Stop the presses! I just got a note from Gavin alerting me to the frankly astonishing news that Altered Images, the fine Scottish band of the early 80s who snuffed their career far too early for my tastes, are back…Back…BACK! It seems like only yesterday when their divisive third album under performed in the UK charts and the group seemed to break up in a fit of pique over their last three singles from it placing lower, and lower following a solid top 10 success with the sumptuous “Don’t Talk to Me About Love.” That was 1983 when that happened and singer Clare Grogan, attempted a solo career with an unconvincing single and a album ready to go that was shelved. There was one more track released on a sampler, but it was no picnic in the sun.
After leaving Altered Images and her barely launched solo career behind, Clare Grogan spent more time acting in the occasional project. In a charming turn of events, in the early 90s, she ended up marrying her ex-bandmate Stephen Lironi, with whom she had formed the post-Images band Universal Love School to no recorded releases. I wonder if they had a clue as to their fates back a dozen years earlier? The last 20 years have seen her mothering, hosting TV shows, writing a children’s book, and playing the occasional live gig with a band of ladies these days.
This fourth album will be co-produced by Stephen Lironi of the band with…Bernard Butler [ex-Suede] who has co-written with the new band, which in addition to Grogan and Lironi, also features Bobby Bluebell [ex-Bluebells] and a third returning original member – Johnny McElhone. The latter is the musician from Altered Images who’s had the biggest footprint in music, starting with the formation of Hipsway immediately afterward, but certainly reaching the heights with his foundation of the band Texas, who have had a long, stately career with plenty of metallic records on their collective walls. Altered Images have been signed to the vibrant indie Cooking Vinyl and the new album will be out in early 2022. But only if they get the master files to the LP pressing plant…last month! Hopefully there will also be a CD.
I’m intrigued that 60% of the last band lineup are back and the appearance of McElhone was particularly surprising, given his long streak of success with Texas. He clearly didn’t “need” to do this. Their recent opus “Hi,”  was a number three UK album and they are not hurting, but perhaps the outlier to the Altered Images return was the duet that Clare Grogan sang with Sharleen Spiteri on “Look What You’ve Done.” I guess the timing was right to fold into an Altered Images project right afterward.
While I have not been exactly pining for the return of Altered Images, I certainly welcome and anticipate it in this topsy-turvy world we find ourselves in. With members of The Bluebells and Suede [??!!] joining in, there should be lots of good songwriting DNA to surprise us. It bears mentioning that the “Love Bomb” single was written by outsiders. Check this space in “early 2022” when we can hopefully share our thoughts on the as yet unnamed new album.