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.
Can't really add much to Richard James impressive review but I would like to up the grade to 5 stars because this package truly deserves it!
`Electric Warrior' is a timeless classic no debate! If you are not moved by the pulsing rhythms, the haunting melodies and the poetically charged lyrics within then you do not deserve to have ears!
I am a sucker for box sets, the more lavish the better, and I do expect lot's of nice things when I spend my hard earned! Two discs of quality music, (much of it previously unheard and in great quality I might add), and a DVD of television, promo and live `Warrior' performances nestle in the box alongside some very gorgeous Bolan/T.Rex memorabilia which Mr. James has helpfully itemised in his review.
The jewel for me however is the book. A hardback 28 page volume of considerable quality. The sleeve notes are by Mark Paytress, a writer of some quality and an unwavering champion of Bolan and his work. Also to be found within are copious contemporary (1971) reviews of the album, associated singles and live gigs. There are colour and black and white photographs, again from the 71' era, many of which I had never viewed before which only left me wishing that the book had been larger in size.
It costs a bit of money but things of true worth and beauty often do. I did not begrudge a penny I paid for it and I desperately hope that `The Slider' is in the pipeline for similar treatment.
An unreserved 5 stars!!
on 5 March 2003
Many things have been said about T-Rex's "Electric Warrior" and I won't comment more on the recording itself thanit's one of the best albums ever.
This album has been re-issued over and over, last year when A&M released a new version re-mastered by producer Tony Visconti.
This version, released by Rhino, makes the former look as a rather shoddy affair. Rhino's "Electric Warrior" has better sound and the packaging is excellent. All the original artwork is included (reproductions of the poster and the inner sleeve) as well as rare photos by Keith Morris.
There is also a well-written essay and an interview with percussionist Mickey Finn.
Last years A&M release featured previously unreleased outtakes - here there is only one unreleased track, but instead Rhino have added all the 1971 non-LP tracks, plus an interview from a promo album.
I prefer Rhino's version to A&M's "30th Anniversary Edition" in every aspect, however I think Viconti's comments on the recording of the album were far more illuminating than Finn's.
It's a shame that you have to buy the same album over and over again to get a decent version, but I believe that this is the definitive version of Electric Warrior.
on 26 April 2012
Well I guess we'll have to wait for the 50th Anniversary version of this little doozy. It's a beautiful boxed set, with carefully annotated facts and info, a lovely book, and a nice poster etc. I love the design and the music sounds great. The only problem is that it's not 'complete' - two tracks which are listed on the sessions for the album are missing, 'Bolan's Blues' and a BBC radio version of 'Sailors Of The Highway'. Both are significant tracks as the first is a studio workout of a basic blues song, with T.REX sounding as if they're having a whale of a time trying out their new sound, having not long performed together. The second is a track actually considered as a follow up to Hot Love, so it really does belong in this collection.
Maybe they're saving the 'complete package' for 2022!
on 21 August 2007
Electric Warrior - T Rex
Is it strange to dance so soon?
I bought this in 1971 just after release and I still think it is an amazing record.
Interest in Marc Bolan goes up and down like the financial times share prices. One moment he is the biggest thing since the Beatles. Next day, his albums are chucked into the remainder bin. Then he is remembered as a prophet and a colossal talent. Next day his work is dismissed as glam-rock tat. But, just like the stocks and shares, the general outlook is that the value is gradually rising. And, when you buy this album, you will see why!
There were two big hits off of this album, `Jeepster' and `Get it On' (aka `Bang a Gong'.) I would ask you to enjoy these two song by all means, but please... please... please... forget them! They do not, in my opinion, accurately reflect this album and they will make you think that Bolan was just another Slade/Sweet "Sounds of the Seventies" product.
This album is far more than that. This album is poetic, deep, haunting and sincere.
Take the second track, `Cosmic Dancer' for example This simple yet elegant vision encompasses, all at once, Marc's child-like fascination for the magic of life and yet combines it with a foretelling of his own tragic demise. It is majestically supported by a sumptuous string-arrangement (courtesy of Tony Visconti) and is adorned by cry-baby waa-waa. The haunting lyrics are beautifully gothic and the melody, although simple, lingers long after in your mind and heart.
