This is the fifteenth in a series of Rock & Roll features I'm writing for this site. I'm a rock and roller, so this column is a way for me to feature a different album that I like, from different genres every month.
When it comes to one-hit wonders, sometimes that one hit really is that group's most interesting work. Other times though, the label of one-hit wonder is completely based on context. I have lived all my life in the States and here T-Rex wasn't much more than a one-hit wonder, the hit being “Bang A Gong (Get it On)."
For some reason it took me years to get over that one-hit label even though it was purely a USA thing; the band was huge in England. Just a few months ago, finally checking out the band's catalog, I was so impressed by its music and convinced that it is much more than a one-hit wonder that I wrote a piece about their progression from folk to proto punk for the Soul of Rock 'n' Roll. You can read that piece here if you're interested: Where Proto Punk Meets Pop, Folk and Glam: Bridging Genres with T-Rex
Now, I'm returning to the music of Marc Bolan and T-Rex, and specifically one of their best albums, Electric Warrior, for this month's rock and roll feature.
Released in 1971, Electric Warrior is not the first T-Rex album and not even the first of the band's more “rockified” albums. It is, however, the album that produced the band's only real U.S. hit, the aforementioned “Bang A Gong (Get it On)." As I said though, the one hit wonder moniker is highly inaccurate, so don't go thinking that is the only track worth checking out. A unique mix of gritty rock swagger, folk-tinged ballads and some of the first peeks at what would become punk rock, Electric Warrior is not only a classic T-Rex album, but a classic rock and roll album that has become one of my favorites.
“Mambo Sun” starts everything off with a rough edged, but also subtle guitar riff with plenty of attitude. A great track to bop your head to, it's also pretty pulled back and restrained. Bolan's vocals are hushed and even the lead guitar, though fuzzed out, is not too over the top as it echoes the melody. The acoustic guitar and sweeping strings of “Cosmic Dancer” is a good counterpoint and testament to the band's depth, with its subtle imagery and psychedelic backwards guitar licks.