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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… The Sun and the Moon October 9, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Here’s a group that I’ve tangentially referenced twice before on the site (and the reason I thought of them was because they were mentioned a while back to me and I started to think of a couple of their songs and found I couldn’t get them out of my head).

The Sun and the Moon were the successor group – or at least one of them – to the Chameleons, a Manchester based post punk band whose influence remains extant in the Horrors, Interpol and many more. The Chameleons perfected a sound whose closest referent might be seen as that of U2, but to say that is to do them a terrible disservice. The Chameleons were all big choruses, reverbed guitars and melodies and Mancunian accents. On the other hand there were numerous influences reflected in their sound, which gave them a breadth and ambition equal to their peers. They broke up soon after the death of their manager, Tony Fletcher, around 1987. In a way they were typical of the nearly men of that era, but with one significant difference, they had real talent.

Anyhow, singer Mark Burgess and drummer John Lever joined with a bunch from a band called Music for Aborigines to form the Sun and the Moon and their first album appeared a year or so later (the others in the band, Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding formed the far from unlikeable, in fact really quite interesting, The Reegs who arguably were closer to the Chameleons sound. Later outfits include Bushart which John Lever is a member of and which I know if I had heard them when I was 21 or so I would love fiercely and probably uncritically 😉 ).

In some ways the sound was a slightly softer version of the Chameleons. The electric guitars were toned down, more strumming and clearer! And political. Where the Chameleons had been more allusive the Sun and the Moon were overtly political. And Mark Burgess, a man increasingly tending to wear his heart on his sleeve tackled a range of subjects from elections (Peace in Our Time), democracy (Peace in Our Time), an excoriating take on the waste that is unemployment (Limbo-Land) and abortion (at least I think so on A Matter of Conscience). There’s a profound cynicism running through the lyrics, best exemplified by Peace in Our TIme which used a range of samples from ‘The Prisoner’ to good effect, and have an odd potency at this point in our socio-political history.

That sounds dour, and in a way some of the songs are a little dour, certainly more downbeat than the Chameleons. And yet, ever since I first heard the album way back when, 1989 or so, on tape cassette on a bumpy train journey to Holyhead, I’ve found it strangely compelling.

Sure, it’s clunky, lacking some of the delicacy of the Chameleons, it’s also overwrought lyrically (Dolphin), and in places musically (Dolphin!), and Burgess on occasion unleashes a falsetto that he certainly didn’t in the Chameleons (Yeah, Dolphin again). But… but… I hadn’t listened to it in, ah, at least five years. And perhaps it’s the copy I have, or perhaps my hearing is recovering from that Hermano gig a few years ago, but it sounds fantastic

I’m deeply envious of anyone who can get to see the Chameleons Vox, Burgess and Lever’s latest outfit, as it tours this year in the US and the UK.

Anyhow, enjoy…

This Passionate Breed

A Matter of Conscience

Dolphin

Limbo-Land

Peace in Our Time

Picture of England (Live 1998)

Comments»

1. This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Chameleons « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 22, 2011

[…] Tony Fletcher. Mark Burgess, their singer, went onto a fairly prolific solo career – as noted here. And indeed is still working with a range of projects including the excellently named Black Swan […]

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