Other softer and more mysterious songs on this album include `Monolith' with a squelchy guitar-lick (using Bolan's favourite pedal) and the whimsical `Planet Queen'. The percussive effects on this track create an exquisite layer-cake of sound that is repeated in the final track `Rip-Off'.
There are flugel horns to add to the weirdness on the track `Girl'. But the strange cryptic lyrics and gentle melodic style help to smooth any concerns the listener may have about this strange mix.
My favourite song is `Life's a Gas'. That is right, it is my favourite song- not just from this album but period. It has got just about everything right. It is eloquent in its sincerity of love. It is good-humoured and light enough so as not to take itself too seriously. It has got a nice simple acoustic guitar to start with but this is then later adorned by a grungy electric guitar lick. It has a generous and memorable chorus. And, like `Cosmic Dancer' it eerily suggests that Marc is contemplating an untimely end- especially in the last line of the verse (that he almost throws away) `I hope it's gonna last'.
This album even has, what is generally agreed to be, an eminent blues track, `Lean Woman Blues'. This song was recently voted as outstanding by Classic Rock magazine.
I thoroughly recommend this special edition. If you already own Electric Warrior, then you will be pleased with the extra tracks on this production. Especially the `rough' recordings of the tracks before strings and backing vocals were added. If you have never bought a T Rex album before then try this one first.
Marc Bolan and T rex may not always be in `fashion' but then `fashion is just fate'.
on 8 June 2005
This album undoubtedly represents the high-water mark for T-Rex. It is, quite simply, the album that defined the sound of the 70's. With the aid of John Peel, Bolan had already talked up chart success with "Ride a White Swan" and "Hot Love", but this was the complete T-Rex package. From the swinging, psychedelic 'Mambo Sun' to the vulnerable 'Cosmic Dancer' and then the rocking 'Jeepster' (containing the delicious "just like a car, you're pleasing to behold. I'd call you Jaguar if I may be so bold") the scene is already set for an epochal recording well before the commercial favourite 'Get It On' is introduced. The fantastic fluctuations continue with the heart wrenching 'Girl', followed by the funky 'Motivator' and all capped off with the hard rocking 'Rip Off'. People have criticised Bolan's lyrics, but here you can feel the passion, pain and joy just from his tone and no-one can deny that when it came to boogie-able guitar riffs, Bolan was king. The additional 'work in progress' material gives a great insight into the man's creative process. Groundbreaking stuff, a self-made Superstar at the height of his powers and a must for every music fan.
on 24 July 2002
Much has been said to praise this fantastic record - I bought it when it first came out on vynil, and bought this edition 30 years on - that says it all. The remarkable thing about this edition is the wonderful remastering and the presentation. The sound is crisp, clear and bassy, the sleeve notes are by Tony Visconti and reveal many interesting aspects of the T.Rex recording process. Along with the 'Work in progress' tracks this is the album and 'making of' documentary in one.
on 1 February 2012
Like the American reviewer linked to Amazon UK says,this is the best version of a classic Bolan album.
I also have the anniversary edition,the Castle edition ,the sacd release and (yes ,I need to get out more!)this is the one that hits the spot.
Warm,but crisp sound which reveals details that were hidden,particularly Bill Legend`s drumming and Flo and Eddie`s unique backing vocals.The sound is perfectly balanced and lets the listener pay attention to every nuance or just go with the flow and eddy of the music as it washes over you and laps at your feet!(enuf with the puns, already).
One final thought,Amazon should reduce the price as HMV has it for 3.99 inc.p and p.
Bang a gong in the mambo sun.
on 13 September 2001
On first hearing these tracks for a good number of years, the remastered opening bars of 'Mambo Sun' set off an instant resonance. These songs leap out at you with an instantly remembered distinctiveness and a freshness borne of re-clarified and re-stated originality. They display beautifully musicality and great breadth of emotion, with Marc Bolan's voice never more expressive.
A number of factors combine to produce the stunning atmosphere of ethereality and fairy-tale fantasticality on this album: Bolan's rather eccentric sense of harmony (alluded to in the excellent sleeve notes); the almost compulsive (but always effective) use of the string section; the other-worldly backing vocals of 'Flo & Eddie' from Zappa's Mothers Of Invention (surely the most creative and disciplined of backing bands); and Tony Visconti's wildly imaginative instrumentation.
