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chameleons edgesessions
Artist: Chameleons (UK)
Title: Edge Sessions (Live From The Edge) 2022
Genre: Post Punk
Release Date: 15th April 2022
Label: Metropolis Records

Album Review

So much has been written over the years about THE CHAMELEONS that it’s easy to lose track of the basics. Formed in Manchester in 1981, they were the band that should have been huge but never were, writing scathing, beautiful, complex, intelligent mini-epics, releasing three utterly brilliant albums before splitting, and influencing, or being name-dropped by, anyone and everyone along the way. Various offshoots and reunions, tensions and untimely demises, have all fed the story and kept it alive, but ultimately, it’s the music that has stood up, as glorious now as it was back then, charming and timeless. This post-Covid release on the Metropolis label sees original members Mark Burgess and Reg Smithies team up with Chris Oliver and Stephen Rice to record seven live-session versions of classic songs from the back-catalogue, along with three bonus tracks from the more recent CHAMELEONS VOX project.

Any fears that this is merely churning out tired new versions of old songs is quickly overturned, as ‘A Person Isn’t Safe Here Anymore’ somehow manages to be more menacing and sinister than the original, and its reflection of society sinking into depravity and look-the-other-way as relevant today as it was in the 80s, perhaps even more so. Equally, the shimmer and sparkle that underpins ‘Return Of The Roughnecks’ belies the fury of the lyrics, and there’s a real edge to the vocals here as they cut from weariness to anger. ‘Second Skin’ seems to initially shrink in on itself, introspective, darker somehow, before clawing itself out in a burst of light and beauty. Hard to believe these songs still have so much to give, hidden away in their roots and bones.

‘Sycophants’ lacks some of the out-there brilliance of the earlier tracks, settling into a creeping rock groove and gnarling about the place grumpily, but ‘Heaven’ - from the same CHAMELEONS VOX EP - has the unmistakable stamp of Mr Burgess across it, urgent and graceful. And ‘Ever After’ finishes things off, jittery and impatient, youthful and playful, certainly the best version of the song I’ve heard. So often, bands churn up their past presumably to relive the days of wonder, or to give themselves a post-dated payday - but somehow, buried deep within the music of THE CHAMELEONS, is an inbuilt fluidity, the songs that arrived all those years ago fully formed were always wired to keep on evolving. The lyrics too have never aged, and the spirit of these songs continue on some quietly never-ending quest to keep reinventing themselves. And that, without any doubt, is true magic.


01. A Person Isn’t Safe Here Anymore
02. Return Of The Roughnecks
03. Up The Down Escalator
04. Anyone Alive
05. Singing Rule Britannia
06. Soul In Isolation
07. Second Skin
08. Sycophants
09. Heaven
10. Ever After


Mark Burgess – Vocals / Bass
Reg Smithies – Guitar
Chris Oliver – Guitar
Stephen Rice – Drums

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Cover Picture

chameleons edgesessions


Music: 8
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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