Reason #351 Why The ’80’s Didn’t Suck: Strange Times
The Chameleons were a band that completely passed me by in the ‘80’s, and I really do mean completely. I must have heard Swamp Thing a few times because when I dipped my toe into their waters with Strange Times sometime back in the ‘90’s, thanks to a good friend’s recommendation, the opening guitar riff was instantly familiar. ST remains a fantastic record, and after at least a hundred or more listens since then I have discovered many more reasons to cherish this album. Jon Levers drumming is one such highlight, a post punk John Bonham if there ever was one, and Mark Burgess’ haunting, sometimes sad and sometimes euphoric vocals adding another dimension to their already unique and otherworldly sound. Then, of course, there’s the guitars of Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies, a sound that would influence hundreds of bands in the coming decade, and beyond. Pick up and listen to any Horrors album for emphatic proof.
I would encourage you to grab the edition that has the 2 covers on it: Bowie’s John I’m Only Dancing, and Tomorrow Never Knows (by some little band from Liverpool). The former is fun but forgettable, the other is utterly amazing when run through the Chameleons blender and totally fits in with the flow of the record.
In addition to being one of the great overlooked bands of the 1980’s, they also put out some of the best album covers of the decade!