T. Rex: Tanx and Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow

These two reissues of reissues originally came out in 1973 and 1974 respectively. Neither is indicative of the more popular T. Rex sound. However, both are worthy of your ear, for they mark a point in frontman’s Marc Bolan’s songwriting/career where he was seemingly driven to conquer the American market.

Tanx is actually the eighth album from Bolan and company. It’s a dark and aggressive album. It flows well and blends elements of soul with the paired down glam rock the band perfected on the prior two albums (Electric Warrior and The Slider). What’s interesting is this mish-mash of genres was heavily criticized in 1973. However, David Bowie was heralded as a visionary when he did essentially the same thing just two years later with his Young Americans release. Sadly, one of Bolan’s finest songs, “20th Century Boy,” was recorded as part of the Tanx sessions but not included on the original album. Tanx was remastered in 1994 and issued with bonus tracks, including “20th Century Boy.”

Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow came out one year later in 1974 and picks up where Tanx left off. The songs are more upbeat and heavily weighted in soul and R&B and demonstrate Bolan’s interest in breaking out of the glam rock mold to focus on establishing himself as a pop star.

Unfortunately, both reissues pay homage to the original format. There are no bonus tracks. There are no fancy liner notes. Essentially, the label has reverted to issuing a CD of the original album. However, I did appreciate that Tanx came with a miniature poster of Bolan with his silver tank (as featured on the cover) … just as the vinyl did nearly 40 years ago.