Review: Altered Images - The Epic Years boxset

Altered Images - The Epic Years (Cherry Red).
Altered Images - The Epic Years (Cherry Red).

It's getting on for 40 years since Altered Images burst onto the music scene with their infectious brand of new-wave pop.

Songs like Happy Birthday, I Could Be Happy and Don't Talk To Me About Love were staples of the radio and school disco in the days when all the girls wanted to be singer Clare Grogan and all the boys wanted to be with her.

Altered Images pictured in their early 1980s heyday.

Altered Images pictured in their early 1980s heyday.

This 60-track collection, spread over four CDs in a clamshell boxset, rounds up pretty much all the Scottish post-punk outfit's releases on Epic Records, and a fine one it is.

Championed early on by Radio One's John Peel, Altered Images won a support slot on Siouxsie and the Banshees's Kaleidoscope tour after sending them a demo tape.

Their first two singles, Dead Pop Stars and A Day's Wait, which failed to make the Top 40, both have more than a hint of the Banshees about them, as do tracks like Leave Me Alone and Insects.

Dead Pop Stars - badly timed in being released shortly after John Lennon's death - wasn't included on 1981 debut album Happy Birthday, but is here as one of seven bonus tracks (along with a cover of T-Rex's Jeepster).

Altered Images releases.

Altered Images releases.

The title track provided their commercial breakthrough, and their biggest hit, and although it's the song most people know them for, there's much more on the album to enjoy.

Disc two is 1982’s Pinky Blue album, which reached No.12. It includes three hit singles - the title track, the ubiquitous I Could Be Happy and See Those Eyes, and a jaunty cover of Neil Diamond's Song Sung Blue.

Bite, the band’s third album, is disc three, and the poppiest of them all, featuring the hit singles Don’t Talk To Me About Love, Bring Me Closer and Love To Stay. Less popular with the band's fans, it still made the Top 20.

Those old enough to remember the '80s will recall that 12in singles were all the rage, and disc four gathers eight extended versions of their best-known songs, which are probably dispensable for all but the most fanatical Altered Images fan.

Grogan fronts a version of the band to this day, appearing on bills as diverse as '80s Revival shows and the Rebellion punk festival. This set will remind you just why they're still in such demand. 8/10.