AskDefine | Define handsome

Dictionary Definition

handsome adj
1 pleasing in appearance especially by reason of conformity to ideals of form and proportion; "a fine-looking woman"; "a good-looking man"; "better-looking than her sister"; "very pretty but not so extraordinarily handsome"- Thackeray; "our southern women are well-favored"- Lillian Hellman [syn: fine-looking, good-looking, better-looking, well-favored, well-favoured]
2 given or giving freely; "was a big tipper"; "the bounteous goodness of God"; "bountiful compliments"; "a freehanded host"; "a handsome allowance"; "Saturday's child is loving and giving"; "a liberal backer of the arts"; "a munificent gift"; "her fond and openhanded grandfather" [syn: big, bighearted, bounteous, bountiful, freehanded, giving, liberal, openhanded]

User Contributed Dictionary



From hand + -some. It at first meant dexterous; compare Dutch handzaam, dexterous, ready, limber, manageable, and English handy.


  • /'hændsʌm/
  • Hyphenation: hand·some


  1. Dexterous; skillful; handy; ready; convenient; -- applied to things as persons.
    • That they [engines of war] be both easy to be carried and handsome to be moved and turned about. - Robynson (Utopia)
    • For a thief it is so handsome as it may seem it was first invented for him. - Spenser
  2. In the context of "of a man": Agreeable to the eye or to correct taste; having a pleasing appearance or expression; attractive; having symmetry and dignity; comely.
    Examples: a handsome man; a handsome garment, house, tree, horse.
  3. In the context of "of a woman": Striking, impressive and elegantly proportioned, though not typically beautiful.
  4. Suitable or fit in action; marked with propriety and ease; graceful; becoming; appropriate.
    Examples: a handsome style, etc.
    • Easiness and handsome address in writing. - Felton
  5. Evincing a becoming generosity or nobleness of character; liberal; generous.
  6. Ample; moderately large.
    • He . . . accumulated a handsome sum of money. - V. Knox

Derived terms



dexterous; skillful
of man: agreeable to the eye or to correct taste
marked with propriety and ease
moderately large


to handsome
  1. transitive obsolete To render handsome. - Donne

Extensive Definition

For handsome as a quality of appearance see: Physical attractiveness or physical beauty.
Handsome is the debut album of the Ian Dury rock group Kilburn and the High-Roads.
The band had apparently originally wanted to call the album No Hand Signals.


Kilburn and the High-Roads had been playing since 1972 and during that time had developed a strong live following from their pub residencies and not long before recording sessions for the album begun the band had been the support act for The Who on the British part of their Quadrophenia tour but by the time of Handsome's recording the band had changed dramatically. Dury had sacked drummer David Newton-Rohoman, crippled and forced to walk on crutches Newton-Rohoman had contributed nearly as much to the band's 'six men waiting at a bus stop' look as Dury and an even bigger change with the leaving of pianist Russell Hardy, Hardy had been in the band since its' inception and had co-wrote most of the band's original material with Dury. Hardy was replaced by Rod Melvin who would sing two songs on the album (Broken Skin and Thank You Mum) and co-write Ian Dury & The Blockhead's first commercial success What A Waste. Also the band had switched managers from Charlie Gillett & Gordon Nelki to Tommy Roberts who had begun repackaging the Kilburns to make them more acceptable to the masses.
Handsome was recorded in Pye Studios, Marble Arch, this was in fact the second attempt made by Kilburn and the High Roads to record an album, the original had been completed for Raft Records only for the company to fold and the band to be dropped from WEA (which Raft was a part of) after being seen live by their top man Joe Smith. The Handsome sessions were apparently somewhat disastrous according to bass player Charlie Sinclair in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll: The Life of Ian Dury there were fights on the studio floor, tension was high and arguments were commonplace and producer Hugh Murphy was keen to make the songs more melodic, something that did not suit Dury's singing style.
The album was preceded by two singles, the first Rough Kids / Billy Bentley (Promenades Himself in London) was originally produced by Chris Thomas (later to produce Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols) before, so he claims, being taken over and softened by Hugh Murphy before its release. The reaction to the single was a good indication of what was to come with poor sales and complaints about the softening of the Kilburn's sound Crippled With Nerves / Huffety Puff fared no better.
The Album was eventually released in June 1975 to unfavorable reviews and sold around 3,000 copies. The band split the week of its release. The album omitted Billy Bentley and crowd-pleasers You're More Than Fair and I'll Have You but the main criticism was the over-producing and softening of the tracks. The subsequent releases of the Raft recordings on Wottabunch! and more so the first mixes for Handsome on Repertoire Records Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Reasons to be Cheerful 2-CD retrospective allow for a good comparison and show just how some tracks had been altered from their original arrangements with The Call-Up, Upminster Kid and particularly The Roadette Song and The Mumble Rumble and The Cocktail Rock sounding totally different due to tempo changes and the addition of backing singers; however it should be noted that not all songs suffered this fate Patience (So What?) and The Badger And The Rabbit are particularly good examples. These changes are almost exclusively attributed to producer Murphy including by Rod Melvin in Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song by Song and Chris Thomas in Handsome's 1999 CD re-issue.
Though the album continues to draw criticism it did have some influence, Chris Thomas claims that the reason he was approached by the Sex Pistols to produce their album was because of the Rough Kids single and Handsome itself has been cited as an influence by Wreckless Eric and Madness.

