Fronted by Gregory's Girl actress Clare Grogan, Altered Images were a Scottish post-punk/new wave 80s band that released three albums and ten singles (six entered the UK Top 40) between 1981 and 1983. Many of you reading this will certainly remember their biggest hits which were the kind of upbeat tunes that were surefire winners at the school disco.
British Hit Singles
1981 Happy Birthday #2
1981 I Could Be Happy #7
1982 See Those Eyes #11
1982 Pinky Blue #35
1983 Don't Talk To Me About Love #7
1983 Bring Me Closer #29
1983 Love To Stay #46
1983 Change Of Heart #83
1981 Happy Birthday #26
1982 Pinky Blue #12
1983 Bite #16
Chart positions shown are for the UK
This tune is, no doubt, still played at a good many birthday parties, and back in the 80s any birthday party without this on the decks wouldn't have been worth going to! The song was actually the band's third single release. Their debut single from 1981 Dead Pop Stars reached #67 in the UK and the follow-up, A Day's Wait, failed to break into the charts at all.
Happy Birthday was cruelly kept off the top spot but stayed at No.2 for three weeks. The song was the title track from the album and also featured in the John Hughes coming-of-age film Sixteen Candles. The B-side was entitled So We Go Whispering and the 12" vinyl also included the track Jeepster.
The lead single from second album Pinky Blue saw the band venture further into the mainstream pop world. You can see a Top of the Pops performance in the playlist (above) where Clare Grogan wore a kind of plastic style wedding dress, along with what looked like toilet paper stuck in her hair. It was a fine example of the fun and quirky 80s fashion styles of the early 80s, and as ridiculous as she may have looked to many now watching the video, she didn't need to resort to taking half of her clothes off to get attention, at least.
7" single Picture Disc
The band's second album was their most successful, featuring three hit singles and achieving a silver sales certificate. However, the critics were less than happy with the more commercial pop sound and their was criticism over the inclusion of the band's cover of the Neil Diamond hit song Song Sung Blue, which, I must admit, makes even the Krankies Fan-Dabi-Dozi single sound like a work of art. It certainly doesn't bring out the best in Clare Grogan's voice.
The single sleeve for the Pinky Blue featured an identical design to the album, but with inverted colours for the background and text - the album had pink text with a blue background.
Released on 17th June 1983, Altered Images final studio album was the most polished, featuring a more sophisticated pure pop sound. The band had grown-up, but the songs still retained the Images quirkiness and catchy melodies. Although there were only eight tracks the length of each one was quite a lot longer than on the previous albums, with Love To Stay and Thinking About You lasting for over five minutes.
There were mixed reviews from the critics, with Smash Hits awarding just five stars. Bite was was also the least commercially successful album and the band split-up after a final tour.
The album sleeve purveyed a more cosmopolitan image. Bite... Plus features 19 tracks.
Don't Talk To Me About Love was the lead single from Bite and reached #7 in the UK.
Lead singer Clare Grogan attempted to start a solo career in 1987 with the release of Love Bomb on London Records. However, the single flopped and the forthcoming album Trash Mad and single Strawberry were shelved by London Records. Another band member Johnny McElhone went on to perform with Hipsway and then Texas.
Clare Grogan on the cover of the December 1981 special issue of Smash Hits magazine