The debut album by Altered Images is a mixed success. The majority of the album was produced by Banshees bassist, Steven Severin, and often sounds like a collection of demos. This is especially when compared to the improved Martin Rushent production of the title track. While the title track is a bright bit of mindlessly fun New Wave pop, the majority of the album is more brooding.
Some of the brighter moments are classic cuts, such as 'Real Toys' and 'Beckoning Strings'. Though nothing is necessarily dreadful, filler songs, such as the 'Happy Birthday' intro and outro, as well as 'Love and Kisses', are easy to skip on repeated listens. While 'Happy Birthday', the song, was a top 3 hit in the UK, there was a wise decision not to release any further singles from the LP, and to continue on to new single releases, also produced by Rushent.
This CD release includes a number of necessary bonus tracks, including both sides of the band's excellent debut single, 'Dead Pop Stars' and 'Sentimental'. Both of these tracks are better than much of what's on the album. The only track from this era that is missing is the original, and superior recording of 'Leave Me Alone'. There was a superior re-recording of 'Insects', which originally appeared on the 'I Could Be Happy' single B side. That version is only available on the US Happy Birthday CD release. This latest CD reissue was sourced entirely from master quality sources. The sound is not damaged by loudness or compression, and is very satisfying.
Happy Birthday was one of three albums Altered Images would release during their short time together, and one of the three very different styles this young band displayed with each release. Though Happy Birthday may not be something to expect to be in heavy rotation in any CD collection, it is well worth having so the listener can hear the promising start of what should have been a long career.