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Sat 9/16 - Chameleons Vox (UK) ft. Mark Burgess at Middle East Downstairs

  • MIddle East Downstairs 480 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA, 02139 United States (map)

Chameleons Vox (featuring Mark Burgess, UK)

In 1981, Mark Burgess formed the Chameleons with guitarists Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies, and drummer John Lever. Formed during the early-'80s British post-punk movement, the band embraced the disjointed atmospherics and alienation of New Order. the Chameleons never approached the popularity of New Order, though, releasing three albums over a very promising but ultimately disappointing career. Burgess had played bass and sung with the Clichés, but met up with Fielding and Smithies, who were playing with a band called Years. The group was noticed by John Peel soon after forming, and sessions for his BBC radio show received the attention of Epic/CBS. The Chameleons' debut single "In Shreds" sold well and charted at number 42 on Peel's end-of-the-year Festive Fifty, but CBS dropped the band soon after. Virgin subsidiary Statik signed them, and released two albums, Script of the Bridge (1983) and What Does Anything Mean Basically? (1985). the Chameleons, however, were unhappy with their MCA American contract, so they signed with Geffen, which released their best album, 1987's Strange Times. That same year, manager Tony Fletcher died and previous troubles in the band heightened and caused the Chameleons to implode.
Soon after the breakup, Burgess reunited with John Lever to form the Sun & the Moon, with guitarist Andy Clegg (who had played keyboards with the Chameleons) and second guitarist Andy Whitaker. the Sun & the Moon released a self-titled album in 1988, but broke up in April 1989 after the Alive; Not Dead EP. Meanwhile, Fielding and Smithies had formed the Reegs with Gary Lavery and a drum machine, releasing an EP in 1989, and albums in 1991 and 1993 (Return of the Sea Monkeys, Rock the Magic Rock).

Zima Junction Busy during the early '90s due to legal wrassling with Dave Fielding over the release of Chameleons recordings, Burgess returned to recording in 1993 with three solo albums recorded with the Sons of God, initially just a group of friends but gradually including Neil Thin, Yves Altana, Karen Leatham, and old friend John Lever. Zima Junction appeared in 1993, and after a thorough American tour, Burgess offered the live album Manchester 1993 a year after it was recorded. In 1994, Spring Blooms Tra-La proved to be the last album recorded as the Sons of God. Renamed Occasionally David, the band recorded a live album in Hamburg, Germany, but then dissolved as Burgess began recording by himself. He added Yves Altana as a songwriting partner, and used most of the members of the Sons of God to flesh out the sound of Paradyning, released in 1995 as Mark Burgess & Yves Altana. Helped somewhat by reissues of the Chameleons albums (including a re-pressing of Strange Times in the U.S.), the album received the most attention from the British press since his Chameleons days. -