Baggy Trousers

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"Baggy Trousers"
Madness - Baggy Trousers.jpg
Single by Madness
from the album Absolutely
Released September 5, 1980
Format 7-inch record
Recorded 1980
Length 2:46
Label Stiff
Madness singles chronology
"My Girl"
"Baggy Trousers"
Audio sample

"Baggy Trousers" is a song by English ska/pop band Madness from their 1980 album Absolutely. It was written by lead singer Graham "Suggs" McPherson and guitarist Chris Foreman,[1] and reminisces about school days. (Mike Barson also received a writing credit in error, the correct McPherson/Foreman credit being used for subsequent releases). The band first began performing the song at live shows in April 1980.[2]

It was released as a single on September 5, 1980 and spent 20 weeks in UK charts, reaching a high of #3.[2] It was the 11th best-selling single of 1980 in the UK.[citation needed]

In October 2017, American punk rock/hip hop band the Transplants released a cover version of the song on their Take Cover EP.

Music and lyrics

Suggs later recalled in an interview that "I was very specifically trying to write a song in the style of Ian Dury, especially the songs he was writing then, which [were] often sort of catalogues of phrases in a constant stream."[3] He contrasted "Baggy Trousers" with Pink Floyd's hit Another Brick in the Wall: "I was writing about my time at school. Pink Floyd had that big hit with 'teacher, leave those kids alone'. It didn't really relate to me, because I hadn't been to a public school where I was bossed about and told to sing 'Rule Britannia!' and all that",[3] having instead attended a comprehensive school with much less strictly enforced discipline.

Music video

Lee Thompson flying through the air.

The music video of this song was shot in a school (Islip Street School) and park of Kentish Town.[2] The band's saxophone player, Lee Thompson decided he wanted to fly through the air for his solo, with the use of wires hanging from a crane.[2] The resulting shot is one of the most popular of any Madness music videos. Thompson recreated the moment live at the band's reunion concert in 1992, Madstock!, during the band's 2007 Christmas tour, the 2009 Glastonbury Festival[4] as well as at a 2011 TV advert for Kronenbourg 1664 in which Madness plays a slow version of "Baggy Trousers". The slow version was later released on the box set compilation A Guided Tour of Madness with the song title Le Grand Pantalon.

The video was met with a great critical response from the public,[2] and was particularly important as it allowed television shows such as Top of the Pops to show the band's music video, taking strain off the band.[2] Following the release of "Baggy Trousers", the public began to anticipate future Madness music videos.[2]


In addition to its single release and appearance on the album Absolutely, "Baggy Trousers" also appears on the Madness collections Divine Madness (a.k.a. The Heavy Heavy Hits), Complete Madness, It's... Madness, Total Madness, The Business and Our House: the Best of Madness. Its only appearance on a US Madness compilation is on Ultimate Collection.

The song was featured in the 2001 film "Mean Machine", and was included in the accompanying soundtrack.[5]

In 2011 the song was slowed down to half its normal speed and was used for an advert for the Kronenbourg 1664 'Slow' campaign (see above).

In 1986, Colgate used the song's melody in a television advertisement written by Jay Pond-Jones and Ric Cooper in which a group of kids sings newly written lyrics about Colgate Blue Minty Gel toothpaste.[6] The advert was seen as groundbreaking but had to be pre-approved by the band.[6] Pond-Jones said, "Many years later ... I found out how they actually quite liked it. Even now, Carl from the band introduces me to people as “the bloke who did the Colgate ad”."[6]

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Baggy Trousers" 2:46
2. "The Business" Mike Barson 3:14

Chart performance

Chart (1980) Peak
UK Singles Chart[7] 3 20


  1. ^ Woodstra, Chris." Absolutely Overview". Retrieved on July 1, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Madness Timeline: 1980". Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved on July 1, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Young Guns go for it: Madness (BBC documentary)
  4. ^ "Madness get heroes' welcome on return to Glastonbury". NME. 28 June 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  5. ^ Mean Machine OST. Audio CD, Redemption, 2004, ASIN: B00005Y48T
  6. ^ a b c "Colgate | TV & Cinema Ads (archive) | Jay Pond-Jones". Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  7. ^ "baggy-trousers | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2017-11-10.

External links

  • Baggy Trousers at Discogs (list of releases)
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