“Happy Birthday” by Altered Images - album review

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TJR says

These Glaswegian teenagers made the path to pop stardom seem easy. Send demo tape to favourite band, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Check. Secure support slot with said idols. Check. Be seen by John Peel whilst touring. Check. Secure Peel session. Check. Sign record deal after Peel session. Check. Get one of your heroes (Steve Severin) to produce your first records. Check. Nae bother, eh? By the time of their long-play debut in September, 1981, they had recorded three Peel sessions (Oct '80, Mar '81 & Sep '81), had released three singles (“Dead Pop Stars” “A Day's Wait” and “Happy Birthday”) and Clare had played a starring role in a hit film (“Gregory's Girl” in May '81). All of which was pretty good going for a bunch of teenagers not long out of high school, was it not? They lined-up: Clare Grogan (19, vocals), Tony McDaid (~19, guitar), Jim McKinven (guitar), Johnny McElhone (18, bass) and Michael Anderson (19, drums). Sensing they had could have a major hit on their hands with the aforementioned “Happy Birthday” single (the record's only track to be produced by Martin Rushent), the album was titled the same, and came cutely gift-wrapped in a cover-bow just for you. Lest there be any doubt of the album's identity, there's a “Happy Birthday” intro and outro featuring Clare and the marimba. No need, but, hey, they're still young and prone to being slightly mad and excitable, I'll let them off with 6.7 ratings for each, so as not to damage the album's rating too much. Glaswegian alliance there, see? The single did indeed do the bizzo, rising to #2 in the UK by late October.

Pop fans buying the album in expectation of more of the same from the famous single may have been surprised to discover that a moody post-punk record lay in store for them. More inquisitive fans would have already noted that the album was almost wholly produced by Banshees bassist Steve Severin, so therein lay a clue as to what might lie in store. The group keep their hooks simple and melodic, their brand of post-punk standing at the very threshold of a new indie pop sound. Clare is the star attraction, her 50% cutesy / 50% mischievous pixie vocals being the magic ingredient which gave the group an instantly identifiable sound. The high quality tracks just keep on coming, with very little in the way of pop concession. Can I make the comparison to Blondie? For your Jukebox Rebel, this LP has more strength-in-depth than any of Blondie's 5 albums up until this point, and I can think of no greater compliment to pay this marvellous Altered Images debut.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Oct-2005

A1 [00:44] 6.7.png Altered Images - Happy Birthday (Intro) (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson) Pop
A2 [02:18] 9.5.png Altered Images - Love And Kisses (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson) New Wave
A3 [03:23] 7.7.png Altered Images - Real Toys (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson) Indie
A4 [02:37] 7.3.png Altered Images - Idols (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson, Gerard McNulty) Indie
A5 [03:30] 8.0.png Altered Images - Legionnaire (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson, Gerard McNulty) Indie
A6 [03:49] 5.6.png Altered Images - Faithless (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson) New Wave
A7 [03:05] 8.3.png Altered Images - Beckoning Strings (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson, Gerard McNulty) New Wave
B1 [03:00] 8.9.png Altered Images - Happy Birthday (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson) New Wave
B2 [03:39] 9.8.png Altered Images - Midnight (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson, Gerard McNulty) New Wave
B3 [04:20] 7.2.png Altered Images - A Days Wait (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson, Gerard McNulty) New Wave
B4 [04:08] 8.3.png Altered Images - Leave Me Alone (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson) New Wave
B5 [03:28] 9.8.png Altered Images - Insects (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson, Gerard McNulty) New Wave
B6 [00:44] 6.7.png Altered Images - Happy Birthday (Outro) (Johnny McElhone, Tony McDaid, Clare Grogan, Michael Anderson) Pop




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