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.”
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Max SPLODGE (Splodgenessabounds) Mouth And Trousers (Razor RZS102)
DEPECHE MODE Somebody (Mute 7BONG7)
ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK Never Turn Away (Virgin VS727)