A-side: Bring Me Closer
Altered Images fell out of the early 80's post punk scene and into the charts with a number of bright, poppy and memorable tunes. In many ways following the template set by Blondie. A good-looking young woman singing in front of a set of blokes with instruments. I'd probably have to say that Altered Images were less musically creative and diverse then Blondie ever were. Concentrating more on on an uptempo jangle, they themselves were setting the template for many other bands in the latter part of the 80's (Primitives, Darling Buds, etc of whom more in later blogs!)
Having said that Altered Images were less musically diverse than Blondie were - I'm now going to have to eat my own words as Bring Me Closer is a break from the norm and breaks out the funky side of this band. With Chic-style guitars and melodically similar to fellow Scots, Orange Juice. Clare Grogan's voice is probably a bit of an acquired taste - tending towards the squeaky side as it does every now and then. Nothing wrong with that intrinsically - but it doesn't really go with the funky style;e of this single. There's some lovely soulish backing vocals, and a nice sax outro, but nothing to lift the feeling that doesn't sit quite right with this song.
Unlike Bring Me Closer, the other side, Surprise Me, doesn't surprise me. It's much more the sound that I expect from Altered Images. It's a bouncy, indie pop sound that chugs along pleasantly enough, without really leaping out and grabbing you by the lughole to sending you reeling round the dance floor. There's some of the soul elements that stood out from the a-side - it's the sound of a band starting to experiment with new sounds and going forward. It's a shame then then it's from their last album, and didn't do that well, and they then broke-up.
Mind you, I think the sleeve is a bit of a give away that the band were on their last legs. I've got a theory about these types of bands and their record covers. Look at them in their early days and the pictures feature all of the band, probably looking sullen and moody. As they get famous the whole band is still there, probably all smiles and wacky hi-jinks. They hit the peak of their fame and the attractive lead singer is front and centre, all smiles and coquettishness, with the boys lurking in the background, sullen and moody again. As they reach the end of their careers the rest of the band are gone from the photos, and is just the pretty singer, in short skirts, plunging necklines, doing her best to look pouty and seductive. I wouldn't say it's a hard and fast rule, but it happens often enough to be remarked upon.
Next time something very similar...