Sparking the match for what would later be known as “glam rock movement”, The Slider is an album as innovative as it is influential, and is the pinnacle of T. Rex’s musical legacy. Initially established under the banner Tyrannosaurus Rex, the group helmed by Marc Bolan changed their name to the now commonly referred to title of T. Rex to signify a shift from their original style of psychedelic folk rock into a louder and more electronic style, way back in 1969. Not only would this mark a significant turning point for the band in composition and genre, but also in their audience and overall legacy. Shortly following the name change, T. Rex would see eleven of their singles become featured on the U.K. top ten list. Of the four that premiered in the number one slot, two were featured on their 1972 release The Slider, with those tracks being “Telegram Sam” and “Metal Guru” respectively. It was not only the sudden influx of stardom spurred by this album that is impressive, but the longevity of the legacy that carries on far after its release.
The new flavor of this album is personified through the opening track, “Metal Guru” and one of the singles most responsible for this album’s massive success. With Bolan’s Bowie-like twang to his voice and a much more steady and riff based progression, “Metal Guru” is the first incarnation of what this new sound would be. A mix of heavier tones, wild vocals, and of course a stage presence never-yet-seen. With flashy jackets, tight pants, and big hair, glam rock started a revolution of rebellious stage performances with more make-up and spectacle than ever before. Although not known at the time, “Metal Guru” was a precursor for many bands that were about to come, such as The Smiths and New York Dolls to mention just a couple. Although repetitive, the driving melody of “Metal Guru” is catchy and memorable, making it massively appealing to a larger audience.
The other famed single on this album, “Telegram Sam” has a bit more of a traditional rock n roll flow yet does not deviate from the new sound of glam rock and the overall tone of the album. Bolan wrote “Telegram Sam” as an ode to his manager Tony Secunda, who was also his main narcotics supplier, putting a playful and symbolic meaning behind the lyrics. With lines such as “Automatic shoes, automatic shoes. Give me 3-D vision and the California blues” it was obvious to see what his “main man, Telegram Sam” could offer him. The LSD movement took hold of the counterculture of the 1960s, as could be seen in Bolan’s earlier works which were predominantly based in the genre of psychedelic folk rock. The lingering abuse of drugs as well as the assistance provided by Tony Secunda to establish an independent record label, became the perfect muse for the first hit single on this incredible album.
This review would not be complete without looking at the phenomenal work done for the album art of The Slider. Although plagued by speculation of inaccuracy, the cover photo is credited to the renowned Ringo Starr. The black and white image of Bolan is hazy and grainy, giving a very unique composition to it. This was unintentionally produced due to the mishandling of the exposure chemicals used to develop the picture. The image of Bolan shows him sporting a top hat with ferocious hair and eyes sunken with eyeliner. The first image of what would be the glam rock revolution.
Although Bolan and T. Rex would continue to grow musically over the next five years it would all come crashing down along with Bolan's purple Mini 1275 GT in what would ultimately lead to his tragic death, just two week before his 30th birthday. In 2020, T. Rex would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with one of the main contributing factors being the significance and impact of The Slider, the zenith of their career. Now 50 years after its release, The Slider is still revered as an influential masterpiece and one of the pioneering elements of the birth of glam rock.
Reviewed By: Dylan Borsos