Y’all ready for this?

From the UK singles Top 10 of the last week of March 1993.

mp3: The Style Council – Speak Like A Child (#4)
mp3: Altered Images – Don’t Talk To Me About Love (#7)
mp3: Orange Juice – Rip It Up (#8)

Oh, and Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics was at #5, well on its way to what would be six weeks in the Top 10.

There were also some other great pop tunes at the higher end of the charts….not all of which will be to everyone’s taste, but can offer an illustration that we were truly enjoying a golden age of memorable 45s:-

mp3: Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know (#1)
mp3: David Bowie – Let’s Dance (#2)
mp3: Jo Boxers – Boxerbeat (#6)
mp3: Bananarama – Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (#9)

The other two places in the Top 10 were taken up by Bonnie Tyler and Forrest (no, me neither!!!)

Do you fancy looking a bit further down the Top 40?

mp3: Big Country – Fields Of Fire (400 Miles) (#13)
mp3: New Order – Blue Monday (#17)
mp3: Blancmange – Waves (#25)
mp3: Dexy’s Midnight Runners – The Celtic Soul Brothers (#36)
mp3: Wah! – Hope (I Wish You’d Believe Me) (#37)

Some facts and stats.

The debut single by The Style Council was the first of what would be four chart hits in 1983.

Altered Images and Orange Juice had both appeared on Top of The Pops the previous week on a show presented by John Peel and David ‘Kid’ Jensen, with both singles going up in the charts immediately after.

Is There Something I Should Know? was the first ever #1 for Duran Duran It had entered the charts at that position the previous week.

David Bowie would, the following week, supplant Duran Duran from the #1 spot, and Let’s Dance would spend three weeks at the top.

The debut single by Jo Boxers would eventually climb to #3.  It was the first of three chart singles for the group in 1983.  They never troubled the charts in any other year.

Bananarama‘s single would reach #5 the following week. The group would, all told, enjoy 25 hit singles in their career.

Fields of Fire had been at #31 when Big Country had appeared on the same TOTP show presented by Peel and Jensen.  A rise of 18 places in one week after appearing on the television was impressive.

Blue Monday was in the third week of what proved to be an incredible 38-week unbroken stay in the Top 100.  It initially peaked at #12 in mid-April and eventually fell to #82 in mid-July, at which point it was discovered for the first time by large numbers of holidaymakers descending on the clubs in sunnier climes.  By mid-October, it had climbed all the way back up to #9.

Blancmange were enjoying a second successive hit after Living On The Ceiling had gone top 10 in late 1982.  Waves would spend a couple of weeks in the Top 20, peaking at #19.

The success of The Celtic Soul Brothers was a cash-in from the record company.  It had touched the outer fringes of the charts in March 1982, but its follow-up, Come On Eileen, had captured the hearts of the UK record-buying public.  It was re-released in March 1983, going on to spend five weeks in the charts and reaching #20.

Hope (I Wish You’d Believe Me) was the follow-up to Story Of The Blues.  It wasn’t anything like as successful and spent just one week inside the Top 40.



It was June 2015 when Don’t Talk To Me About Love featured as part of the short series looking back at the singles released by Altered Images. There was initially a fair bit of confusion on that I had been really lazy in posting up what I described as the ‘Extended Version’ as being from the 12″ single when it had in fact been taken from the version made available on the reissued edition of the album, Bite.

The fact that the CD version came in at 7 mins in length, as opposed to the 3:49 version on the 7″ (not forgetting the just under 5 mins version on the album) was the reason I made the initial mistake, which was pointed out quite quickly in one of the first comments offered up that day. I did try and rectify things quickly but amid all the panic and confusion, I’m not really sure if I did.

So…. five years on, and while I still don’t have the world at my feet, I do have the opportunity to pull out the 12″ from the cupboard and do a fresh digital recording via the new turntable. The fact that the 12″ came in a completely differently designed sleeve from the 7″, albeit both were the work of the late and deservedly acclaimed David Band, should have clicked with my brain all those years ago.

mp3: Altered Images – Don’t Talk To Me About Love (12″ version)

That’s all 8 and a half minutes of it, complete with the little bits of wizardry deployed in the studio,

I air the 7″ version, without fail, at every Simply Thrilled night and it inevitably fills the floor, no matter how early it is. There was a tremendously succinct but memorable description of the song offered up by For Malcontents Only back in June 2015:-

“The Scottish Heart of Glass!”

Which provides the perfect excuse, and again re-recorded using the new turntable:-

mp3: Blondie – Heart of Glass (12″ version)

Now, if listening to these two songs doesn’t put a smile on your face and simultaneously gets your hips swaying, then you are an unwell person. My advice to you is…. seek professional help!!


