Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Inside Out-Chameleons UK

Chameleons are a relatively unknown yet influential English band. They had a Geffen release Strange Times from 1986 and they do sound a little dated, perhaps it is the bombastic type lyrics. The reason they continue to be awesome is their expansive, urgent and spacious guitar sound. Their sound remains controlled, so it never reaches the stadium bombast of U2 or Simple Minds (the Steve Lillywhite sound), and music is just restrained enough that the guitars don't chime bouncing off the moon a la The Edge, merely a very large warehouse. Much more lush than Echo and the Bunnymen, yet less romantic. This band is the clear antecedent of Interpol's debut Turn On The Bright Lights, more so than the oft quoted Joy Division. Chameleons UK's most famous track is "Swamp Thing", which got play on some Modern Rock stations in the US (obviously they were much bigger in England). "Inside Out" is from a release of Strange Times with bonus tracks, and is the most common version floating around, but not the one on iTunes. This song, whether you like (or hate) the vocals and lyrics has such an insistent guitar and commanding rythym, that it should still make an impression. The overly dramatic delivery of the lead singer doesn't bother me, because I fell in love with this album on headphones on an airplane with the volume maxed and all I could hear was the space within the songs and the chiming, snaky guitar, which are at their most insistent on "Inside Out". Also amongst the bonus tracks, a Bowie cover, and a cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" that is converted completely into a Chameleons song (whether you think that is a travesty or not).