Friday, 31 October 2008
"Television man is crazy saying were juvenile delinquent wrecks, Oh man I need TV when I got T Rex" All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople 1972. Written by David Bowie.
Someone once said "you can never go back." Well I'm not so sure, because here I am.It was the start of the 70's, the Beatles had finally split, bitter and broken. Apollo 13 had been a trip too far. Brazil had won the world cup and the beautiful game was born, and on Top Of The Pops one Thursday evening in 1971 glam rock too was born.
Hot Love was to be the first UK number one for T-Rex, staying at the top for six weeks from March 1971. Main man Marc Bolan appeared in silk and stars with tears of glitter running down his cheeks. It wasn't called glam rock yet, but this was the beginning.
Glam rock reached its greatest highs in 1973, from then on there was only one way to go. By Christmas 1975 glam rock had one last epic swan song with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody then was gone.
Two people stood above everyone else in the glam rock world, David Bowie and Marc Bolan. Even now Bowie is still my all time favourite artist, not just for the glam stuff but for all the music that he produced later. Bolan is probably the one responsible for kick starting the glam rock genre, but Bowie is the one who gave it fuel.
By 1973 when I started buying records, Bolan had peaked, which is why I probably preferred and bought more Slade and Sweet at the time. Bowie and Bolan may have been seen as the leaders of the genre, but Slade sold more records and had more number 1's.
For me, T.Rex were a more visual thing, I got my weekly fix by watching them (and others) on Top Of The Pops every Thursday. While Bowie had songs that always seemed to have more depth, both musically and lyrically. But while Bowie has gone on to bigger and better things, Bolan and T.Rex will always be synonymous with glam rock.
Life's a Gas was released on the Electric Warrior album in 1971 and as the b-side to Jeepster the same year. The song peaked at #2 in the UK charts.The record was released by Fly records without Marc Bolan's prior permission. The singer had just signed with EMI and was about to start T.Rex Wax Co. However Bolan still promoted the song even when not totally happy with its release.
Bolan also sang the song with Cilla Black on her British TV show at the beginning of 1973. He first mimed to another song on the show 'Mad Donna'. It was usual in those days (and still is for that matter) for a band or artist to mime to a recording rather than do the song live. But after singing (miming) the song, Marc and Cilla decided to sing a live duet of Life's A Gas.
Although on paper singing a live duet with Cilla Black would seem to be a bad idea, in reality the simple beauty of the song came through, and not even Cilla Black's tuneless, nasal warble could spoil it
Sitting Here is the B-side to Truck On (Tyke) a late 1973 single from T-Rex. It only reached number 12 in the British charts, by Bolans standards (up to that point) not very good. Even though Truck On is not seen as one of Bolan's best singles, I personally rate it quite highly. Again this might be because I bought it at the time so it brings back good memories but also because it had one of the better b-sides, a nice simple love song predominantly played on the acoustic guitar.
It also had the classic lyrical couplet of:
"Oh love's a wonderful thing that comes and goes
Even when I'm pickin' my nose"