on June 9, 2004
I don't know why Strange Times gets a "not quite as good as" Script of the Bridge review by most fans. It is in it's own right a great album. The great thing about the Chameleons is that they really do have a timeless sound. They are by far my favorite band of the 80's and while most of my old punk records sit around collecting dust a Chameleons CD always seems to find it's way into my CD player. Like every album you have had for years and over played you take breaks but the Chameleons always make it back into my favorite pile while other bands are quickly forgotten. Mad Jack, Caution, Tears, and their version of John I'm Only Dancing are my favorite tracks from this album while Swamp Thing is one of my all time favorite Chameleons songs for it's subtle layers of sound, fluid changes, and reflective lyrics. Souls in Isolation could be one of their most haunting/depressing tracks of all time. But the album is as solid and satisfying to the listener as any of their other works.
on May 9, 2004
If there was a should have been year in the Chameleons UK history, 1986 would clearly be it when this album was first released. Strange Times demonstrates that on every track, practically in every note!
I would like to state that if you purchase this on CD Now, then it is a bargain indeed. I had purchased this a few years ago & paid a lot more. I had to place this on special order, years before the internet. I can't even tell you how many times I have played this outstanding, superb album. It is sad that Chameleons UK does not get the credit that they clearly deserve.
Every release that they came out with is first class. However,
if I had to make a choice on the Chameleons UK best release to date, then it would be Strange Times.
Strange Times is not for your average listener. If you are looking for fluff, then you come to the wrong place.
This is for the consumer who appreciates music with class & substance. From start to finish, there is not one bad song.
The tracks flows through one right after the other. Even the bonus tracks are worth listening to.
I rate this album one of my personal favorites of all time.
Please buy this now & you will see for yourself.
on August 31, 2003
This was the album that actually introduced me to the Chams. It's not their best, Script of the Bridge was their masterpiece, but this album and "What does it mean basically?" were so close, so close to perfection as well, it's just too close to call.
These guys were amazing. The reason they never made it big was simply this: they were too good. Just too good, too profound. Think about it: ARTISTS ARE NEVER APPRECIATED IN THEIR TIME. 50 or 100 years from now, the Chameleons will be recognized finally. I am telling you guys: just as sure as Herman Melville and Edgar Allen Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Joy Division were only truly appreciated after they were dead, likewise, so will the stunning originality of the Chameleons. "Paradiso" is the first song I ever heard by these guys; I heard it on KXLU, a college station in Los Angeles. I heard it twice in two days, I was hooked, and my life was changed ever since. "Swamp Thing" is so unconventionally good it's disgusting. What a brilliant song. These guys were meant to be Kings in some parallel dimension; here they are only guys in moribund band with a huge cult following.
on May 14, 2003
Mad Jack? Two versions of Tears? Swamp Thing?
My friend Erik said it best, when he said: Du-ijsh!!!
Not intended for the emotionally bereft...This is one of the finest albums you'll ever enjoy, if you're willing to give it a chance. Once you realize how clever and moody the tunes are, you feel as if you are privy to a well-kept secret. The music does not hold mass appeal, because it was not engineered to meet the boring standards upheld by today's music industry.
The guitars sound like they are being played by two men, at the opposite ends of a canyon's echo, in complete unison (it's hard to describe). The lead singer's voice has an odd, distinct character that fits well in the context of the lyrics. I kind of get an "on-the-verge-of-creepy" vibe from the Chameleons, that I also get from Lynch/Kubrick films. Most everyone I've known who's given this record a chance, will attest to the inherent sweetness of Strange Times. Mullethead rockers, ambient spaced-out stoners, pop nerd hook-junkies and weasels from the neutral zone: FREE YOUR MIND
on July 20, 2002
I bought this album a number of years ago on Import .
To think some lucky bastard will get it for less than !
I bought it because they were from Manchester and they were frequently mentioned alongside great bands of the time like Joy Division, Echo, The Smiths and even U2.
This album for me is the sound of my suburban adolescence as much as Joy Division, Descendents' "Milo Goes To College" or Smashing Pumpkins' "Siamese Dream."
This was one of the greatest post punk bands coming back for a third album in 1986, I believe, and they filled the thing to the brim with atmospheric guitar songs about childhood, and any number of universal every day ruminations. Some people think they tried too hard to be profound, but that sentiment is really a relic of the time it came out with many similar groups around- I had the fortune to hear it removed from it's original time and place, in the late 90s when really no band sounded like this. And I found it truly moving, and I don't say that too easily, believe it or not. This is a very unique and special album.
Swamp Thing is a highlight, yes, so is the great post-punk pop/rock of Mad Jack, the sing-a-long Childhood, Tears, Soul In Isolation, Seriocity, In Answer...I better stop, I'll end up naming every track.
For my money, this is pretty much the best the Chameleons ever got. That may be because I prefer the sentimental, poignant aspects of the music most.
