The huge success of Happy Birthday was more than maintained with the fourth single from Altered Images. I Could Be Happy, a brand new song, was almost like a nursery rhyme in its structure as Clare reels off three unrelated things that make her feel good about life – climbing a tall tree, heading over the sea to Skye or going for a lengthy dip in the River Nile.
But it turns out that she doesn’t want to do any of these things just for any sheer unadulterated joy; nope, these are all on her radar to let her bring a relationship to an end. It was, tune wise, also just about the simplest thing they had written and recorded so far and, thanks to a very crisp and clear production from Martin Rushent, it was unashamedly pop in its approach and style with the aim of getting regular radio play.
It was a record that had the feel and sound of a summer record and yet it was released in the depths of winter at the beginning of December 1981 at a time when the big hit single was still riding high in the charts. None of this mattered as I Could Be Happy proved to be every bit as enduring, spending twelve weeks in the charts including nine successive weeks in the Top 30, helped no doubt by some Top of the Pops appearances in which viewers could not have done anything other than be enchanted by Claire. The single was released in 7″ and 12″ form.
mp3 : Altered Images – I Could Be Happy
mp3 : Altered Images – Insects
As I mentioned the other week in the Saturday series, I’m a huge fan of Insects which is one of their most enduring songs; and depsite being one of their most ‘Banshees by numbers’ efforts it was Rushent and not Severin who was in the producer’s chair.
mp3 : Altered Images – I Could Be Happy (extended)
mp3 : Altered Images – Disco Pop Stars
The use of 12″ vinyl to offer extended and remixed versions of the three minute pop single was becoming increasingly popular around this time. More often than not the extended versions didn’t work all that well and seemed to take aWay from the radio friendly versions – the likes of Soft Cell were very much an exception as they managed somehow to turn the 12″ single into an art form. Altered Images weren’t the worst offenders though and the 12″ of I Could Be Happy is bearable.
The bonus track on the 12″ made me laugh out loud at the time and still does. It’s a band re-production of the sinister flop debut single but in a way that makes it instantly disposable. And it’s not been down in any shape or form that would see it put on the turntables of any discotheque that I can think of.
Oh and I’d like to dedicate today’s post to Carlo Zanotti. Many thanks for your kind words of encouragement and appreciation the other night at the Belle & Sebastian post-gig bash at The Admiral.