FROM THE ARCHIVES – 1 JANUARY 2012 (and a few other New Year’s Days)


mp3 : Altered Images – Happy New Year

It might only be 23 seconds long, but the sentiment is there.

Here’s hoping 2012 2019 turns out to be a good ‘un for all concerned.

mp3 : Ballboy – Welcome To The New Year

And my oh my, haven’t this lot’s image changed a fair bit since 1983……

Tune in all year from 7 January 2019 for new random and incoherent thoughts from your humble scribe.



File under a sad ending to a recording career.

Altered Images had signalled they were calling it a day but ensured that all touring dates would be honoured, including their first ever gigs in North America.  The record label decided it would be fitting to release one last song from Bite and so, in October 1983, this was released on 7″, 12″ and pic disc:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Change Of Heart

It was the third single from the Mike Chapman sessions to be released as a 45 which meant that only Another Lost Look from those sessions hadn’t seen light of day via that format, although you will recall that an alternative version of said song had been put on the b-side of single #9 Love To Stay.  But hang on, what’s this on the b-side of this latest single?

mp3 : Altered Images – Another Lost Look

There was absolutely no incentive to buy this single on 7″.  The two songs had been available for more than four months.  So what about the 12″?

Eh……there’s no extended or dance mix, the b-side is the same….and to rub salt into the wounds the label put the 7″ versions of Happy Birthday and I Could Be Happy onto it.

Absolutely pointless.  So it is no surprise that the single didn’t chart.

And that dear readers, concludes a look back at the ten singles released by Altered Images between March 1981 and October 1983. Collectively, they delivered three Top 10 placings, six Top 40 placings and a total of 60 weeks in the Top 75.

Next up in the singles series…………The Jam.


The album Bite had been released in June 1983. While Don’t Talk To Me About Love and Bring Me Closer had signposed the direction that the band were taking I still recall the total shock that greeted the sleeve of the parent LP.  The pixie queen of indie pop music had an amazing new image, one that was clearly based on Audrey Hepburn a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  It was an astonishing transformation that was matched by the music on the new record.

There were just eight songs on the album, four of which came from the Mike Chapman sessions dating back to October/December 1982 and four from the work with Toni Visconti in March 1983.  The songs were richly arranged and produced packed with synth strings and backing vocals from top-quality session singers.  It was a tremendously mature piece of work that was as far removed from days of Dead Pop Stars and Insects as could be possibly imagined.   The only thing was, to my ears, that the one obvious single had already been lifted (and been huge smash) and none of the others were likely to have daytime radio DJs falling over themselves to play them.

Bite had gone Top 20 on its release but it hadn’t proved to have any sort of longevity and the sales were far less than the previous two albums.  The label decided to do the traditional thing and go with a third single and so it came to pass that Love To Stay was released in mid July 1983, again on 7″, and 12″ (but this time instead of a pic disc the label went with a poster inside the sleeve:-


mp3 : Altered Images – Love To Stay
mp3 : Altered Images – Another Lost Look (recorded live)

It is one of the band’s finest bits of music and thus one of their best singles but it is so completely out of kilter with many of the other 45s.

The b-side is an alternative version of another of the tracks on Bite and offered a band production on one of the tracks from the Chapman sessions.  From memory, the extended version is just the version found on the album….but I can’t confirm as I can’t find the 12″ version just now.  It’s been filed away in the wrong place and I can’t be arsed looking for it..

mp3 : Altered Images – Love To Stay (extended)

The single spent three weeks in the charts but got no higher than #45 and so brought an end to the run of the Altered Images 45s hitting at least the Top 40.

At the time, I thought that would be the last single lifted from Bite – after all four of the eight tracks had now featured as either an A or B side in a relatively short space of time and the impact of the third single in terms of album sales was negligible.  But I was wrong…..

Tune in next week for the final part of this particular series.




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:-


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


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.





What a comeback!!

Altered Images might have been battered and bruised from he criticism that came in the wake of the release of Pinky Blue but they bounced back in style with their seventh single.

The band had gone into the studio in the autumn of 1982 to work alongside producer Mike Chapman who had rightly received huge credit for his work on Parallel Lines by Blondie.  But it was a band with a different line-up; drummer Tich Anderson (who had been a co-founder of Altered Images) and guitarist Jim McKinven (who had joined after the first two singles had been recorded) had left the line-up and in their place came the multi-talented Stephen Lironi who would fill-in at the initial sessions on both drums and guitar. It was also a band with a different attitude no longer afraid to make music which harked backed to their new wave roots.

