The album that essentially kick-started the U.K. glam rock craze, Electric Warrior completes T. Rex's transformation from hippie folk-rockers into flamboyant avatars of trashy rock & roll. There are a few vestiges of those early days remaining in the acoustic-driven ballads, but Electric Warrior spends most of its time in a swinging, hip-shaking groove powered by Marc Bolan's warm electric guitar. The music recalls not just the catchy simplicity of early rock & roll, but also the implicit sexuality -- except that here, Bolan gleefully hauls it to the surface, singing out loud what was once only communicated through the shimmying beat.
He takes obvious delight in turning teenage bubblegum rock into campy sleaze, not to mention filling it with pseudo-psychedelic hippie poetry. In fact, Bolan sounds just as obsessed with the heavens as he does with sex, whether he's singing about spiritual mysticism or begging a flying saucer to take him away. It's all done with the same theatrical flair, but Tony Visconti's spacious, echoing production makes it surprisingly convincing. Still, the real reason Electric Warrior stands the test of time so well -- despite its intended disposability -- is that it revels so freely in its own absurdity and willful lack of substance. Not taking himself at all seriously, Bolan is free to pursue whatever silly wordplay, cosmic fantasies, or non sequitur imagery he feels like; his abandonment of any pretense to art becomes, ironically, a statement in itself.
Bolan's lack of pomposity, back-to-basics songwriting, and elaborate theatrics went on to influence everything from hard rock to punk to new wave. But in the end, it's that sense of playfulness, combined with a raft of irresistible hooks, that keeps Electric Warrior such an infectious, invigorating listen today.
Electric Warrior is the sixth album by British rock group T. Rex, and is widely considered to be one of the quintessential glam rock releases. Electric Warrior reached number thirty-two in the US; it went to number one for several weeks in the UK, becoming the biggest album of 1971. In 2003 it was ranked number 160 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The album contains two of T. Rex's most popular songs, "Get It On" and "Jeepster." In the United States, "Get It On"'s title was modified to "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" to distinguish it from Chase's song "Get It On," which was also released in late 1971. (The printing of the song title "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" on the back cover of original Reprise Records U.S. copies of Electric Warrior is obviously in a different typefont from the surrounding text, with the song's original title retained when printing the lyrics.) "Get It On" was T. Rex's biggest single and their only U.S. hit (#10).
Bolan, in a 1971 interview contained on the Rhino Records reissue, said of the album "I think Electric Warrior, for me, is the first album which is a statement of 1971 for us in England. I mean that's... If anyone ever wanted to know why we were big in the other part of the world, that album says it, for me."
The sleeve was designed by British art design group Hipgnosis. In the November 2001 issue of Vanity Fair American musician Beck chose it as one of his 50 favorite album sleeves. Its iconic design would later influence the cover of †, the 2007 debut album by French electronic music duo Justice.
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