T. Rex: “Telegram Sam” (1972)

Bolan continues his winning ways as top mail with this instant, inscrutable classic.

Kronomyth 6.3: My people were fair and had corkscrew hair.

Sit for a spell as I tell you the tale of Telegram Sam. It was the winter of seventy-two, Santa Claus long gone, and amidst the icicles came this popsicle from the electric warlock himself. “Telegram Sam” immediately vaunted itself (himself?) to the top of Marc Bolan’s rogue’s gallery while topping the UK charts too. Who was Telegram Sam? Why, Bolan’s main man, of course! Several months later, Bolan would ask the question again on the track, “Main Man.” Later that year, David Bowie’s manager, Tony DeFries, christened his new management company MainMan. Coincidence? Yes, everything is coincidence, coincidences especially.

In the UK and elveswhere, T. Rexicans were treated to another dose of glammy goodness, the sexy surreality of “Baby Strange,” and one of Bolan’s strange car tales, “Cadillac.” I’m not the first person to point out that, for someone who had a fear of driving (and well founded), Bolan wrote a lot of songs about cars. When it came time to compile The Slider, Telegram Sam and Baby Strange stuck, Cadillac didn’t, making the single something of a collectible (isn’t everything Bolan?), until the expanded reissue of The Slider anyway. “Telegram Sam” would handily make my list of top ten T. Rex songs, “Baby Strange” perhaps my top twenty, but “Cadillac” is a carpark, it doesn’t move me.

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Original three-track 7-inch single version

A1. Telegram Sam (Marc Bolan) (3:45)
B1. Cadillac (Marc Bolan) (3:54)
B2. Baby Strange (Marc Bolan) (3:01)

Original two-track 7-inch single version
A1. Telegram Sam (Marc Bolan) (3:45)
B1. Cadillac (Marc Bolan) (3:53)

German Back-to-Back Hits 7-inch single version
A1. Telegram Sam (Marc Bolan) (3:43)
B1. Metal Guru (Marc Bolan) (2:24)

Reprise Back-to-Back Hits 7-inch single version
A1. Bang A Gong (Get It On) (Marc Bolan)
B1. Telegram Sam (Marc Bolan)

Old Gold Back-to-Back Hits 7-inch single version
A1. Telegram Sam
B1. I Love To Boogie

The Plastic

Released on three-track 7-inch single on January 21, 1972 in the UK (EMI, TREX 101) {blue Marc label} and India (Stateside, ESS.176) and on two-track 7-inch single in March 1972 in the US (Reprise, REP 1078) and in 1972 in Germany (Ariola, 19089AT) and Japan (Odeon, OR 2988) with regional picture sleeves; reached #1 on the UK charts and #67 on the US charts (charted on April 22, 1972 for 5 weeks). Original UK version did not feature a picture sleeve. US version was also released as a white-label promo single.

  1. Re-packaged with “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in 1973 in the US (Reprise, GRE 1150).
  2. Re-packaged with “Metal Guru” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in Germany (Ariola, 104 270-100) with picture sleeve.
  3. Re-issued on three-track 7-inch single on March 5, 1982 in the UK (EMI, T-REX101) with picture sleeve; re-charted to #69 on the UK charts.
  4. Re-packaged with “I Love To Boogie” as back-to-back hits 7-inch single in January 1985 in the UK (Old Gold, OG 9506).
  5. Re-issued on three-track 7-inch single in 2015 in Europe (Edsel, GURU 5).

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