Did you know that there’s actually 203 types of Chameleons? 202 of which are lizards with the remaining one being of course the band! Yes indeed The Chameleons (the band) are back in action and will be touring in early 2022. This includes a Brighton concert that will take place at the ever-popular Concorde 2 on Thursday 3rd February 2022. Special guests will be The Membranes.
The Chameleons will be touring in celebration of their popular ‘What Does Anything Mean? Basically’ album, which celebrated its 35th Anniversary in 2020, having been unleashed to an unsuspecting world back on 1st October 1985. It was recorded in Inverness, Scotland in January of that year and was the second long player from the Greater Manchester post punk band, who had originally formed four years earlier in 1981.
The band then consisted of singer and bassist Mark Burgess, guitarists Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding, and drummer John Lever. They were called the Chameleons UK in North America because an American band had claim to “the Chameleons” name. The band released their debut album, ‘Script of the Bridge’, in 1983, but abruptly called it a day in 1987 due to the sudden death of their manager.
The Chameleons, known for their atmospheric, guitar-based sound, reformed in 2000, releasing the albums ‘Strip’ (2000), ‘Why Call It Anything’ (2001), and ‘This Never Ending Now’ (2002), but decided to call it a day in 2003.
Today, the Chameleons are regarded as one of the most underrated Manchester bands of the 1980’s, although they sadly did not attain the commercial success of other groups from the scene, they are a force to be reckoned with. Original members Mark Burgess and Reg Smithies reformed The Chameleons back in 2020 in order to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the ‘What Does Anything Mean? Basically’ album. Now it’s time to set the record straight and rectify history!
The Membranes will be supporting The Chameleons for the forthcoming tour. The Membranes formed in Blackpool, Lancashire in 1977. The initial line-up being John Robb (bass guitar), Mark Tilton (guitar), Martyn Critchley (vocals) and Martin Kelly (drums). Critchley soon left, with Robb and Tilton taking on vocals, and Kelly moving to keyboards, with “Coofy Sid” (Coulthart) taking over on drums.
Their first release was the ‘Flexible Membrane’ flexi-disc in 1980, and over the next 11 years they would go on to release six studio albums.
They were the first band to be signed to Alan McGee’s Creation label but the deal fell through when McGee could not afford to pay their studio bill for the ‘Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder’ single. The band relocated to Manchester in 1983, and ‘Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder’ was issued on the Criminal Damage label, which met with a positive critical response but distribution problems limited its impact.
The band initially called it a day in 1990, but in 2009, founder member John Robb and Nick Brown (who had been in the band since 1982) recruited Peter Byrchmore and Rob Haynes and The Membranes were reborn after My Bloody Valentine asked them to play their ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ festival.
After a 26 year break they released their best received album – ‘Dark Matter/Dark Energy’ in 2015 which has great reviews across the world. The band has received lots of radio play of BBC 6Music and recorded 2 session for the Marc Riley show as wells played from Steve Lamacq, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson on 6music, John Kennedy on XFM and Jim Gellatly on Amazing Radio and lots of radio play in Europe.
2019 saw the band unleash ‘What Nature Gives...Nature Takes Away‘ – a rather good new album indeed. It featured none other than punk legend Jordan Mooney, Theatre Of Hate’s Kirk Brandon and everyone’s favourite punk wildlife presenter Chris Packham.
The Membranes entire early discography is now available in one box set, entitled ‘Everyone’s Going Triple Bad Acid. Yeah!: The Complete Recordings 1980-1993’. It includes their five albums recorded for various labels across the 1980’s (on Criminal Damage, Creation, Constrictor, In Tape, etc.) as well as all their singles, B-sides, EPs and extra tracks. It boasts a mere 99 tracks, most of which appear on CD for the first time, from their contribution to the ‘Blackpool Rox EP’ in 1980 right through to their final recordings for the band’s original incarnation in the early 1990’s.
More info on the band HERE.
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