[14] Altered Images, ‘I Could Be Happy’

Altered Images

I reckon we’re past finding Clare Grogan’s voice irritating now; we can find it endearing and find the bite within the cute. I should have realised at the time, but I was a primary school boy and everyone was an Ant and we disdained, well, girls. Girl singers, anyway. Girl singers who weren’t Debbie Harry. I wasn’t much of an Ant, come to think, but that will become obliquely clear. Can you have obliquely clear?

Eighteen months later I’d blossomed into a mature pop aesthete and adored ‘Don’t Talk To Me About Love’ – although I didn’t return to ‘I Could Be Happy’, ‘Happy Birthday’, all those earlier charms for another couple of decades. Over those decades, Johnny McElhone – the power behind the Altered Images throne – had formed Texas, first bolstering the Campaign for Real Rock with dull early songs then rediscovering the pristine pure pop of AI’s swansong. But Texas couldn’t trump White On Blonde with any more conviction than Altered Images could follow Bite.

Back to basics then. ‘I Could Be Happy’ is wonderful because its guitars ring and Grogan attempts to rhyme “tree” with “holiday” by singing “holidee”. If that’s not Top 10 Gold, I don’t know what is. We play both this and ‘Happy Birthday’ with Junior declaring she likes them “the same”. She air-drums along, but claims she’s “shaking a sweet jar” – and that’s really the essence of Altered Images, isn’t it?