There’s never been a cooler pop group than T. Rex, and that’s almost certainly a provable fact.
After ex-mod Mark Feld had changed his name to Marc Bolan, drifting through shock-rockers John’s Children and into his own hippy acoustic duo Tyrannosaurus Rex (whose albums had titles longer than some band’s careers, and featured narratives by John Peel), he suddenly got the urge to become a pop star again.
On early singles like Hot Love and Ride a White Swan, he began to mix early rock’n’roll with Tolkienesque imagery. And by the time of T. Rex’s 1971 set Electric Warrior, Bolan was able to write singles like Get It On and Jeepster, which were as rock as anything anyone had ever made.
By now he’d also invented glam rock (aka glitter rock) and had inspired his old friend and rival David Bowie to also ditch the flares and become an alien rock god (Bowie’s Lady Stardust is about Bolan), while becoming pop royalty.
Ringo Starr filmed him, Elton John jammed with him – all he needed now was a chart-topping, brilliant follow-up to Electric Warrior.
With The Slider, he achieved that easily. It contains two No.1 singles, the great Telegram Sam and Metal Guru, as well as the fantastic Ballrooms of Mars and the marvelously dreamy title track. Everything else is what Bolan might well have called a groovy little rocker.
Producer Tony Visconti (who seemed to flit from Bolan to Bowie and back throughout the decade) created a sound that mixed strings and guitars in catchy fast hooks while ex-Turtles Flo and Eddie provided extraordinary backing vocals.
It’s a perfect album, rock and pop combined concisely and excitingly. Even the cover – Bolan in a top hat – gave Slash something to look like several years later.
This box set, remastered by Visconti, features the original album, demos and B sides (Bolan prefigured punk rock in his genius with a flipside), and comes with a DVD stuffed with TV appearances, promo footage and interviews. There’s also a poster, a badge and, er, a rosette. It’s all brilliant – and best of all, you only need disc 1.