Record Review - 1 March 05 2003

Za, the opening track of Supergrass' new album, kicks off with piano chords straight out of Mott the Hoople's "All the Way From Memphis," and nabs its high-pitched backing vocals and "get it on" chorus from T. Rex's Marc Bolan. And these are just a few of the ingredients in Life on Other Planets' Brit-pop flambe, since Supergrass also draws from 10cc and other less noteworthy predecessors.

The U.K. trio's fourth release revels in its glam influences — and the result is melodic, smart, tautly constructed, immaculately produced rock. The band's knack for hooks makes this the best album of its kind since Bolan dropped his hippie shtick, plugged in and exposed his "Cosmic Dancer" heart.

Gaz Coombes' voice radiates the sleazy sexuality and flamboyant strutting that characterizes glam at its most vibrant, arrogant and compelling. Thirty years on, "Run," the Supergrass rewrite of "Space Oddity," caps a disc that owes its soul to Electric Warrior.

Life on Other Planets may just inspire you to revisit that seminal 1971 milestone. No album short of Ziggy Stardust better encapsulates '70s excess — from the thumping rhythm of "Mambo Sun" to the surging sax and strings of the closing "Rip Off." The Electric Warrior reissue has been expanded with a handful of non-album singles. An early acoustic version of "Planet Queen" hints at what Warrior might have sounded like if producer Tony Visconti hadn't swamped Bolan in the gooey metallic echo and percussive boo-gey that surrounds these songs like a hub-capped diamond star halo.

Skip the 20-minute interview and head for "Hot Love," a British chart-topper that originally preceded the album's release. New remastering strips the murky gauze that covered the original, letting us relish this classic in all its slithering glam beauty. Get it on, y'all.

Supergrass plays eleven50 Wed., March 12.