Starting with a nuttily bombastic synth intro (courtesy of Squeeze's Jools Holland!) which sounds just like the music punk was supposed to be destroying might seem an unusual move for a band founded by the guy who chronicled the original London explosion. But it's that very contrariness in Mark Perry which made the original Alternative TV such a thrilling prospect, and which makes The Image Has Cracked an unfairly neglected classic from the late-'70s upheaval. Seizing on the promise of punk as being a new means of expression rather than a new set of musical rules to be adhered to, Perry, along with a solid-enough band, whip up a series of incendiary pieces that explore as much as they thrash, caught somewhere between the Fall's divine ramalama and three-chord snarls. "Alternatives" captures the tense spirit of the band's work perfectly, a live recording where over a gentle groove Perry invites audience members to come up and "use the soapbox," only to have a bunch of chancers and screamers talk a lot about nothing much at all, until Perry spits vitriol at a pair of people in a punch-up and complains about "diluted sh*t." As an expression of going down defiant while punk became a new fashion, it's fierce and brilliant. A good half of the album comes from the same concert, including the harrowing final track, "Splitting in Two," as perfect a capturing of nails-dug-in-flesh paranoia and indecision as anything in music history, revived as a live favorite years later by the Chameleons. The studio cuts include a solid run-through of Zappa's "Why Don't You Do Me Right?" and the closest ATV ever came to an anthemic single, "Action Time Vision." The 1994 CD version adds 11 extra tracks to the original album, including the reggae-inflected "Love Lies Limp" and "Life After Life" singles, among many others, making it the edition of Image to look for.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett