THE ALTERED IMAGES SINGLES (8)

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The next single was even more surprising than the last….

Bring Me Closer was released at the end of May 1983 just as Don’t Talk To Me About Love was easing its way out of the charts.  This was a sound even more unlike Altered Images than could ever have been imagined.  It was also interesting to see that having already worked with one of the giants of lush production in Mike Chapman the band had gone for the double whammy and roped in Tony Visconti for the latest 45.

I wasn’t sure if I liked this single much when I first heard it.  It felt too cluttered with so much going on including synth strings and prominent backing singers whose delivery was every bit on the edge as Clare’s normal singing style. To be honest, I’m still not sure if I like it all that much and I’d have no hesitation in ranking it as my second least favourite 45 by them.

The other thing that struck me was when I first causght sight of the single in the racks of the local record shop.  Up until this point the sleeves of the 45s had almost always featured unique and stylish artwork from David Band, an illustrator who came to prominence via Altered Images but had since gone on to see his work used by, among others Aztec Camera while in future years he would be commissioned by Spandau Ballet for the multi-million selling True. This time however, it was a photograph of a young lady with stylish black clothes and an exceedingly modern and fashionable haircut.  It was only at the second or third glance did you realise you were looking at a new-look Clare Grogan…

Which leads me to the bizarre story behind the writing of True as told by the songwriter Gary Kemp:-

“I wrote the song at my parents’ house, where I was still living at the time. As a working-class boy, I wouldn’t think of moving out till I got married. I was infatuated with Clare Grogan. I met her on Top of the Pops and, at one point, travelled up to Scotland to have tea with her and her mum and dad. Although my feelings were unrequited and the relationship was platonic, it was enough to trigger a song, True, which became the name of our 1983 album, too.

True is about how difficult it is to be honest when you’re trying to write a love song to someone. Hence: “Why do I find it hard to write the next line?” The lyrics are full of coded messages to Clare. I’m still berated for the line “Take your seaside arms” but it’s straight out of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which she had given me as a present – although in the book, it’s “seaside limbs”. The line “With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue” is also a bastardisation of Nabokov. I don’t want to embarrass Clare. I was 22 and she was 18. True was really a song about me and my idea of love.”

This only emerged some three years ago and I’m guessing that the decision to use David Band’s terrific artwork on the sleeve of True was Gary Kemp sending a subliminal message to Clare who by this time had now met Stephen Lironi who she would go on to marry in 1994.

But back to the matter in hand….the feelgood factor from the previous single helped Bring Me Closer reach #29 two weeks after its release but unusually for an Altered Images 45 it immediately dropped down the following week but selling enough to hang around in the thirty-somethings for a short while before disappearing just as the parent album was released.

This 45 was released in 7″ and 12″ editions:-

7″

mp3 : Altered Images – Bring Me Closer
mp3 : Altered Images – Surprise Me

12″

mp3 : Altered Images – Bring Me Closer (extended version)

The 7″ and 12″ also came as picture discs.  The 12″ pic disc is one of just two pieces of plastic originally released by the band in the singles format that I don’t own.

Enjoy

 

9 thoughts on “THE ALTERED IMAGES SINGLES (8)

  1. I loved this one from the off and still think it sounds great. I am probably in the minority but only behind don’t talk as my fav bit of music by them. I couldn’t believe the true story until I heard Gary kemp interviewed.

  2. Great story, great song and great B-side. FORW may be in the minority, but he is not alone with his No. 1 and No. 2 picks.

  3. Yes it’s a fine story about Clare Grogan, and I wonder how many other songs were penned about her. As for the song, it’s a bit weak, CGs vocal is rather drowned out.

  4. I don’t know how or why I can love this song as much as I love Dead Popstars, but I do, even if it doesn’t sound like the same band. In the 12″ version I love the slow build up to the lush orchestration – I’ve always been a bit partial to violins in songs for some strange reason. I like Surprise Me too, with its at times pulsing beat and slight manic quality. A wonderful release, I don’t care what anyone else says!

    As I’m going out of my way to be obstreperous, I’ll also add that I think it’s a shame that Clare gets the blame for being the inspiration behind one the most sappy pappy pop hits of the 80s.

  5. I’m with FORW & Brian in preferring this and its predecessor over much of their other output, though I do have a soft spot for I Could Be Happy.

    I still can’t stand True despite the Clare link.

  6. Okay, I almost never say anything negative on TnVV, especially about an artist or band that the readers appear to really love. BUT, I cannot believe the enthusiasm for Altered Images. Altered Images?!?! The band sounds like Shirley Temple fronting the Monkees. Was Clare Grogan supposed to be attractive or something? I saw them in NYC in 1982 or so — they left no impression at all (other than the singer sounds like Shirley Temple). Is it a Scottish thing? Simply cannot understand the appeal. The twee, cutesy singing makes my skin crawl. Right, sorry about that, I promise to behave in the future…

  7. I remember this single coming out too and being disappointed by the design. I was an art student at the time and loved Altered Images’ sleeve art by David Band. The record company wanted them to have a more “sophisticated” image and apparently, the abstract art was deemed inappropriate. Over the last few years I’ve done some interviews for Classic Pop magazine and can confirm that the story is true about Gary’s infatuation with Clare but not sure why it took so long to come out. I’ve met Clare a few times and she’s adorable, very humble and friendly. David Band’s designs for Altered Images, Spandau Ballet and the rest can be seen here: http://www.thecloth.co.uk Great blog by the way 🙂

  8. Bring Me Closer is definitely Top 5 for me. I think it’s interesting that Clare has a more familiar, almost harsh vocal style on Bring Me Closer, giving it a harder feel overall. Visconti ups the 70’s Funk/Philly Disco vibe to gorgeous heights! And that 12″ – makes you dance around your livingroom – okay, makes ME dance around MY living room every time I hear it.

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