It's 1972. Marc Bolan, born Mark Feld, son of a truck driver, sits on top of the fricking world. Or, at least, on top of as much of the world as matters to him — the UK — minus America, which, sad to say, hasn't taken and never will take to his distinctive brand of glam insanity with that same fervor. (I once gave a T. Rex outtakes record to a certain now-ex-friend who holds to his breast eight copies of every Led Zeppelin song ever recorded — but for "Bang A Gong," U.S. Top Ten 1971, he had only a quizzical squint.)
Indeed, The Slider marks the exact point — the turning of the page starting at that upper right-hand corner — where Bolan's desire to please changes chapters to the desire to please himself. Twice during "Ballrooms of Mars" he'll command "rock!" and twice his own guitars unfurl not heavy-metal crunch or fleet-finger tricks but a melancholy wail melting in with Tony Visconti's string sections. Which actually marks a more interesting way to "rock!" than the other two. In self-interest, Bolan sometimes found fecund expression.
I found the whole thing hilarious and sometimes wince-worthy as a kid ("You never spike a person, but you always bang the whole gang" — take that, scansion). On revisit I find it full of monsters, desperation, and disease, fat plums in the undulating pudding of fun. It's not (only) lonely at the top, but scary. Small wonder he wants to slide.
- Album: The Slider (1972, reissued 2010)
- Artist: T. Rex
- Label: Fat Possum
- Songs: (1) Metal Guru (2) Mystic Lady (3) Rock On (4) The Slider (5) Baby Boomerang (6) Spaceball Richochet (7) Buick Mackane (8) Telegram Sam (9) Rabbit Fighter (10) Baby Strange (11) Ballrooms of Mars (12) Chariot Choogle (13) Main Man