SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #9 : ALTERED IMAGES

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They began as a post-punk band championed by John Peel and Siousxie Sioux but within a relatively short period of time their move into pure pop music saw them conquer the singles charts before all of a sudden they fell spectacularly out of fashion and breaking up before the lead singer had reached her 22nd birthday after which she moved into acting.

I loved Altered Images.  They were great fun.  And Clare Grogan was, and still is, gorgeous.

The band were mere teenagers when they formed in 1979.  Their first two  singles were released to almost complete indifference in early 1981 but seemingly out of nowhere Happy Birthday hit the #2 spot in the UK on its release in August 1981.  Over the next nine months, they were rarely out of the singles charts thanks to the success of I Could Be Happy and See Those Eyes with Clare’s ‘little-girl on helium’ vocals and persona making them stand out just that bit more than most.

The age-old issue of failing to deliver a decent follow-up LP to the debut in 1982 was a setback and led to two-fifths of the band leaving on less than amicable terms and a whole change in direction in both sound and look. Vveteran producer Mike Chapman was brought in to bring a more polished and mature sound while Clare turned overnight into an Audrey Hepburn lookalike.  It did bring initial success through the outstanding 45 Don’t Talk To Me About Love but it wasn’t sustainable and before 1983 was out the band were no more.

I am proud of the fact that I own every one of the band’s eleven singles in 7″ and 12″ form along with a couple of picture discs having picked them up as a ‘job lot’ on ebay almost ten years ago.  It is tempting to put together a series featuring every single one of those 45s but I fear my love for the band won’t be as well felt among the T(n)VV readership.  But here’s one song that I think will go down well.  It’s the b-side to a November 1981 hit single (the afore-mentioned I Could be Happy) and it illustrates just how much in debt they were to the Banshees and their ilk with the early material:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Insects

Enjoy

12 thoughts on “SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #9 : ALTERED IMAGES

  1. I was a big fan of the early & later stuff (Don’t Talk To Me About Love / Love To Stay / Bring Me Closer) – loved the singles off Pinky Blue but the album is a struggle to enjoy these days. My own “go-to” Altered Images track is A Day’s Wait – simply brilliant

    Cheers

    Nev

  2. My love for Altered Images is on record and personally I’d love to read what you have to say about each and every release – put together a series!

  3. I agree, there is no bad period of Altered Images…they changed too quickly and ended to early for that to really happen. Insects is one of my favorites as well! Mr. Severin and Mr. Rushent knew what they were working with on that first album

  4. I think your readership would love a series on Altered Images JC, think there is a lot of love out there still for all periods of their too short time together…

  5. I have all their singles as well, and still listen to Dead Pop Stars and A Days Wait fairly regularly, along with the first LP. But Bite? Bite is still one of my favourite albums ever – it’s up there with Closer and Ocean Rain as far as I’m concerned. I read many years ago that David Gedge was also a big fan of Bite. What makes you think your readership wouldn’t appreciate a series? Reconsider!

  6. Well, even if I join in the choir of likes to the band mentioned, isn’t a big part of the joy with T(n)VV to discover new stuff, or rediscover stuff you forgot, or just the plain warmth of memory lane. So, shove your readers’ opinions, and follow your own liking. We’ll enjoy the ride, I’m sure!

  7. Interestingly enough, JC, you don’t hesitate NOT to tell us about the wise and profound discussion you once had with mighty Clare … only very old readers to TVV might remember this one. But I’m sure you’ll catch up on that when the series starts …

  8. Total love for Altered Images. I thought I had the total output for years but I’ve just recently discovered that there were some possible differences between US and UK 12″ mixes as labels were wont to do. Specifically, there was an 8:30 minute version of the magnificent “Don’t Talk To Me About Love” on UK 12″ while the US 12″ I’ve suffered with [never saw the UK 12″ ever in a store] is a mere 6:10?! This needs to change! And how about those remastering errors on the 2005 CDs? Lay it all out for us… we’re asking for it.

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