Nov 06

T REX – “Hot Love”

FT + Popular172 comments • 24,021 views

#298, 20th March 1971

I long ago read a piece by Jonathan King, an attack on 70s pop as opposed to the 60s version. King’s argument was that the big stars who emerged in the early seventies – Bolan, Bowie, Elton – were all failed sixties wannabes who had only managed to become famous because the real stars had cleared the pitch. (“JK” himself was exempt from this, naturally, because of “Everyone’s Gone To The Moon”).

Obviously this argument is bogglingly unfair (you might as well say that the Beatles were failed skiffle stars) but for Bolan and Bowie he is touching on something important. Both men had been around the scene since the mid-60s, trying on and shaking off styles, hunting for the look and sound that would give them their breakthrough. Bowie turned that restlessness into a schtick in itself; Bolan’s winning style was so monolithically perfect he stuck with it until he died. (There’s a lot more pleasure and depth in the Bowie catalogue, but none of his singles – and few of anybody’s – are as magnificently formed as “Hot Love”, “Metal Guru”, “Children Of The Revolution”, et al.)

These prehistories of relative failure make pop more interesting. They seem less common now than they did when I was a kid, though. Take the Stone Roses, a band who won’t be bothering Popular but who have muscled into the canon on the strength of their debut album. At the time the NME let us know soon enough that the Roses had spent half a decade clattering round the Manchester Goth scene, casting about for a style, thinking very hard about how to craft a sound and image. I didn’t love them any less for it. When the word “manufactured” has such common currency in pop, it’s worth being reminded that almost every great act involves at least a degree of self-manufacture.

Self-manufacture was the front-and-centre principle of glam rock. Though Marc Bolan looked terrific, I’ll save comments on the imagery of glam for later: in any case, “Hot Love” is all about a band excited by sonic possibilities, possibilities opened up by the simple addition of drums and bass to T Rex’s nursery-rhyme pop-folk. The name for the possibilities is “groove”, and “Hot Love”‘s is wickedly playful – those staccato drum flourishes are like chorus-line high kicks, and though the song starts as a blues pastiche a la “Baby Jump”, this is a teasing, confident re-imagining of the blues, not a cack-handed sardonic plod through them. (The “Hot Love” groove is also highly enduring – I first fell in love with the song in Justus Kohnke’s version, by which time the rhythm had been brushed up, digitised, and called schaffel)

The band in fact get so excited that they never want to stop. We’ve had massive codas in pop before, of course, in fact we’ve had a big “na-na-na” singalong finale feature on this blog quite recently. So why does “Hot Love” work and “Hey Jude” not? It’s faster, which never hurts. And partly it’s that sense of possibility – “Hey Jude” is the biggest band in the world throwing its weight around, whereas “Hot Love” is a new-ish kid on the block, giddy with the excitement of having found his very own philosophers stone. Also the build-up to the coda is different – with “Hey Jude” the song has been getting bigger and heavier for several minutes anyway, so the coda is like a cumbersome supertanker gradually braking. “Hot Love” doesn’t have much build-up, so the coda feels much cheekier. Every time Bolan starts another round of “la la la”s he sounds like he’s getting away with something, rewriting more of the world in his newborn glitter image, and then inviting us to join in for as long as we dare make it last.




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  1. 91
    wichita lineman on 14 Jun 2012 #

    Straight, as in non-hippie. Lots of Country Joe & the Fish-type action but for singers like Sinatra and Crosby to be investigating the American Dream was a new and shortlived trend. Pitney and Orbison were no rebels, either (see Nik Cohn’s description of the former in Awopbopaloobop). Dion was from the pre-Beatles era, yes, but he wasn’t a straight – he was a blue and folk-loving junkie! But AM&J certainly fits songwise.

    Gosh, how I love Billy You’re My Friend.

  2. 92
    Mutley on 15 Jun 2012 #

    #91 I see what you mean and you are right about Dion. Of course there was also the “Mr Businessman hippie Capitalist” of which Richard Branson is probably the best-known example. And also the less extreme example of weekend hippies. Any examples of songs about these types that are not intended to be mocking or funny?

