Between the years of 1985-1988, there was one record that got more play than the Fonz on a Saturday night. A record whose grooves became considerably more worn than imports like The Smiths, The Specials, The Jam and The English Beat … more worn than homegrown favorites like REM, Husker Du, and Camper Van Beethoven.
The Chameleons were a relatively unknown British band whose beautiful records were released on Geffen in the states to an audience smaller than the occupancy of a Brownstone in Brooklyn. Led by gentle flowing rock guitars, and an almost early U2 take on alternative music, The Chameleon’s “Strange Times” is truly a minor masterpiece.
Led by the somewhat dark breathy vocals of singer Mark Burgess, “The Chameleons” were rode parallel to bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, creating solid atmospheric rock melodies that were just far enough away from pop to make them seem inaccessible to popular audiences. “Strange Times” is a beautiful record beginning with one of the best album covers of all time- a surreal painting features characters that might have come from an “Alice In Wonderland” meets Salvador Dali collage. Featuring chilling tracks like “Soul In Isolation,” fragile acoustic numbers like “Tears,” explosive rock anthems like “Mad Jack” and covers of Bowie and The Beatles, “Strange Times” is the record everyone wanted new-wave-punk to yield but forgot to remember.