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Dandy in the Underworld is the twelfth and final studio album by British rock band T.Rex. It was released on March 11, 1977, and reached a chart peak in the UK of #26. It was the band's highest-charting album since 1974's Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow.
At the time of the album's release Marc Bolan and T.Rex were on a UK tour, supported by The Damned. The album and tour were notable for marking a return to form for the band. Dandy in the Underworld gathered the most consistently positive reviews for any T.Rex album in five years. Having fallen from critical and commercial favour the band had endured some fiercely hostile press but NME, who had been amongst the most negative, noted of the album: "very listenable, well arranged immaculately played."
The sessions had started in Los Angeles in August 1976 and carried on until the end of the year, in UK studios.
Recording engineer Jennifer Maidman writes:"I worked on two tracks on this album, along with a number of other songs including a later single "Laser Love". The track "I Love to Boogie" was recorded and mixed in a single day at Decibel Studios in Stoke Newington, London N16. The studio was very small and funky, Marc liked it because it reminded him of the old Sun Studio in Memphis where a lot of early rock and roll records were made.
The single was mastered from what was originally intended to be a rough mix which Marc took home. It was mixed in about fifteen minutes by myself and Marc, I just threw up the faders, there were no computers in those days, and we went "Ok that'll do". Mick O'Halloran, Marc's roadie was going "Hurry up, we've got to leave now", I think Marc had an appointment or something, You can hear that the guitar solo is a bit on the quiet side and the tape echo on the voice varies, it's about right by the end. We got Dino's Fender Rhodes piano to distort a bit by cranking up the input on the desk, crude but quick and effective.Try doing that on a modern digital desk! Anyway, Marc liked the mix so much that it was released just as it was, much to my surprise, but it still sounds good thirty years later. The master mix was also done at 7.5 inches per second as I recall, rather than the usual 15 ips. This was so that Marc could play it on his reel to reel at home that night.
This, along with the fact that the multitrack was an Ampex two inch 16 track machine rather than the 24 track which was more common by then, helps to give the track it's beefy sound. The other song on the album we did at Decibel was "Universe", which was subsequently overdubbed and mixed at Air studios by Mike Stavrou I think. These were also the last tracks that Marc did with the old rhythm section of Steve Currie and Davy Lutton before Tony Newman and Herbie Flowers came on board."
The album was praised for the strength of the songwriting and Bolan's vocal performances. The title track was released as a single but failed to chart. "I Love to Boogie" and "The Soul of My Suit" did achieve chart placings in the UK.
After three commercially weak albums, Dandy in the Underworld was regarded by many T.Rex fans as a comeback for the band. However, it would prove to be the band's final album, as Marc Bolan was to die in a car crash in September 1977.
Marc Bolan welcomed the advent of punk rock with the biggest smile he'd worn in years. The hippest young gunslingers could go on all night about the influence of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, and the Ramones, but Bolan knew — and subsequent developments proved — that every single one of them had been nurtured in his arms, growing up with the ineffable stream of brilliant singles he slammed out between 1970-1972, and rehearsing their own stardom to the soundtrack he supplied. Dandy in the Underworld, released early in 1977, confirmed Bolan's punkoid pre-eminence. Still retaining its predecessors' demented soul revue edge, but packed solid with powerful pop, Bolan's personal predictions for the punk scene literally exploded out of the grooves.
By the time the album wraps up with the rock'n'armageddon flavored "Teen Riot Structure," Bolan was not simply wearing the mantel of punk godfatherhood, he was happily sticking safety-pins through it and preparing his next move, the driving "Celebrate Summer" single, the greatest record he'd made in years. It was also his last — a month after its release, Marc Bolan was dead. Sorrow immediately imbibed Dandy in the Underworld with a dignity which, had Bolan lived, it probably wouldn't have otherwise deserved — it is not, overall, one of his strongest albums, and the demos and outtakes included on the later volumes of the Unchained series suggest that his proposed next album would have left it far behind. But conjecture, like hindsight, can be a dangerous gauge. At the time, Dandy not only seemed bloated with promise, it was pregnant with foreboding as well. Listen again to the lyrics of the title track — self-mythologizing autobiography and not a happy ending in sight. Just like real life.
01."Dandy in the Underworld" – 4:26 02."Crimson Moon" – 3:25 03."Universe" – 2:44 04."I'm a Fool For You Girl" – 2:18 05."I Love to Boogie" – 2:15 06."Visions of Domino" – 2:28 07."Jason B. Sad" – 3:23 08."Groove a Little" – 3:25 09."Soul of My Suit" – 2:37 10."Hang Ups" – 3:29 11."Pain and Love" – 3:41 12."Teen Riot Structure" – 3:41