As a vocal group, The Gladhanders had been around in some form or another in Philadelphia since 1961, recording songs no one on either side of the R&B or pop chart divide could identify with, from “Lipstick on Your Car Door” to “Lollygaggin’” to “None of Your Shenanigans” to “Show Me The Fool Again.”
By 1973, lead singer Melvin Hampton was ready to pack it in and return to his first love, resource consumption accounting, but as he puts it, “that’s when disco saved The Gladhanders and we recorded “I’ve Got So Much to Forgive.” We went from being nobodies singing nonsense to somebodies singing nonsense overnight. That thump thump thump behind us, that gave us some authority. We could sing ‘bull mallarky’ and no one would question us.”
This bouncy ode to forgiveness, their first on the German-owned Philly-Stein label, had the additional bonus of getting the Gladhanders national exposure on all the then-popular TV music programs including Soul Train.
“Meeting Don Cornelius, man, that was THE moment the Gladhanders knew we had made it,” laughs Hampton. “Usually, Don might just raise a fist in the direction of a guest he sorta liked, but he actually came over and talked to us ON THE AIR. He said to us, ‘Fellas, I’ve seen the Four Tops, I’ve seen the Miracles, The Temptations, The Pips, The Bluenotes and The O’Jays. But I’ve never seen a band lip-sync and fadeout as good as The Gladhanders.’ I take that with me every day that I toil in obscurity now.”
Some might find this BONUS B-SIDE of DUBIOUS DISTINCTION and its accompanying promotional video a bit heavy-handed in the ecology awareness department but singer Melvin Hampton views “Mutha Earth (You Ain’t Gonna Outrun Father Time)” not as a cautionary tale about man raping the earth of its resources but rather about some cautionary tail he encountered in the group’s tour bus. “This hippie chick thought she could handle the Gladhanders at once, but this was my way of telling her that her free love was about to run out”.