Handbags and Gladrags

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"Handbags and Gladrags"
Stateside (USA) record cover
Single by Chris Farlowe
B-side "Everyone Makes A Mistake"
Released 17 November 1967 (1967-11-17)
Format 7"
Recorded Early 1967
Genre Rock, British R&B, blue-eyed soul
Length 3:30
Label Immediate
Writer(s) Mike d'Abo
Producer(s) Mike d'Abo
Chris Farlowe singles chronology
"Moanin'"
(1967)
"Handbags and Gladrags"
(1967)
"Paint It Black"
(1968)
Mike d'Abo (1970). The Mike D'Abo Collection, Vol I – Handbags and Gladrags. RPM (2001) via iTunes

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Rod Stewart (vocal), Mike d'Abo (author, piano). 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Rod Stewart, UMG (1999) via iTunes, (Vertigo Records 1970)

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"Handbags and Gladrags" is a song written in 1967 by Mike d'Abo, who was then the lead singer of Manfred Mann. D'Abo describes the song as "saying to a teenage girl that the way to happiness is not through being trendy. There are deeper values."[1]

The original demo tape of the original version of the song was discovered in 2004 in a closet belonging to Mo Foster. It was amongst a collection of studio recordings d'Abo had recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The collection, including the demo recording, was eventually released on the Angel Air label under the title of Missing Gems & Treasured Friends.[2]

Chris Farlowe version[edit]

In November 1967, singer Chris Farlowe was the first to release a version of the song, produced by Mike d'Abo.[3] It became a #33 hit in the United Kingdom for Immediate Records. This arrangement of the song featured Dave Greenslade's piano blues-scale riff. The song was included as track 13 (of 14) on Farlowe's 1969 album The Last Goodbye.[4]

Rod Stewart version[edit]

"Handbags and Gladrags"
Single by Rod Stewart
from the album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down
B-side "Man of Constant Sorrow"
Released 1972
Genre Rock
Length 4:24
Label Mercury
Writer(s) Mike d'Abo
Producer(s) Lou Reizner
Rod Stewart singles chronology
"(I Know) I'm Losing You"
(1971)
"Handbags and Gladrags"
(1972)
"You Wear It Well"
(1972)

In 1969, Rod Stewart recorded a version for the album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down. This version of the song was arranged by Mike d'Abo, who also played piano on the recording. The song failed to garner significant sales or airplay in the United States, but when it was re-released as a single in 1972, it managed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at 42 in March. Introducing the song at the 2004 live recording of One Night Only! Rod Stewart Live at Royal Albert Hall, Rod asked the audience to recall who had a hit with the song (presumably referring to the Stereophonics version) and claimed "I was the first!"

Chase version[edit]

In 1971, Bill Chase and his jazz/rock fusion group Chase recorded a version as a single. It was included on their 1971 debut album Chase. It was sung by Ted Piercefield.

Stereophonics version[edit]

"Handbags and Gladrags"
Single by Stereophonics
from the album Just Enough Education to Perform
B-side "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"
"How?"
Released 2001
Format CD, vinyl, cassette
Recorded 2001
Genre Rock
Length 4:46
Label V2
Writer(s) Mike d'Abo
Producer(s)
  • Laurie Latham
  • Stereophonics
Certification Gold (BPI)
Stereophonics singles chronology
"Step on My Old Size Nines"
(2001)
"Handbags and Gladrags"
(2001)
"Vegas Two Times"
(2002)
Music video
"Handbags and Gladrags" on YouTube

In 2001, Welsh rock band Stereophonics released a version of the song on single. It was subsequently added to their previous album's re-release Just Enough Education to Perform as track seven and on their first compilation album as the final track.[5][6] Despite receiving criticism it became their most successful single in Ireland, peaking at number three and is one of two Stereophonics singles to be certified gold in the UK – the other being "Dakota" (2005).[7]

Release and reception[edit]

The song was released as a single on 3 December 2001.[8] Five different releases were made available to the public, this included: two CDs,[9][10] maxi-CD,[11] vinyl[12] and cassette.[13] The first CD released included two more covers, Ewan MacColl's "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and John Lennon's "How?".[9] The second CD contained a live version of "Caravan Holiday" and "Nice to be Out", both from Just Enough Education to Perform.[10] The 7" vinyl only had "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" for a b-side,[12] as did the cassette format.[13] The maxi-CD includes all five songs but not the live version of "Handbags and Gladrags".[11]

