on 11 October 2002
In the early 1980's. a glorious sound broke out of Middleton, just north of Manchester. Fuelled by influences varying from Joy Division to The Beatles, Mark Burgess (vocals & bass), Reg Smithees and Dave Fielding (guitar) and John Level (drums) immediately brought a maturity both of lyrics and music that were lacking in a host of other bands of the era.
The entire album can be looked at as a young man's journey through life - from the hopeful-yet-cynical viewpoint of the title track ("She manipulates, steals my mind and hides it in her garden / But now, only love can bring me down"), to the youthful yearning for times not so long past in "Nostalgia, through regions of deep observation in "Less than Human" and "Love Is", anger at the world and what it has thrown at you, "In Shreds" and "Every Day I'm Crucified", through to a final yet defiant acceptance in "Nathan's Phase" ("Of all the faces that you wear / Sometimes joy, sometimes despair / The mask has gone, no mystery / Replaced by vague transparency / It's just a phase you're going through")
The Chameleons are THE band who should have been huge. Give "The Fan And The Bellows" a listen and you'll understand why.
Look inwardly, and share the wonders I have heard!
on 24 January 2013
Albums advertising "early recordings" by a band are usually disappointing. No such disappointment here!
The Chameleons play it a little more straight, but all the good ingredients are present: Burgess is his confident and urgent self, Lever is the cracking rhythm machine we have come to love, and the Fielding-Smithies guitars mesh beautifully (a bit like having John McGeoch and the Edge in the same band). Plus there is a handful of songs not available anywhere else, my personal favourite being "Love is". If you like, or think you might like, the Chameleons, "the Fan and the Bellows" is hereby heartily recommended.