The Chameleons UK

The Fan & the Bellows

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Mark Burgess has gone on record describing this collection's subtitle, "A Collection of Classic Early Recordings," as more than slightly misleading; understandable, since it first surfaced as an attempt to cash in on the Chameleons after their break-up by their first label. Even so, the various tracks here, including singles, demos and tracks otherwise nowhere else available, mostly from 1981 (half of which were produced by Steve Lillywhite with his trademark punch), offer a better view into the Chameleons' early days than might be guessed. The legendary debut single's tracks, "In Shreds" and "Nostalgia," the latter featured in two versions, already capture the mix of brawling post-punk drive and melancholic reflection that would only flower further on future releases. Similar combinations appears elsewhere on "Turn to the Vices" and "Everyday I'm Crucified" -- one of the few uses of the Jesus Christ pose lyrical gambit in rock that actually works! The title track itself is a stunner, one of Burgess' best shouts into the void meshing with the vicious power of Fielding and Smithies' guitars perfectly. Add to that such songs as an early version of "Less than Human" and the gentle, semi-ambient curiosity "Prisoners of the Sun," featuring the same obscure movie sample which leads off the later tune "Don't Fall," and while it's not as classic as the subtitle claims, there's more here than many other bands could ever offer.

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