mouth & MacNeal link above, you really really need to do that.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Matt. T. Rex is definitely something I periodically circle back to. I think after I heard "By the Light of the Magical Moon" I was in love forever, even though I've never found anything else Bolan did quite like that. I've also put "Ride the White Swan" and "Hot Love" and others on my music compilations. And the Mouth & MacNeal video is incredible.

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