The first thing to emerge from the new collaboration was Don’t Talk To Me About Love, a song that I’m prepared to say is a timeless classic in the history of the pop single. It was incredibly unexpected both in terms of quality and sound.  If it wasn’t for the fact that Clare Grogan had such a distinctive vocal style I don’t think any of the fans of old would have guessed which band was behind the music.

It was released in March 1983 and sold well enough in its first week to enter the charts at #36.  The band continued to work really hard at promoting the single with appearances all sorts of TV shows and it was no surprise that the following week it had jumped twenty-four places before then going Top 10 on the back of what was a memorable Top of the Pops appearance with Clare looking sexier than ever in a leather skirt.

Incidentally, this was proving to be a particularly golden time for Scottish music as Eurythmics, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and Big Country were all enjoying singles success for the first time in their careers.  As indeed were New Order as Blue Monday began its first rise up the charts.

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


mp3 : Altered Images – Don’t Talk To Me About Love
mp3 : Altered Images – Last Goodbye


mp3 : Altered Images – Don’t Talk To Me About Love (extended version)

The 7″ also came as a picture disc.  Sad man that I am, I pinned said disc on my wall so that the lovely Clare gazed down on me…….


The b-side is a bit disposable and forgettable, but its more than made up for by the fact that the extended version of the single works so well.


NB : About three hours after this post originally appeared, the full 12″ version was added as a link and not simply the abridged extended version as made available on certain CD compilations.  Please see comments section for detailed explanation!!



The oh dear moment and the realisation that the bubble was about to burst.

Altered Images had somehow pulled off the feat of maintaining a fair degree of street cred with the serious music critics while moving ever closer to being a pure pop band.  Things changed however, in May 1982 with the release of the sixth single and second album.

The patchy debut album had been given the benefit of the doubt thanks to the brilliance of its few high points but no such R-769793-1232058444.jpegslack was cut for Pinky Blue.  Eleven songs in all of which only the already released singles were up to the mark.

The album’s release was supported by the issuing of the title track as the band’s latest 45.  It did manage to spend six weeks in the charts but without really making an impact on the record buying public as it never got higher than #35. Once again, it was released in 7″ and 12″ editions:-


mp3 : Altered Images – Pinky Blue
mp3 : Altered Images – Think That It Might (Dance Mix)


mp3 : Altered Images – Pinky Blue (dance mix)
mp3 : Altered Images – Jump Jump / Think That It Might (Segued Dance Mix)

Not only was the quality of the A-side disappointing but the b-sides simply took tracks from the parent album and gave then the re-mix treatment…with the seven inch single featuring an instrumental version. It was, overall, a release with very little imagination applied and all-in-all a bitter disappointment.

The one small mercy is that the 12″ version of Pinky Blue comes in at less than five minutes and so the torture ends quickly enough.  Oh and I suppose a second small mercy is that the cover version of Song Song Blue (originally written and released by Neil Diamond) wasn’t issued in the UK as a 45….that was left to the poor people of Holland and Germany who received no comfort or joy from the b-side being See You Later, another sub-standard track from the LP.

Drastic action was needed if Altered Images were to maintain their place at the higher echelon of the pop hierarchy.



Any doubts at all that Altered Images were now one the UK’s most fully fledged and successful pop bands were surely dispelled with the release of See Those Eyes in March 1982.  Just twelve months earlier they had been associated with the post-punk movement, championed by the Banshees and John Peel.  There was no question now that they were making every effort to offer a much wider appeal to the masses.

I had no issues with this whatsoever.  The band was still very much true to their Glasgow roots – the fame offered by hit singles and TV appearances hadn’t changed things. Clare Grogan and the boys were still very happy to go to their regular haunts around the city even to the extent where the lead singer could spend her Saturdays dancing night away in student unions knowing fine well that this is where she would hear her favourite music.  The downside to that of course was that drunk students would pester her, and in extreme cases have some fun dancing with her for two or three records in a row only to spoil it all by proclaiming their undying love for her and asking for her hand in marriage. I should know….as I was that drunk student.  The venue was Level 8 at Strathclyde University and the proposal was turned down with a very firm, but admittedly fair, ‘Fuck off creep!’

See Those Eyes is a cracking piece of disposable pop music and deserved to match the Top 10 success of the previous two singles.  As it was, it peaked at #11 during what was just a seven week stay in the charts, so it was clear that this 45 had sold far fewer copies than the singles of late 1981.

It was released in 7″ and 12″ editions:-


mp3 : Altered Images – See Those Eyes
mp3 : Altered Images – How About That (I’ve Missed My Train)


mp3 : Altered Images – See Those Eyes (extended)

The 12″ in effect was the 7″ single with a remix tagged on as a sort of overture. The child’s contribution at the start is courtesy of Big Jimmy Rushent who I’m assuming was the toddler son of the producer.

