Released today in 1982: Mouth And Trousers

Razor RZS102

Razor RZS102

The lyrics of this song, by Splodgenessabounds frontman Max Splodge, comprise in the main a string of proverbs, metaphors, cliché and idiom. Three is a crowd, patience is a virtue, a rolling stone gathers no moss, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush (and an early one catches the worm), barking up the wrong tree, the train has already left the station, too many cooks spoil the broth, worse things happen at sea… they’re all there, along with others. One might say it’s money for old rope. Actually, Max actually does say that at one point.

But it’s the titular phrase that is the controversial one: should it be ‘all mouth and trousers’ or ‘all mouth and no trousers’? The song’s title is taken from the former, but according to the OED it should be “be all mouth (and no trousers)informal tend to talk boastfully but not to act on one’s word.” The use of the word ‘mouth’ to represent the part about talking boastfully is easily understood, but what have ‘trousers’ got to do with keeping one’s word? Many usage guides are franker in their explanations. The phrase’s origin is in the idea of a man who brags about sexual prowess but is unable to demonstrate any ability, therefore it should be ‘no trousers’ – the trousers being where the body parts necessary to do the job are located.

Max himself doesn’t help matters. Diction was never his strong point, and at times on this muddy recording it sounds like he’s singing “You’re more mouth than trousers,” which would support the OED’s inclusion of the negative in the phrase. But the title of the record is Mouth And Trousers, so presumably he’s actually singing “You’re all mouth and trousers.”

NEW SINGLES on sale from Oct. 29
Max SPLODGE (Splodgenessabounds) Mouth And Trousers (Razor RZS102)
DEPECHE MODE Somebody (Mute 7BONG7)


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