Tanx

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Tanx
Tanx.jpg
Studio album by T. Rex
Released 28 January 1973
Recorded Chateau d'Herouville, France
Genre Glam rock
Length 35:03
Label EMI (UK), Reprise (US)
Producer Tony Visconti
T. Rex chronology
The Slider
(1972)The Slider1972
Tanx
(1973)
Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow
(1974)Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow1974

Tanx is the eighth studio album by English glam rock act T. Rex, released on 28 January 1973 by record label EMI. Tanx was a musical departure from previous works: still containing tracks in the vein of The Slider, Marc Bolan showed his interest for both American soul music and funky music. Female backing singers appeared on a few tracks. New instruments such as mellotron were used, allowing the T. Rex sound to evolve.

Upon its release, Tanx peaked at number 3 in the UK Albums chart.[1]

History and music[edit]

The recording sessions first took place in France in August, and then in October 1972 after the American tour. In the US, the band had appeared on stage, accompanied with female soulful backing singers on a few dates. Bolan recorded "Left Hand Luke and the Beggar Boys" with other female singers, Madeline Bell, Leslie Duncan, Vicky Brown, Barry St John and Sue and Sunny. They doubled Bolan on the soulful choruses but were not credited on the sleeve. "The Street and Babe Shadow" with saxophone as one of the main instruments, showed Bolan adding a funky side into his music. "Life is Strange" and "Broken Hearted Blues" were ballads closer to the T. Rex sound while "Shock Rock" was a boogie track.[2]

Bolan wanted to get away from the traditional T. Rex. He spent time in the studio to overdub all the instruments and add effects. The opening number " Tenement Lady" allowed the band to use a mellotron and Bolan used a phased effect on his vocals.[2]

Release[edit]

Tanx was released on 28 January 1973 by record label EMI in the UK and Reprise in the US. Tanx was a hit in UK and Europe but it failed to match the success of The Slider in the US, reaching only No. 102 in the album charts. Curiously, the popular single "20th Century Boy" recorded during a stay in Japan and not in France,[2] was not included on the album, which may have affected sales, as the album (unlike its two predecessors) did not include a hit single. The album is also widely known to be the last of T. Rex's string of successes since Electric Warrior; their next album Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow would prove to be a financial failure and put Bolan's musical career in jeopardy until 1976. It's also T. Rex's last album released under Reprise Records in the US, as Light of Love, released under Casablanca Records (like Reprise, distributed through Warner Bros. Records), would be the last of their albums released in the US.

Tanx was remastered for CD by Edsel Records in 1994 as part of their extensive T. Rex reissue campaign. A number of bonus tracks were added. A companion release, entitled Left Hand Luke (The Alternative Tanx), was released in 1995 and contained alternative versions, studio rough mixes and demos of the main album and bonus tracks. A combined album digipak was released in 2002. In 2003, further recordings from the Tanx sessions were released by Thunderwing Productions Limited (TPL), the owners of several original ¼", 1" and 2" Master Tape recordings of Marc Bolan & T. Rex. These tracks were released as The Tanx Recordings.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Pitchfork 8.3/10[4]
PopMatters 7/10[5]
Rolling Stone unfavourable[6]
The Quietus favourable[7]

At the time, Tanx received favourable reviews in both the NME and Record Mirror.[2] However, it was derided by Rolling Stone as an uneven departure from the unique melodic rock and roll that made the band famous. Paul Gambaccini wrote "This one album might have made a good EP, since there are four worthwhile tracks, but the remaining nine are flights of Bolan's fantasies that might be interesting to his numerous devotees but less so to more casual listeners", calling it "a sad indication that Bolan really hasn't progressed and I can't see many people being truly pleased with it. But I've been wrong before." Gambaccini nevertheless praised tracks like "Mister Mister," "Electric Slim and the Factory Hen," and "Broken Hearted Blues."[6]

Retrospective reviews have been more favourable. Whitney Strub of PopMatters wrote "One reason for Tanx's commercial failure was its lack of the immediacy for which glam was known. [...] But what doomed the album on the charts is precisely what earns it reinspection today: the songs, for the most part, flow cohesively from one fractured mini-narrative to the next".[5] Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork, whilst praising the record, called it "a difficult album".[4] The Quietus wrote "It's an excessive record in the best possible sense", qualifying "Tenement Lady" as a stunning opener. Neil Kulkarni considered that "Electric Slim & The Factory Hen" was a nod to black soul music, a style that Bolan had always wanted to explore: Kulkarni wrote that this was two years before David Bowie "tried the same move on Young Americans".[7]

Legacy[edit]

Tanx inspired Suede for their Coming up album as producer Ed Butler related: "The blueprint was Tanx by T.Rex – I actually thought The Slider was a better choice, but [singer] Brett [Anderson] always had a different take on things. I always looked at The Slider as being the ultimate T.Rex album, but he’s right, Tanx is actually a better record, because it’s more interesting. Basically, what we did, is that every track started with acoustic guitar, bongos, tambourine and Brett, so it all started life pretty much the same way that Marc Bolan recorded all of his stuff originally. He started with an acoustic guitar song and then he’d build it up with guitar and drums and electronics. So the foundation of the songs on Coming Up, is a groove made-up out of kongas, tambourine and acoustic guitar."[8] In 2003, Martin Gore from Depeche Mode recorded in solo two covers from Tanx as extra-tracks of his single "Stardust": "Left Hand Luke and the Beggar Boys",[9] and "Life is Strange".[10]

The song "Life is Strange" was the soundtrack of several scenes of the film Dallas Buyers Club in 2013.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Marc Bolan.

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Tenement Lady" 2:55
2. "Rapids" 2:48
3. "Mister Mister" 3:29
4. "Broken Hearted Blues" 2:02
5. "Shock Rock" 1:43
6. "Country Honey" 1:47
7. "Electric Slim and the Factory Hen" 3:03
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Mad Donna" 2:16
2. "Born to Boogie" 2:04
3. "Life is Strange" 2:30
4. "The Street and Babe Shadow" 2:18
5. "Highway Knees" 2:34
6. "Left Hand Luke and the Beggar Boys" 5:18

Personnel[edit]

Technical
  • John Kosh - cover design
  • Peter Howe - front cover photography

References[edit]

  1. ^ "T. Rex uk charts". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Paytress, Mark. "Tanx booklet - liner notes". Edsel Records. 2002
  3. ^ Prato, Greg. "Tanx – T. Rex". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen M. (5 February 2006). "T. Rex: Tanx / Zip Gun / Futuristic Dragon / Work in Progress - Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Strub, Whitney (22 January 2006). "T. Rex: Tanx / Bolan's Zip Gun / Futuristic Dragon / Work in Progress". PopMatters. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Gambaccini, Paul (24 May 1973). "Tanx review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Kulkarni, Neil (3 March 2014). "Pop, Fragility and Dissolution [Tanx -review]". The Quietus. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Bateman, Steve (December 2010), "Ed Buller On Producing Suede", 140dB management 
  9. ^ Martin Gore "Left Hand Duke and the Beggar Boys". Youtube. It was issued in 2003 as a video on his cd-dvd single "Stardust"
  10. ^ Martin Gore recorded a cover of "Life is Strange" as the extra b-side of the cd-single "Stardust" (2003)

External links[edit]