The b side was also something rather strange.  It was a self-produced number that took the tune of the A Day’s Wait, the flop second single from just under a year earlier, and changed the lyrics to provide us with song about turning up at the station just too late to hop on board the choo-choo.  Bizarre to say the least and also a tad worrying as it meant the two most recent Rushent-produced  singles had seen the band revisit old material for the b-sides.  They were either short of songs or wanted to send subliminal messages to fans of old that they were still in touch with their roots. Subsequent events with the sophomore LP would prove it was more of the former….



i_could_be_happy 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.



The third Altered Images single was due to be released in September 1981 just in advance of the as yet unnamed debut album.  It must have been a nervy time for all concerned both within the band and at the label given how poorly the first two singles had sold, especially as there was a consensus that those were probably their best and catchiest songs.

Steve Severin had completed his production duties at Rockfield Studios in Wales but there was a nagging doubt that the resultant music wasn’t ever going to transform well to daytime radio and so alternative names were banded about with Martin Rushent emerging as the first choice.

He was someone who had enjoyed a fair degree of success in the post-punk era working in the producer’s chair for the likes of The Stranglers, Generation X and Buzzcocks.  But it was his work on Dare by The Human League that had taken things to a whole new level and so, perhaps as a final roll of the dice by Epic Records, he was asked to take over the reins of a new song called Happy Birthday in the hope that something a bit more pop-orientated would result.

The track was worked on at a studio in Berkshire and the results certainly pleased the record label who decided it would be issued in 7″ and 12″ form with the latter featuring an extended dance mix.  Not only that, and despite every other track on the proposed LP being the work of Severin, it was decided also to name the album after the third single. No pressure then.

It looked initially as if the idea wouldn’t bear fruit as the single crawled into the charts at a very lowly #63.  But unlike Dead Pop Stars which had dropped out of the charts immediately, there was a modest increase in sales in week two that saw it climb to #48.  Week three saw the band crack the Top 40 and so become eligible for increased daytime airplay and more importantly appearances on Top of the Pops.  Six weeks after its release, Happy Birthday hit the #2 spot in the singles chart, a position it held for three weeks. It was unable to initially dislodge It’s My Party by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin and then it was leapfrogged by The Police and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. While I’m sure it was disappointing not to quite grab #1 the chart performance of Happy Birthday, especially given what had happened with the first two singles, has to be regarded as a triumph.

All told, Happy Birthday would spend more than four months in the Top 75 – it was still in the charts when the band’s fourth single was released in December 1981 and indeed just as it appeared to be ready to drop out Happy Birthday jumped back up the charts again thanks to end of year sales at Christmas time.

I remember at the time initially loving this song but, as so often happens when something hangs around the chart and daytime radio for what seems like an eternity, I got sick of hearing it and longed for the days when the band were a well-kept secret.  But as time has passed, I fully acknowledge and recognise that the breakthrough hit was a fabulous moment in pop music:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Happy Birthday
mp3 : Altered Images – So We Go Whispering

The b-side was self-produced and its dark and rather haunting tune, highly reminiscent of The Cure, would have been a bit of shock to those who had been attracted to the band by the lighter side of pop music on the a-side.

As mentioned, the 12″ came with an extended dance mix together with an additional track:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Happy Birthday (dance mix)
mp3 : Altered Images – Jeepster

The latter, again self-produced, is a more than passable stab at what had been a hit single for T Rex back in 1971/72 when the various members of Altered Images would have been young kids.




Brushing aside the disappointment of the debut single failing to bring the commercial success that it merited attention soon turned to the band getting back into the studio to begin work on the debut album.  It was felt by all concerned that continued work with Steve Severin represented the best chance of getting into the charts with the band still very much aimed at the indie end of the spectrum rather than all out pop music as can be evidenced by their next bit of vinyl.

It was May 1981 that A Day’s Wait was issued as a 7″ single.  I recall hearing it for the first time on an evening show on the local commercial radio station and the highly popular DJ, who was spinning it in response to a request, being quite dismissive of it.  I wasn’t sure of it myself initially as it didn’t quite have the same impact as the debut single but nevertheless bought a copy with some of the earnings from my paper round.  It proved to be one of those 45s that, having taken five or six listens to get used to, but became a firm favourite as something in my brain and the sounds coming from my new stereo record player clicked.

mp3 : Altered Images – A Day’s Wait

The problem was that most DJs had the same opinion as the commercial station bloke and the record received minimal airplay and disappeared off the radar all too quickly having generated ridiculously low sales.  It was a worrying time for all concerned and was a contributing factor to the departure of founder member Gerard ‘Ceasar’ McInulty who was replaced on guitar duties by Jim McKinven.