  3. 93
    Jimmy the Swede on 27 Dec 2012 #

    #95 – Well hello and welcome to the party. Tom Ewing, our Managing Director, posted his first review (on the UK’s first ever number one single) on 16/09/2003. There has been much comment, many a bunfight and lots of fun since then.

  4. 94
    lonepilgrim on 1 Feb 2013 #

    glam slam.

    My top glam singles could be
    – Metal Guru
    – All The Young Dudes
    – The Jean Genie
    – Starman
    – Virginia Plain
    – Rock On (David Essex)
    – Can the Can
    – Walk on the Wild Side
    – Ballroom Blitz
    – Tiger Feet

  5. 95
    Brendan on 2 Feb 2013 #

    Wot no Slade?

  6. 96
    Lone pilgrim on 2 Feb 2013 #

    No Slade for me. As much as I like a lot of their music they don’t register as Glam with me.

  7. 97
    old man sukrat on 2 Feb 2013 #

    Spade are the exact mid point between glam and glitter without being either

  8. 98
    old man sukrat on 2 Feb 2013 #

    which is why I call them spade

  9. 99
    Mark G on 6 Mar 2013 #

    Are you Morrissey?

  10. 100
    Lazarus on 17 Mar 2013 #

    Are you mates with even skin tone by any chance?

    One of the most spammed threads on the site, I would imagine.

    And ‘Killer Queen’ would be in my Glam top 10.

  11. 101
    Elsa on 28 Apr 2013 #

    w pogłowiu owiec tudzież bydła nieodmiennie
    oskarżano wilki a Elsa złodziei. Sir Roger słuchał zdumiony.
    – Nie uwierzycie, panie – wymamrotał Arnold przyciszonym głosem,
    rozglądając się z dystansem na ponieważ.

  12. 102
    enitharmon on 28 Apr 2013 #

    It’s all very well you saying that, young lady, but what are they going to say in Poznań when they find out what Sir Roger and Arnold have been doing with their livestock?

  13. 103
    curediabetesdiet.info on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Whole wheat bread – 1 slice. Trim off any visible fats before cooking.
    This diet plan will help normalize not only your blood sugar levels but as well as blood
    pressure and cholesterol levels.

  14. 104
    Patrick Mexico on 30 Apr 2013 #

    (Whatever happened to) the guilt-free double cream?

  15. 105
    Riley on 2 May 2013 #

    Good article. I definitely love this site. Thanks!

  16. 106
    Carson on 6 Jun 2013 #

    I visited multiple websites however the audio quality for audio songs existing
    at this site is really excellent.

  17. 107
    Mark G on 6 Jun 2013 #

    This site has audio tracks? Who knew???

  18. 108
    Izzy on 6 Jun 2013 #

    Wait, you get audio songs now? I’m still into sheet music.

  19. 109
    punctum on 18 Jun 2013 #

    I always wondered about those chart-topping songwrinters.

  20. 110
    Mark G on 19 Jun 2013 #

    I’m surprised the amusement account is still open!

  21. 111
    punctum on 21 Jun 2013 #

    I used to go to the one on Blackpool North Pier all the time when on holiday in the seventies.

  22. 112
    Mark G on 21 Jun 2013 #

    Did you come away in debit or credit?

  23. 113
    punctum on 21 Jun 2013 #

    I came away in a tram.

  24. 114
    Mark G on 26 Jun 2013 #

    Is breakfast the name of your girlfriend?

  25. 115
    punctum on 2 Jul 2013 #

    This dermatological spam commentary is fascinating.

  26. 116
    Cumbrian on 2 Jul 2013 #

    I assume that the title “Hot Love” confuses spambots and they think that this page must get a lot of views.

  27. 117
    Mark G on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Top marks here for wonderfully expressed

  28. 118
    Cumbrian on 17 Jul 2013 #

    It could well be that the spam on this thread outweighs the discussion of the record in question at some point in the future.

    Poor old Marc – struggling along whilst the spambots take advantage of his potential customers.

  29. 119
    Mark G Smith on 17 Jul 2013 #

    We can ‘ave a bleedin’ guess pal!

  30. 120
    Cumbrian on 18 Jul 2013 #

    Indeed. If someone makes the little change of switching off their spambots, it will result in the large change of this thread not being flooded with ridiculous posts trying to get us to buy 60 inch TVs.

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