10 Best T. Rex Songs
Marc Bolan, the singer and guitarist behind T. Rex, was like a shooting star. His flash, style and ability to write incredible pop songs was unmatched in the early ’70s. A massive success in his native U.K., Bolan was only able to sneak one song into the American psyche, but over the last 40 years, T. Rex’s legacy and legend has grown incredibly, and Bolan is probably better known today than he was then. Tragically, the glam icon was killed in a car accident in 1977, two weeks before turning 30. Thankfully, he’ll live on forever in the music he created, which has proven to be an influence on generations of aspiring rockers. What follows are our picks for the 10 Best T. Rex Songs. Dab on some glitter, don that feather boa and let’s go!
‘Hot Love’ was the first No. 1 single from T. Rex, hitting the top of the U.K. charts in the winter of 1971. The song was also the catalyst for a new generation of musicians flying under the banner of “glam rock.” When promoting the single on Top Of the Pops, Bolan ditched all remnants of his hippie days, adding a splash of glitter under each of his eyes. The sleek, modern sound of the record, along with the glittery showmanship, presented a new style template that many would follow.
With a stomping beat and a chant of ‘T-R-E-X,’ things kick into gear. One of Bolan’s last hurrah’s on the U.K. charts, ‘The Groover’ was the 11th Top 10 hit in a row for T. Rex in their homeland. It would also be Bolan’s last time in the upper region of the charts. It was released in the summer of 1973, and though Bolan would release more singles, this was, in many ways, where that golden era ended.
The Slider’ is a must for this list of the 10 Best T. Rex Songs. The stone-solid bump-n-grind groove moves this one along. Proudly drenched in sex as it moves and grooves, the title track from the 1972 classic is about as good as it gets in this style. The percussive use of strings only adds magic to the T. Rex sound, while the always-spot-on backup vocals of Flo & Eddie, aka Howard Kaylan and Marc Volman of the Turtles, add the perfect cream filling.
‘Ride A White Swan’
‘Ride a White Swan’ is really where the story of Marc Bolan shifts from the acoustic based, more ethereal style of Tyrannosaurus Rex, his previous group, to the amplified to rock sounds of T. Rex. A whimsical folk ditty, all dolled up with Bolan poetry and attitude, ‘Ride a White Swan’ is a perfect bridge between the acoustic and the electric styles of the band. Released in the fall of 1970, it scaled the U.K. charts, making its way to No. 2 in early 1971.
T.Rex’s 1971 breakthrough album, ‘Electric Warrior,’ was overflowing with great songs. Case in point: ‘Jeepster,’ a great example of what you might call the “T. Rex Sound.” It carries the original spirit of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll as it smiles and struts into the ’70s, perfectly capturing the glow of the era. Released as a single in late ’71, it shot to No. 2 on the British charts and helped solidify Bolan’s place in the spotlight.
The first single released from ‘The Slider,’ and the third No.1 hit for T. Rex, ‘Telegram Sam’ is prime bump ‘n’ grind rock ‘n’ roll action. The biting guitar riff sears the brain as the feet get movin’, and Bolan’s Chuck Berry-meets-Dr. Seuss lyrics pull you into the raunchy rock ‘n’ roll party. The song was covered in the ’80s by goth heroes Bauhaus, who gave it their own unique twist and took the song into the charts once again.
‘Children Of The Revolution’
Another in a string of U.K. hits, this non-LP track is one of Bolan’s best. Released in the fall of ’72, the militaristic rhythm and anthemic guitar riff are boiling over with swagger. The song was featured prominently in the 1972 film ‘Born to Boogie’ with special guest Elton John on piano. It became Bolan’s eighth Top 10 hit in a row, just missing the No.1 spot, and has been used in several commercials over the years. Alt rockers the Violent Femmes covered the song on their ‘The Blind Leading The Naked’ LP in 1986.
Bolan’s fourth No. 1 in just over a year, ‘Metal Guru’ is as perfect a pop record as you can find. The lead track on what many consider Bolan’s finest album, ‘The Slider,’ this is first-class T. Rex all the way. The sexy strut and swagger of the song is instantly captivating. The track provides more of Bolan’s surreal-meets-bubblegum lyrics, which helped define his unique style. And Tony Visconti’s flawless production was never better.
‘Get It On (Bang A Gong)’
‘Get It On’ is, in many ways, the definitive T. Rex record. In three-and-a-half minutes, Bolan and the band set the stage for the great glam rock ride they were about to take us on. A year before David Bowie hit the world with ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ the “man with the corkscrew hair” was laying his cards on the table. The record was retitled ‘Bang A Gong’ in the U.S., so as not to be confused with the hit record by Chase also titled ‘Get It On.’ This was — and still is — rock ‘n’ roll! Sadly, this would be T. Rex’s sole U.S. hit.
’20th Century Boy’
’20th Century Boy’ tops our list of 10 Best T. Rex Songs and is without question one of the loudest, most grooving singles Bolan ever released. That riff — thank the heavens for that riff! It’s still capable of knocking down all in its path. The song’s urgency and passion is second to none in the Bolan catalog. Pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll that made it a No. 3 hit in Britain in the spring of ’73. Though it amounted to nary a blip on the radar in America at the time, it was brought back to life stateside when used in a 2002 Mitsubishi commercial and has since become a T. Rex signature song of sorts.