The b-side was another unsettling Banshees type track:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Who Cares?

The band, just two flop singles in, were at a crossroads.  Nobody could have predicted what happened next…




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.




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




2014 (MMXIV) will be a common year starting on Wednesday  of the Gregorian calendar, the 2014th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 14th year of the 3rd millennium, the 14th year of the 21st century, and the 5th year of the 2010s decade.

It’s likely to be one of the most significant years in history if you come from my part of the planet.  In July/August, my home city will be the focus of the XX Commonwealth Games, the biggest multi-sports event that we could ever dream of hosting (we simply don’t have the infrastructure to host an Olympics), while the following month will see the people of Scotland go to the polls and decide if they would like to be an independent country and so break away from the United Kingdom of Great Briatain & Northern Ireland.

I may or may not return to such subjects in the months ahead, but for now, I’m content to just stick to the music. Here’s a very short message from Clare and the boys:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Happy New Year

And to you dear readers, here’s hoping all that you want from  2014 is realised.





Back on 8 October 2011, I started a series called ‘Saturday’s Scottish Single’.  The aim was to feature one 45 or CD single by a Scottish singer or band with the proviso that the 45 or CD single was in the collection. I had got to Part 60-something and as far as Kid Canaveral when the rug was pulled out from under TVV.

I’ll catch up soon enough by featuring 5 at a time from the archives..


(6) Altered Images : I Could Be Happy b/w Insects : Epic  7″ (1981)

Read more about Altered Images here


(7) The Apple Scruffs – Danielle b/w  Car Thief b/w Lit The Candle At Both Ends  : Vaults Recordings CD Single (2006)

The Apple Scruffs were four best friends from Glasgow that got together and began writing songs about their everyday lives and surroundings. After four months of hard work and practice the Scruffs played their first gig in Nice N Sleazy supporting the Ronelles at the end of May 2005.

From then on the band built up an amazing reputation in Glasgow supporting well known bands such as Dogs and The Ludes. They then landed a single deal with Hijacked Records. the scruffs released their debut single Danielle on Vaults Recordings on November 2006.

The scruffs were tireless on the Glasgow gig scene and played almost all of Glasgow’s famous venues.  Giving a final shot at breaking through the blinkered music industry they tailored a new single to a more commercial sound in Big Hearts launching this in the Apple store in Glasgow however it wasn’t to be and Johnny and the boys broke up to go seperate ways in 2010.


(8) April Showers – Abandon Ship b/w Abandon Ship (instrumental) b/w Every Time We Say Goodbye : Chrysalis Records 12″ (1984)

April Showers were a short-lived Glaswegian pop duo comprised of Jonathan Bernstein and Beatrice Colin.

Releasing their only known single “Abandon Ship” on Big Star, a subsidiary of Chrysalis, in 1984 it quickly gained a cult following due to it’s sparkling production from Anne Dudley (Art of Noise) and string-heavy arrangements. This quality was echoed on B-side “Everytime We Say Goodbye” with the 12-inch featuring an instrumental of Abandon Ship “Abandon Ship Sing-A-Long-A-Wonder Mix”. Both records are now highly collectible. (£50 and upwards nowadays for the 12″!!!)

Plans to release a second single on the label Operation Twilight, and the inclusion of Abandon Ship on the compilation album “10 Years Of Marina Records” seems to be a footnote to the woefully brief story of April Showers, the perfect example of a band that has disappeared into, and whose status grows with, history.

Now here’s where I cheat.  I don’t own this single…’s one that’s near the top of those I dearly would love to get my hands on but won’t pay the money demanded by the sellers…… I’ve the compilation LP mentioned above, and thanks to modern technology (and the generosity of folk who make the recordings available), I’ve picked up the other two tracks  It really is one of the great lost pop-songs of the 80s


(9) Arab Strap : Cherubs b/w Motown Answer b/w An Eventful Day b/w Pulled: Go Beat CD Single  (1999)

Read more about Arab Strap here


(10) The Armoury Show – We Can Be Brave Again b/w A Feeling   : Parlophone 7″ (1984)

Read more about The Armoury Show here

Again, I’ve tried not to go for the obvious ones from the back catalogues of the better-known acts and indeed in the case of Arab Strap have gone for a release from the short time they were on a label other than Chemikal Underground.  Oh and check out the Altered Images b-side if you don’t already know it….much darker sounding than you’d come t expect from them….real Banshees/Magazine influence on the track.