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T. Rex 

Electric Warrior (Expanded)

Wednesday, Jan 14 2004
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When it first hit the street three decades ago, Electric Warrior screamed one statement: T. Rex's Marc Bolan was born to be a motherfucking superstar. To the Brits, this message came through loud and clear. The album fanned the kindling of the U.K. glam scene into a roaring inferno and completed the band's metamorphosis from lacy hippies to guitar-wielding gods. With Bolan at the helm, Warrior ushered out the coy sexual innuendo of the '60s and presented a new dawn of unprecedented smut. While the band's arena-sized roar grabbed people by the throats, Bolan's dirty coo snatched 'em right between the legs.

Rhino's expanded reissue of Electric Warrior tells a deeper story of the seminal record. The gently remastered material still glistens with Bolan's signature pixie dust ("Cosmic Dancer") and struts with his campy sexuality ("Bang a Gong [Get It On]"). The bonus tracks, however, are near revelatory. Though five of the six additional songs were previously available, the collection's smart sequencing puts the original Warrior in a sharp historical context. The prequel single to Warrior, "Hot Love," shows Bolan's first popular attempt at a Jagger-esque strut and was his first British No. 1. On the dirty-talking "Raw Ramp" (recorded just after the Warrior session), Bolan seems to be reveling in his new fame.

The real epiphany, however, is in the 20-minute interview that concludes the reissue. In it, Bolan candidly speaks about making Electric Warrior and his hope that the record will bring him stardom in the States to match his popularity in England. The frontman's commentary is alive with the enormous potential of the time. It's the voice of a man who seems on the verge of conquering the world. Thirty-three years later, we know how Bolan's story ends – with unrealized superstardom in the U.S., a handful of unbeatable addictions, and, ultimately, defeat and an untimely death. But the impression this reissue offers is that of watching a familiar sad movie and wishing for a different, happier ending. With the huge aftershocks from T. Rex's work still reverberating all these years later, this album reminds us that, even if Marc Bolan wasn't born to be a superstar, in death he has become one.

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Nate Cavalieri

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