Marc Bolan was an iconic figure of glam rock and style hero for his generation, known for his poetic lyrics as well as musical talent that continued until his tragic death at 29.
AngelHeaded Hipster showcases some of the biggest artists, such as Elton John, Joan Jett and Nick Cave performing covers of songs by Bolan and T Rex. Here are their takes on his classic songs.
Get It On
Get It On is unquestionably one of Bolan’s best known songs and has gained significant exposure throughout his career. A top three chart hit for his band and later covered by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Adam Ant, as well as being used in a Levi’s commercial starring Brad Pitt, it became widely covered. Beginning with an alluring bassline and old-style rock’n’roll riffs reminiscent of old school rock & roll it slowly evolves into its signature melody before ending on its signature tune hypnotic beat which culminates with lyrics inspired by Gaelic May Day festival Beltane that suggest some sort of spiritual spring – further reflecting Bolan’s interests in magic and Greek mythology.
Contrary to many of the artists featured on AngelHeaded Hipster (see our previous post for more), Marc Bolan never enjoyed much popularity within hippie counterculture; some might even argue he wasn’t so keen on flower power idealism anyway! Instead he was known for being unashamedly hedonistic with an affinity for both drugs and sex as well as having an extensive knowledge of world religions.
No doubt some of Bolan’s songs would cause controversy and shock listeners, with songs like ‘Twilight King” hinting at his penchant for demons and witchcraft; his use of lyrics such as ‘Bang A Gong’ and ‘Demon Queen’ tapping into popular culture to ensure his music always had some sort of relevance to listeners while remaining accessible to them.
Marc Bolan provided pop with the boost it desperately needed during a decade that had seen its share of decline. Though his time as one of Britain’s premier rock stars was brief, his number 1 hits made a markful statement of intent for decades-old sounds such as glam rock that were starting to surface at this point.
Attracting inspiration from US rockers such as Chuck Berry, he transformed the concept of a rock and roll anthem into something sultry. Utilizing pulsing rhythms and lyrics filled with sexual fantasies, he gave rise to an entirely new type of rock music which would later form the basis for glam rock and still influence musicians today.
Hot Love not only became one of Bolan’s signature songs, but it was also responsible for ending his friendship with DJ John Peel – after hearing it on an acetate copy, Peel refused to play it again! Bolan insisted that this track should make its debut on the charts and became an anthem for the glam generation.
Musically, this song is stunning: Bo Diddley-esque shuffle, Chuck Berry-inspired riff and warped strings sounding straight out of Alice in Wonderland all combine into an incredible song with Bolan’s childish yet celebratory vocal delivery of its wide-eyed, obscure lyrics making the single unrivaled as an early ’70s rock classic single and I really love listening to it while playing poker online on sites mentioned on https://centiment.io.
Ride a White Swan
Marc Bolan embraced this symbolism through his wide-ranging interests, which included luxury cars and fancy dress. However, when it came to songwriting he could never be accused of showboating; his unfussy three-chord trick guitar sound, unassuming vocal delivery and subtle backing drone capture all of rock’n’roll’s essence that Dib Cochran and The Earwigs failed to accomplish on their debut albums.
Bolan’s choice of an offbeat rhyme as his initial inspiration may have been taken as criticism; but instead he turned this nonsensical wordplay into an exuberant celebration of language and music that transcended perceived limitations associated with glam rock. His carefree style of writing helped break through its confines.
Bolan’s eccentric outfits and vibrant imagery couldn’t exist without his outstanding songwriting at their core, however. His songs on this album weren’t simply meant to capture a particular zeitgeist; instead they encouraged people to embrace both individuality and spirituality in life.
Bolan and T.Rex’s first number one single in the UK, ‘Get It On,’ proved an enormously popular hit and propelled them into fame. Following this hit came Hot Love which would go on to become another top 10 hit; its run lasting six weeks brought even greater fame for them; at this time T.Rex also introduced bassist Mickey Finn while Bolan officially changed it to T. Rex.
“Ride a White Swan”, Bolan’s debut song under their new, shorter name (it had previously been known as Tyrannosaurus Rex) captured everything that made them such an irresistible force to reckon with. From its signature electric guitar riff and groove-laden drum beat to its lush orchestrations of strings and synths that create a dreamlike state for listeners – Ride a White Swan perfectly captured what made Bolan an irrepressible force to reckon with.
Bolan’s poetic lyricism and cryptic wordplay lead to various interpretations of Telegram Sam’s obscure lyrics, from its supposed narrative of Telegram Sam himself, to interpretations that describe music’s power to unite people through song. Whatever your interpretation may be, its captivating melody and mesmerizing words leave an indelible mark on listeners.
“Telegram Sam” entrances listeners with its captivating rhythm, drawing from elements of glam rock, pop and psychedelia. Bolan’s electric guitar riffs and pulsating drumbeat create an ethereal yet danceable sonic landscape; Bolan’s emotive vocals range from childish to theatrical – adding another level of theatricality to his work.
Bolan’s ability to incorporate musical styles from across genres into his sound was epitomized on this track. Bo Diddley-inspired shuffle, Chuck Berry-influenced riffing and disco beats blended together perfectly for an instantly catchy yet uplifting song that remains one of his signature works and an instant classic. Bolan pioneered the glam rock movement while setting precedents for artists experimenting with their own styles.
20th Century Boy
20th Century Boy is the last single released under Tyrannosaurus Rex and shows their progression into glam rock of the 1970s. Boasting an catchy melody and guitar riffs, 20th Century Boy remains a classic that resonates with today’s audiences. Furthermore, its unique poetic lyrics make this track stand out among T. Rex songs.
Electric Warrior was an undoubted success, yet not without controversy. One song which was released without Bolan’s consent was The Slider – however it remains an essential barnstormer with its punchy bassline hinting of classic R&B and electric guitar growling like an animal on drugs; Bolan’s childlike yet boisterous delivery of lyrics making an indelible mark in your memory!
Telegram Sam, another classic from Electric Warrior album, perfectly captures T. Rex’s magic. The solidly constructed groover sees 1950s dancefloor rock n’ roll given an upbeat glam ’70s makeover, elevating this whole recording thanks to Bolan’s unmistakably haunted hedonist persona.
Metal Guru was T. Rex’s debut number one single and is considered an embodiment of their glam rock sound, beloved by fans both old and new alike. Its upbeat melody and handclaps create a lively environment as Bolan’s vocals soar over the instrumentation; making this track an essential listening experience for anyone wanting to learn more about T. Rex music.