Following on from the "Mr. Writer" critical backlash, the song received a negative review from Drowned in Sound reviewer Anita Bhagwandas.[14] Bhagwandas described it as the "final drop in the Stereophonics inevitable descent into pop mediocrity" and criticised the group for "selling out."[14]

Track listing[edit]

CD 1[9]
No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Handbags and Gladrags"   d'Abo  
2. "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"   Ewan MacColl  
3. "How?"   John Lennon  
CD 2[10]
No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Handbags and Gladrags" (Live acoustic version) d'Abo  
2. "Caravan Holiday" (Live acoustic version) Kelly Jones  
3. "Nice to be Out" (Live acoustic version) Jones  
7" vinyl[12]
No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Handbags and Gladrags"   d'Abo  
2. "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"   MacColl  
Maxi-CD[11]
No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Handbags and Gladrags"   d'Abo  
2. "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"   MacColl  
3. "How?"   Lennon  
4. "Caravan Holiday" (Live acoustic version) Jones  
5. "Nice to be Out" (Live acoustic version) Jones  
Cassette[13]
No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Handbags and Gladrags"   d'Abo  
2. "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"   MacColl  

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

The Office theme song[edit]

In 2000, a version of "Handbags and Gladrags" was specifically arranged by Big George as the theme song on the BBC series The Office. Three versions were recorded:

  • a short, instrumental piece as the opening titles theme
  • a short, vocal piece as the closing titles theme
  • an alternative full studio version

Both vocal versions feature the vocal performance of Waysted vocalist Fin Muir.

In Series One, Episode Four, a version performed by Ricky Gervais (in character as David Brent) was featured over the end credits.

Version release history[edit]

Year Artist Type
1967 Chris Farlowe Single
1967 Double Feature Single
1968 Love Affair Album
1969 Kate Taylor Album
1969 The Rationals Album (CREWE CR-1334)
1969 Rod Stewart Album
1971 Chase Single
1971 Gary Burton Album
1973 Jon English Album
1974 Mike D'Abo Album
1975 Chris Farlowe Album (Live recording)
1977 Kirka Babitzin Album
1992 Mary Coughlan Album
1993 Rod Stewart Album (Acoustic recording)
2001 Stereophonics Single
2002 Rod Stewart Album (Live recording)
2003 Manfred Mann Album
2004 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Album
2005 Chris Farlowe Album (Live recording)
2005 Dark One Lite Album
2007 Engelbert Humperdinck Album
2007 Waysted Album
2007 Jonathan Sass Album
2008 Jackie Trent Album
2008 Ol' Cheeky Bastards Album
2008 Karl Jenkins Album

References[edit]

  1. ^ Goodman, Chris (9 February 2003). "From Gladrags to Riches". Sunday Express (Express Newspapers). p. 66. 
  2. ^ "Hidden Gems & Treasured Friends". Angel Air Records. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Chris Farlowe - Handbags And Gladrags / Everyone Makes A Mistake - Immediate - UK - IM 065". 45cat. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  4. ^ "The Last Goodbye - Chris Farlowe | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  5. ^ "Just Enough Education To Perform [Extra Tracks]". Stereophonics. Amazon.com. 1 July 2006. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Decade in the Sun: Best of Stereophonics". Stereophonics. Amazon.com. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Certified Awards - Search by parameters". BPI. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2014.  Note: "Stereophonics" has to be searched manually.
  8. ^ "Handbags & Gladrags". The Stereophonics Ltd. 3 December 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c "Stereophonics – Handbags And Gladrags". Discogs. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c "Stereophonics – Handbags And Gladrags (Acoustic CD)". Discogs. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c "Stereophonics – Handbags And Gladrags". Discogs. Retrieved 1 April 2001. 
  12. ^ a b c "Stereophonics – Handbags And Gladrags". Discogs. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c "Handbags & Gladrags [CASSETTE]". Stereophonics. Amazon.com. 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Bhagwandas, Anita (19 November 2001). "Stereophonics Handbags and Gladrags". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 1 April 2001. 
  15. ^ a b c Decade in the Sun (CD). Stereophonics. V2 Records. 2008. 
  16. ^ "The Irish Charts". IRMA. 6 December 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2014.  Note: Stereophonics has to be searched manually.
  17. ^ "STEREOPHONICS". Official Charts Company. 15 December 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "Stereophonics - Handbags and Gladrags" (in Dutch). Ultratop. 2 February 2002. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "Stereophonics - Handbags and Gladrags" (in Dutch). GfK. 9 February 2002. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 

External links[edit]