On �The Cutter� fellow Liverpool natives, Echo and The Bunnymen successfully wed the Eastern influenced psychedelic sounds made famous by hometown heroes, The Beatles. Crafting Eastern influences into a new post-punk hybrid that was sweeping England in the Early 80�s. It was songs like �The Cutter� that would help define the newly coined Neo-psychedelic sub-genre, practiced by such group�s of the period as The Chameleons U.K., Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds amongst others. The track opens with a keyboard approximation of Indian strings, whirring briefly before the band kicks into a percolating groove of popping bass, driving straight drums and chinking guitar accents. Ian McCulloch adds another layer of �60 nostalgia, employing his expressive, slack-jawed vocal delivery that conjures aural images of the late Jim Morrison as he unfurls lines that drip with apprehension �Who�s on the seventh floor? / Brewing alternatives / What�s in the bottom drawer? / Waiting for things to give�. The Eastern strings re-enter at strategic points, filling in space between verses and McCulloch�s esoteric pleas to �spare us the cutter!�, which sounds like a good idea in any case. The arrangement also veers into epic territory quite unexpectedly in the second half, signaled by a sweeping wave of keyboard and McCulloch�s more subdued delivery as poses a string of rhetorically poignant questions, �Am I the happy loss? / Will I still recoil? / When the skin is lost / Am I the worthy cross? / Will I still be soiled? / When the dirt is off� -as the music swell behind him. Like any good single, the track never looses steam, cruising through each section with power and grace. A nod is in order for Ian Broudie, who�s smooth production helped The Cutter become Echo and The Bunnymen�s first top ten single in Britain and a linchpin track for the Neo-psychedelic movement.
from Porcupine (Sire 2-23770), available on CD (WEA)
By late 1983, when Altered Images' third and final album, Bite, was released, Altered Images were already dead in the water. The group had never made any particular headway in the US, where their blend of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Monkees (not to mention Claire Grogan's bizarre, baby-talk hiccup of a singing voice) was just a little too weird for mainstream tastes, and in their native UK, their colorful look and bubblegummy 1982 singles "I Could Be Happy" and "See Those Eyes" had forever typecast them as a kiddie-pop band. Grogan was already branching off in her second career as an actress (she played the title role in Bill Forsyth's 1982 cult classic Gregory's Girl), and Bite seemed like a mere contractual obligation. For the most part, it sounds like it, too, but the brilliant single "Don't Talk To Me About Love," which led off side two, was a welcome surprise, and possibly the best song they ever did. Mike Chapman's production recalls his work with Blondie, while the disco-tinged electronic beat, chicken-scratch electric guitar part and rubbery, melodic bass part all sound closer to New Order's "Blue Monday" than Bananarama's "Cruel Summer." Grogan herself is in an entirely different mood than usual, with her newly-lowered singing voice (and slightly improved enunciation) displaying a rueful, almost petulant edge that suits the cranky lyrics. Only at the very end does she shoot into her usual helium-pitched unintelligibility, with an air of "See, I can still do this, I just choose not to anymore." Coupled with the most indelible chorus of the band's entire career, it all adds up to a minor masterpiece. Sadly, however, nobody wanted to know.
from Bite (Portrait 25413) available on CD - Bite...Plus (Edsel)