The Chameleons: Return of the Roughnecks - The Best of The Chameleons
So here we are again. "Oh No! Not another ChamRetro!!", I hear you cry. Well...er...Yes, but this one is different from all those others 'cause this one's actually compiled by us, well some of us anyway. I have to admit I didn't really see the need at first, but then I thought, well, a definitive 'Best of...' actually compiled with the band might be a nice way to round things off once and for all, especially since Reg has been persuaded to get his crayons out again. Besides, I haven't paid my fridge off yet and my dog needs two new pairs of REEBARKS. Of course some will say "Best Of The Chameleons!! Contradiction in terms mate!!". Others will be disappointed that their faves are missing but I for one am happy with the selection. There are things that should have been included but have vanished without trace, like a royalty cheque from Statik Records; all the 12" tracks; Alistair and Tony's rendition of "El-Paso" from the Les Dawson school of piano and our version of the Most Uncontrollables "They Really Make You Laugh-A-Lot!". All sadly lost in the misty mists of time. So here it is. Some of the very best of The Chameleons contribution to Rock's rich tapestry. Dizzy heights or dregs, decide for yourself, but before publicly passing judgement, remember, it's not only dizzy heights that give you bloody noses.
In the meantime
Thanks for the fridge
The Marquee, London
The Chameleons give themselves to you, and that's plenty for the likes of me, We need their commitment, their honesty and those steely, anthematic mini opera songs of theirs.
THE CHAMELEONS: What Does Anything Mean? Basically
Buy this record. Play this Record, eat this record for breakfast. How does a band set about recording their second album when their first was 58 minutes of near-perfect, otherworldly subconscious put to vinyl? If this is the answer, just do more of the same, just twice as aggressively. On this new work (and this is a work), The Chameleons have fused the textures of the debut album LP with the bite of their original singles, and at its best this is mesmerising once again! For the first time on vinyl Reg's staccato guitar lines and Dave's unimaginable far away guitar swirl compete equally in the mix, striking the perfect balance between power and quiet passion. If October '83's shuddering, shattering Script of the Bridge import (more or less raped on its release here on MCA, deleting four songs/twenty minutes) is more special, it's only because the songwriting was stronger and they had more ideas then, but this new LP has the same scope, vision and breathless timelessness that marked its predecessor. Put together with the same thoughtful, meticulous caring packaging (in all facets), just look at the cover art (again) and the ambitious contemplative LP title. Try 'Intrigue in Tangiers' and 'Perfume Garden' first and move from there. If this isn't the best LP this year, it's only because it may be tied with The Sound's, Heads and Hearts.
THE CHAMELEONS - SCRIPT FOR THE BRIDGE
Many albums are enjoyable for various reasons; it is only the one in a hundred or thousand which will truly captivate you. This album has done that to me. Having first heard of the group several years ago on a Peel session (still much treasured), their sudden activity this year has come as welcome breath of fresh air. The music lies in the U2/Echo spectrum of music, but in my eyes surpasses them with ease. The hidden power, the strength of the songs, the marvellous production, even the beautiful sleeve, all add up to make this my favourite album for a long time to come. The singles "As High As You Can Go" and "A Person Isn't Safe Anywhere These Days" are backed with breathtaking compositions such as "Don't Fall" and "Monkeyland". B-Movie fell by the wayside; the farmers boys are almost there; it only remains for The Chameleons to take the world by storm - they can do it, you know...
We parked the car at the side of the road. It was a dark, dark night. I looked upwards, and said impulsively, 'A million stars are a moving sight'. The Chameleons lyrics - still in my head, and still in my hi-fi, after all these years. The Chameleons have been extinct for a decade. Their work, aside from the three 'proper' albums, has been showcased in numerous collections, many of them compiled without the necessary love and care. This CD, compiled with the bands full co-operation, finally collates their finest moments from the raw, pulsating 'Don't Fall' to the delicate beauty of 'Tears'. From Middleton, to Bath, to London and back to Suite 16 in Rochdale (and those wonderful chips at the San Remo Coffee Bar, courtesy of Ubaldo and Tony), here are the highlights of six years in various recording studios.
I know all four members of The Chameleons, Dave and Mark particularly. They are complex personalities, sometimes reticent and oblique, always passionate, a 'no sell-out' clause stamped through them. Their music embraced this enigma and also mined the other, hidden, aspects of their characters. It is poetic and poignant, under-stated and frustrated, and has a depth that belies their relative youth. Although only then in his twenties, Mark's lyrics refer continually to a childhood passed, and, inevitably the trauma of mortality. Some critics have dismissed his themes as adolescent, but this is a spurious claim since they are shared by lions of literature, from Joyce to Lawrence to Salinger. Other bands have come (and gone) since The Chameleons, and their songs, to this listener at least, now take on a historical slant, rather like photos stuck in an album. When I hear them I think of the joyousness of their concerts; of their home-town Middleton; of Dave Fielding's flat (more cat trays than food!); of Mark writing lyrics in the studio (drowsy in grief) soon after the death of their manager, Tony Fletcher, and of the time I heard a test pressing of 'Script Of The Bridge' (it had, and still has, though to a lesser degree after a thousand plays, a charming other-worldliness); finally, I think of the past, when we were all going to be young forever and have time to read books, paint pictures, make music, and stay friends with everyone for ever.
I didn't really want to write these notes. The Chameleons have been there all along. The ignorant ('They were a bit like U2 weren't they?' 'I'm not into stadium rock') don't deserve another reminder. To anyone else, perhaps another generation with an open ear and heart, please step into their world. It's magical and down-to-earth at the same time, a place where people die, for sure, but also live with a rare passion.
Silence, Sea and Sky **
Home Is Where The Heart Is *
A Person Isn't Safe Anywhere These Days *
Perfume Garden *
Tears (original version)
View from A Hill
All songs written by
Tracks 2, 6, 8 & 11 Produced by Dave M. Allen for Palace Productions.
Engineered by Mark Saunders.
Original sound recording owned by Geffen Records Inc.
MCA Records Ltd. are the exclusive licensees for the U.K.
Tracks 3 & 13 Produced by Steve Lillywhite.
Tracks 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 & 14 Produced by The Chameleons and Colin Richardson.
All songs published by EMI/Virgin Music Ltd.
except * Taktik Music Ltd. and ** St. Anne's Music Ltd.
Design & Art Direction @ Staley Peters
This compilation P & © Dead Dead Good Records Ltd 1997
Distributed in UK via Pinnacle
Tony Fletcher Walked On Water
La La La La La-La La-La-La
Is It Any Wonder
Free For All
Denims And Curls
All songs written by Burgess/Fielding/Lever/Smithies
Produced by The Chameleons and CJ.
Limited edition double CD contains bonus CD of the "Tony Fletcher" EP.