Tanx is a 1973 album by rock band T. Rex, the eighth since their debut as Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1968, and the fourth under the moniker T. Rex. It was released on 16 March by record label EMI. Tanx was a musical departure from previous works: still containing tracks in the vein of The Slider, singer and songwriter Marc Bolan showed his interest for soul music, funk and gospel. Female backing singers appeared on a few tracks. New instruments such as mellotron were used, played by producer Tony Visconti, allowing the T. Rex sound to evolve.

Studio album by
Released16 March 1973 (1973-03-16)
RecordedAugust, October 1972
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, France
LabelEMI (UK), Reprise (US)
ProducerTony Visconti
T. Rex chronology
The Slider
Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow

Upon its release, Tanx was a commercial success. It peaked at number 4 in the UK Albums chart,[1] number 3 in the German Albums chart and number 5 in Norway.[2] No singles were released to promote the album.

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 the piano based song "Left Hand Luke and the Beggar Boys" with backup female vocals,[3] Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan, Vicki Brown, Barry St John and Sue and Sunny. They doubled Bolan on the soulful choruses but were not credited on the sleeve. Bob Stanley of the Times described "Left Hand Luke and the Beggar Boys" as a "New Orleans bar piano" song, with "interstellar soul".[4] "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.[5]

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, played by producer Tony Visconti, and Bolan used a phased effect on his vocals.[5]

Release edit

Tanx was released on 16 March 1973 by record label EMI in the UK and Reprise in the US. Tanx was a top 4 hit in the UK Albums Chart and a hit all over Europe, peaking at number 3 in Germany,[2] number 5 in Norway,[2] number 15 in Sweden,[6] and number 20 in Finland,[7] but it failed to match the success of The Slider in the US, reaching only No. 102 in the Billboard 200.[8] Curiously, the popular single "20th Century Boy" recorded during a stay in Japan,[5] and released two weeks before, on 2 March 1973,[9] was not included on the album, which may have affected sales, as the album (unlike its two predecessors) did not include any single.

Tanx was remastered for CD over and over again, beginning in 1985 on the Marc On Wax and label. This first reissue came with all of T. Rex's non-album singles and B-Sides released in 1973 as well as the tracks released under the Big Carrot moniker. Edsel Records re-released the album in 1994 as part of their extensive T. Rex reissue campaign with a different set of bonus tracks. 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
AllMusic     [10]
Rolling Stoneunfavourable[14]
The Quietusfavourable[15]

At the time, Tanx received favourable reviews in both the NME and Record Mirror.[5] Creem hailed it saying, "song for song, this might be Marc Bolan's strongest album. Certainly, it's the most varied, and the most musical".[11] However, it was derided by Rolling Stone: reviewer Paul Gambaccini wrote "This one album might have made a good EP [...] I can't see many people being truly pleased with it. But I've been wrong before." He nevertheless praised tracks like "Mister Mister," "Electric Slim and the Factory Hen," and "Broken Hearted Blues."[14]

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".[13] Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork, whilst praising the record, called it "a difficult album".[12] 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".[15]

Legacy edit

AllMusic wrote that it presaged David Bowie's soul music phase: "It was admirable that Bolan was attempting to broaden the T. Rex sound -- soulful backup singers and horns are heard throughout, a full two years before David Bowie used the same formula for his mega-seller Young Americans".[10]

Tanx inspired Suede for their Coming Up album as producer Ed Buller related: "The blueprint was Tanx by T.Rex – I actually thought The Slider was a better choice, but 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 congas, tambourine and acoustic guitar."[16] 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",[17] and "Life is Strange".[18]

The song "Life is Strange" was the soundtrack of several scenes of the film Dallas Buyers Club in 2013 in which one of the main characters, Rayon, a Marc Bolan fan played by Jared Leto,[19] lived surrounded with pictures of his idol.[20]

