One of the most ambitious boxsets ever released will debut on Dec 4, with only 2,000 copies available worldwide. T.Rex’s masterpiece album, THE SLIDER, will be presented as a giant box set that includes 3 singles, a 180 gram vinyl remastered LP, 2 cds of the original album, plus many rarities, outtakes, a hard cover book, and a sheet music book, plus a DVD. This will all cost a little over $200, but will probably become the Holy Grail of T.Rex collector’s items. This release is from the Edsel label over in the UK. And with pre-orders all over the world, the album should be quickly be sold out. T.Rex was especially popular over in Europe and in Japan, but never really made a big dent into the American market beyond the single, “Bang-A-Gong”, which was a #6 U.S. pop charts hit. “Bang-A-Gong”, was actually from the previous album, ELECTRIC WARRIOR, which with it’s predecessor, T.REX, were the band’s first delves into electric music. Previously, T.Rex was Tyrannosaurus Rex, a two man hippy acoustic band with Marc Bolan on vocals and guitar and Steve Took on bongos. But, after an unhappy breakup of the two, Marc Bolan picked up Mickey Finn as a new percussionist, and added other musicians to form an electric band with a more commercial sound than the old hippy act.
The strange side story about Mickey Finn was that Bolan like him because he thought he was good looking and Bolan liked his motorcycle. But, Mickey Finn was blasted by the serious music critics for being unable to produce the same complex bongo rhythms of Steve Took. But, the electric version of T.Rex had not only a regular drummer, but retained Mickey Finn on bongos as well, along with Marc Bolan’s unique guitar signature, giving T.Rex a type of unique and exotic sound to the music, along with Bolan’s unique voice.
The result of the new electric T.Rex was a string of very successful singles for the next few years as Marc Bolan fought it out with Gary Glitter, Slade, Alvin Stardust, Mud, The Sweet and other UK glam rock acts to become the king of the glam rock scene.
The early acoustic music of Marc Bolan appeared to be obsessed with Greek mythology and magic, but soon with the electric band, Bolan’s music seemed to be strangely sexually obsessed with automobiles, although Bolan himself never had a driver’s license. But, in one of his singles, Bolan rudely states that “I own a Rolls Royce, because it’s good for my voice”. Bolan, did indeed buy himself a Rolls Royce, but it’s unknown whether he actually ever drove it, or just liked to chauffeured around in it. This was a far cry from the poverty of a struggling musician of the early years, who just never ever seemed to really catch fire. He was also a member of another early pop act, John’s Children, which also never really made a big dent except as a small time psychedelic act, much like an alternate version of The Who or other acts. In fact, one of their songs sure sounds much Like, “I Can’t Explain”.
Ringo Starr became a big fan of Marc Bolan, and photographed the famous cover of THE SLIDER as well having his production company film concert footage that was later used in the BORN TO BOOGIE motion picture about the T.Rex phenomenon that swept Europe and much of the world, but failed to make much of a dent in the U.S. market. It was strange, because Marc Bolan became something of a tax refugee from the UK and spent much time here in the states, but just couldn’t seem to muster the type of popularity that he managed in the UK and much of the world.
But, it might have been Bolan’s failure in the states that began to undo Bolan’s success. His failure in the states began to raise some doubts about Bolan and T.Rex really being the next big thing since The Beatles. And, although Bolan still had quite a string of successful singles, some albums like TANX and ZINC ALLOY just seemed so disappointing compared to ELECTRIC WARRIOR and THE SLIDER, which were true rock classics. But, Bolan’s albums began to improve greatly towards 1976 and 1977, when FUTURISTIC DRAGON and DANDY IN THE UNDERWORLD were released. DANDY IN THE UNDERWORLD was an excellent album, that seemed to spur on the punk movement on one hand, but also provided simple but catchy hooks to make the album great fun. It was to be Bolan’s final album during his lifetime before his life ended in late September car crash. But, Bolan had been working on an unfinished science fiction inspired album, BILLY SUPER DUPER, which had extra music added to it for a posthumous release as well as many albums of outtake material. Bolan always seemed to have a tape recorder nearby so that he would never forget any concept for a song that he had in mind. This provided years of outtake releases from the deceased artist.
THE SLIDER has many great moments, although some songs, such as “The Ballrooms Of Mars” was condemned for being a ripoff of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. But, the singles, “Telegram Sam” and “Metal Guru” were two real T.Rex classics for sure.
If you really love the music of Marc Bolan, you’ll have to get this great box set. But, then again the small production numbers of just 2000 worldwide as well as the steep price will only hold many fans out on the outside wanting in. But, perhaps there might be some smaller releases from the box set such as the two disc cd with some never heard rarities on it in the future.