According to the biography issued by their American record label to promote the release of their debut album there, Altered Images was formed in March 1979 (in Glasgow) when Clare Grogan attended rehearsals the other members of the band were participating in and improvised some vocals. Their break came when they sent a demo tape to Siouxsie and the Banshees who invited the group to support them on tour in 1980; Radio 1 DJ John Peel subsequently championed them and when an offer of a recording contract was made by Epic records in the UK in January 1981, The Banshees’ Steve Severin produced their initial recordings, including first single Dead Pop Stars.
The single didn’t chart. The title was unfortunate given the early ’81 release date: John Lennon had died only a few weeks before. In the short period of time since his death, three of his songs had topped the chart, and any accusation that the song was a reference to his murder would have been very damaging. Of course, the song had been written long before this incident and as the group confirmed, “The song wasn’t about anyone in particular. It’s more about the sort of people who put out singles and then are never heard about again. They get really big and then disappear even though the radio keeps on playing their singles through the years.” There was some timely activity that produced some positive press for the group while they were still promoting the single though. Grogan had a role in the British romantic comedy movie, ‘Gregory’s Girl’, which opened just a few weeks after the single appeared. A critical and commercial success, it generated interest in Grogan herself and ultimately to Altered Images, and when their third single Happy Birthday was released in the summer, they had a hit.
Happy Birthday typified the musical style of Altered Images. Firmly rooted in New Wave, Grogan’s sugary sweet vocals gave their records an accessible sound that some other groups associated with the genre lacked. Selected to be the title track to their debut album, it also benefitted from being the only track on the set produced by veteran Martin Rushent, who would continue to work with the group for the next year. He produced their second album, Pinky Blue (1982), from which See Those Eyes was a taster. Lead single I Could Be Happy, issued towards the end of the previous year, made the most of their pop sensibilities and became their only significant hit in the US.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Mar. 19
ALTERED IMAGES See Those Eyes (Epic EPCA2198)