[Review] T. Rex: The Slider (1972)

Best. Glam. Album. Ever(yone who uses single-word sentences should be beaten with a large dictionary).

Kronomyth 7.0: Sliding, existentially speaking.

The Slider is the greatest glam rock record ever made. Over the years, it has been a source of endless joy and existential crisis. Now, you might not expect a T. Rex record to rattle your relationship with reality, but I would argue that upending our view of the world around us is the very genius of glam. It recognizes that everything under the surface of life is a rotting garbage pile of mundanities (wrote the happy elf), and so the best we can do is put on a fancy hat, a feather boa and a brave smile.

Maybe there isn’t an ounce of meaning in “Metal Guru” or “The Slider,” or maybe they mean everything. In the futureworld of the computergod, “Metal Guru” makes a world of sense to me. And when I’m sad, sliding into the silk sounds of The Slider never fails to make me happy. What T. Rex does on this record, more effectively than anywhere else, is offer the listener salvation from the world through escape. All salvation challenges our perception of the world and the permanence imputed by such perceptions. So, in a sense, does a song like “Chariot Choogle” or “Telegram Sam.” They mean nothing, they mean everything, and thus everything is nothing. I know, you just came here to read about a record made by a man wearing a silly hat. I’m sorry.

Back in the world of mere mortal musicians, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (Flo & Eddie to the rest of you freaks) make perhaps their greatest contribution to the rock & roll canon with backing vocals that bespeak alien, unearthly beauty. They did that on Electric Warrior too, I recall, but they really get into it this time. “Metal Guru,” “Rock On” or “Main Man” would seem positively sane without their pitch-perfect insanity in the background and sometimes foreground.

What most impresses me on The Slider is the balance of fast and slow. Bolan as a balladeer has been a mixed bag up to this point, yet the downbeat “Ballrooms of Mars” and “Main Man” are as integral to the roller coaster ride as the hypercharged highs. If Electric Warrior is more varied (and I think it is), The Slider is more polished. On it, Bolan and the band reach the apex of their achievement and plant their freak flag defiantly on rock’s mountaintop. It’s all downhill from here, but what else would you expect from the slider?

Read more T. Rex reviews

Original LP Version

A1. Metal Guru (2:23)
A2. Mystic Lady (3:11)
A3. Rock On (3:26)
A4. The Slider (3:24)
A5. Baby Boomerang (2:16)
A6. Spaceball Ricochet (3:34)
A7. Buick Mackane (3:32)
B1. Telegram Sam (3:45)
B2. Rabbit Fighter (3:55)
B3. Baby Strange (3:03)
B4. Ballrooms of Mars (4:07)
B5. Chariot Choogle (2:43)
B6. Main Man (4:15)

All songs written and composed by Marc Bolan.

Japan 1986 CD reissue bonus tracks
14. Thunderwing
15. Lady
16. Children of the Revolution
17. Jitterburg Love
18. Sunken Rags
19. Solid Gold Easy Action
20. Cadillac

CD reissue bonus tracks
14. Cadillac
15. Thunderwing
16. Lady

The Players

Marc Bolan (vocals and guitars), Steve Currie (bass), Mickey Finn (hand percussion congas and vocals), Bill Legend (drums) with Howard Kaylan (backing vocals), Mark Volman (backing vocals), Tony Visconti (string arrangements). Produced by Tony Visconti; engineered by Dominique Freddy Hansson.

The Pictures

Photography Ringo Starr.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on July 21, 1972 in the UK (EMI, BLN/8X BLN 5001), the US and Canada (Reprise, MS 2095) and Japan (EMI Odeon, EOP-80565) with gatefold cover; reached #4 on the UK charts and #17 on the US charts. 8-track features different track order.

  1. Re-issued on cassette in Australia (Axis, TC-AX-1036).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1977 in Japan (EMI Odeon, EMS/EOS-40052) with gatefold cover. (I don’t know what the difference is between EMS and EOS.)
  3. Re-issued on elpee in 1983 in the UK (Marc on Wax, MARCL 503) with unique album cover.
  4. Re-released on expanded compact disc on January 21, 1986 in Japan (Sounds Marketing System, MD32-5017) with 7 bonus tracks.
  5. Re-issued on elpee in 1987 in the UK (Marc on Wax, RAP 503) with lyrics innersleeve.
  6. Re-issued on cassette in 1989 in the UK (Marc on Wax, MARCK 503) with unique album cover.
  7. Re-packaged on expanded, remastered compact disc in 1997 in the US (Chronicles, 534 355-2) with 3 bonus tracks.
  8. Re-issued on compact disc on January 24, 2001 in Japan (Imperial, TECI-24041).
  9. Re-packaged on 180g vinyl elpee in 2010 in the US (Fat Possum, 12321) with gatefold cover.
  10. Re-issued on elpee on November 26, 2012 in the UK (Edsel, SLIDERLP001) with gatefold cover.
  11. Re-packaged on 180g silver vinyl elpee in 2017 in the UK (Demon, DEMREC225).

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