If you've got everything by The Smiths, if you like post-punk music, atmospheric, guitar song oriented music of the 80s...whatever...BUY THIS ALBUM.
on March 13, 2002
Of all the albums I've purchased in the past, this was one of the hardest to get into. I was initially disappointed, since it sounded so much different than their previous two releases. After the first listen to two, I was uninterested and just shoved it on my cd rack, but nearly a year later, I decided to give it another try, and it just clicked for me. It's not an easy album to listen to, especially if you got into their earlier material a lot, but I found it even more rewarding after so many listens. Now, Script of the Bridge sounds so plain in comparison (but still a fantastic album), and this has become one of my favorites. The fact that it's on a major label does nothing to make the music more commercial, and in fact the higher production values make it thicker, full, and more atmospheric, making it a bit of a journey to listen to. My favorites are the ode to heroin Mad Jack, the ballad Tears (a tribute to a dead friend), Soul in Isolation (amazing drums), the obvious Swamp Thing, and the bittersweet Seriocity.
Again, it's not easy to love, and not for everybody, but if you can get into this album, it's a higly rewarding experience.
on April 28, 2000
Strange Times is a classic. End of story. Why do British bands always burn out at their peak? If anyone was listening in the 80's (and apparently U2 was) they would have realized that this band was going into previously uncharted territory. Often categorized as Gothic, New Wave, etc. Chameleons broke several boundaries and really, in my mind refuse classification other than that they are a band deserving of their legendary status. Strange Times is the swan song of the 80's. Listen to this album and the others and you'll realize just how influential these guys were without getting much credit. They created the reverb, ethereal guitar sound emulated by such greats as The Chrurch, U2, The Fixx and in many ways the Police. The ghosts of Chameleons even haunt some eighties releases by Rush and David + David. Where'd you think tha guitar sound came from on "Welcome to the Boomtown". Listen to Script of the Bridge. Listen to the Chameleons and pay your homage! Where as Script of the Bridge was the White Album of the 80's, Strange Times was the Let it Be. At time incredibly powerful and delicately eerie. The lyrical content is simply amazing as it walks the fine line through British surrealism and wrenching emotional confusion. Thanks for the timeless music guys!
on February 25, 2000
It's always hard trying to figure out which Chameleons album is their finest, since the band seemed incapable of writing a ho-hum, or even merely good, tune. I guess this will do, even though it will appear uneven at first (since all of the epics are on the first half) until you realize the charms of the shorter stuff towards the end such as "Seriocity", "In Answer" and "Childhood". The trio of stunners "Caution", "Soul in Isolation" and "Swamp Thing" is quite possibly the most brilliant guitar-rock triptych ever. Possessing unfathomable complexity, ridiculously depth, and grabbing melody, they're just one jaw-dropping riff after another flowing together flawlessly. Mark Burgess' one-of-a-kind voice is an acquired taste but his lyrics transcend the typical melancholic introversion quite often and this is possibly the most passionate singing ever on a studio recording. This is the kind of record you'll be playing ten years from now. P.S. Amazing as it seems, the Chams have reformed and are playing a few shows in Manchester in May, 2000!
on April 12, 1999
The Chameleons are the lost soul of rock music, and Strange Times is a journey that will never end. If only everyone had heard this record back in 1986, popular music would have taken a radically different course. This record skies to melodic heights unforeseen, while safely plummeting through the depths of melancholy, only to bring you back up time and again. No one did this better than the Chameleons.
In their third, last, and greatest album, this Middletown band of geniuses combine their mastery of guitar delay and reverb with a restraint and commitment to detail that is simultaneously frightening and beautiful. (To U2's Edge, please take notes.) Layer upon layer of choral guitars will make you feel like you're hidden in a lighthouse in Scotland...waiting for the crashing waves and thunderstorms to roll in. And Mark Burgess' voice...weaving, crying in and out of Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding's chiming guitars will send chills down your spine. Fools compare them to U2 or maybe Echo (both great bands), but for those who know the Chameleons, they understand that this is like comparing 3-dimensions to one. BUY this record...it is perhaps the greatest album ever recorded.
on April 16, 1999
If there is one ingredient in the Chameleons music - it's emotion. Every track, every note, every lyric is filled with passion and heart-wrenching feelings - joy, sorrow, fear, hope. I first listened to this album as a college freshman and the music helped me through a difficult year. I have been listening to the Chameleons music ever since, obtaining practically everything they have ever released. Songs like "Swamp Thing", "Soul In Isolation", "Caution", "Childhood" and "Tears" leave such an impact it's difficult to recover. The route this album takes is from confusion, despair, loneliness to maturity, remembrance, and hope, most of all hope, as in the final lyrics that Mark Burgess sings in "Childhood" attest: "I hope we'll both be very, very, very, very, very, very happy...". This is a tremendous, spectacular album - unforgettable in every respect.