Although scarcely mentioned in the same awestruck tones as 1971’s Electric Warrior, the years have been kind to The Slider in a way they weren’t for, say, Zinc Alloy and The Hidden Riders of Tomorrow. Now comfortable in his glam image and revelling in his immense popularity, Bolan soups up the guitars and riffs while losing none of his trademark boogie.
And yet despite the snarling, The Slider is rarely aggressive. Toe-tapping opener Metal Guru bounces along merrily, with an effortlessness that belies its surprisingly complex song structure – there is no doubting this song’s ability to fill dancefloors. The other big single was Telegram Sam, which only just escapes unflattering comparisons to Bang A Gong (Get It On) largely down to a hushed – almost spiritual – chorus. There’s also a rather bizarre noise around the minute mark that sounds like Bolan’s robbing somebody’s grandma, but we’ll skip past that.
Mystical Lady, too, is eerily reminiscent of something from Electric Warrior – maybe Planet Queen – and despite a promising start becomes bogged down in a neverending sequence of “baby baby baby”s which spoils the song for me. Much better is Rock On, which boasts the biggest, dirtiest riff in history and some trademark falsetto backing vocals to boot. It’s so slow as to almost appear pedestrian, but the song really comes alive towards the end, where Bolan (and assorted backing singers) carry the song to its logical extreme.
My favorite song on the album though, and one of the few songs I can never get tired of listening to, is the title track. “And when I’m saaaad / I slide” sings Bolan in suitably mournful tones, as the backing singers deliver a heartbreaking, stupendous vocal hook. I also like how the strings are introduced halfway through the song for some variation. Non-Slider owners all over the world (and I know there are a few), you must hear this song.
Spaceball Ricochet manages to mix it up a bit, but it's not as good as, say, Girl from Electric Warrior. Originally taken from a poem, it does boast some nifty basswork and the top line “I know I’m small / But I enjoy living anyway” (Short People Got No Reason to Live, anyone?). But it does seem a bit formulaic, as does Buick Mackane, a dire noise-for-its-own-sake stomp that lasts far too long.
The final stretch of the album is decidedly mixed. The pseudo-ballad Rabbit Fighter isn’t up to much, and Main Man is just incredibly boring. Baby Strange contains a nice repetitive riff but very little filling, and Chariot Choogle is either spoiled or enhanced (depending on your point of view) by overexcited female backing singers and a tendency to grunt “yeah!” (like much of Bolan's late-70s output). Hopefully your version of the album doesn't end with Main Man, but with the semi-decent b-sides Thunderwing and Cadillac. It may lack the consistency of Electric Warrior, but when The Slider is good, it’s really good.