More T. Rex releases
Following the four T. Rex reissues that Rhino released in November, Rhino has now also released three more 2-CD expanded editions of T. Rex albums from the '70's this week: Tanx (1973), Bolan's Zip Gun (1975), and Futuristic Dragon (1976). The 1973 album Tanx is regarded as the beginning of Marc Bolan's downward slide after the albums Electric Warrior (1971) and The Slider (1972) made him a superstar in the UK. Although it is less bombastic and memorable than its two predecessors, Tanx is not a bad album at all. It found Bolan and company toning down the glam-rock excesses (and criticizing them to boot, in the lyrics of "Shock Rock": "If you know how to rock/You don't have to shock") and adding elements of country and blues rock to their sound. The first disc contains the 13 original tracks and seven bonus tracks, some of which ("Children Of The Revolution", "20th Century Boy", "Solid Gold Easy Action") are as essential as anything from T. Rex's peak period. The second disc contains alternate versions of most of the original songs.
The 1975 album Bolan's Zip Gun truly does represent Bolan's worst period. By this time, the band's popularity had faded, and Bolan was living in what he described as "a twilight world of drugs, booze, and kinky sex". Bolan's Zip Gun was the first T. Rex album that was not produced by Tony Visconti. As a result, this album has less bombast than the previous albums, and Bolan offered no inspiration to compensate. (The first disc's bonus tracks are uninspired covers of "Dock Of The Bay" and "Do You Wanna Dance", and those are two of the disc's high points). It may be hard to imagine a boring T. Rex album, but here it is.
The 1976 Futuristic Dragon album was almost a return to form. Bolan was regaining his footing, both personally and musically. Although he had parted ways with his usual partner Mickey Finn, he sounds somewhat rejuvenated on this album. He was experimenting with disco sounds, having entered into a common-law marriage with American r&b singer Gloria Jones. The results are enjoyable, and the album (the second-from-last T. Rex album) is Bolan's best and most consistent post-Tanx work. Like the other two new expanded reissues, this one contains the original album tracks and bonus tracks on the first disc, and a second disc filled with alternate versions and outtakes.
Okay -- so now all of the post-Electric Warrior T. Rex albums are currently available in the United States. Now -- how about domestic releases of the first five Bolan/T. Rex albums that are reviewed on my T. Rex page? Are you listening, Rhino execs?
Also, I have been informed by Noble PR in England that a new T. Rex DVD will be released in the UK on April 17th. T. Rex on TV - A T. Rex Compendium will compile a collection of Bolan and T. Rex's television appearances on French, German and UK television pop programs through the seventies. No word yet if the DVD will be released elsewhere; a DVD manufactured in the UK is not likely to be readable on American machines.