DANDY IN THE UNDERWORLD
42 years old and as fresh as a cosmic daisy…
11th March 1977 saw the release of Dandy in the Underworld by T.Rex. I can remember shooting off to my local record shop on or around the launch day to get my copy. Little did we know it would be the last release in Marc’s lifetime.
The striking cover showed a fit and healthy Marc, his career seemingly on an upward trajectory with a tour to promote the album and a TV show on the cards for August of that year. Many of the tracks on the album showcased his latest band with Dino Dines on keys, Herbie Flowers on bass and Tony Newman on drums (not forgetting Miller Anderson of course who would feature in the tour line-up but is only credited as playing on Jason B Sad on the album). NME, a big critic of recent T.Rex releases noted that the new album was “very listenable, well arranged and immaculately played.” Praise indeed from a paper who had been the most negative reviewer of Marc’s previous few releases.
I loved it from the first listen and still love it today. I already had my tickets for the Rainbow Theatre date on the tour (18th March 1977) and couldn’t wait to see him perform tracks from it live. I wouldn’t be disappointed as the band performed Visions of Domino (a revamped version of the unreleased Funky London Childhood), Soul of My Suit, Hang Ups, I Love to Boogie, Teen Riot Structure and of course the title track Dandy along with the expected smattering of T.Rex hit singles.
What a night. Support came from The Damned, showing Marc’s great support for the new punk movement that was taking the UK by storm earning him the nickname the Godfather of Punk. As a 14 year old lad the spectacle of not only The Damned but the assembled pierced and spiked punks in the audience was quite an eye opener. Exciting, but if I’m honest a little scary also!
A truly fantastic night. Although a seated venue I’m not sure that anyone remained in their seats past the opening number Jeepster. I certainly didn’t! I left the gig buzzing, my Dandy tour programme in hand (it’s safely tucked away in a box in the loft somewhere – I must dig it out!), not knowing that it would be the last time I would see Marc live on stage. I played the album endlessly in the weeks following the gig.
My favourite track? That’s a tough one. I truly love them all and I’ve listened to the album twice while writing this blog. If pushed I’d possibly plump for Visions of Domino – maybe it’s Steve Currie’s bass on that track – but then again I love the pure simplicity of Groove a Little which has an equally cool bass line from Herbie. Ask me again next week and I may have a different favourite. Let’s just say that Dandy in the Underworld is one of my favourite T.Rex albums; maybe because it was Bolan’s last, maybe because I saw the band on the Dandy tour, or maybe because it is indeed exactly as described by the NME “very listenable, well arranged and immaculately played” – I couldn’t agree more.