Electric Warrior is the sixth studio album by English rock act T. Rex. The album marked a turning point in the band's sound, dispensing with the folk-oriented music of the group's previous albums and pioneering a flamboyant, pop-friendly take on electric rock and roll known as glam rock.
The album reached number 1 on the UK charts and became the best selling album of 1971. The top 10 single "Bang A Gong (Get It On)" also became the band's only US hit. Electric Warrior has since received acclaim as a pivotal release of the glam rock movement.
The cover artwork was designed by British art design group Hipgnosis, based on a photo taken by Kieron "Spud" Murphy at a T. Rex concert at the Albert Hall, Nottingham on 14 May 1971.
Electric Warrior was released on 24 September 1971 by record label Fly in the UK and Reprise in the US. Electric Warrior reached number 32 in the US Billboard 200 chart and went to number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, staying there for several weeks and becoming the best-selling album in the UK in 1971. It was preceded by the single "Hot Love", a million-selling single in the UK, where it stayed at number 1 for six weeks.
Two singles were released from the album: "Get It On" and "Jeepster". "Get It On" was T. Rex's biggest selling single, and became the band's only top-ten US hit. In the United States, "Get It On"'s title was originally changed to "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" to distinguish it from Chase's song "Get It On", which was also released in late 1971. The printing of the song title "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" on the back cover of original Reprise Records North American pressings of Electric Warrior is in a different typeface from the surrounding text, with the song's original title retained on the lyric sheet.
Electric Warrior has received acclaim from critics.
In his retrospective review, Steve Huey of AllMusic gave the album 5/5 stars, writing "the real reason Electric Warrior stands the test of time so well – despite its intended disposability – is that it revels so freely in its own absurdity and willful lack of substance. Not taking himself at all seriously, Bolan is free to pursue whatever silly wordplay, cosmic fantasies or non sequitur imagery he feels like; his abandonment of any pretense to art becomes, ironically, a statement in itself. Bolan's lack of pomposity, back-to-basics songwriting, and elaborate theatrics went on to influence everything from hard rock to punk to new wave. But in the end, it's that sense of playfulness, combined with a raft of irresistible hooks, that keeps Electric Warrior such an infectious, invigorating listen today."
The band's fans from the "Tyrannosaurus Rex" days panned the album, deeming Bolan a "sell-out". However a new wave of fans quickly rolled in, specifically teenagers, as the glam rock genre boomed in popularity.
The album is considered a pioneering record in the development of glam rock.
The album is often credited as the first glam rock album, though this can be debated as David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World album cover (of Bowie in a 'Mr Fish "man's dress"') suggests early hints of glam rock.
In 1987, Electric Warrior was ranked number 100 in Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Albums of the Last 20 Years" list. In 2003, the album was ranked number 160 by the same magazine in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2004, Pitchfork ranked Electric Warrior as the 20th best album of the 1970s.
American rock band The Bongos released a cover of "Mambo Sun" in 1981. "Get It On" was a hit cover single for rock supergroup The Power Station in 1985. Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke covered "Life's a Gas" on his 1995 EP, Blooze. Five songs from the album – "Cosmic Dancer", "Jeepster", "Get It On", "Life's a Gas" and "Rip Off" – were covered by various artists on the tribute album Great Jewish Music: Marc Bolan in 1998. Poison drummer Rikki Rockett included a cover of "Life's a Gas" on his 2003 solo album Glitter 4 Your Soul.
The song "Jeepster" is featured in a bar scene in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007). In the opening scene of the film Billy Elliot (2000), the title character is shown putting Electric Warrior on a turntable and skipping to the song "Cosmic Dancer". "Cosmic Dancer" was also included in the soundtrack for the film Velvet Goldmine (1998). Morrissey has also covered "Cosmic Dancer" live in concert, both solo and with David Bowie. He included a live recording on the 1991 CD and album single for "Pregnant for the Last Time".
Bolan, in a 1971 interview contained on the Rhino Records reissue, said of the album "I think Electric Warrior, for me, is the first album which is a statement of 1971 for us in England. I mean that's... If anyone ever wanted to know why we were big in the other part of the world, that album says it, for me."
All tracks written by Marc Bolan.Marc Bolan – vocals, guitar
Mickey Finn – conga drums, bongos
Steve Currie – bass guitar
Bill Legend – drums
Howard Kaylan – backing vocals
Mark Volman – backing vocals
Rick Wakeman – keyboards on "Get It On"
Ian McDonald – saxophone
Burt Collins – flugelhorn
Tony Visconti – production
Roy Thomas Baker – engineering
George Underwood – artwork, photography
George Marino - mastering