Track listing

Original Version

  1. "The Roadette Song" (Dury, Russell Hardy) - 3:25
  2. "Pam's Moods" (Dury, Hardy) - 3:40
  3. "Crippled With Nerves" (Dury, Hardy) - 3:45
  4. "Broken Skin" (Dury, Rod Melvin) - 2:16
  5. "Upminster Kid" (Dury, Hardy) - 5:18
  6. "Patience (So What?)" (Dury, Hardy) - 3:13
  7. "Father" (Dury, Sinclair) - 2:00
  8. "Thank You Mum" (Dury, Melvin) - 1:21
  9. "Rough Kids" (Dury, Hardy) - 2:26
  10. "The Badger And The Rabbit" (Dury, Hardy) - 3:56
  11. "The Mumble Rumble And The Cocktail Rock" (Dury, Hardy) - 4:39
  12. "The Call-Up" (Dury, Hardy) - 4:07

Current Version

  1. "Rough Kids"
  2. "Billy Bentley (Promenades Himself In London)" (Dury, Hart) - 3:02
  3. "Crippled With Nerves"
  4. "Huffety Puff" (Dury, Hardy) - 3:14
  5. "The Roadette Song"
  6. "Pam's Moods"
  7. "Broken Skin"
  8. "Upminster Kid"
  9. "Patience (So What?)"
  10. "Father"
  11. "Thank You Mum"
  12. "The Badger And The Rabbit"
  13. "The Mumble Rumble And The Cocktail Rock"
  14. "The Call Up"
  15. "Who's to Know?" (Dury, Melvin) - 2:18
  16. "Back to Blighty" (Dury, Melvin) - 4:13
  17. "O.K. Roland" (Dury, Hart) - 2:55
  18. "Twenty Tiny Fingers" (Tepper, Bennett) - 3:16

Re releases

Pyre-Dawn re-released the original LP in 1977 following the success of Ian Dury as a solo artist
In 1998 as part of their 30th Anniversary series Dawn re-issued the album onto CD in a very unconventional way, instead of adding bonus tracks to the end of the album or on a second disc, Dawn decided to re-organize the album's track order to accommodate the missing B-sides as well as adding four previously unreleased tracks including a cover version of Alma Cogan's Twenty Tiny Fingers one of only two cover versions Ian Dury has ever officially released, the other being Girls (Watching) on his 1980 album Lord Upminster.

First Mixes

In 1996 Repertoire Records released a 2-CD Ian Dury retrospective Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Reasons to Be Cheerful which included tracks from all of his solo albums and many of his solo singles but instead of including tracks from either Handsome or Wotabunch! they chose to include 10 tracks recorded in 1974 which they claim are the first mixes for some of the tracks from Handsome however the version of Rough Kids is almost identical to the version on Wotabunch! (minus the ad-libs), and furthermore their time of recording suggests it is possible the tracks are in fact from the Raft recordings, regardless the ten tracks are Rough Kids, You're More Than Fair, Billy Bentley, Pam's Moods Upminster Kid, The Roadette Song Pam's Moods 2, The Call-Up and the wrong titled The Mumble Rumble (The Mumble Rumble & The Cocktail Rock) Pam's Moods 2 is another mix of Pam's Moods.
These tracks show little signs of the smooth, softened, high-produced versions finally released on Handsome and are far similar to the band's live sound and are not mentioned at all in either Ian Dury autobiography and noticeably included You're More Than Fair, which was not included on the final album.


  • The Photograph 'Paul Hangs Loose' (of the band's roadie, Paul Tonkin) on the back of album reportedly inspired the back cover of Madness' One Step Beyond... album while the album's front cover was painted by Dury's then wife Betty (credited by her full maiden name Elizabeth Rathmell on the album sleeve).


  • Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll: The Life Of Ian Dury by Richard Balls, first published 2000, Omnibus Press
  • Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song By Song by Jim Drury, first published 2003, Sanctuary Publishing.
  • Reasons To Be Cheerful 2-Disc Compilation first released 1996, Repertoire Records
  • Booklet to the Dawn's 1998 re-issue of Handsome.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1