Tyrannosaurus Rex's transformation from oracles of U.K. hippie culture to boogie-friendly rock stars began with the album A Beard of Stars, released in early 1970 when the band picked up electric instruments, and by the time the year was out, Marc Bolan had pared their name down to the more user-friendly T. Rex and dropped their first album with the new moniker. Oddly enough, while the songs on T. Rex bear a much stronger melodic and lyrical resemblance to what would make the band famous on Electric Warrior in 1971, the tone of the album is a bit more pastoral than A Beard of Stars; on most of the tunes, the electric guitars are more successfully integrated into the arrangements so they lack the jarring immediacy of "Elemental Children" or "Pavilions of the Sun," and Mickey Finn still wasn't using a full drum kit, so the tunes don't quite have the kick of a full-on rock band. But Bolan himself sounds like he's ready for his close-up, as his vocals -- mannered yet quietly passionate and full of belief -- suggest the glam hero he would soon become, and numbers like "Beltrane Walk," "Is It Love," and "Diamond Meadows" (with its wink-and-nudge refrain "Hey, let's do it like we're friends") are just a few paces away from the swaggering sound that would make him the U.K.'s biggest star. If Bolan was reaching for the big time with T. Rex, he also sounds like he was letting out the rock star that had always lurked within him, and there isn't a moment here that doesn't sound like he's singing from his heart and soul. T. Rex is the quiet before the storm of Electric Warrior, and it retains a loopy energy and easy charm that makes it one of Bolan's watershed works
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