Hot on the heels of its 30th anniversary re-release, the SACD version of T.Rex's most consistent album still deserves to have its praises sung. Think of glam and you probably focus on the 1972-4 heyday with acts veering from the sublime (Bowie, Roxy etc) to the ridiculous (Mud, Gary Glitter...Jobriath anyone?). Yet this slice of pop heaven was on the shelves by autumn 1971, making it officially the first glam album in the world. What's even more amazing is how fresh it still sounds.
Bolan himself was never one to avoid a trend. In his own mind he was always a star: Stories abound of his early days as a persistent chancer in mod/psychedelic London. Yet, if John's Children and Tyrannosaurus Rex didn't hold the keys to his inevitable stardom they certainly allowed him to learn the tricks that would flower on his first hit ''Ride A White Swan''. This was the point at which he and long-term producer Tony Visconti took the hippy-dippy lyrics and Larry the lamb vocal stylings and bolted them on to good old stripped-down, four-to-the-floor rock 'n' roll. For four glorious years they never looked back...
With superb sleevenotes by Visconti himself, it must never be forgotten that this is as much his album as Bolan's (not forgetting Mickey Finn's radical bongos, ho ho). Visconti was behind so much of the glam-defining process that his name becomes synonymous with the genre. On this and Bowie's early work (Space Oddity, Man Who Sold The World) he creates a warm, spacey reverb-drenched world full of hip-thrusting libido and pouty tongue-twisting. Bolan's lyrics often approach 'back of a bus ticket' status in their throw-away couplets (''Girl'', ''Motivator'' etc.), but what shines through is the irrepressible fun the whole team seem to be having. The two monster hits (''Get It On'' and ''Jeepster'') still stand as monuments to pop concision. Nonsensical rhyme riding on swaggering guitar and drums.
Add to this at least two other utter classics (the frenzied funk of ''Rip Off'' and the touching ballad ''Life's A Gas'') and not one real filler and you've got an album that's always going to sound box fresh: 5.1 surround sound just adds a little icing on the cake. Life's still a gas... --Chris Jones
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