Altered Images

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Altered Images
Altered Images.jpg
Background information
Origin Glasgow, Scotland
Genres New wave, post-punk
Years active 1979–1983, 2012
Labels Epic Records
Diablo Records
Members Clare Grogan
Johnny McElhone
Tony McDaid
Michael Anderson
Past members Gerard McNulty
Jim McKinven
Steve Lironi
David Wilde

Altered Images were an early 1980s Scottish new wave/post-punk band. Led by lead singer Clare Grogan, the band branched into mainstream pop music, and had six UK Top 40 hit singles and three Top 30 albums between 1981 and 1983.[1]

History[edit]

Early career[edit]

Ex-school friends with an equal interest in the UK post-punk scene, Clare Grogan (vocals), Gerard "Caesar" McInulty (guitar), Michael 'Tich' Anderson (drums), Tony McDaid (guitar) and Johnny McElhone (bass guitar), sent a demo tape to Siouxsie and the Banshees, who soon gave the band a support slot on their Kaleidoscope tour of 1980. The band's name referred to a sleeve design on the Buzzcocks' single "Promises", and was inspired by Buzzcocks vocalist Pete Shelley's constant interfering with the initial sleeve designs.[2][3]

After being championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, they garnered enough attention to be offered a recording contract with Epic Records, but mainstream success was not immediate; their first two singles, "Dead Pop Stars" and "A Day's Wait", failed to reach the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart.[1] "Dead Pop Stars" was particularly controversial at the time, sung at the viewpoint of a "has-been" icon with irony, but badly timed in its release shortly after John Lennon's death, even though it was recorded earlier. It was absent from their studio album releases. After these two singles and their first two sessions for John Peel, Caesar left and formed The Wake.

Chart success[edit]

With additional guitarist Jim McKinven, they recorded their debut album, Happy Birthday (1981), largely produced by Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees. The band also worked briefly with producer Martin Rushent (who had garnered tremendous success producing The Human League that year), who notably produced the title track, which became the band's third single and their biggest hit. The song reached number 2 in the UK (for three weeks) in October 1981,[1] catapulting the band to fame. They quickly became established as one of the biggest new wave acts around, and were subsequently voted "Best New Group" at the NME Awards and "Most Promising New Act" in the 1981 Smash Hits readers poll. Meanwhile, Grogan, with her quirky candy-floss voice and energetic stage persona, became something of a pin-up at the time.

After a successful headlining tour, the band retained Rushent as their producer and released their second album, Pinky Blue, in May 1982. It reached the UK Top 20 and provided three more Top 40 hit singles with "I Could Be Happy", "See Those Eyes", and the title track,[1] but was perceived as a disappointment by the British press.[4] Incidentally, "I Could Be Happy" was the group's only foray onto the US charts, with the single peaking at number 45 on the dance chart.[5]

Later that year, after McKinven and Anderson left to be replaced by multi-instrumentalist Steve Lironi (formerly of the band Restricted Code), the band began working on their third album with producer Mike Chapman. The collaboration provided them with another Top 10 hit, "Don't Talk To Me About Love", in spring 1983 and the subsequent album, Bite, was released in June. Half of the album was produced by Chapman, and half by Tony Visconti.[4] Although it reached the UK Top 20, the album sold less than the band's two previous offerings (which had both earned a Silver disc). Before breaking up later that year, Altered Images made another concert tour that included the band's American debut at The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, California, on Thursday, 11 August 1983.[6][7]

Break-up[edit]

After the break-up of the band, Grogan attempted a solo career, signing to London Records in 1987 and releasing a single, "Love Bomb". Grogan was also included on a London Records compilation album titled Giant, contributing the track "Reason Is the Slave". After "Love Bomb" failed, plans for a follow-up single release, titled "Strawberry", and the album, Trash Mad, were shelved by London Records. Attempts have been made by third party labels to license Trash Mad for its long overdue release, though Warners (who owns the rights) simply refuses to license the album.

Grogan also became a film and television actress. Prior to finding fame with Altered Images, she appeared in the 1981 film Gregory's Girl. Afterwards she appeared in Red Dwarf (in which she originated the role of Kristine Kochanski), EastEnders,[8] Father Ted, and Skins.[8] In recent years she has also become a presenter on UK television, as well as a children's novelist.[9]

Grogan and Steve Lironi (who eventually married)[8] formed Universal Love School, performing together but never releasing any recordings. Johnny McElhone went on to perform with Hipsway and eventually Texas. Grogan sang live under the name Altered Images in 2002 for the Here and Now Tour, showcasing a revival of popular bands of their era alongside The Human League, ABC, and T'Pau,[8] and again for some separate shows in 2004.

Grogan performed again in 2012 under the name Altered Images at Butlins Holiday Resort in Minehead on 11 May and at The Assembly in Leamington Spa 12 May 2012, performing mostly Altered Images hits as well as covers of Jessie J and Lady Gaga. Also in 2012, Altered Images reformed but without the original line-up of McElhone, McDaid and Anderson. The new 'All girl band' fronted by Grogan have announced that they will play the Rebellion Festival 2012 and will share the stage with The Only Ones, Bow Wow Wow, The Outcasts, Anti Pasti and others.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album UK[1] UK Certification (BPI)[10]
1981 Happy Birthday 26 Silver
1982 Pinky Blue 12 Silver
1983 Bite 16

Singles[edit]

Year Song UK[1] Ireland[11] New Zealand[12]
1981 "Dead Pop Stars" 67 - -
1981 "A Day's Wait" - - -
1981 "Happy Birthday" 2 3 -
1981 "I Could Be Happy" 7 13 4
1982 "See Those Eyes" 11 7 -
1982 "Pinky Blue" 35 24 -
1982 "Song Sung Blue" 1 - - -
1983 "Don't Talk To Me About Love" 7 6 6
1983 "Bring Me Closer" 29 17 47
1983 "Love To Stay" 46 - -
1983 "Change of Heart" 83 - -
  • Footnotes:

1 "Song Sung Blue" was only released as a single in Continental Europe.

Compilations, EPs and special releases[edit]

Year Song/EP/album
1981 "Happy New Year" (3-track flexidisc released with Flexipop magazine)
1982 "See Those Eyes" (flexidisc released with Trouser Press magazine)
1982 Greatest Original Hits (4-track EP)
1982 "Little Town Flirt" (track on the Party Party soundtrack album)
1984 Collected Images (compilation album)
1992 The Best of Altered Images (compilation album)
1996 Reflected Images – The Best of Altered Images (compilation album)
2003 Destiny – The Hits (compilation album)
2010 The Collection (compilation album)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 21. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ Wilson, Dave (28 January 2005). Rock Formations: Categorical Answers To How Band Names Were Formed. Cidermill Books. p. 74. ISBN 0-9748483-5-2. 
  3. ^ "Buzzcocks – Promises " at Discogs
  4. ^ a b Griffin, John (12 August 1983). "Altered Images lose musical bite". The Gazette (Montreal). Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 20. 
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times Calendar 11AUG1983
  7. ^ Atkinson, Terry (15 August 1983). "Altered Images Alters Its Image". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d Dingwall, John (22 June 2011). "Altered Images singer Clare Grogan set to take crowds back to 1980s as host of Rewind festival". Daily Record (Scotland). Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Welcome to my world – Clare Grogan". The Scotsman. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  10. ^ BPI Certifications Database
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts". Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Altered Images". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 23 June 2013.