Pop Archives

Jon English - Handbags And Gladrags (1973)

(Mike d'Abo)
Australia Australia
#24 Sydney #28 Brisbane #12 Adelaide

Single on Warm & Genuine by singer and actor born in Britain in 1949, in Australia from 1963.

Jon English (1949-2016) was rarely absent from Australian stage or television from the early 70s. He was in the Australian cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, the TV drama Against The Wind and the sitcom All Together Now. In later years he starred in popular Gilbert and Sullivan revivals and in a stage version of Dad’s Army.

Handbags and Gladrags was the first of several charting records for Jon English throughout the 70s and early 80s which included Turn The Page (1974), Words Are Not Enough (by Garry Paige & Mark Punch, 1978), Hollywood Seven (1976), Six Ribbons (with Mario Millo, 1978) and Hot Town (1979). See also Behind Blue Eyes (1977).

Suggestion from Terry Stacey.

Chase - Handbags And Gladrags (1971)

(Mike d'Abo)

On album Chase, on Epic.

Jazz-rock fusion band, led by trumpeter Bill Chase (1934-1974).

Further reading: Chase by Bruce Eder at All Music.

Merci à Menager.

Mike D’abo - Handbags And Gladrags (1970)

(Mike d'Abo)

On the album D’Abo by the composer of Handbags And Gladrags, English singer-songwriter Mike d’Abo (b.1944).

D’Abo replaced Paul Jones as lead singer of Manfred Mann in 1966.

After Manfred Mann, his career also included acting, writing film scores and commercials, and presenting on BBC Radio Bristol.

Mike d’Abo’s daughter Olivia d’Abo (b.1967) played Kevin Arnold’s sister Karen in The Wonder Years. See her filmography at the Internet Movie DataBase.

Further reading: 1. Mike d’Abo biography by Bruce Eder at All Music. 2. Outline of Mike d’Abo’s career from WernhamHogg.co.uk, the defunct Office fan website [archived page].

Rod Stewart - Handbags And Gladrags (1969)

(Mike d'Abo)
#43 Perth

On the album An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down (1969 most countries, early 1970 UK), also released as a single (1970).

According to the Handbags And Gladrags page from WernhamHogg.co.uk, the defunct Office fan website [archived here], this is the version co-writer and actor Ricky Gervais was familiar with when he chose the song (though not Rod’s version) as the theme for the TV comedy.

Manfred Mann - Handbags And Gladrags (1968)

(Mike d'Abo)

From a BBC session recorded 3 January 1968 and heard on BBC radio program Top Gear on 7 January 1968. Composer of Handbags And Gladrags Mike D’Abo was lead singer of Manfred Mann at this time.

Reissued on Radio Days Vol 2: The Mike D’Abo Era (Live At The BBC 66-69) and other compilations.

Chris Farlowe - Handbags And Gladrags (1967)

(Mike d'Abo)
Original version
#33 UK

Single on Immediate November 1967.

Listen at YouTube

Chris Farlowe (John Deighton, b.1940): outstanding British singer in a blues and soul vein with a skiffle background.

When a contract with EMI ran out he was signed by Rolling Stones mastermind Andrew Loog Oldham to his Immediate label. Farlowe’s first three charting singles were on Immediate (1966), and they were all Jagger-Richards compositions: Think (before it appeared on the Stones’ LP Aftermath), Out Of Time (also from Aftermath, a #1 UK for Farlowe) and Ride On Baby.

Handbags And Gladrags has also been recorded, for example, by Double Feature (1967), The Love Affair (1968), Jimmy Witherspoon (1970), Mary Coughlan (1992) …

Sources, further reading: 1. The Originals lists some other versions, but the definitive account is Handbags and Gladrags: The Complete History from Office fansite Wernham Hogg [archived page]. 2. Chris Farlowe page at 45rpm.org.uk. 3. Chris Farlowe biography by Bruce Eder at All Music.

Big George - Handbags And Gladrags (2001)

(Mike d'Abo)
Later version

Multi-talented British composer, broadcaster, producer and bandleader Big George Webley (1957-2011) wrote theme music for numerous TV shows including The Graham Norton Show, One Foot in the Grave and Have I Got News for You. He arranged and recorded Mike d’Abo’s Handbags And Gladrags for comedy series The Office, both as an instrumental for the opening theme and as a vocal version over the closing credits.

In Series 1, Episode 4 of The Office Ricky Gervais, as ‘David Brent’, sings an excruciating version of Handbags And Gladrags to his own acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Further reading: Big George article at Wikipdedia/

The Stereophonics - Handbags And Gladrags (2001)

(Mike d'Abo)
Later version
#4 UK

The back cover adds the credit “with Jools Holland And His Rhythm And Blues Orchestra“.

Single on V2 December 2001 by popular Welsh New Wave rock band. Eight of their albums have charted #1 in the UK.

Handbags And Gladrags was one of ten Sterophonics singles that charted Top 5 from 1998 to 2005. Others included The Bartender And The Thief (1998, #3 UK), Mama Told Me Not to Come (with Tom Jones, 2000, #4 UK), Maybe Tomorrow (2003, #3 UK), and Dakota (2005, #1 UK).

Released in the year The Office premiered but not the version used in the TV series.

Further reading: Stereophonics by Alex Ogg at All Music.