Monday, May 18, 2009

The Chameleons

The Chameleons
The Chameleons (called The Chameleons UK on some American releases) were a post-punk band that formed in Middleton, in Greater Manchester, England in 1981. They consisted of singer and bassist Mark Burgess, guitarist Reg Smithies, guitarist Dave Fielding, and drummer John Lever (replacing original drummer Brian Schofield). The core quartet were sometimes augmented live by keyboardists Alistair Lewthwaite and Andy Clegg in the 1980s, and percussionist/vocalist Kwasi Asante during their reunion period (ex-Magazine drummer Martin Jackson also briefly replaced Lever during 1982-83 while the latter was on sabbatical).
Through Mark Burgess' vocals and dark and ironic lyrics, their songs often dealt with personal themes of childlike innocence and a reverence for nostalgia. Musically, perhaps most notable in their work was the band's innovative and distinctive use of dual guitar melodies, courtesy of Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding, as opposed to the traditional rhythm-and-lead guitarist format prevalent in rock music even to this day. These arrangements were often characterized by the use of delay and chorus effects.
The band initially released three studio albums in the 1980s, following 1981 debut single "In Shreds" (the fruit of a brief signing to Epic), and several radio sessions for late legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel. The Chameleons released their first full-length studio LP, the critically-acclaimed Script of the Bridge, on the Statik label in 1983. The album features a blend of rhythmic electric guitar textures, providing a moody and intense backdrop for Mark Burgess' haunting vocals. After their third release, 1986's Strange Times and the 1987 sudden death of band manager Tony Fletcher, they abruptly disbanded. Burgess then fronted The Sun and the Moon (with Lever), who issued only one eponymous album on Geffen in 1988, followed by an array of solo projects. Guitarists Fielding and Smithies formed The Reegs, who released two albums: Return of the Sea Monkeys (1991) and Rock the Magic Rock' (1993). John Lever later joined Bushart, who released the album Yesterday is History (2008).





The Chameleons were, for all practical purposes, extinct for well over a decade before a small series of successful live dates in 2000 and the concurrent release of the album Strip (which reworked older material in an acoustic format). After a final studio album, 2001's Why Call It Anything?, another unplugged album (This Never Ending Now), and a successful reunion tour which took them across Europe and the United States, the band dissolved once again in early 2003 due to personal differences.
Although The Chameleons never attained the level of commercial success or fame enjoyed by their contemporaries (e.g. The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen), their body of work is still critically acclaimed within the music press and influenced bands as diverse as Kitchens of Distinction, Puressence, Interpol, and Editors.

Discography


Albums


Live Albums

  • 1992 Tripping Dogs (Glass Pyramid)
  • 1992 Here Today...Gone Tomorrow (Imaginary)
  • 1993 Auff├╝hrung in Berlin (Imaginary)
  • 1993 Free Trade Hall Rehearsal (Imaginary)
  • 1996 Live at the Gallery Club Manchester (Visionary; reissued 2001 on Cherry Red)
  • 1996 Live Shreds (Cleopatra)
  • 2002 Live (Paradiso)
  • 2003 Live at the Academy (Paradiso)

Compilations

  • 1986 The Fan and the Bellows (Hybrid)
  • 1990 John Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit)
  • 1992 Here Today...Gone Tomorrow (Imaginary)
  • 1993 The Radio 1 Evening Show Sessions (Nighttracks)
  • 1993 Dali's Picture/Live in Berlin (Imaginary)
  • 1994 Northern Songs (Bone Idol)
  • 1997 Return of the Roughnecks: The Best of the Chameleons (2CD) (Dead Dead Good)

Singles and EPs

  • 1982 "In Shreds/Less Than Human" (Epic)
  • 1983 "Up the Down Escalator" (Statik; Germany)
  • 1983 "Don't Fall" (Statik; France)
  • 1983 "As High As You Can Go" (Statik)
  • 1983 "A Person Isn't Safe Anywhere These Days" (Statik)
  • 1985 "In Shreds"/"Nostalgia" [#11 UK Indie; Epic]
  • 1985 "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)" [#2 UK Indie; Statik]
  • 1986 The Wait Until Dark E.P.
  • 1986 "Mad Jack" [Geffen]
  • 1986 "Tears" [UK #85; Geffen]
  • 1986 "Swamp Thing" [UK #82; Geffen]
  • 1990 Tony Fletcher Walked on Water....La La La La La-La La-La-La (post-breakup EP, recorded in 1987; Glass Pyramid)

1 comment:

  1. one of the best bands ever. Lucky to see them in Chicago.

    ReplyDelete

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