Handbags and Gladrags
Handbags and Gladrags
By: jbhthescots@mac.com, Categories: Words & Images, 2 comments


Is it possible for anyone to listen to the song Handbags and Gladrags these days without thinking of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s original UK version of The Office? It’s sad when bad things happen to great songs – not necessarily that there’s anything wrong with The Office; and the personal images they conjure up for you keep getting interrupted by things like dreary Slough roads.


The song was written by Mike D’Abo, lead singer of the popular UK beat combo Manfred Mann, and is about the shallowness of being trendy and desiring expensive clobber, such as the trio of mannequins dressed up to the nines I found recently in a Glasgow charity shop. Even though it’s actually aimed at a teenager, the song always made me think of a certain kind of girl you’d likely run into in bars and clubs around the posher postal codes of London, such as Chelsea and the like, who had some vague job in magazine publishing and affected a devil-may-care, bohemian attitude because they came from stinking rich families.


Though Rod “the Mod”  Stewart’s version of the song is by far the best known (please don’t mention the Stereophonics version to me), I don’t think a lot of people know that the original was by white soulster Chris Farlowe, who released it as a single in 1967 and it was only a minor hit. Farlowe’s best known for his big 1966 no.1 hit, Out Of Time, and his singing style might be a little overwrought for some – he sounds like he’s going to burst his trousers on the line “they told me you missed school today” – but I love the hyper-passion he brings to his version, which matches the grand production perfectly.


Even better, it doesn’t ever once make me think of Slough; nor David, Gareth, Tim or Dawn for that matter.


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  • "such as the trio of mannequins dressed up to the nines I found recently in a Glasgow charity shop."
    How long ago was that then.