The most blatantly, and brilliantly, portentous of Marc Bolan's albums since the transitional blurring of boundaries that was Beard of Stars, almost seven years prior, Futuristic Dragon opens on a wave of unrelenting feedback, guitars and bombast, setting an apocalyptic mood for the record which persists long after that brief (two minutes) overture is over. Indeed, even the quintessential bop of the succeeding "Jupiter Liar" is irrevocably flavored by what came before, dirty guitars churning beneath a classic Bolan melody, and the lyrics a spiteful masterpiece.
Futuristic Dragon is the eleventh studio album and a UK-only release by English glam rock act T. Rex, released on 30 January 1976 by EMI Records. The album features some unusually dense production from Bolan, especially on "Chrome Sitar" and "Calling All Destroyers", which contained unusual musical embellishments such as sitar and other sonic sound effects. These hint that he had been listening to old Phil Spector records.
The album features sleeve illustration by artist George Underwood, who had first worked with Bolan on the 1968 Tyrannosaurus Rex album My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows.
Live recordings of the successful tour T. Rex undertook that year in the UK (the first since the birth of his son with Gloria Jones, Rolan Bolan) show him to be returning to form from the cocaine addiction, alleged Napoleon complex and weight gain which had plagued him since late 1973, when his star began to fall. In many of these bootleg recordings, often done by members of the audience, Bolan thanks the audience for coming, and admits that he did not know if they would. He was heartened by the response received on the two aforementioned hit singles, and set to work on a new album immediately.
One factor which also sparked Bolan's renewed interest in music was the emergence of punk. Photos from early 1977 show Bolan at a pub/restaurant with members of The Ramones. He toured in spring 1977 with The Damned, and on the Granada TV show Marc, which he hosted, guests of his included The Boomtown Rats, The Jam, and Generation X.
Preceded by the release of two UK Top-40-hit singles from the album, "New York City" (No. 15) and "Dreamy Lady" (No. 30), Futuristic Dragon was released on 30 January 1976. It reached No. 50 in the UK Albums Chart; T. Rex's first album to register in the charts since Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow in 1974.
Futuristic Dragon was reasonably well received by critics.
In her retrospective review of the album, Whitney Strub of PopMatters wrote "By the time Futuristic Dragon arrived, Bolan was considered a has-been. But the album defies expectation, presenting a surprisingly consistent set of tunes dovetailing with the burgeoning disco scene without entirely partaking of it." Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork wrote "Futuristic Dragon has enough winning moments to suggest an upturn [...] [the album] blows smoke on its second half, with songs like 'Sensation Boulevard' and the schlock-disco 'Ride My Wheels' derailing the first half's chugging momentum. Nevertheless, the album wins your sympathies: It's good enough to make you wish it were better.
♦ Marc Bolan – vocals, guitars, moog
♦ Gloria Jones – backing vocals, clavinet
♦ Steve Currie – bass guitar
♦ Davy Lutton – drums
♦ Jimmie Haskell – string instruments
01. "Futuristic Dragon" (Introduction) 01:52
02. "Jupiter Liar" 03:40
03. "Chrome Sitar" 03:13
04. "All Alone" 02:48
05. "New York City" 03:55
06. "My Little Baby" 03:06
07. "Calling All Destroyers" 03:53
08. "Theme for a Dragon" 02:00
09. "Sensation Boulevard" 03:48
10. "Ride My Wheels" 02:25
11. "Dreamy Lady" 02:51
12. "Dawn Storm" 03:42
13. "Casual Agent" 02:53
14. "City Port" 02:43
15. "Laser Love" 03:35
16. "Life's An Elevator" 02:24