The remastering has rendered this wondrous album in glorious pin-sharp clarity and presence (clock that kick drum!). You can almost see the band giving their all in the studio room - Visconti comments on how much spill there was through the mikes as they all played together, which contributes to this atmosphere enormously, but would usually be frowned on today. (You hear a somewhat similar involving band-room atmosphere drawing you in on the latest remastering of Miles Davis' 'Kind Of Blue'). The listener is transported into the midst of the songs, and thence to Marc's private mythical head-lands within his unique lyrical poetry.
The well-known tracks - Jeepster, Get It On, Life's A Gas - are wonderful to hear in their restored studio-clarity, but don't imagine there are any fillers on the rest of the album. Rip Off is a thumping rocky thrash, but it highlights Bill Legend's tremendous drumming, Bolan's original chord work, and the peculiar orchestral drone coda at the finish frames it as something much more interesting than a garage band bang.
It's interesting to have the extra out-takes included for a number of reasons - it's a real opening up of the album in its original spirit, since studio comments and asides were already part of tracks such as Lean Woman Blues and Planet Queen on the original release. The out-takes show that the raw band could deliver performances (and we are talking REAL performances) very close to the final takes on each run. You also get a sense of the closeness and warmth of the band and producer as they josh and joke around the tunes, as well as real humility from Marc, a man touching the pinnacle of superstar status, with his head in another world but his feet still somehow on the ground. These sessions were borne out of an evident great joy of successful talented friends playing together. And it's all here to be shared in, thanks to recent digital audio technology and a re-think in the audio mastering world, in a way that has never before been attainable.
I have a couple of T. Rex compilation albums and an early album which was very much elf-based and will stand only an occasional listen - though in the right mood even that can be okay. In deciding to purchase Electric Warrior, what I wanted to track down was an album that reflected T.Rex at the peak of their powers with a track order that was authentic to the mores of the time as opposed to a contemporary compiler's take on how the tracks should be ordered. With a bottomless pocket I'd have gone like a shot for the 2014 Box Set Complete Studio Albums which is very reasonably priced for the ten CDs it contains but I simply couldn't run to it. Electric Warrior is an interesting album as it appears to have a foot both in the early mystical/pre-electric stuff at the same time as establishing the driving guitar sound that is so evocative of T.Rex when their star was highest in the firmament.
There are two songs from the main album - Jeepster and Get It On - which feature on many compilations plus Hot Love in the Bonus Tracks. I was perhaps a little too young to experience Bolan at his peak as anything other than a highly attractive pop idol. When I grew up a little and started immersing myself in NME, Bolan's star was in the descendent and I recall some very unpleasant stuff being written about him much of which appeared to focus on his appearance once more. His prettiness was in a sense a curse; it somehow encouraged accusations of shallowness. At around the same time Elvis was being vilified for much the same reason. There is certainly a part of Bolan who was the dandy and who loved being the prettiest star but there was much more to the man than this. It's evident from Bolan's embracing of the embryonic punk and new wave culture which burgeoned shortly before his tragic death.
What Bolan and T.Rex really deserve is that we listen without prejudice. The years have been kind to Marc's music - it sounds fresh and undated - and there is increasingly more quality product for fans to buy into. Perhaps what elevates Bolan to pop god status may be the sheer number of elements he got right - the dandyism fitting him ideally for glam rock, the roots which suggested he had come up through blues, through pre-electric, indeed through being an early favourite of John Peel's - so there is a real credibility and seriousness - along with the trashy and ephemeral elements and an ability to make a perfect three minute pop single which is frankly so much more truly poppy, less studied and more immediately loveable than Bowie in spite of my utter devotion to DB for the past three decades or so. There is too the fact that when Marc died he was only thirty years of age. I guess Bowie has had the time to coast through many different musical landscapes, to make the transition from pop idol to serious musician but in the short time allotted to Marc he made a very creditable mark on the history of popular music and there's an argument to say he was actually more original than Bowie who constantly has drawn from other musical forms and made them his own. Worth tracking down some of the interviews Marc did as his personality is very engaging. In common with most purchasers of this album I imagine, I wish Marc had stayed around; it would have been so interesting to watch where his creativity took him.