The Chameleons - 'Dreams in Celluloid' CD Review (Blue Apple Music) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Chameleons - 'Dreams in Celluloid' CD Review (Blue Apple Music)

The Chameleons - 'Dreams in Celluloid' CD Review (Blue Apple Music)
Ten years after Manchester’s The Chameleons broke up for the second time, a posthumous disc, Dreams in Celluloid, has been released in the UK. This disc is a bit of an odd release as I can’t quite figure out the audience it is targeting.

Disc one of this 2CD set is comprised of thirteen demos and early recording, many of which pre-date The Chameleons’ 1983 debut disc, Script of the Bridge. Before any Chameleons’ fans get too excited – the “bad news” is that these tracks are a compilation of tracks from two previously releases, The Fan and the Bellows (1986) and Dali's Picture (1993). The Fan and the Bellows contains four tracks from a 1981 session with Steve Lillywhite, five tracks from 1981 which are probably demos (as the liner notes state these tracks were produced by the band) along with a non-lp b-side (“Prisoners of the Sun”) and a 7” edit of “Nostalgia”. As the disc was reissued a few times, it isn’t that hard to find and is available from for $22 (used) or from for £15.00 new.

Dali’s Picture originally came out on Mark Burgess’ Imaginary label and is a bit harder to find (though it seems to be around if you are willing to pay $30+ for a used copy). The Chameleons’ website describes this ten track disc as: “Dali's Picture is the original demo album the band cut and sent out to various labels. "Dreams In Celluloid" is an early version of "Second Skin". Most of the material is lyrically different than later versions..” Sadly, the disc doesn’t come with any liner notes on the session date(s) or the band members at that time. There is some overlap though between the 1981 session tracks produced by the band on The Fan and the Bellows and the tracks on Dali’s Picture so it seems safe to assume that all of Dali’s Picture came from these 1981 demos sessions.

Below is a breakdown of how the tracks on Dreams in Celluloid map to Dali’s Picture and The Fan and the Bellows.

01. The Fan and the Bellows – recorded in 1981 with Steve Lillywhite
02. Dali's Picture - originally on Dali's Picture
03. Every Day I'm Crucified – recorded in 1981 (self-produced - demo?)
04. Looking Inwardly - originally on Dali's Picture
05. Nostalgia – recorded in 1981 with Steve Lillywhite
06. Turn to the Vices – recorded in 1981 (self-produced - demo?)
07. Love Is – recorded in 1981 (self-produced - demo?)
08. Nathan's Phase – recorded in 1981 (self-produced - demo?)
09. Dreams in Celluloid – originally on Dali's Picture
10. Things I Wish I'd Said – originally on Dali's Picture
11. Less Than Human – recorded in 1981 with Steve Lillywhite
12. In Shreds – recorded in 1981 with Steve Lillywhite
13. Prisoners of the Sun – b-side of 1983’s "Up the Down Escalator" 7”

The “Tony Fletcher Walks on Water” EP used to be the ‘holy grail’ for Chameleons fans but it too has gotten relatively easy to come by. The four tracks on this disc are from the band’s 1987 session for their forth studio album and the sound and lyrical outlook follow in the same vein as 1986’s Strange Times. This EP was originally released in 1990 on Burgess’ Glass Pyramid label but the release was ultimately blocked by guitarist Dave Fielding. This EP later re-surfaced as a bonus disc on the commonly available greatest hits compilation Return of the Roughnecks (1999) which is available from for £7.50.

Given Burgess’ comment in an interview with [sic] Magazine about working again with Dave Fielding: “What stops the two of us from working together is Dave Fielding. I have no idea why.” – Dreams in Celluloid may be as good as it gets in terms of any ‘new’ material from The Chameleons.

Getting back to where I started this review – I’m having trouble figuring out the audience that this disc is targeted to. Die-hard Chameleons’ fans will already have all these tracks and those that don’t will likely be frustrated with the number of tracks from Dali’s Picture and The Fan and the Bellows that weren’t included on this release. Casual fans are generally not that interested in demos and session takes and may be better served picking up the “Tony Fletcher” EP as part of the Return of the Roughnecks set.

The Chameleons