REVIEW: The Chameleons - "Strip"

By Catherine de Leon

Chain Border

StripThe Chameleons have awoken from a long slumber, and released a brand new recording…finally. Those 1980s masters of stirring anthems (Swamp Thing) and post punk sensibilities (Soul In Isolation) are back. The CD consists three new tracks and some not-too-obvious old favorites, all done acoustically.

From Script of the Bridge, they reworked Less than Human, Pleasure and Pain, and Here Today. Representing What Does Anything Mean Basically is On the Beach; Nathan's Phase is from Fan and the Bellows, and from Strange Times we have Soul in Isolation and Paradiso. The superb new tracks are titled Caution, San Remo, and Indian.

Right now, in the USA, it is only available on import. I laid out 25 smackers for it and let me tell you upon hearing it I would pay twice that if I had to. This recording is beautiful, the production is flawless. The deep, rich layers of acoustic guitars with a steady chocolate rich bass line hold things together and keep your feet on earth, while a higher register of acoustic guitar lines play beautiful minor chords that tickle the top of your head and send you to regions unexplored, tapping emotions unbound.

Vocalist/lyricist/bass player Mark Burgess is amazing. Witness his growth. His vocals are gentle and measured, with less angst, much less urgency than in his prime. There is freedom for more breath now, more wisdom, washing over you like an aural aphrodisiac, touching your memory of youth at once and then evoking the pride of knowing that to grow up means not to grow old.

The Chameleons are back, and unlike their peers of Northern English eighties bands, they sound right for the 21st century. There is no anachronism here, no embarrassment in the vein of Andrew Eldridge and the Sisters of Mercy, no egomaniacal stagnation like the Mission UK. As in their music, their plans for the future do not entail grabbing you by the throat, but easing into your subconscious slowly until they are under your skin.

Sporadic tour dates are planned, two on the American West Coast (Los Angeles and San Francisco) in November and two in the UK (Manchester) in December, and there are some on the Continent. If you are lucky enough to be in the area, I recommend you go to see them and experience the ultimate gentle assault.

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