Five ambitious teenage school mates from Glasgow – Clare Grogan (vocals), Gerard “Caesar” McInulty (guitar), Michael ‘Tich’ Anderson (drums), Tony McDaid (guitar) and Johnny McElhone (bass guitar) – formed a band called Altered Images in late 1979.

As per the norm in those days, a number of demo tapes were fired out in the hope of attracting some interest but where probably 99% of such tapes end up being binned, this time round there was enough to convince Siouxsie & The Banshees to offer a support slot on their Kaleidoscope tour of 1980 and a session for John Peel.

And without too much of an apprenticeship the band were soon signed to Epic Records and so became label mates of the likes of Michael Jackson and Shakin’ Stevens!!

The debut single was released in February 1981. It was one of the band’s best-loved songs from the live shows but given that John Lennon had been shot just a couple of months previously, and that the charts were being dominated by his music, it seemed a perverse choice all round:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Dead Pop Stars

Superbly produced by Steve Severin of the Banshees, it really did deserve a far better fate than #67 in the singles charts but then again, any daytime DJ who would have dared play it would no doubt have been put on trial by the kangaroo court of the British tabloid press…..

Epic Records probably didn’t have much hope for it, only pressing it on 7″ and making a cassette version available. This was the b-side:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Sentimental

While this was the track made available via the cassette:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Leave Me Alone

All three tracks really highlight the Banshees influence on the band.  And Clare’s remarkable vocal, particularly on Leave Me Alone, was very reminiscent of Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex.


13 thoughts on “THE ALTERED IMAGES SINGLES (1)

  1. My first ever gig was Adam and the Ants at Newcastle City Hall, with Altered Images as the support band, so Altered Images were the first band I ever saw live. I’ve pretty much been in love with Clare Grogan ever since! I played this to death when it first came out and it still sounds amazing now.

    I would argue that the lack of a 12″ version wasn’t unusual in early 1981, certainly not for up-and-coming/alternative bands anyway. Up to this point I think 12″ singles were more for dance or disco numbers – although that all changed a few months later when Soft Cell released Tainted Love of course.

  2. i know nothing about altered images beyond ‘happy birthday’ ‘i could be happy’ and gregory’s girl…

    so i’m looking forward to this series…!

  3. Ah, the juxtaposition of twee Clare Grogan and the dark emotional tone of their music at this period, was really something to behold.

  4. I am probably in the minority who prefers the polish of don’t talk to me about love and bring me closer to the earlier stuff , great singles as these were.
    Always thought the title of this one was worth the purchase price alone

  5. So good to see this series kicking off, thanks for putting it together, it’s going to be fun.
    (Friends of Rachel Worth – I agree! It’ll make for an interesting discussion when this series reaches that point.)

  6. Ah takes me back to about May / June 1981 when I splashed out 50p on five 7″ singles from the bargain bucket in Woolworths. Dead Pop Stars, Ceremony, Primary, Kick In the Eye and Slow Motion. Still got them, a bit worn but good memories. Can you beat that for value ?

  7. Gordon…..I worked as ‘the Saturday Boy’ in a Woolworth’s store in Glasgow from mid 1980 for about three years. I was able to pick up all sorts of bargain bin material, and even with a staff discount, would never have been able to match that bargain. Either my store manager wanted to extract every penny out of the former chart singles in the bargain bin or your store had a manager who had no idea of the true re-sale value of certain bits of plastic.

  8. Forget Altered Images trying to sound like or keep company with The Banshees, this was a signal that there was a new breed ready to enter the indie ranks. Sure the SATB/Severin influence is there, but there is something uniquely visceral about Dead Pop Stars that is just as stark and alarming now as it was almost 35 yrs ago.

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