The Slider was the seventh studio album released by 70s UK glam rockers T Rex. Released in 1972, it was the second of their releases which showcased their newfound glam sound, after releasing their first few albums as a folk outfit in the late-60s. The timing was perfect for the band to completely change their image and sound, with Britain in the midst of a glam rock revolution in the early-70s with artists such as David Bowie, Slade, and Roxy Music tearing up the charts. But aside from Bowie, it would be Marc Bolan and his merry men who would blow all others out of the water with their often hard-edged and incredibly catchy pop/rock style.
Sound-wise, well The Slider tends to follow on from the band’s previous effort, the very successful Electric Warrior album in what is a mixture of anthemic bubble-gum rock, downer folk, and glam ballads. Vocally there is plenty of high-pitched falsettos, while lyrically the songs move from sort of mystical folk themes to often overtly sexual lyrics. The songs are held down by a very sturdy rhythm section of Steve Currie on bass, Mickey Finn on percussion, and Bill Legend on drums, but it is clear from the outset that Bolan is the star attraction out front and centre with his vocals, guitar playing, and overall theatrical take on pretty much everything. It is also pretty clear throughout the album that Bolan loves a good groove as there are plenty on here, with the guitar and bass providing the impetus on many of the tracks with some great rock and roll riffs.
As for the tracks themselves, well the album kicks off with the Bowie-esque glam anthem “Metal Guru”, the album’s single which ended up topping the charts in the UK at the time. Although it’s a nice rousing sing-a-long start to the album, musically speaking it is nothing special and tends to be a wee bit repetitive, but hell, at least it gets you in the mood for what’s to come. “Mystic Lady” is next, a slow folk ballad which again fails to capture my imagination, while “Rock On” ends what is a very slow and un-exciting start to the record. However, thankfully things being to pick up from here starting with the slow riff rocker “The Slider” and the catchy bubblegum rock and roller “Baby Boomerang” with its 50s guitar and falsetto-laden vocals. After another blip on the radar with “Spaceball Ricochet” the band turn things up a notch again with the heavy rocker “Buick Mackane”, a stomping guitar track which would notably be covered by Guns n’ Roses years later. Then there is perhaps the album standout “Telegram Sam”, a song that epitomises glam rock with its riffs, falsettos, elicit lyrics and even some cheeky sax thrown in for good measure. “Rabbit Fighter” is another ballad, but this time the band do a better job with a song that also showcases Bolan’s rough and ready guitar playing, proving that he was also a pretty good guitarist in his own right despite being not technically great. Things move along with more riffage on “Baby Strange” with its somewhat playful and explicit lyrics “I want to call you, I want to ball you”, I guess it is glam after all? And the album finally winds down with the best of the folk ballads on the album “Ballrooms of Mars”, “Chariot Choogle” and the double-tracked falsetto album closer “Main Man”.
In conclusion, The Slider is probably T Rex’s most complete album considering they were, for the most part, a singles band, with there being plenty of standout tracks mixed in with some lesser moments to. It’s the folk ballads where the album tends to fall a bit on the wayside, with these tracks not really living up to the more up-tempo rockers in intensity and what I would describe as overall zing. Despite containing mixed results there is still plenty of good material on here to remind that Bolan was a star lyricist, vocalist, and overall showman, and as an album certainly, The Slider ranks well within the glam rock canon. Definitely worth a listen if anything as an example of early-70s glam rock in the UK, and also in hearing how T Rex could marry the folk of their early career with the glam rock which they became more well known for.