Thursday, June 03, 2010

"Handbags and Gladrags" by Stereophonics

Birthday wishes go out today to the Gratuitous Brunette-worthy Kelly Jones - lead singer, front man, and founding member of Welsh rockers Stereophonics - who was born on this day in 1974. Here he lends his gravelly, soulful vocals to what had once been a well-respected if somewhat obscure Sixties classic...

Handbags and Gladrags was initially released by the band as a single in 2001; it became so popular it was added to later pressings of their third studio album Just Enough Education to Perform. The album's fourth single, it became one of three to reach the Top 5 in the UK from that release alone, giving the band a respectable follow-up to 1999's Performance and Cocktails. It also appears on the band's greatest hits compilation, 2008's Decade in the Sun.

The song was written in 1967 by Mike d'Abo, then lead singer of Manfred Mann, and was covered by Chris Farlowe that year and Rod Stewart two years later (appearing on his 1970 album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down in an arrangement by d'Abo himself, who also played piano on the track); it's also been used by the BBC series The Office, where it was performed by Waysted vocalist Fin - as well as by the series' star, Ricky Gervais (in character as David Brent). Likewise it has been covered by such diverse acts as Brian Marshall, Mary Coughlan, and Engelbert Humperdinck.

The song's message is one of trying to find worth in the deeper things in life, and not just being concerned with clothing labels, brand names, and similar shallow pursuits. It takes some doing to take such a message seriously from a collector of vintage clothing (as Jones is) but today I choose to be sincere instead of cynical, and so I've decided to just enjoy the damn song...
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