[Review] T. Rex: Futuristic Dragon (1976)

The penultimate (and frequently majestic) flight of Marc Bolan before the underworld.

Kronomyth 14.0: A gold galactic raver.

The shapes in the glamstand were dwindling now. Bowie was twice removed from it and krafting new werks of sound, leaving Bolan the logical emperor of a dying empire. Futuristic Dragon reached back to the recent past, to Bowie’s Diamond Dogs, for inspiration, emulating the opening “Future Legend/Rebel Rebel” for his Futuristic Dragon/Jupiter Liar. Bolan’s dragon tales didn’t reach the same lofty heights as Bowie’s dystopian song cycle, but it set the stage for an occasionally dazzling show of beglittered glamrock that rose above its superficial senses and limited lyrics in large part due to Tony Visconti’s sympathetic production. Those holding a candle for T. Rex will find it lit by the glitter of songs like All Alone, Dawn Storm, “Jupiter Liar” and New York City. None of them are as serenely strange as a “Ballroom of Mars” or “Metal Guru,” but are nearly interchangeable with the album filler from his vintage work and thus a source of some joy for fans. With the arrival of Tanx came the realization that the T. Rex machine could (and would) break down, a victim of its operator’s juggernaut lifestyle. Glam was, as Bowie realized, a beautiful butterfly with gilded wings meant to distract children for an hour, not serve as a source of lasting art. Bowie and his butterflies moved on, Bolan remained, mounted a dragon and eventually came crashing down to earth. A halfhearted pursuit of disco and reggae is heard on some of these songs, a less-than-glorias vision of what might have been. The golden hour of distraction belongs to Electric Warrior and The Slider and what followed could easily be seen as gilded outtakes. If you’re intent on arming yourself with Tanx and Zip Gun anyway, then you might as well bring Zinc Alloy and Dragon along for the ride too. On them is the uneven brilliance of a dying star, the last light from a spaced-out galaxy that had once promised a new homeworld to the disenfranchised for one heavenly hour.

Original elpee version

A1. Futuristic Dragon (Intro) (1:51)
A2. Jupiter Liar (3:40)
A3. Chrome Sitar (3:13)
A4. All Alone (2:48)
A5. New York City (3:55)
A6. My Little Baby (3:06)
A7. Calling All Destroyers (3:52)
B1. Theme for a Dragon (2:00)
B2. Sensation Boulevard (3:48)
B3. Ride My Wheels (2:26)
B4. Dreamy Lady (2:52)
B5. Dawn Storm (3:41)
B6. Casual Agent (2:54)

All songs composed by Marc Bolan.

CD reissue bonus tracks
14. London Boys
15. Laser Love
16. Life’s an Elevator

The Players

Marc Bolan (vocals, guitar, moog), Steve Currie (bass), Dino Dines (organ, keyboards), Gloria Jones (vocals, clavinet), Davey Lutton (drums) with Paul Fenton (drums), Jimmy Haskell (string arrangements), Tyrone Scott (vocals). Produced by Tony Visconti; engineered by Gary Ulmer, Ray, and Mike.

The Pictures

Cover art work by George Underwood.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in February 1976 in the UK (EMI, BLN 5004), Germany (Ariola, 27.134 XOT) with lyrics sleeve. Reached #50 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1983 in the UK (Marc on Wax, MARCL 506) and Japan (S.S.S., SP20-5064) with gatefold cover (UK).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in 1987 (Relativity/Marc on Wax, 8252-2/4).
  3. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in 1989 in the UK (Marc on Wax, RAPD/MADCD-507).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in France (Marc on Wax, MARCD 507).
  5. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in the UK (Demon/Edsel, EDCD 394) with 3 bonus tracks.
  6. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc on September 29, 2000 in Germany (Repertoire, REP 4910) with 3 bonus tracks.
  7. Re-released on expanded, remastered 2CD in 2002 in the US (Edsel/Rhino, R2-73288) and Europe (Demon, MEDCD 719) with bonus disc.

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