Top positive review
80 people found this helpful
The final electric boogie?
on 23 April 2012
Better late than never, but here is the 40th anniversary deluxe box version of Electric Warrior, first released on 24 September 1971.
Inside the chunky box is a 32-page hb book full of colour reproduced T.Rex ads and reviews from 1971 with a text by Mark Paytress. There's also a wallet with a repro press release, photos, a coaster (surely no-one would want to spoil this) and a double-sided poster, one side of which is the image used for the original poster that came with the vinyl album. The music is captured on 2 CDs, one of which is the album plus 'Get It On''s B-sides and 'Hot Love' with its B-sides, making it a Best of T.Rex for 1971.
Interestingly, Bolan left 'Hot Love' (a UK no.1. for 6 weeks) off the album because he felt it was no longer representative. I think this was a good decision. To me 'Hot Love' has come to seem more and more like the end-point of the Tyrannosaurus Rex journey from 1968. Though it is nice to have it on here. The second CD has a number of alternate versions / mixes. The third disc is a 10-track DVD of performances of the EW songs. (Can it really be that there are only two T.Rex TOTP performances unwiped from 1971?). The performances of Girl and Cosmic Dancer from Wembley March 1972 may not have been in the film Born To Boogie but they are included in the multi-DVD release.
It's undoubtedly a beautiful package, a very good example of what the deluxe box-set format can provide. Anyone who remembers purchasing the vinyl LP back in 1971 will not be disappointed. And I guess it is unlikely that any of the other Bolan albums will get the same treatment.
Two caveats. The first is that these boxsets are usually a sonic advance on previous releases, or at least this is what we assume. In 2003 the album was released as a hybrid SACD with a stereo SACD and 5.1 SACD mix. This must surely remain the ultimate version Electric Warrior as far as sound goes, and it is odd that this 2012 release didn't include the SACD version. Hearing Electric Warrior in 5.1. really is special. (The fate of rock SACD is a tragedy for quality audio).
My second caveat concerns CD 2, the collection of what are described as variously 'instrumental edit', 'working version', 'single vocal mix', 'alternate master', etc. As with the extra tracks and extended releases of the Tyrannosaurus Rex albums, and also some mis-labelled live T.Rex recordings, I'm not always convinced that these are as different from the final version as you might think, though they can make certain details of the arrangement or performance more audible. In connection with this aspect see The Electric Warrior Sessions CD (Pilot 1996) and the 30th anniversary EW with its 8 'work in progress' tracks (A&M, 2001) to judge how significant some of the 2012 alternate versions are.
You will need to go to the box-set The Electric Boogie 1971 (Easy Action 2007) if you want to hear a demo of what might have been Electric Warrior's title track. Bolan apparently never finished this song. It was written in a style that was a throwback to a song like 'Dragon's Ear' from Beard of Stars. It would have needed a lot of re-writing to bring it in line with the rock'n'roll songs of his break-through album. I assume this was considered too embryonic for inclusion(?).
Less lavish versions of this release are also available.