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. 121
    Brendan F on 18 Jul 2013 #

    or is he just telling us he’s a 5 foot transvestite?

  2. 122
    Mark G on 21 Jul 2013 #

    To Mr and Mrs Insurance-Quote, a son: Best Online

  3. 123
    Rory on 23 Aug 2013 #

    I like to imagine these being read out by Advertising Voiceover Man in Dolby Surround at the cinema. “The savings in premium can be so many options available!”

  4. 124
    spammer on 24 Aug 2013 #

    This design is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a reader
    amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more
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  5. 125
    Tom on 6 Sep 2013 #

    Cease your appeals to my vanity, you devils.

  6. 126
    Mark G on 8 Sep 2013 #

    Well, it grabbed your attention, bignose!

  7. 127
    Mark G on 9 Sep 2013 #

    Looks like the appeals to Tom’s vanity have ceased.

  8. 128
    thefatgit on 24 Sep 2013 #

    Things are getting very surreal around here. It’s only a matter of time before the Hot Love thread becomes self-aware.

  9. 129
    Ed on 24 Sep 2013 #

    How long before there is a Jonny Trunk album of greatest spam lines?

    ‘Annd naturally, thanks inn your effort!’ has potential, I think.

    ‘Also play a great role to heal many of the diseases’ sounds like a blockbusting charity single.

  10. 130
    Lazarus on 25 Sep 2013 #

    Not much point in responding to the spambots if the admins are going to delete their posts; it makes our responses seem like a somewhat disjointed dialogue. See posts 125/126 – it now looks as if Mark is being rude to Tom.

  11. 131
    Mark G on 26 Sep 2013 #

    And yet, 124 is still there! There’s a moral somewhere but is it “appeals to vanity may last longer than statements to the effect that the content is dull and needs sharpening up by looking at *this* blog which can supply you cheaper pomegranates or something..”

  12. 132
    Mark G on 27 Sep 2013 #

    I can believe that.

  13. 133
    Mark G on 30 Sep 2013 #

    All that burn that fat are belong to use.

  14. 134
    thefatgit on 30 Sep 2013 #

    All this talk of burning fat makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

  15. 135
    Mark G on 6 Oct 2013 #

    Where are the typos? And the horribly formed grammar constructs?

  16. 136
    Lazarus on 8 Oct 2013 #

    They were never there, and now they’re gone.

  17. 137
    Mark G on 18 Oct 2013 #

    To Mr and Mrs 89, a son..

    actually, nm.

  18. 138
    Lazarus on 19 Oct 2013 #

    ‘Cambogia?’ Wasn’t that Kim Wilde?

  19. 139
    Lazarus on 22 Oct 2013 #

    That guy should be kept in for his username alone.

  20. 140
    Cumbrian on 22 Oct 2013 #

    Hot Love is not Fast.

    Actually, whilst I am here, I don’t think I’ve said anything about Hot Love other than bemoaning the spambots. Of all of Tom’s 10s (a short list), I think this is probably the one I like the least, which is not to say that it’s bad. It gets in and out well enough and the music is hooky and memorable but it just doesn’t excite me in the way that, say, 20th Century Boy does; I guess it’s a bit more gentle whereas 20CB has more bite to the guitar work – a gritty texture that makes it stand out a bit. Rightly or wrongly, Hot Love sounds like a lot of other records from the glam period (probably because they were ripping T Rex off) but 20CB sounds of glam but verging on hard rock (a genre I have a weakness for – just a month until Queens of the Stone Age at Wembley).

    I had this at a borderline 6 or 7 – I have all the other “Tom 10s” at 7s or higher.

  21. 141
    Jimmy the Swede on 24 Oct 2013 #

    Hot Love is not Fast?

    Well, it’s Faster than most.

  22. 142
    MarkG on 7 Nov 2013 #

    Yeah, we shouldn’t moan..

  23. 143
    dragon city cheat on 7 Nov 2013 #

    Aw, this was an exceptionaoly good post. Taking
    a few minutes and actual effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never
    manage too get nearly anything done.

  24. 144
    diabetes home test on 14 Nov 2013 #

    Magnificent web site. Plenty of useful info here.
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  25. 145
    Anonymous on 14 Nov 2013 #

    *spam squished*

  26. 146
    Mark G on 14 Nov 2013 #

    No you are not.

  27. 147
    Mark G on 14 Nov 2013 #

    (message 141 and 142 almost make sense, ran together..)

  28. 148
    Mark G on 20 Nov 2013 #

    vg+, almost a keeper.. Is it “Finish of Mine Day” yet?

  29. 149
    Lazarus on 4 Dec 2013 #

    The whole thing is fine thanks, and will do just as well without you … byeee!

  30. 150
    thefatgit on 12 Dec 2013 #

    Come again, again?

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