Some songs have a habit of cascading through the decades and finding welcoming audiences no matter where it lands on the spectrum of time and space. One such song is the iconic, unique and utterly pulsating glam-rock banger from T. Rex, ‘Bang a Gong (Get It On)’ a track that continues to define the legacy of Marc Bolan and bring people of all ages, shapes and sizes on to the dance floor.
Marc Bolan is one of rock music’s most tragic figures. Lost to the world and his adoring fans far too young, the real sadness comes when you understand that just months before his untimely death, Bolan had finally gotten himself back on track after years spent lost in a glittered kaleidoscope of ecstatic highs and turbulent lows. Bolan had kicked his most damaging vices and, after chatting with his friend David Bowie, was ready to get back to music.
For some years before his death, Bolan’s career had begun to wane. Brought up alongside Bowie as part of the influx of singer-songwriters that swelled the streets of London in the mid-to-late 1960s. Born Mark Feld, the singer would soon convince the entire world that he was actually a glam rock god alongside his band T.Rex, only for the crown to slip once the glitter of glam rock began to fade. Soon enough, Bolan was drinking far too heavily and invariably finding his way to cocaine. However, before his death, he rekindled his love affair with music. After all, it had been so incredibly fruitful for him.
Like his counterpart David Bowie, Bolan was able to transcend genre tribalism and connect with people in a whole new way. Bolan was there to stand up for the freaks and geeks of the world. Bolan was there to tell you that being different wasn’t only OK but was the best thing to be. He also said that when all else fails, throwing yourself into a song and dancing your feet until they’re raw is the only way to go. Also, like Bowie, Bolan’s vocal talents are not as widely adored as the rest of the package he produced.
Not famed for his vocal acrobatics, listening to the isolated vocals of this classic song allows us to hear the authentic tenacity within his voice. If there was one song that fans and non-fans of Marc Bolan could point to as his most famous song, then it would be ‘Get It On’. Taken from the band’s album Electric Warrior, the song has become a mainstay tune for anyone looking to revisit the best of the 20th century. Re-titled for America, it was the first song to make waves across the pond for T. Rex.
Inspired by Chuck Berry’s track ‘Little Queenie’, the song has become a piece of classic rock iconography. It also ended one of Bolan’s strongest friendships as he and John Peel, the legendary DJ, refused to speak, following Peel’s condemnation of the track shortly after he had played his white label advance copy. Considering the value of the song still rearing its head to this day, we can all agree that Peel was very wrong on this one.
Below, we can hear the song in a way very few have as we listen to Bolan’s isolated vocals on the track. It highlights that while he may not be the most accomplished vocalist of all time, he certainly gave his all to his performance.