“The atmospheric pop band the Chameleons formed in Manchester, England, in 1981 from the ashes of a number of local groups: vocalist/bassist Mark Burgess began with the Cliches, guitarists Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding arrived from the Years, and drummer John Lever (who quickly replaced founding member Brian Schofield) originated with the Politicians. After establishing themselves with a series of high-profile BBC sessions, the Chameleons signed to Epic and debuted with the EP Nostalgia, a tense, moody set produced by Steve Lillywhite which featured the single "In Shreds."
The quartet was soon released from its contract with Epic, but then signed to Statik and returned in 1983 with the band's first full-length effort, Script of the Bridge. What Does Anything Mean? Basically followed in 1985, and with it came a new reliance on stylish production; following its release, the Chameleons signed to Geffen and emerged the following year with Strange Times. The dark, complex record proved to be the Chameleons' finale, however, when they split following the sudden death of manager Tony Fletcher; while Burgess and Lever continued on in the Sun & the Moon, Smithies and Fielding later reunited in the Reegs. In 1993, Burgess surfaced with his proper solo album Zima Junction. He and his band the Sons of God toured America the following year.” (From AllMusicGuide).
The Chameleons – Script of the Bridge (1983)
“With two years, numerous radio sessions, and incessant gigging under their belts since their debut single, "In Shreds," the Chameleons came to the studio determined to make a great first album with Script of the Bridge. To say they succeeded would be like saying Shakespeare did pretty well with that one Hamlet play of his. Script remains a high-water mark of what can generally be called post-punk music, an hour's worth of one amazing song after another, practically a greatest-hits record on its own: the John Lennon tribute "Here Today," "Monkeyland," "Pleasure and Pain," "Paper Tigers," "As High as You Can Go," the breathtaking closer, "View From a Hill." Starting with the passionate fire of "Don't Fall," Script showcases how truly inventive, unique, and distinctly modern rock & roll could exist, instead of relentlessly rehashing the past to little effect. The scalpel-sharp interplay between the musicians is a sheer wonder to behold, the Dave Fielding/Reg Smithies guitar team provoke nothing but superlatives throughout, and John Lever and Mark Burgess make a perfect rhythm section -- while the crisp production of Colin Richardson and the band adds delicate synth lines and shadings, courtesy of early touring keyboardist Alistair Lewthwaite, and just the right amount of reverb and effects on the guitars. Add to that the words of Burgess, one of the few lyricists out there who can tackle Big Issues while retaining a human, personal touch, and it all just adds up perfectly. The best one-two punch comes from "Second Skin," a complex, beautifully arranged and played reflection on the meaning of music and fandom, and "Up the Down Escalator," an at once harrowing and thrilling antinuclear/mainstream politics slam.” (From AllMusicGuide).
Download : The Chameleons – Script of the Bridge
The Chameleons - What Does Anything Mean? Basically (1985)
“Easily the high point of the Chameleons' fascination with digital delays, pedals, and making the studio an instrument, the band's second album still is seen by many a fan as being just a little too lost in the production to have the same impact as Script of the Bridge did, despite equally excellent songs. The decision must ultimately be the listener's, but in the end the production argument is much more a quibble than a condemnation -- no matter how you look at it, What Does Anything Mean? Basically proved to be that rarity of sophomore albums, something that at once made the band all the more unique in its sound while avoiding a repetition of earlier work. Ironically, the first track, "Silence, Sea and Sky," turned out to be the least Chameleons-like track ever, being only a two-minute synth intro piece played by Mark Burgess and Dave Fielding. But with the gentle intro to the absolutely wonderful "Perfumed Garden," lyrically one of Burgess' best nostalgic pieces, it rapidly becomes clear exactly which band is doing this. The empathetic fire that infused Burgess' words for songs like "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)," a poetic attack on the Thatcher government, finds itself matched as always by brilliant playing all around. John Lever's command of the drums continues to impress, and Fielding and Reg Smithies remain guitarists par excellence; the searing, sky-bound solo on "Return of the Roughnecks" alone is a treasure. The sublime combination of the rushing "Looking Inwardly" and the soaring, blasting rip "One Flesh," leading into a relaxed instrumental coda, anchors the second side, while "P.S. Goodbye" provides a lovely, melancholic conclusion to an astounding record. CD copies include the 1981 "In Shreds"/"Nostalgia" single as bonus tracks.” (From All MusicGuide).
Download : The Chameleons - What Does Anything Mean? Basically
The Chameleons - Strange Times (1986)
"If there was a should-have-been year in the Chameleons' history, 1986 would clearly be it, and Strange Times demonstrates that on every track, practically in every note. Signed to a huge label, with production help from the Dave Allen/Mark Saunders team who worked on the Cure's brilliant series of late-'80s records (here providing a more balanced sound between guitar effects and direct punch than appeared on What), the Chameleons delivered an album that should have been the step to a more above-board existence on radio and beyond. Right from the start, a stunning upward spiral of a guitar riff begins the unnerving character study "Mad Jack," the bandmembers mix their skills, experience, and songwriting ability perfectly and take everything to an even higher level. The first half continues with three more stunners: "Caution," a semi-waltz that moves well, pulls back, and then slams home, "Tears," a crushingly sad, acoustic ode to personal loss, and "Soul in Isolation," combining a huge majestic wallop with Mark Burgess' anguished study of alienation. And just when you think it couldn't get any better -- "Swamp Thing," the definitive Chameleons song, complex, building, tense, epic, perfectly played (John Lever's drumming is simply jaw-dropping, the Reg Smithies/Dave Fielding guitar pairing totally spot on), and with one of Burgess' most poetic, personal lyrics. It just keeps going from there, the second half covering everything from more sweeping tunes ("Time," "In Answer") to bare-bones melancholy ("In Answer," "I'll Remember"). From back to front, Strange Times could never have enough praise." (From AllMusicGuide).
Download : The Chameleons - Strange Times
Download : The Chameleons - Strange Times