Review by Dave Thompson
Prior to the long-delayed release of the Born to Boogie soundtrack album, T. Rex were never treated to a truly stellar live recording, one that not only captured the incandescent energy of their concert performances, but also did so in a reasonably listen-able fashion. It is almost as if the only people with the foresight to record the band at its height were the ones with tickets for row Z -- which they'd lost en route to the venue, so they taped the gig from the street outside. Electric Boogie is another addition to that sorry roll call, although in fairness it is a vast improvement on many of the releases out there. Excerpts from four shows revolve around T. Rex's summer 1971 tour of the U.K. and Europe -- the period, that is, immediately after the singles "Ride a White Swan," "Hot Love," and "Get It On." Included are six medium-fidelity tracks from the Rotterdam show, plus two cuts apiece from Bournemouth, Lewisham, and Wolverhampton, with the first named unquestionably highlighted by a nine-minute rendition of "Ride a White Swan" -- and, if you're wondering how a simple three-minute pop song can be so elongated, remember Bolan's guitar-playing skills weren't limited to the brusque, choppy chords that highlighted his studio work. "Elemental Child," from the Wolverhampton gig, makes the same point less surprisingly. If there is any downside to this set, it is that the packaging is utterly misleading, conveying the impression that the recordings hail from another show that summer, the legendary Weeley Festival bash. Both the cover photo and Bill Legend's liner notes abet the deception, although truthfully such details probably matter only to the most committed collectors. For everyone else, a rare chance to hear (and even enjoy) T. Rex at their live peak is simply too good to pass up.