Somewhat frustratingly, this collection of tracks lacks full credits while most of the numbers come from two radio sessions from 1982 and 1985 (neither of which are collected on the other session discs), some numbers lack any description of what they're meant to be. Happily, what this disc lacks in clarity it makes up in overall interest; besides being yet more examples of the Chameleons' abilities, a variety of rare numbers and radically alternate takes surface here. Of the two sessions, the real winner clearly is the 1985 one; besides the twin "String Quartet" pieces, both quirky little synth pieces possibly played by touring keyboardist Clegg, two early versions of songs destined to turn up on Strange Times were recorded. "In Answer" already pretty much matches the final version but with a longer build of an intro and synth sweep (the resulting mix buries the guitars a bit), but "Mad Jack," in its "Bobby Moore's Wine" guise, resembles the Free Trade Hall version of the song still with its original set of lyrics. On top of all this is "Sally," never elsewhere recorded or played by the band - it's a gentle, very low-key number about Burgess' soon-to-be wife. The otherwise unidentified tracks include two intriguing rarities recorded with original drummer Brian Schofield, which would date them to 1981. One is the hard to find but quite powerful "Things I Wish I'd Said," but the real surprise is "Dear Dead Days," which in fact turns out to be a fast, nervy version of "Soul in Isolation," fine enough here but which eventually became a powerful centerpiece on Strange Times five years later with more compelling lyrics and music. If nothing else, a good sign as to how the band got even better with time!
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett