Every UK Number One Song: Telegram Sam

Telegram Sam

What was the number one song in the UK on 5th February 1972?

“Telegram Sam” by T. Rex was Number One on 5th February 1972 and stayed there for two weeks.

We have a welcome return to those hairy and flamboyant men of T. Rex with this song about the band’s accountants!

Wikipedia

Telegram Sam” is a song written by Marc Bolan for the British rock group T. Rex, appearing on their 1972 album The Slider. The song was their third UK number one single, remaining at the top of the charts for two weeks before being knocked off the top.

The lyrics feature numerous figures such as Bobby (who is a natural born poet who is just outta sight), Golden Nose Slim (who knows where you been), Jungle Faced Jake (make no mistake) and Purple Pie Pete (whose lips are like lightning and girls melt in the heat). It also contains these lines Marc Bolan wrote to refer to himself: Me I funk/but I don’t care/I ain’t no square/with my corkscrew hair, a line which industrial rock band KMFDM would borrow for their song “Me I Funk”. The riff is similar in character to their massive hit from the previous year, “Get It On”. “Telegram Sam” wasn’t as successful as “Get It On” worldwide, and it only peaked at number 67 in the Billboard Hot 100.

“Telegram Sam” was the first single to be issued by Marc Bolan’s own T.Rex Wax Co. label, and was released on 21 January 1972. The b-side featured two songs in the UK, “Cadilac” (as printed on the EMI label of the original single) and “Baby Strange”, the latter also included in the album The Slider.

“Telegram Sam” was written by Bolan about the music business accountant, Sam Alder, who sent Bolan, by telegram, payments following performance dates on tour, lest any money sent beforehand be spent and end up interfering with the performance, and news that “Get It On” had reached number one in the United Kingdom. Alder also worked with King Crimson and Roxy Music (especially Bryan Ferry).

In 1980, it was covered by the gothic rock band Bauhaus as a single, which peaked at number 12 in New Zealand. It was also covered by the Croatian punk-rock band Psihomodo Pop.

I think I prefer the gothic version which is the one I remember. At the time this was popular in New Zealand we had some really quirky bands so this fitted right in.

Talking of New Zealand. We were still swooning over John Lennon’s Imagine.

So, back to the future again.

Raewyn

Lyrics

Telegram Sam Telegram Sam
You’re my main man

Golden Nose Slim Golden Nose Slim
I know’s where you’ ve bin
Purple Pie Pete Purple Pie Pete
Your lips are like lightning
Girls melt in the heat

Telegram Sam
You’re my main man
Telegram Sam
You’re my main man

Bobby’s alright Bobby’s alright
He’s a natural born poet
He’s just outa sight
Jungle faced Jake
Jungle faced Jake
I say make no mistake
About Jungle faced Jake

Automatic shoes
Automatic shoes
Give me three D vision
And the California blues
Me I funk but I don’t care
I ain’t no square with my corkscrew hair

Telegram Sam Telegram Sam

I’m a howlin’ wolf

Spotify

The Talk About Pop Music Every UK Number One is now on Spotify. Relive, enjoy and share every song featured up until the latest post

Do you remember these songs? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @PopAndTalk

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