Altered Images: Pinky Blue (Epic)***

DA DOO doo doo, da da da da, is all I have to say to you. Da da da da, do doo doo doo, that’s all the Images make me do.

Try as a person may, I find it quite impossible to rationalise why the Images appeal to just about everyone in the Whole World. Looking past Clare as the Perfect Image of Girlhood with Spine Tingling Nightingale Voice and the Super Singalong Pop Tunes, I find a big fat emptiness. Rather like biting into a creme egg and finding no yummy centre at all.

Pinky Blue has its tasty parts but they melt in the mouth so quickly you forget they’re sweet. And, what’s worse, you know exactly what it’s going to taste like. Even with the Great Sky Blue Pink Producer Himself…

The synthesised seaside intro to Pinky Blue itself leaves no trace of doubt that this is A Martin Rushent Production. Gone is the gappy-toothed minimalism of the first Severinned disc, here is a richer, saucier, snap-crackle sound. Clare whoops and whirls excitedly like a kid on its first trip to the seaside, all cream teas and candyfloss, round a delicate, sugared almond melody.

A breathier Clare pouts Aimi McDonald-style through hit smasheroonie ‘See Those Eyes’, heavenly guitar strumming in perfect counterpoint while telltale Rushentised drums lurk in the background.

The choons are meatier, but revolve too heavily around What Heavenly Clare is doing. She’s ditched the angular vocal acrobatics in favour of a more even harmony, but the highpoints of each song usually come when she decides to play games, emitting teasy little shrieks, squeals, and dips that send shivers down the spines of boys of all ages.

Tunes continue at the same pace like reprises of others, hop, skippity jumping around with simple upward and downward progressions. Really gingham. Guitar is sharply outlined but utterly unadventurous, sticking to a repetitive formula. I’ve forgotten ‘Forgotten’ already.

‘Little Brown Head’ is a headlong rush, an injection of adrenalin, beefed by Linndrums and keyboard doodles. But still the only real compulsion is La Grogan, stronger than ever but never losing her peachy innocence. I prefer the more open, relaxed feel of ‘See You Later’ (intro’s a dead ringer for ‘Do Or Die’!) Clare almost crooning, guitars weaving cute tunes behind her.

But ‘Song Sung Blue’ is the killer. Clapalonga Neil Diamond for all the family, complete with acoustic guitars and sung in Her Colourful Way with whistlers’ chorus and boyish backing from Messrs Rushent and Peel. Guaranteed to make old men happy. Picture Clare doing this as a production number on Marti Caine’s show with a selection of cheesy, grinning male dancers. Sigh.

However. The flipside gets pretty mindless. Steely drums rattle into lilting latinish beats for ‘Funny Funny Me’, keyboards coming over all barrel organ. Strident, self-indulgent Clare climbs all over ‘Think That It Might’, guitar stealing brazenly from The Edge.

A welcome respite comes with ‘I Could Be Happy’. A dub version! A dance version! With du(m)b bells! A foot-tapping break from the helter skelter of rooty tooty fruity popsicles, but very much The Production Job.

The undemanding nature of the arrangements really begins to wear now. ‘Jump Jump’. Oh-no-not-another-uptempo-pop-treat. Yawn Yawn. Ahh! Preparation for lights out: ‘Goodnight And I Wish’. The lullably flutters by. Nice piano touches, Shadsy guitar, breathy, thoughtful Clare in bedside prayer mode. She slips away gently, into infinity.

This is not an Album Album. It has two moods – lots of up, up and away, and a teensy bit of I wonder why. Listening to it all the way through will increase the blood pressure. For me, it’s pure confection – one long, often tedious, nursery rhyme. Where would they be without the smiling, coy, untouchable-but-knowing Clare, all purpose ideal sister/daughter/girlfriend/teenager/kid-next-door?

Altered Haircut. 100 Images. Clare and Nick should get married, buy a cottage in the country and live happily ever after entertaining us with selections from Walt Disney. Help, Mummy, I’ve eaten my pinky blue cake all up and I’m still hungry!

© Betty PageSounds, 8 May 1982

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