But let's get back to the song that is the subject of the day. D'Abo said in an interview, "the song is about saying to a teenage girl that the way to happiness is not through being trendy. There are deeper values." Gladrags is an old fashioned word that means stylish clothes and, of course, all girls love handbags!
When Chris Farlowe's record was released, it reached No. 33. Then, d'Abo recorded it for his solo album, called d'Abo.
In 1967, a little-known singer by the name of Rod Stewart wanted to record the song but as d'Abo had already promised it to Chris Farlowe, Stewart had to take another of his compositions and a song called 'Little Miss Understood' was chosen instead. Rod Stewart made d'Abo promise that he could have 'Handbags and Gladrags', when he got an album deal -- as his contract with Immediate Records was for singles only.
Eventually, in 1969, Stewart signed with Mercury Records and he knocked on Mike d'Abo's door to ask if he could have 'Handbags & Gladrags' for his album, An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down. This was a year before Rod Stewart's massive breakthrough hit, 'Maggie May'.
Rod Stewart caused a stir, when he sang 'Handbags and Gladrags' at his Royal Albert Hall concert in 2004. He introduced it by asking the audience to recall the artists who had had a hit with the song, (referring to the Stereophonics who had made it a big hit three years earlier). Stewart then claimed "But I was the first!" However, those of us watching who are old enough to remember the Chris Farlowe version, jumped out of our seats yelling, "Oh no you weren't!"
In 2000, Big George, a musical arranger responsible for many TV themes, created a new version of the song using the vocals of Fin Muir. It was used over the credits of Ricky Gervais' BBC series, The Office.
Although he never made it into a single, Rod Stewart still seems to have a very special place in his heart for 'Handbags and Gladrags', as he usually includes it in his shows. In 2002, it was his only song at The Party at the Palace, where he sang it, backed by Phil Collins on drums.
All in all, this song must have been a nice little earner for its writer, Mike d'Abo and he must have been thrilled when The Stereophonics gave it a new life in a new century, taking it to number four in the UK charts and achieving Gold status.