My parents were awfully young when I was born. My earliest memory is of four 20-somethings gathered around a record player listening to Can’t Buy Me Love, and me, on the floor playing with alphabet blocks.
Ours wasn’t a quiet house. There was a piano in our living room. My father taught himself to play Fats Domino-style. I never studied, but it was always there, and I was free to play around.
We had all the Beatles albums and I liked them well enough. But then there was T Rex. I received Electric Warrior for my 11th birthday, and soon saved and bought The Slider for myself.
I entered a competition in the New Musical Express and won a T-Shirt emblazoned with the top-hatted Bolan, which I wore with my purple velvet loons. Maybe not the smartest move in rural Derbyshire when considering one’s physical well-being, but there I was. The lads reacted predictably, the girls quite liked it.
The music was everything to me. I devoured these albums. Marc’s songs were perfect for the soon-to-be-pubescent teen: brimming with sex, but alive with much more – post hippie mysticism, pop culture, melancholy – and he perfectly balanced an automotive rock strut with an elfin soul.
The music was filled with ambition: T Rex were top of the charts but Marc wanted to be the Glam Dylan and maybe for a minute he was, even if he mispronounced Dvorak …
And the sound. That sound. No band has ever been able to replicate it and many have tried. These were pop records, but T Rex was a rock band. Marc did his thing – his take on Chuck Berry – while Micky Finn was there for show, mostly, but the rhythm section of Steve Curry and Bill Legend were solid and funky.
Playing straight is always funkier … I wish I’d understood that in 1987.
Tony Visconti knew it and his arrangements – adding the baritone sax and cellos and the ghostly vocals of Flo and Eddy – took Marc’s vision to an entirely better place than either of them could have hoped. When Visconti was gone, so was the magic, but for a couple of years Marc and Tony made the most beautiful rock music I have ever heard.”
How to hear him
Fresh from sell-out gigs across Europe, Lloyd Cole has been touring New Zealand alongside LA-based New Zealand singer/songwriter Greg Johnson. His final performance is tonight at Ascension Wine Estate, Matakana.
– Sunday Star Times