Monday, June 17, 2013

Altered Images - Bite

Today (June 17th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Bite, the third and final studio album from the Scottish band Altered Images. Shifting from the band’s earlier post-punk sound to a more polished pop offering, the record charted at number 16 in the UK and generated a number of singles that climbed the UK charts as well.

Side one begins with “Bring Me Closer”; it charted at number 29 in the UK. This one opens with a funky bass groove from Johnny McElhone, driving drum beats by Stephen Lironi and a string arrangement by Tony Viscontie that give the song a very disco feel. It definitely puts me in the mood to dance when I hear it.

“Another Lost Look” shifts back to a sound a bit closer to the band’s roots. The later CD release had a live version of the song which had been used as a B-side for the last single release.

The next track, “Love to Stay”, peaked at number 46 on the UK charts. I really like the synth rhythm opening and how it bounces from audio channel to audio channel. It sets up the track’s swing very quickly. The original album cut runs over five and a half minutes; the later CD release only has the single version which is considerably shorter. I like the album cut as the music has room to breathe and flow.

Clare Grogan‘s vocal performance pays tribute to 60’s girl bands on “Now That You’re Here”.

Side two opens with “Don’t Talk to Me About Love” which went to number 7 on the UK charts. Again, the original album cut is a good bit longer than the single version that came out on the later CD. What I like about this one is the blend of the current 80’s sound with classic elements from the 70’s and 60’s too. As those are some of my favorite music decades, the combination really works for me.

The danceable “Stand So Quiet” has another interesting string arrangement that supports the guitar grooves of Tony McDaid.

“Change of Heart”, the last single, only reached number 83 on the UK charts. Peter Vettese’s bouncy keyboards and the backing vocal harmonies of Bernie Michael, Leroy Osbourne and Morris Michael really give this one an up-beat 60’s surf sound.

The final track takes the tempo down slightly for the introspective “Thinking About You”. I like Andy Hamilton's smooth saxophone solo near the end.

Bite turned out to be another surprise for me as I only really knew one song from it previously. I realize that by this point, Altered Images had changed directions as a band and perhaps it was this direction that might have led to the breakup. For someone like me, though, who really likes good pop music, this album was quite a joy to listen to.


HERC said...

Thanks for the tip on Altered Images. I never got into anything beyond "Happy Birthday" from Sixteen Candles.

Definitely some cool breezy, Summery tracks on Bite. Good for walking, swimming, driving or even house-cleaning, which is what I am supposed to be doing now. Shhh.

FYI: Spotify has the longer album versions of "Love To Stay", "Chnage Of Heart" and "Don't Talk To Me About Love" included on their digital offering of Bite. Unfortunately, the Exteneded Version of "Don't Talk To Me About Love" from the CD is not on Spotify and now that I know it exists, I must have it.

Can't put my finger on it but on first listen to that track I was reminded of R.E.M.'s "Man In The Moon" and Style Council's "My Ever Changing Moods" in different parts.

Thanks again for the discovery. Always game for new music, even if it is 30 years old!

HERC said...


The original 12" single actually has an even longer version of the Extended Version - go figure!

Also while continuing my inaugural listening of Bite, two more songs from other acts have popped into my head: Shakespeare Sister's "Stay" and the initial drum machine track from "Love To Stay" later used on Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" among other songs.

And I think it's the bassline of "Love To Stay" that has me thinking "Man In The Moon".

Finally got the workstation finished in the Hideaway Audio Archives late last night so I'm migrating from my old workspace, hence the cleaning. Feel a swim coming on, though...

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, glad I could turn you on to a new album you've never heard before. Thanks for taking a chance with it. These past two years of doing a tightly focused year-in-review has done the same for me with a number of albums that I had never heard before. My music library swells because of that. :)

HERC said...

Would you say you've found more albums you liked than albums you didn't care for?

How do you decide what to acquire digitally and what to buy CD or vinyl for? What is the Maenza library building method?

For me, one discovery makes everything better and it's like the Fixx song "One Thing Leads To Another". After hearing two songs I had to hear 12" and then...

I was telling another friend about Bite and he was like "what?" like I had committed a crime against music snobbery or something.

Long story short (too late?), I now have Altered Images discography on CD.

Feel like singing Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day" because it has been a very, very good day for me as a music fan. Thanks again.

Martin Maenza said...

When I listen to an album for review, if it is available on (my primary digital music source for buying - I have been a member for a number of years now) I add it to a saved list (indicated by year of album release).

If it is one I liked a lot right out of the gate and I have a balance left for the month, I will download it right away (removing from list). If I don't have the funds, I wait for the next month cycle for new funds OR buy a booster pack.

If it is an album I did not like much, it could sit on the list a good while.

I have not bought any vinyl since the 90's (when my turntable died). Today, most things are bought digitally unless a) it is not available that way and I have to hunt down a CD or b) the price of the CD is around $5 and thus less than or equal to a digital download cost.

I would say I tend to find things that I would like more than things I do not like. I have a pretty varied musical taste.

Glad to hear you picked up the Altered Images discography. It is one of those you can acquire quickly as there are so few albums (sadly they broke up too soon). I like when I have a complete offering from an artist or group. It is rare but satisfying when it happens.

HERC said...

While I have not downloaded any digital music since 2004 (just checked my iTunes account - it was a dozen songs for my daughter's first iPod Mini that Christmas), I know that the quality has improved. For managing my library, I was a MusicMatch devotee with lifetime updates for many years; then they sold out to Yahoo and it lost most of its usefulness.

Since then I've used EAC and dBpoweramp to rip both CDs and vinyl and Media Monkey and iTunes as library managers. I'm guessing you're an iTunes man based on some of your previous posts.

When you rip your CDs, what is your preferred bitrate?

Do you rip to mp3 or AAC files?

You ever try lossless: Apple or FLAC?

How do you listen to the music you review? Headphones? External Speakers? Full-sized system?

While finishing my new standing workstation, my trusty 2.1 sound system bit the dust so I'm in market for new set-up. Liking Sonos a lot. Until then it's my SOL Republic Tracks HD headphones...

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, yes I use iTunes for my library management. I do not know what bit rate I burn CDs at. I just go mp3 format and go. When I listen it is usually with headphones.