Altered Images this week. The Scottish Post-Punk band boasted a fan in John Peel, who gave the band their initial leg-up with two sessions, of which this one is the first. Due in no small part to Peel’s exposure, the band secured a contract with Epic. Their first two singles failed to break into the charts with their second single, Dead Pop Stars being the victim of bad timing (it was released shortly after John Lennon’s death). Undaunted by the seeming lack of chart success and the loss of guitarist Gerard “Caesar” McNulty, who went off to form The Wake, the band went into the studio to work on their debut album.
The release of Happy Birthday, and their third single (of the same name), proved to be their turn-around and breakthrough. With the single hitting number 2 on the charts and staying there for three weeks, Altered Images gained the success they were working for, as well as accolades from the press even as far as NME voting them “Most Promising New Act of 1981”. And they rode the crest of this wave for the next two years before things turned around and went the other way. In 1982 they released their follow-up album Pinky Blue which provided three more top 20 singles and chart success in the U.S.
But it was their third album, in 1983 that spelled the end for Altered Images. Bite was released in June of that year, and even though it made the top 20, didn’t sell as well as the previous two, and the band called it a day right after their debut American tour in August of that year.
Singer Clare Grogan went solo and resumed her acting career before resurrecting Altered Images briefly in 2002 and then again, this time in the form of an all-girl band in 2012 where they continue sporadically.
But for those of you who remember the earlier incarnation of Altered Images, the band before they got signed and were just starting out, or missed that period of the band entirely, here’s a reminder of what they were all about and what was causing the excitement, certainly around Broadcasting House at the BBC.