I’ve Got Wild Knees For You

Rocking in the nude
I’m feeling such a dude

Electric warrior, what a cool rock title; ally it with that brilliant picture of Marc Bolan on the cover, limned in yellow, wielding his axe in front of a monolithic amp and all the signals are that we’re slamming our merry way onwards to Valhalla.  I’ve got a day pass for The Hall of The Slain* and so that’d be great for me, but what I’ve really come to like and appreciate about this album is that it messes with those expectations of ours.

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I wonder what the expectations were for it back in 1971? Bolan had already shimmied away from the hippy bongo warbling that had marred/crowned {delete according to tolerance} his work as Tyrannosaurus Rex and released the transitional T.Rex LP.  Now my parents really liked his earlier stuff and had seen them play, sitting cross-legged on the floor a few times, including at Glastonbury Town Hall in the 60’s – quite frankly I would rather have {pick spiky object of your own choosing} inserted up my {pick unsuitable entry point} than listen to the first few LPs again.  I know it’s all very innocent and fey and I’m a cynical bread head, BUT it veers dangerously close to Donovan at times and there’s never any excuse for that, ever.

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My proposition for you is that our elfin Electric Warrior didn’t hatch fully formed and separate in 1971, all strutting slinky and sexy from the word go.  It’s a leap forward but there’s enough cosmic fluffiness suffusing it all to make it a much more interesting bag of tricks.  Not only that but it is enough to keep an album that is riddled with lust from being overly macho about the whole thing, that and the essentially rather girly quality of Bolan’s voice – he may have been pleading his way into your girlfriend’s nether garments, but you know you could have him in a fist fight any day, as could she and somehow that renders it all a bit more light-hearted.

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Take the opener of this titanic glam album, ‘Mambo Sun’, it skitters in almost surreptitiously ‘beneath the be-bop moon’ with a great restrained rock and roll shuffle, Marc mumbling some quite fantastically nonsensical lyrics over the top of some very odd vocal harmonies and great, quiet, guitar playing.  What is there right from the opening seconds is that perfect foxy sex beat, which is give or take a couple of tracks, the real unifying factor of the album, more so even than the vocals – this is music to wiggle your pelvis to**.  Which distracts from a few jaw-droppers in the lyrical department:

Girl you’re good
And I’ve got wild knees for you
On a mountain range
I’m Dr. Strange for you

Upon a savage lake
Make no mistake I love you
I got a powder-keg leg
And my wig’s all pooped for you

Now, I’m a man of the world, I have in fact seen a million faces and rocked them all, loved lived and lost with the best of them but I really think he should have sought a proper medical opinion for his knees and I’m not even going to go into what he appears to have done to his wig.  Man!

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Maybe it is sitting cross-legged that led to the ‘wig incident’?

Second track ‘Cosmic Dancer’ is a real gem, at first listen his overly polite enunciation on this slowie was a distraction but the warm washes of colour provided by the backing strings and band really take this song elsewhere for me.  The lyrics are really damn odd too, but in a rather, umm, cosmic way – they echo my favourite hymn ‘The Lord Of The Dance’, which is no bad thing although it does so from a less-religious more-solipsistic way, of course – if there’s any worship going on here then Marc is needy enough to demand it be directed his way and his way alone.  I can’t think of anything else I own that sounds quite like this song.

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We’re back on more familiar turf with the glam rock stomper ‘Jeepster’, the funny funky beat partly due to a faulty microphone that morphed Bolan’s heel stomping somewhat.  This track is T.Rex in a nutshell, prowling, daft and rhythmically compelling, with some great well-chosen guitar flourishes to boot.  I really love this track, it makes me smile and wiggle, worth the price of admission surely? just don’t read the lyrics too closely:

You slide so good
With bones so fair
You’ve got the universe
Reclining in your hair

‘Monolith’ is another curio, ‘Mambo Sun’ with several shades of Hendrix thrown in for good measure.  A restrained vocal and some real guitaring along the way and an atmosphere that suggests much smoking of the herb of confusion*^, much mysticism and a brilliant overall sound again.  Much of which could be said for the rocking blues of ‘Lean Woman Blues’, which is despite its title the least authentic blues track I’ve heard in a golden age – which is another thing I love about this track and Electric Warrior, essentially the message is ‘this is all entirely on our own terms, we’re going to jumble up everything we like and you can take your pre-conceived ideas of authenticity and integrity and shove them’ – if teenies like it, dance to it and buy it then that’s all the vindication T.Rex ever needed.

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As I’ve previously wittered on about it I’ll mention it again briefly here, my favourite track is ‘Get It On’, but that’s a gimme anyway as it’s one of my favourite tracks by anyone, period.  It was one of the first singles I ever bought (on a reissue, I was 1 when this came out) and we’re straight back to the foxy, sexy, slip-sliding beat, this time with added Chuck Berry and that can never be a bad thing.  Rick Wakeman played piano on it too.

Next up at the youth disco is ‘Planet Girl’, a suitably fuzzy mystic paean to the eponymous groovy chick, with great backing vocals, although post Operation Yewtree Marc’s pleading ‘Give me your daughter‘ probably isn’t too wise; even so the overall vibe is mysteriously groovy, rather than hornbag.  The mournful sensitive ‘Girl’, with its tasteful trumpet and quiet feel can go F–a duck, next track ‘The Motivator’ brings sexy back once more.  Slower, more purposeful, this is Bolan in full-on babe hunting mode, far less mysteriously groovy, much more hornbag – this is the sound of a man barely being able to contain it in his velvet loons, Marc moaning in a manner that’s half unbridled, unquenched lust and half horrific accident with a zip.

