Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One More Time For Marc: T.Rex: "The Groover"


 This may well be the first song where the artist announces himself, as if you didn't know immediately who was playing; and this is an anthem, a kind of self-reflecting song that a band can only do once they, in fact, no longer need to tell you who they are.  It doesn't really go anywhere as a song- "I'm a groover, honey!" and "Yeah!" is pretty much the song, but of course being Marc Bolan he's got something to say...and it's mostly about how he actually doesn't care what he's called (Arnie??  Slim?!) because he knows he's the Groover, and thus can go anywhere.

Star King?  Jeepster?  Hmmm, when you start referencing your other songs in a song that is kind of a tipping point; I can see how this only got to #2 on the Luxembourg chart - as boistrous and by-rote strutting this song is, it lacks a vital oomph; it really is like overhearing someone talk about how great they are instead of actually getting to see/hear how great they are, instead.  There is a fine line between buoyant boasting and joie de vivre and this; this, which sounds uncomfortably like T.Rex now needs a cheerleading song to keep the band going in their perpetual battle to stay in the Top Ten, to stay relevant, even.  Marc Bolan must have realized that he started the whole Glam Rock thing and now it is everywhere, and here he is celebrating himself (far more than the shoegazers would in 20 years' time) as if to remind everyone that he was first.  But it still sounds strained, as if he could also see this central role disappearing, his kingly finery being trampled by so many stack-heeled boors who couldn't be truly groovy if they tried.  This is the last time I write about T.Rex here and it's sad that the song isn't more emphatic; instead it's like seeing a ship sail off, over the horizon, never to be seen again.* (Note:  it's not like T.Rex ended; they just didn't get a Top Ten hit after this.) 

The first part of the 70s is now over; the period that I will be calling The Fog has yet to begin, though anyone who now feels itchy even thinking about certain tv shows - UK tv shows I mean - will know The Fog is already here, and pop music is doing its darnedest to fight it every step of the way...

Next up:  as one world ends, another begins.

 *Coincidentally, by this time I know we are going to be moving to Canada; we have a few weeks to clean and pack and have probably already sold the house to a friend.  I have finished kindergarten and will soon be going with my parents cross-country in our car, a trip I don't remember that well, besides it was a hot summer and we ended up in a place called Oakville.  New worlds, indeed.

We Are All Together: Medicine Head: "One and One is One"

It may come as a surprise, dear readers, that anything that isn't either Glam or Teen Idol material can show up here - in competitive, who-can-wear-the-most-outrageous-outfit-on-TOTP-this-week 1973, and yet here we are with...hippies. 

Just because the 60s ended technically didn't mean hippies disappeared; at this point, in fact, they are slowly but surely the cause of all sorts of things to come, things that don't really exist at this point but eventually will (everything from organic food to recycling to flotation tanks and crystal healing; some of these will prove more popular than others).  Hippies, as I understand/imagine it, may well have given up buying singles altogether in favor of albums; but this got in the chart, an anomaly to say the least, and an NME #2, as well.   

For those of you who might think that maybe this song is proof hippies can't do math, well, man, it's all about how love puts two together so they are one, dig? (Hippie declarations of love are of course the lower octave, as they'd say at the Omega Centre, of the higher octave of universal love, man*.)  Far from being a pompous blowhard-type declaration, this is as easygoing as a Sunday and may well be the first appearance of a jew's harp on MSBWT, if I'm not mistaken.  Medicine Head were a blues band, mostly, but this is pure pop, the lyrics all love-eagerness (more phone talk, "little darling") - if anything this is what a more lively Dire Straits would sound like, had they existed yet.  (The guitar here sounds a bit like the guitar on "So Far Away" and there are little organ blips and bleeps too, less frenetic than those on "Industrial Disease.")  The vocals are laid back, so much so they're almost spoken word, and it is a shame that the band (signed in the 60s to John Peel's Dandelion label) didn't get to build on this success; perhaps they were too offhand and hippie to compete in the Glam Rock/Big Important Album dichotomy of the time, and end up, effectively, as the kind of band only people (pardon me, "heads") from back in the day remember at all.  This song is thus part of The Void - I have yet to hear it on UK radio - drowned out by its noisy neighbors in the chart, from Suzi Quatro to 10cc, Wizzard to Wings.  There were other laid-back songs on the chart, of course, but none as lo-fi as this. 

Next up:  Did someone say hippie?   

*I'm not sure if the term "New Age" was being used in '73, but the Omega Centre is a New Age place in Toronto, in case you're wondering - in Yorkville, where people would go in the late 60s to make fun of hippies.  Things have changed...