Published Nov 25, 2015Putting out a covers album can mean a number of things — a) that the artist is quite keen on, or influenced by, the artist that they're covering and wish to put their own spin on things, or b) that the artist feels that their take on the material will surpass the quality of the original, or reinvent it in some way (Ryan Adams' 1989, for example).
Or, perhaps it's simply fun to cover someone else's work and put your own subtleties into the mix. The latter is what Ty Segall accomplishes on this reissue of the cleverly titled Ty Rex, an expansion of his six-track, 2011 Record Store Day exclusive release of T. Rex covers. Segall has added three new tunes to the album: "Cat Black" (from 1969's Unicorn), "20th Century Boy" (a 1973 single) and "The Motivator" (from Electric Warrior, 1971).
It's clear that this is a passion project of Segall's, and there can be no doubt that he reveres Marc Bolan something awful. Looking at Segall's own work, you can see tinges of Bolan's spacey, glam rock attitude and psychedelic folk tendencies, particularly on his most recent release, Manipulator. On Ty Rex, Segall makes the music his own — his rendition of "The Slider" is akin to his "You Make The Sun Fry" off of 2011's Goodbye Bread, and "Buick Mackane" sounds like a lost track from 2010's Melted — just as raucous, with the same reverb and raw vocals. It's neat that Segall's selections span various records, rather than just focusing on one and going track by track.
The record has an unfinished, ramshackle quality to it, almost as if Segall recorded it on a whim, but it's still explosive — nothing seems preordained or fussed over. It's rough, but it feels right. Typically, an expansion of an album can come across as a cash grab, but in this case, it feels fun, if not indulgent.
But seeing someone as prolific as Segall put out a record like this, that's fuelled by the fun of it is refreshing (not that Segall ever seems to take himself too seriously). This could potentially welcome more ears to the sounds of T. Rex, and when artists open the door to other artists, particularly those that have rocked and rolled well before their time, it's a beautiful way shine a light backwards for younger music fans. (Goner)