T. Rex

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1972 Review

by Tim Sendra

1972 was a big year for T. Rex. Having blown up in 1971 with Electric Warrior and its chart-topping singles, Marc Bolan and his band were on top of the pop world. With hit records, sold-out stadium shows, movies with Ringo, and trotting across the globe in a blur of glammy looks and sounds, the group seemed unstoppable. Demon Records' box set 1972 takes a look at the studio recordings T. Rex made over the course of the year, including the peerless Slider album, non-LP singles and B-sides, radio sessions that were taped by the BBC and various American radio stations, the soundtrack to the film Born to Boogie, and a concert recorded at Wembley. Though there are a truckload of other recordings in the vault -- including an entire alternate version of The Slider -- Demon sticks to the basics while presenting a snapshot of a band at their peak. The Slider is a perfect distillation of the Bolan style, made up of huge stomping rockers, melancholy ballads, and playful romps all delivered with a twinkling eye and a knowing pout. Non-LP singles "Solid Gold Easy Action" and "Children of the Revolution" showed off where T. Rex had been and a heavier possible future, respectively, and their included B-sides would have been career highlights for other bands. Is there a better glam rock toss-off than "Sunken Rags"? The American radio sessions are joyously loose and ragged, Marc having a blast as he traipses through songs from Electric Warrior and The Slider, strumming up a storm and pushing the vocal meter into the red. It's hard to imagine someone accidentally tuning in to this in 1972 and not wondering exactly what planet Bolan had beamed down from. The BBC sessions are a more studied affair, with a full band mostly sticking to the recorded versions but a little raucous around the edges. Anyone looking for something even looser and wilder need look no further than the live recording. Bolan mugs for the crowd, conjures up gnarly guitar riffs and roof-scraping solos, while the band gamely rambles along trying to keep up. The three-song acoustic interlude is a brave bit of showmanship that the audience eats up despite the variable tuning. It has a pleasant you-are-there recording quality that makes for a fine archival document, if not the first thing one might reach for when needing a T. Rex fix. The Born to Boogie soundtrack also culls songs from the Wembley shows and intersperses them with poems, bits of audio vérité, and songs recorded with Elton John and Ringo Starr, most notably a version of "Children of the Revolution" that gives a glimpse what T. Rex might have sounded like if Bolan hadn't had such a singular vision. It's another fascinating piece of the puzzle, so that when you fit them together as Demon has, it makes for a thrilling set that truly does capture Bolan at his magical best, rarities be damned.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 T. Rex 00:14 Amazon
2 T. Rex 04:53 Amazon
3 T. Rex 04:45 Amazon
4 T. Rex 00:26 Amazon
5 T. Rex 01:19 Amazon
6 T. Rex 03:40 Amazon
7 T. Rex 00:19 Amazon
8 T. Rex 04:16 Amazon
9 T. Rex 00:12 Amazon
10 T. Rex 04:24 Amazon
11 T. Rex 01:29 Amazon
12 T. Rex 03:59 Amazon
13 T. Rex 00:36 Amazon
14 T. Rex 05:35 Amazon
15 T. Rex 00:46 Amazon
16 T. Rex 03:42 Amazon
17 T. Rex 11:08 Amazon
18 T. Rex 02:35 Amazon
19 T. Rex 00:23 Amazon
20 T. Rex 00:47 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick