- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dubbed the “First Man of Glam Rock,” Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex released the album “The Slider” in November 1972. To mark the 40th anniversary of the landmark album, a new box set has been released. The 14 songs were finished in three days at the famous Chateau d’Herouville studio in France. Bolan died in a car accident in 1977, but his influence has grown over the years, and the music has been featured in films such “Billy Elliot” and “Moulin Rouge.” The List this week looks at T. Rex’s best hits.

  • 10. I love to Boogie (1976) — This was Marc Bolan’s last U.K. top-20 hit. The band, which included bass player Steve Currie, drummer Bill Legend and Mickey Finn, faded after Bolan was killed when the Mini in which he was a passenger hit a tree in Barnes, West London. Bolan was two weeks short of his 30th birthday.
    “You rattlesnake out with your tailfeathers high, Jitterbug left and smile to the sky.”
  • 9. 20th Century Boy (1973) — This quintessential Bolan song was not featured on an original studio album. The song was used in a Levi’s commercial starring Brad Pitt and a Mitsubishi Montero Sport commercial in 1971. It reached No. 3 on the U.K. charts.
    “Friends say it’s fine, friends say it’s good, Everybody says it’s just like Robin Hood.”
  • 8. Jeepster (1971) —Bolan was unhappy about the release of this song by the independent label Fly from the “Electric Warrior” album, but it peaked at No. 2 in the U.K. The song is featured in Martin Scorsese’s 1974 film “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 film “Death Proof.”
    “Just like a car, you’re pleasing to behold, I’ll call you Jaguar if I may be so bold.”
  • 7. Telegram Sam (1971) — This was the band’s third No. I hit in the United Kingdom and reached No. 67 in the United States. It appeared on the album “The Slider.” Bolan performs a great guitar riff, while the lyrics are nonsensical. There are reports that Bolan wrote the song about his accountant, Sam Alder, who once handed a telegram to Bolan with the news that the song “Get It On” had reached No. 1 in the United Kingdom.
    “Automatic shoes, automatic shoes, / Gimme 3D vision and the California blues”
  • 6. Hot Love (1971) — This was T.Rex’s first No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom and the beginning of a string of five huge hits in Britain. After the band performed it on the “Top of the Pops” TV show with Bolan wearing a dab of glitter under each eye, “Glitter Rock” was born. The tabloids hailed “T-Rexstasy” as the next big thing after Beatlemania. Followers of the band were dubbed “teenyboppers.” The song reached No. 72 in the United States.
    “Well she’s my woman of gold, And she’s not very old — a ha ha.”
  • 5. Ride a White Swan (1970) — Tyrannosaurus Rex became abbreviated to T. Rex, and the band scored its breakout song with this hippyish ditty. The song is often called the first “glam rock” hit of the 1970s paving the way for other “glam hits” from artists such as David Bowie, Gary Glitter, Sweet, Slade, Alice Cooper, Suzi Quatro, Mott the Hoople and Roxy Music. The song reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom and No. 76 in the United States.
    “Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days, Wear a tall hat and a tattooed gown.”
  • 4. Life’s a Gas — The song was the 10th track on the album “Electric Warrior,” which was ranked No. 160 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums” list in 2003. Bolan performed the song with noted 1970s singer Cilla Black on her TV show.
    “I could have loved you girl, like a planet. I could have chained your heart to a star.”
  • 3. Metal Guru (1972) — The opening chords, with Bolan screaming “My-wow-oh-yeah,” is unique. It was the band’s fourth and final No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom, but it failed to dent the charts in America. “I relate ‘Metal Guru’ to all Gods around,” Bolan said. “I believe in a God, but I have no religion.” The song appeared on “The Slider” album after the band had moved to the EMI label.
    “Metal Guru has it been, just like a silver-studded sabre-tooth dream”
  • 2. Children of the Revolution (1972) — This militaristic anthem about teenage rebellion was released as a single in 1972 and didn’t appear on an album. It has gained popularity after being used in a number of recent films, including “Moulin Rouge.” It came in at No. 2 in the United Kingdom charts, ending a sequence of four No. 1 hits for the band.
    “Well, you can tear a plane in the falling rain I drive a Rolls Royce ‘cause it’s good for my voice.”
  • 1. Bang a Gong (1971) — This influential song for the “Electric Warrior” album was the band’s biggest hit in America, where it reached No. 10. The song was renamed for the American audience. It originally was called “Get It On” in the United Kingdom. The song has been used in at least 10 major feature films, including “Billy Elliot” and “Dark Shadows.”
    “Well, you’re built like a car, You got a hubcap diamond star halo.”

Bonus Track: Debora (1968) — This was the debut single from Tyrannosaurus Rex, which originally combined the acoustic duo of Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took. Later, Mickey Finn replaced Took, and Bolan replaced his acoustic guitar for an electric one. At this time, Bolan was still singing about Pixies and Fairies.

Best of the rest: “Rip Off,” “Teenage Dream,” “Cosmic Dancer,” “Mambo Sun,” “Monolith,” “The Slider,” “Solid Gold Easy Action,” “Dandy in the Underworld” and “The Groover.”

Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: The Guardian, ultimateclassicrock.com, Business Wire, Wikipedia, The Independent and musicvf.com/T.+Rex.art