Local Wire

T. Rex

Rhino's lavish reissues bookend T. Rex's most fully cooked work, polishing maestro Marc Bolan's legacy for any Yanks who still think of this overseas superstar as a trashy novelty. Not that trash is beside the point: Bolan's 1972 masterpiece, The Slider, is full of the kind of grubby teenage reverie that distinguishes the '70s from the '60s -- love songs to Buicks, shindigs on Mars, cheap sex (not free love) and stoned-out Chuck Berry riffs. Gussied up on this fat-sounding remaster, and extended with brilliant singles like "Cadillac" and a full disc of outtakes, The Slider is a keenly aimed, supersonic shot of bubblegum. On the other hand, 1974's Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow, as the title suggests, is something of a coke-fueled, holy mess, with guitar histrionics, operatic backup and dense funk overtones. There are gems here, as there are on Bolan's sleek swan song Dandy in the Underworld, released in '77 before his death in a car crash. But luckily, the highlights of Dandy and Zinc Alloy appear on the crucial T. Rex Wax Co. Singles package, including the girl-group-influenced "Teenage Dream," the beguiling "The Soul of My Suit" and non-album gems like "All Alone" (which Bowie seems to have plundered for "Young Americans"). Crazy Frog aside, it seems the Brits are sometimes right.