(4 / 5)
Oasis, Stone Roses, The Killers, The Flaming Lips, The Charlatans, The National, Smashing Pumpkins and Interpol are just some of the indie and alternative bands who cite 80s Manchester band The Chameleons as an influence.
Formed in 1981, The Chameleons pioneered post punk, combining Reg Smithies’ and Dave Fielding’s layered, shimmering guitars, drummer John Lever’s tribal rhythms and Mark Burgess’ driving bass and impassioned vocals with lyrics often reflecting the anxiety and alienation of the Thatcher era.
For those who were fans, for those who missed out and didn’t come across this superb outfit back in the day, and for any music lovers who fancy a cracking three-disc set of live recordings; this is for you.
Two audio CDs and one DVD, featuring two live shows at the famed Manchester club The Hacienda and London’s Camden Palace that have never been previously released on CD, and an earlier set at Manchester’s Gallery Club.
The DVD features all three shows and an episode of Catalan TV programme “Arsenal”, devoted to the band.
“Elevated Living” includes their two celebrated hometown shows, “Live At The Gallery Club” (1982) and “Live At The Hacienda” (1983) and their superb show filmed for the ITV, “Live At The Camden Palace” in 1984), on both CD and DVD. The latter two shows are presented on CD for the first time.
The DVD also includes an episode of Catalan TV programme “Arsenal” devoted entirely to the band. Broadcast in January 1986, it mixes four tracks taken from a live show at the Discoteca 666 in Barcelona from 1985 (also on CD), plus studio performances and interviews with singer/bassist Mark Burgess and drummer John Lever.
The Gallery show includes rarities “Nathan’s Phase” and “Things I Wished I’d Said”, while The Hacienda includes early versions of “A Person Isn’t Safe Anywhere These Days”, under the working title of “Men Of Steel” and “Thursday’s Child”, as “Years Ago”.
With Liam and Noel Gallagher still doing their thing (separately!) and both playing Oasis stuff, Ian Brown still at it and occasionally reforming the mighty Stone Roses, The Charlatans in fine form, and most of the other bands who cite The Chameleons as being important as an influence, at the top of their game; this set is well timed and very welcomed.
The band were active from 1981 to 1987, and again from 2000 to 2003. They never achieved great commercial success, but they had a loyal cult following and today, are vastly underrated and rarely mentioned in round-ups of the Manc’ sound bands of that era.
Check out their debut album, “Script of the Bridge” from 1983. They followed it with “What Does Anything Mean? Basically” and “Strange Times” in 1985 and 1986.
They split in 1987 after the sudden death of their manager. Mark Burgess and John Lever formed The Sun And The Moon. Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies formed the Reegs. Mark was also in the band the Sons of God for a brief moment.
The Chameleons reformed in 2000, releasing “Strip” the same year, “Why Call It Anything” a year layer and “This Never Ending Now” in 2002. Pakcing it in for good in ’03.
John Lever died in2017. Mark Burgess works under the name ChameleonsVox, covering The Chameleons’ material, and as recent as 2020 was releasing ChameleonsVox recordings.
By Graham Morrison
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’