Track listing edit

All tracks are written by Marc Bolan

Side A
1."Tenement Lady"2:55
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
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
1994 CD reissue bonus tracks
14."Children of the Revolution"2:30
15."Jitterbug Love"2:59
16."Sunken Rags"2:54
17."Solid Gold Easy Action"2:20
18."Xmas Riff"0:11
19."20th Century Boy"3:41
20."Free Angel"2:12
Left Hand Luke (The Alternative Tanx)
1."Tenement Lady / Darling"2:49
3."Mister Mister"2:49
4."Broken Hearted Blues"2:08
5."Country Honey"1:50
6."Mad Donna"2:19
7."Born to Boogie"2:09
8."Life Is Strange"1:47
9."The Street and Babe Shadow"2:20
10."Highway Knees"2:32
11."Left Hand Luke"5:17
12."Children of the Revolution"1:04
13."Solid Gold Easy Action"2:13
14."Free Angel"2:14
15."Mister Mister" (Acoustic and Bass Demo)3:32
16."Broken Hearted Blues" (Acoustic and Bass Demo)2:08
17."The Street and the Babe Shadow"2:14
18."Tenement Lady" (Acoustic and Bass Demo)1:35
19."Tenement Lady" (Acoustic Demo)1:53
20."Broken Hearted Blues" (Acoustic Demo)1:50
21."Mad Donna" (Different Lyrics / Acoustic Demo)1:45
22."The Street and the Babe Shadow" (Acoustic Demo)2:36
23."Left Hand Luke" (Acoustic Demo)1:58
The Tanx Recordings
1."Tenement Lady"3:18
4."Mister Mister"3:31
5."Broken Hearted Blues"2:16
6."Shock Rock"2:36
7."Country Honey"2:06
8."Electric Slim & the Factory Hen"3:16
9."Mad Donna"4:10
10."Born to Boogie"2:10
11."Life Is Strange"2:39
12."The Street & Babe Shadow"2:17
13."Highway Knees"2:35
14."Left Hand Luke"5:26
15."Children of the Revolution"3:32
16."Jitterbug Love"3:59
17."Solid Gold Easy Action"3:31
18."20th Century Boy"3:57
19."Free Angel"2:21

Personnel edit

T. Rex


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

Charts edit

References edit

  1. ^ "T. Rex UK Albums chart". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "T. Rex - Tanx Charts for Germany and Sweden". Swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  3. ^ Swanson, Dave (16 March 2016). "When T. Rex Unveiled Their Last Hurrah, 'Tanx'". Ultimateclassicrock.com. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  4. ^ Stanley, Bob (3 April 2014). "The Big Reissue: Bob Stanley on T Rex's Tanx and Zinc Alloy". The Times. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Paytress, Mark. "Tanx booklet - liner notes". Edsel Records. 2002
  6. ^ "Swedish Charts 1973-1975" (PDF). hitsallertijden.nl. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  7. ^ Pennanen, Tim. "TOP 1000". Avain. 2020. ISBN 9789523042780
  8. ^ "T. Rex - Albums – the Billboard 200". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 24 January 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  9. ^ T. Rex - 20th Century Boy, retrieved 2 September 2022
  10. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Tanx – T. Rex". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  11. ^ a b Robins, Wayne (July 1973). "Tanx – T. Rex". Creem. Rocks Back Pages. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ a b Strub, Whitney (22 January 2006). "T. Rex: Tanx / Bolan's Zip Gun / Futuristic Dragon / Work in Progress". PopMatters. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  14. ^ a b Gambaccini, Paul (24 May 1973). "Tanx review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  15. ^ a b Kulkarni, Neil (3 March 2014). "Pop, Fragility and Dissolution [Tanx -review]". The Quietus. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  16. ^ Bateman, Steve (December 2010), "Ed Buller On Producing Suede", 140dB management
  17. ^ Martin Gore "Left Hand Duke and the Beggar Boys". Youtube. It was issued in 2003 as a video on his cd-dvd single "Stardust"
  18. ^ Martin Gore recorded a cover of "Life is Strange" as the extra b-side of the cd-single "Stardust" (2003)
  19. ^ Roberts, Sheila (4 November 2013). "Director Jean-Marc Vallée Talks Dallas Buyers Club". Collider.com. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  20. ^ Powers, Ann (1 March 2014). "Listening In Reel Life: The Pop Music Inside The Oscar Nominees". NPR.org. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  21. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 302. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  22. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. 1973. Archived from the original on 23 May 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2022.

External links edit