Sunday, October 17, 2010

Handbags and Gladrags

"Handbags and Gladrags" is the name of 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 being trendy. There are deeper values".

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 60s and early 70s. The collection, including the demo recording, was eventually released on the Angel Air label under the title of Missing Gems & Treasured Friends.

In 1967, singer Chris Farlowe was the first to release a version of the song. It became a #33 hit in the United Kingdom for Immediate Records.

In 1969, Rod Stewart recorded a version for the 1970 album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down. This version of the song was arranged by Mike d'Abo himself, 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.

In 2001, Stereophonics released a version of the song on a single. It became so popular it was added to their album Just Enough Education to Perform as track 7. It was also included in 2008 on the Stereophonics best of album Decade in the Sun as the final track on the album.

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.

In series one, episode four, a version performed by Ricky Gervais (in character as David Brent) was featured over the end credits.

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