Who: The Chameleons
What: The John Peel Sessions
When: 1990 (Recorded 1983-1990)
Oh.. Oh!! Miranda’s a fan of post punk is she? I’d never have guessed..
Much like Echo and the Bunnymen et al.. These boys follow all the hallmarks of a perfectly competent post punk template, with some truly beautiful songs as a result, however, for some reason, unlike the Bunnymen, I’m told they never really had that “big hit” moment, so I was given this Peel Sessions as an intro to the band, and as expected, it is full of great, yet mostly unremarkable songs.
I guess the beginning’s a good place to start, it’s served me well up to now. And so far so post punk, track one, The Fan & The Bellows is fine, but the problem with all these post punk/new wave singers is they tend to sound the same, there has to be something distinctive in the music to set the bands aside, and as much as I like this (this track especially) it really does little to leap out at me from the (frankly several) similar bands that I already love.
The way the tracklist runs does work well as a live set, and thanks to some of the BBC’s superior recording equipment, these songs maintain the energy they would have live, without compromising on sound quality, giving a great glimpse of the band at different stages of their career.
Plenty of these songs would’ve made lovely chart singles, Perfumed Garden is case and point, standing up to repeated listens well, Things I Wish I'd Said has a great bassline that keeps things moving, and it’s staccato guitar fits in well and Don’t Fall is really hard to ignore, his voice is really emotive, and the stomping guitar sounds so great.
Unfortunately, they’re little more than lovely, Looking Inwardly is pretty, and does what it’s meant to do, Intrigue in Tangiers is Pictures of You 5 years before that was even written, and second skin is a bit Psychedelic Furs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if I wanted to listen to the Cure, or the Psychedelic Furs, I’d just listen to them, wouldn’t I?
I’m sorry, Chameleons, I wish you’d have come to my attention sooner, I’m sure I would’ve liked you more if that were the case. I did like this, honest, I just, can’t really rave about it, since about half the songs sound like things I’ve already heard, and a 50/50 strike rate is just not really high enough for my liking.