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‘Life’s A Gas’ is laid back and resigned, telling a recalcitrant chick what he could have given her and what she’ll now miss out on.  It’s blown away by the extraordinary ‘Rip-Off’, which sounds like Bowie doing punk, 6 years before the idea would occur to most folk.  It’s a great mash of sounds, particularly Ian McDonald on raucous sax.  In fact to give them their credit all through the band are excellent, tight restrained elegant, particularly the core of Mickey Finn, Steve Currie and Will Legend.  In my ears though the real star of the show, up there with Bolan in fact is producer Tony Visconti.  Electric warrior is a brilliant sounding LP, lots of echo, lots of precise separation of all the elements.

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Being an avowed champion of having classic albums left as nature intended our ancestors to deal with them, I’m not a fan of demo tracks and other oddities used to pad out re-releases.  As I’ve stated loudly on friend’s posts, particularly about all the Led Zep releases, demos are usually largely pointless affairs and bands tend to put their best stuff on albums, rather than hiding it in vaults.

Being an avowed hypocrite I bought the 2012 2LP version of Electric Warrior with a full disc of demo and other versions of each track on the album and some brilliant liner notes by Mark Paytress.  Most is as you’d expect, interesting only for the odd psychotic bongo spotters amongst you all, but as well as all the usual instrumentals, working versions and different vocal mixes is the full-length version of ‘Get It On’, which tips the scales at an additional 1:24 of greatness, including some studio chatter.

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I have come to really love this album, confused though it is at times about exactly what it is supposed to be – a perfect teenage identity crisis, confident, quiet, slinky and sensitive, often all at once.  That beat would be the key to it all and once T.Rex learned how to harness the beast properly it would be a staple of almost all their singles until Bolan pooped his wig.

517 Down.


* well worth it, you get a free plastic skull tankard and it works out as 5 days for the price of 4. #ThriftyAfterlife.

**although not while standing too close to someone else at the train station, as I now know.  Hopefully my solicitor will be able to beat the custodial sentence for me that the prosecution are pushing for, although that Marvin Gaye incident at the supermarket in 2011 is going to count against me.

*^not oregano.

40 thoughts on “I’ve Got Wild Knees For You

  1. I’ve been having a think… In the US, I believe “Get It On” was renamed “Get It On (Bang A Gong)”. I guess we should be eternally grateful that “Mambo Sun” wasn’t rechristened “Mambo Sun (Pooped My Wig)”?

    1. I think all songs would be better for that rule, consider Metallica’s ‘One (Legless)’, or Eminem’s ‘Stan (Bird in the Boot)’ and even Beatles ‘Hey Jude (Na Na Na Na-Na-Na-Na)’.

      I’ll get a law passed immediately. Brackets rule!

  2. I lurve “Get It On”! Even though I first heard it through the sounds of the Power Station, my sis managed to scrape for a copy of TRex’s version when we were tweens and we instantly liked it.

    1. Ahh – me too, that’s where I heard it first as well, I thought it was their best track too. Then I bought the T.Rex 7″ a couple of years later.

  3. I was never a huge Bolan fan but I going to have to disagree with Vinyl Connection, I think there’s substance there. His stuff has quietly grown and grown on me over the years. It’s simple and daft but… he definitely had something going on. Enough to keep me going back for more. But then again, I’ve never read the lyrics before. And all this wig pooping has got me concerned. First that band with shite on their shoes and now this…

    1. The working title for Electric Warrior was in fact ‘Let It Knee’. True story.

      Its the slinky beat that does it for me here, every time. Wig poop, or no wig poop.

  4. “got a powder-keg leg
    And my wig’s all pooped for you”

    You know, when you write melodies like the one in “Jeepster”, I guess lyrics discussing wigs pooping can be tolerated.

    I’ve enjoyed Bolan from a far, but I’ve never plunked down cash for one of his records. I always find myself wanting to skip songs. But the songs I don’t want to skip are pretty great.

    Wait…I gotta go. The wig just pooped on the floor again.

  5. Hurrah! I dig this one loads (I’ve said this before, right?). I was looking at the fancy reissue in one of the bigger record shops (bigger meaning not my usual haunt), but it was priced stupidly (£35! Say what!?) and so I decided I’ll just stick with the ol’ copy (my mum’s) until I see one in the Record Fayre for a couple o’ bucks (cause I will).

    P.S. there’s a load of brackets going on there. (Apologies)

    1. Huzzah! Please bracket away to your heart’s content, I’ve worked hard to create a bracket-friendly enclave here, no-one will judge you.

      I think mine cost me £19.99 – the single disc version was £14.99 – at the time I thought ‘only £5 for a host of tunes I won’t play? bargain!’. I’m really glad I did though because the sleeve notes are really excellent and the full-length ‘Get It On’ is really good. Maybe I could make my fortune buying copies down here and exporting them to Scotland?

  6. While your review pooped my wig big time, I remain unconvinced by Bolan and T Rex, along with The Doors perhaps the most over-rated bands in rock history. With you on the singles – fun though wafer thin, but really not much of substance here. Ya can enjoy but you’ll be hungry again soon. You just see if I’m right. Next week you’ll be writing about Mars Volta.

    1. Dude – your wig … Urgggh!

      I know exactly what you mean, not much in the way of rock roughage here for your system to work on! I have come to really like this LP though, but the singles are where its at – whatever Bolan may have claimed for his ‘art’ it’s just high-quality teenie pop rock, or at its best it is. I can’t see me buying anything else of his.

      Mars Volta – too much effort required (which is no reflection on them, just on my meagre mental resources), I might make the Groundhogs or Camel though.

      1. Thank Christ is the only one I have – mostly because Captain Sensible from the damned used to go on about it so much in interviews, it really intrigues me still. Do you like it?

      2. Euch!!!
        Reading some of Alex Ross’s outstanding ‘The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century’ at present. This will either inspire or intimidate me. Watch the VC space!

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