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Review: 'Chameleons (UK)'
'Edge Sessions (Live From The Edge)'   

-  Label: 'Metropolis Records'
-  Genre: 'Punk/New Wave' -  Release Date: '15th April 2022'

Our Rating:
The Chameleons – or Chameleons UK as they’re known internationally – seems to have gained a wider audience in recent years than in what you’d reasonably consider their heyday. I was introduced to them while working in a second-hand record shop run by an old punk who’d been there at the dawn of the new wave, and who knew all the obscure greats: this was my education, for which I will forever owe a debt of gratitude.

It's worth come context: that heyday was brief, spanning four years and three albums, and despite general critical acclaim, they failed to achieve significant commercial success, instead attaining a credible cult status. It was the early 90s when they were placed on my radar, a long time before their turn-of-the-millennium reformation and at a time when the mid-80s felt like decades ago. Time has a strange habit of distorting when it comes to musical history.

Now in their second reunion phase, they’re probably stronger currency now than at any time previously, thanks to nods from Oasis, The Verve, The Killers, Editors, Flaming Lips, and Interpol, and a good number of years of hard touring that have seen them reach a new and wider audience.

‘The Edge Sessions’, then, features something of a ‘greatest hits’ selection recorded live in May of 2021 by founding members Mark Burgess and Reg Smithies, accompanied by more recent members Chris Oliver on guitar, and Stephen Rice on drums (although there’s no ‘In Shreds’ here. Of the three albums upon which their reputation is based, only ‘Return of the Roughnecks’ represents their second, ‘What Does Anything Mean? Basically’, but with a with an appropriate leaning towards singles in the shape of ‘A Person Isn’t Safe Anywhere These Days’, ‘Up the Down Escalator’, and ‘Singing Rule Britannia’ all featured.

The seven ‘Edge Session’ songs are bolstered by three Chameleons Vox lineup recordings, and these recordings provide a welcome cause to reflect on the band’s work. Yes, they sound mid 80s post-punk, gothy – but then they also still sound fresh and anything but dated, in no small part to the extent of the band’s influence and the way in which that post-punk sounds has come to be recycled again and again since the turn of the millennium. Burgess is in fine voice, and it’s a major factor making this more than a case of ‘old band ploughs through some old songs to milk a few quid from nostalgic middle-age fans’. The songs are well -played all round, too, and ‘Edge Sessions’ stands as a solid document of the live experience for those who’ve seen the band in recent years, and an incentive to go and see them soon for those who haven’t.
  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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