Saturday 21 July 2012

The Slider by T.Rex - 40 Years Old Today

Just over a month ago, the 40th anniversary of the release of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust LP was rightly celebrated with much fanfare and bunting. Today, I'm dusting off the party hat and dressing in my best bib and tucker, for what I assume will be a slightly more low-key 40th birthday celebration, that of The Slider by T.Rex.

The Slider was my first LP. 'Wait', I hear you cry, 'what about this?'. OK, my first new, real, proper non-cheapo compilation LP! The anniversary of it's actual purchase by me is still a week or so away, but today is the day it was let loose on the world.

By the time of The Slider's release, I was familiar with Electric Warrior and had accumulated many of the band's singles to that point; Get it On and Hot Love from a store selling ex-jukebox records, Jeepster from a slightly older school friend who had already moved on to more 'serious' music (how fickle!), and the album's trailblazers Telegram Sam and Metal Guru were the results of my earliest forays into real record shops. I didn't pick up Ride a White Swan until slightly later. I remember being overwhelmed by the three tracks on offer on each of the latest singles - so much new music all at once! Telegram Sam b-side Cadilac, which didn't feature on the album, remains a favourite to this day.

School was out for the summer and while on holiday with my parents in Boscombe, Dorset during the first week of August 1972, I have my first clear memory of seeing the distinctive, now iconic, sleeve for The Slider in a record shop window. All these years later, I don't recall having been aware of it's impending release, but I do remember the initial frisson of excitement upon seeing that sleeve. I had the wherewithal (holiday spending money from various relatives) and with Dad's help I made the purchase.

A well put together LP sleeve can be a beautiful thing and The Slider's packaging is a very beautiful thing indeed. I should know, I had over a week of our holiday left in which to examine every inch of it before we went home and I could actually play the record!

Then came the music....aah the music. It was at once lush and raw, direct and impenetrable, obvious and mysterious - all produced to perfection by Tony Visconti. These days I might not listen to the album as frequently as I once did, but from time to time it can still take me by surprise. In recent years, in my mind, I've thought of Metal Guru as being one of the band's weaker singles of that period, then one afternoon in 2010 I happened to hear it on the radio. That intro exploded from the speakers in a majestic ka-boom of sound and I was all at once 12 years old again.

There have been thousands of other LPs since 1972, many of which may have been better records, played more often, subject to more critical acclaim, cherished and feted, but you always remember your first love don't you? The Slider has been with me for over three quarters of my life and at this juncture, I think it's safe to say it'll be with me until the bitter end - we're in it for the long haul.


John Medd said...

1972 was indeed a fine year. Damn, was it really forty years ago?

Old Pa's Corner said...

Great album but have to say I am an Electric Warrior fan....the first side is pure pleasure....but the slider is not that far behind

Anonymous said...

What a fine, fine tribute. It's an album which also means so much to me. It was my first 'proper' album and you'll never guess (but I expect you will) my first album prior to that was the VERY SAME 'Ride A White Swan' record on the MFP label. I bought it from our local news agents and post office for 75p! Wasn't it a great time? I'm with OPC as far as 'Electric Warrior' is concerned - that's the T. Rex high water mark - but 'The Slider' was nearly as good. Been grooving to Bolan ever since and will never stop listening. To my shame, I didn't realise it was the anniversary.

The Swede said...

John, 'fraid so - how scary is that?

OPC, Warrior, Slider, Tanx, the holy trinity of near-perfect T.Rex albums. Lots more great stuff followed of course, but the consistency wasn't there after '73 was it?

Singing Bear, it seems we are cut from the same cloth and here we are, older, but still with young ears all these years later.

C said...

Just want to say I love your description of having the rest of your holiday "in which to examine every inch" of the sleeve, before you could even play it! I can really identify with that feeling - even during a short walk home from record shop to home - studying a cover in great detail (and while the record was playing too) was a big part of the whole delightful experience.

flycasual said...

My 3 year old son is a T-Rex fan (yes the name does help) humming, 'Children of the Revolution' to himself as he plays. Good boy! Timeless!

The Swede said...

C, Oh yes, that was all part of the ritual and the reason that to this day I still know the words to all the early records I owned, even if they've long since left my collection. I also used to create much amusement by sniffing inside the sleeve of every record I picked up - each LP had it's own unique smell! I liken it to taking the nose of a fine wine! Was I alone in this weird behaviour?

flycasual, Good for you and the young'un, you can never start 'em too early - good lad!

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