Friday, November 05, 2004

Cover Art Barely Preferable To A Fork In The Eye

'Futuristic Dragon' by T.Rex.

The Cover Art:
Ugly illustration of Bolan riding a flying dragon. Bolan: lips pursed, expression desperately trying to convey tough, mystical etc. Instead: looks like a petulant toddler not being allowed to play with a favorite toy. Dragon: expelling plumes of smoke through it's reptilian nostrils. Geigereque biomechanical metal poke out at points, and there are metal collars around the wings. More Bolan: No saddle, apparently so talented riding flying dragons he can do so bareback. Eyeball belt, a good couple inches (in scale) across, above either ample genital bulge or a codpiece. Clutching shield, reading: 'rTex', presumably meaning T.Rex. Slender, feminine arm clutching not especially threatening lance. Wearing cosmic dragon rider garb of tank-top, featuring vague scale motif. Necklace. Bolan also has big, lush angel wings, matching his floppy curls, all blown back by the speed in which this 'Futuristic Dragon' is flying. They are also crossing in front of the sun, or is it the moon?

The Record:
It isn't bad. There is truth to the statement that the law of diminishing returns hit Marc Bolan like a truck. Bolan paraded his shallow bag of tricks over too long of a period. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing finer then a great T.Rex song, but the bad ones (and they are legion) are a sucking chest wound in an interesting body of work. Title track starts the record off with a resounding thud. It's a horrible, literal rap, encapsulating all the pathetic lyrical cliches a past his prime talent can muster in dying genre and career. I still haven't managed to listen to it all the way through, and if memory serves, it's under a minute (then again, for all I know it could be half an hour, like I said, I can't listen to it). With a total lack of foresight, some dumbshit also reprinted the lyrics to the title track on the back of the record. You want to know a good way to ruin lyrics? Print them out. Even if they work well within the context of the song (which the aforementioned most definitely do not), if you're lucky, they look pretentious, if you're not, you look like a fucking idiot. Thankfully the record bounces back with one of my all-time favorite T.Rex tracks, 'Jupiter Liar', soaring chorus, wonderful string section, and great ramshackle groove. Yee haw. There are some other wonderful moments on the record, the total lyrical minimalism of 'New York City', the jaunty Love-Marimba-by-way-of-Bolan beat of 'All Alone', and rounding it off, the minor T.Rex classic 'Sensation Boulevard'. It's not all gravy, the horrifically titled 'Calling All Destroyers' and 'Theme For A Dragon' I listened to once and then repressed them. So now I don't remember, but I'm sure they were no great shakes. The record closes with two clunkers, leaving a few good songs on a serviceable record marred by it's cover art and filler. When bookended to the two preceding records, the near worthless (save for another favorite 'Interstellar Soul') 'Zinc Alloy and The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow', the totally fucking lousy 'Bolan's Zip Gun' (more truthful title: 'Bolan's Shitty Album'), and the record that followed, 'Dandy In The Underworld'. 'Dandy' was Bolan's last record before his wife ran his tiny car into a tree killing him, and with all respect for the dead, it really sucks. So 'Futuristic Dragon' is one of the few brights spots in a the unrelenting darkness of Bolan's twilight years; a relatively consistent records in a time in his career when Bolan was falling far short of the remarkable run of his first few electric albums (from 'T.Rex' to the underrated 'Tanx'). But the cover almost ruins the entire goddamned record. Fuck.

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