The Chameleons

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This article is about the English band. For other uses, see Chameleon (disambiguation).
The Chameleons
Also known as The Chameleons UK
Origin Middleton, England
Genres Post-punk
Years active 1981–1987, 2000–2003
Labels Epic, Statik, Geffen, Paradiso, Glass Pyramid, Artful
Associated acts ChameleonsVox, Years, The Reegs, The Sun and the Moon, Black Swan Lane
Members Mark Burgess
Yves Altana
Neil Dwerryhouse
Chris Oliver
Past members Reg Smithies
Dave Fielding
Brian Schofield
Martin Jackson
Alistair Lewthwaite
Andy Clegg
Kwasi Asante
John Lever

The Chameleons (known as The Chameleons UK in the United States)[1] were an English post-punk band formed in Middleton, Greater Manchester in 1981. The band originally consisted of singer and bassist Mark Burgess, guitarist Reg Smithies, guitarist Dave Fielding and drummer John Lever (replacing original drummer Brian Schofield). They released four studio albums and one EP before disbanding in 2003.

Burgess alone continues to play Chameleons songs live under the name ChameleonsVox (or Chameleons V).


Early career[edit]

The Chameleons were formed in Middleton, England in 1981 by Mark Burgess (vocals, bass guitar), Reg Smithies (guitar), Dave Fielding (guitar) and Brian Schofield (drums).[citation needed] Schofield was soon replaced by John Lever. Burgess previously played with the band The Cliches; Smithies and Fielding with the band Years, and Lever from The Politicians.[citation needed]

After performing several radio sessions for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel,[2] The Chameleons were signed to Epic Records and in 1982 released their debut single, "In Shreds".[3]

Their contract with Epic soon ended, and the band signed to Statik Records and released their debut studio album in 1983, Script of the Bridge. Their second and final album for Statik, What Does Anything Mean? Basically, was released in 1985. Following this, The Chameleons signed to Geffen Records, releasing their third studio album, Strange Times. Following the sudden death of the band's manager Tony Fletcher, The Chameleons disbanded.[3]


In 1990, The Chameleons posthumously released an EP, Tony Fletcher Walked on Water.... La La La La La-La La-La-La, with the title paying tribute to their former manager.

Burgess and Lever formed The Sun & the Moon, who released an eponymous studio album on Geffen in 1988.[4] Smithies and Fielding formed The Reegs, who released two albums, Return of the Sea Monkeys (1991) and Rock the Magic Rock (1993). Lever later joined Bushart, who released the album Yesterday Is History (2008). Burgess released his debut solo album in 1993, touring America the following year.[3]


ChameleonsVox performing at Rock in den Ruinen festival in Dortmund, Germany

The Chameleons reconvened in January 2000 to prepare for a May tour of England, which was followed by further, international tours.[3] 2000 also saw the release of the album Strip, featuring older material reworked in an acoustic format. After a final studio album, 2001's Why Call It Anything, another unplugged album (This Never Ending Now) and a reunion tour which took them across Europe and the United States, the band dissolved once again in early 2003.[5]

In 2009, Burgess and Lever reformed to play Chameleons back catalogue material, under the name ChameleonsVox. They issued an EP, M+D=1(8), in November 2013.[6]


The core quartet were sometimes augmented live by keyboardists Alistair Lewthwaite and Andy Clegg in the 1980s, and percussionist-vocalist Kwasi Asante during their reunion period (ex-Magazine drummer Martin Jackson also briefly replaced Lever during 1982–83 while the latter was on sabbatical).


Studio albums
  • "In Shreds"/"Less Than Human" (1982)
  • "Up the Down Escalator"/"Monkeyland"/"Prisoners of the Sun" (1983)
  • "As High as You Can Go"/"Pleasure and Pain"/"Paper Tigers" (1983)
  • "A Person Isn't Safe Anywhere These Days"/"Thursday's Child"/"Prisoners of the Sun" (1983)
  • "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)"/"Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)" (live)/"Pleasure and Pain"(live) (1985)
  • "Tears"/"Paradiso"/"Inside Out" (1986)
  • "Swamp Thing"/"John, I'm Only Dancing" (1986)
Live albums
  • Live at the Markthalle, Hamburg (1985)
  • John Peel Sessions (1990)
  • Tripping Dogs (1992)
  • Here Today... Gone Tomorrow (1992)
  • Live in Toronto (1992)
  • Aufführung in Berlin (1993)
  • The Radio 1 Evening Show Sessions (1993)
  • Free Trade Hall Rehearsal (1993)
  • Live Shreds (1996)
  • Recorded Live at the Gallery Club Manchester, 18th December 1982 (1996)
  • Live at the Witchwood (2000)
  • Live at the Academy (2002)
  • Acoustic Sessions (2010)
Compilation albums
  • The Fan and the Bellows (1986)
  • Dali's Picture (1993)
  • Northern Songs (1994)
  • Return of the Roughnecks – The Best of The Chameleons (1997)
Video releases
  • Live at the Camden Palace (1985)
  • Arsenal (1995)
  • Resurrection Live (2001)
  • Live at the Gallery Club & The Hacienda, Manchester (2002)
  • Live from London (2004)
  • Singing Rule Britannia – The Chameleons Live (2004)
  • Ascension (2006)


  1. ^ Palmer, Robert (15 October 1986). "The Pop Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Blocksidge, David; Clarey, Tina (1 June 1984). "The Chameleons". City Fun. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ankeny, Jason. "The Chameleons UK | Music Biography, Credits and Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Sun & the Moon | Music Biography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Chameleons – News". The Chameleons. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Mark Burgess’ ChameleonsVox debuts video for ‘Sycophants’ — first new music in 10 years — slicing up eyeballs // 80s alternative music, college rock, indie". 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 

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