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)


Released today in 1980: Simon Templer

Deram BUM1

Deram BUM1

The character Simon Templar was created by British writer Leslie Charteris in the 1920s. Often referred to a ‘modern day Robin Hood’, Templar has a strong but sometimes dubious moral code and makes it his mission in life to right the wrongs he perceives are done by “the ungodly” (typically, corrupt officials), taking money from them and giving it to parties he considers deserving (i.e., those who have suffered in some way due to the influence of adversary of Templar’s in question). He makes his presence known to those involved by leaving a calling-card featuring a picture of a stick man with a halo, a reference to his nickname of The Saint.

Charteris wrote around fifty books featuring Templar between 1928 and 1963 and his series was continued by other writers for a further twenty years, with Charteris either co-writing or taking an editorial role in those; considered ‘canon’ are those first published in the UK by Hodder and Stoughton. There were also nearly one hundred Charteris short stories featuring the character, published in various periodicals including a photo play in Life magazine, in which Charteris himself portrayed Templar.

In fact, it seems the only medium that this versatile character hasn’t been resurrected in is computer gaming. In the middle of the twentieth century there were several radio shows starring Templar; numerous feature films have been based around him (although the screenplays have usually been original storylines, rather than based on events from the books and stories); he has appeared in a long-running strip cartoon in newspapers, initially written by Charteris, and in comic books which either contained new drawings or collected the previously published strips; Charteris even co-wrote a stage play starring Templar although this was never performed.

But it is the television series that inspired Max Splodge’s deliberately mis-spelled single Simon Templer, which musically borrows heavily from the theme tune of ‘Return of The Saint’ which was airing at the time of the song’s composition. (Starring Ian Ogilvy, this was not a continuation of the 1960s series ‘The Saint’ with Roger Moore, although it is the same character Ogilvy and Moore were playing. Ogilvy’s fame peaked in the early 1980s due to his performance in ‘Return of The Saint’ and he was briefly tipped to replace Moore as James Bond as well as Simon Templar.) In most of the media in which he appears, Templar is intelligent, sophisticated, seemingly independently wealthy, an exposer of corruption and a champion of the oppressed, an amateur poet and songwriter, a wit and a charmer, but Splodge is not impressed by him. “Could this be Mr Simon Templar?” he asks before listing some of the character’s qualities, only to conclude “Well, I think Simon’s head is large,” and ending with the assertion, “I think Simon’s a bit of a bore/Ian Ogilvy and Podgy Moore.”

Splodge could afford to be dismissive. It was one of this single’s two B-side tracks that got him more attention than Mr Templar. Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please received far more radio airplay and was probably what the punters who took the single to #7 were buying it for anyway, a theory supported by the fact that The Official Charts company now has it listed as a double-A-side.

NEW SINGLES on sale from May. 23
The PROFESSIONALS Just Another Dream (Virgin VS353)
UB40 My Way Of Thinking (Graduate GRAD8)
U2 Eleven O’Clock Tick Tock (Island WIP6601)
TEARS FOR FEARS Everybody Wants To Run The World (Mercury RACE1)
FIVE STAR Another Weekend (Tent PB42081)
SADE (Sade Adu) Paradise (Epic SADE2)
TIFFANY I Saw Him Standing There (MCA TIFF3)