Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow
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|Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow – A Creamed Cage in August|
|Studio album by Marc Bolan & T. Rex|
|Released||1 February 1974|
|T. Rex chronology|
|Singles from Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow – A Creamed Cage in August|
Background and recording
Marc Bolan discovered the Musicland Studios in Munich and was one of the first British artists recording here; most basic recordings were done here during the second half of 1973. At the time, his success in the UK was beginning to slip, as a result of two factors: his constant desire to "crack" the US market (which resulted in a lessened effort on the UK charts) and his desire to expand T. Rex's sound. This can be seen on 1973's Tanx, which included new guitar effects, chord changes, string arrangements and other studio "tricks" Bolan had not employed before.
His US label Reprise had dropped him and he was struggling to find another US label to sign him in the US. When he finally got a deal with Casablanca Records he had recorded lots of new material and decided to release it along with a couple of tracks from Zinc Alloy as the Light of Love album. Thus neither Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow nor Bolan's Zip Gun were issued in the US in the '70s.
Music and lyrics
Bolan had been listening to a sizeable amount of US soul and R&B, no doubt influenced by his new affair with Gloria Jones, a backup singer and clavinet player, whom he had hired for his 1973 US tour. These new sounds, in retrospect, were a year and a half before David Bowie's pioneering Young Americans album, often credited with making the most successful transition from UK glam rock (which was losing popularity) to radio-friendly, soul-influenced pop rock. However, as successful as Bolan was in combining his new influences, the boogie/rockabilly sound at the core of the classic T. Rex sound can still be heard in the guitar work and the harmonies, in particular on the track "Nameless Wildness".
The songs reflect a darker mood than on Bolan's earlier releases, with lead track "Venus Loon" having quite grotesque subject matter. This was surely reflective of Bolan's inner uncertainty about his status in the rock world now that he was no longer a teen idol. Other songs such as "Galaxy" and "Change" contain similar forebodings and dark imagery. The music, too, is ambitious and complex, containing some of Marc's most inventive extended guitar solos.
Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow was released on 1 February 1974.
When originally released the initial pressings were a multi-layered triple gatefold sleeve, a latticework image of the current cover featuring singer Marc Bolan's face in a pale gold surround. Japanese manufacturer Teichiku reinstated this as an elaborate limited edition paper sleeve in 2001.
The album divided fans and critics into the two camps, a schizophrenic critical reaction that would remain with him until his death. Some derided him as a washed-up teen idol, and others believed he would eventually make a resurgence in popularity. At that moment, however, Zinc Alloy marked a downturn in his fortunes – the contemporaneous album single, "Teenage Dream", made it only to No. 13 in the UK charts. While that would be a success for most groups, Bolan had spent all of 1971–1973 enjoying constant Top Ten and Top Five UK hits, including four No. 1s. T. Rex would not enjoy another Top 20 UK hit until "New York City" in the summer of 1975.
Bolan had said in the late 1960s that at the peak of his career, he would change his stage name to "Zinc Alloy", which is what he was going to address himself as with this album. However, the band name "Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow" sounded a lot like "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars", David Bowie's 1972 album. The album itself was going to be called "A Creamed Cage in August", hence why it is on the back cover. However the record company insisted on using the T. Rex name on the cover.
Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow was first reissued on Wax Ltd. in 1983. The original cover art couldn't be used for legal reasons. This version was expanded to include a bonus disc (bonus tracks on the 1985 CD issue). The first disc (at 33 1/3 RPM) being the original Zinc album, the second disc (at 45 rpm) included all non-album singles and B-sides from 1974 – "Satisfaction Pony" (as a needle drop, as the original stereo master appears to be lost), "Light of Love", "Zip Gun Boogie" and "Space Boss". On the album "Teenage Dream" doesn't fade out at the 5-minute mark like on the original release. Instead the ending the band had originally recorded was restored.
Only Japanese pressings of the album contain the original album and single edit as it originally appeared. Future UK and international editions of the album outside Japan would continue to use the tagged ending. The album was later remastered for CD by Edsel Records in 1994 as part of their extensive T. Rex reissue campaign. A number of bonus tracks were added (see below). A companion release, entitled Change (The Alternative Zinc Alloy), was released in 1996 and contained alternative versions, studio rough mixes and demos of the main album and bonus tracks. A second remastered combined album digipak was released by Edsel and Rhino Records in 2002.
In 2010, the US distribution rights to the post-Electric Warrior T. Rex albums were passed onto Fat Possum Records. Zinc Alloy was re-released by Fat Possum in the LP, CD and digital formats on 26 April 2011.
All tracks written by Marc Bolan.
|2.||"Carsmile Smith & the Old One"||3:16|
|3.||"You've Got to Jive to Stay Alive – Spanish Midnight"||2:35|
|5.||"Painless Persuasion v. the Meathawk Immaculate"||3:26|
|6.||"The Avengers (Superbad)"||4:28|
|7.||"The Leopards Featuring Gardenia and the Mighty Slug"||3:36|
|1994 CD reissue bonus tracks|
|17.||"Truck On (Tyke)"||3:09|
|Change (The Alternative Zinc Alloy)|
|2.||"Sound Pit (Parts 1 & 2)"||3:01|
|9.||"Carsmile Smith & the Old One"||2:34|
|12.||"Painless Persuasion v. the Meathawk Immaculate"||3:29|
|13.||"The Avengers (Superbad)"||3:27|
|14.||"The Leopards Featuring Gardenia & the Mighty Slug"||2:28|
|17.||"Truck On (Tyke)"||1:40|
|18.||"Sitting There (Sitting Here)"||2:01|
|20.||"Nameless Wildness (Acoustic Demo)"||1:47|
|21.||"Carsmile Smith & the Old One (Solo / Acoustic Demo)"||1:45|
|22.||"Carsmile Smith & the Old One (Acoustic Demo with Organ)"||1:17|
|23.||"The Avengers (Superbad) (Acoustic Demo)"||2:50|
|24.||"The Leopards Featuring Geraldine & the Mighty Slug (Acoustic Demo)"||1:08|
- Thompson, Dave. "Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow – Marc Bolan & T. Rex,T. Rex | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
- Deusner, Stephen M. "T. Rex: The Slider / Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow / Dandy in the Underworld / The T. Rex Wax Co. Singles: A's and B's 1972–77 | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
- "Tyrannosaurus Rex / T.Rex – A Beard of Stars / T.Rex / Tanx / Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow – Deluxe Editions – Uncut.co.uk". Uncut. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
- Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow – A Creamed Cage in August at Discogs (list of releases)