Chameleon - 1982 Techno-Color

richardbrichardb Poole, Dorset


ARTIST: Chameleon
ALBUM: Techno Color
LABEL: Platinum
SERIAL: 40876
YEAR: 1982


LINEUP: Mark Anthony - vocals, keyboards * Dugan McNeill: vocals, bass * Charlie Adams - drums, vocals * Johnny Donaldson - guitars * Yanni - keyboards, synthesizer

TRACK LISTING: 01 Techno Color * 02 Techno Cat * 03 Primary * 04 Number * 05 I Can't Tell You Now * 06 Rock & Roll (No Place To Go) * 07 Techno-Too! * 08 We're Back * 09 A Girl Like You * 10 Sorry For Our Love * 11 Secondary * 12 I Remember


As you've probably already gathered from reading the various GDM reviews, the early 1980s was unquestionably the 'Golden age' of AOR.

With the likes of Foreigner and Journey riding high in the US charts and selling albums by the truckload, a host of imitators tried to jump on board the AOR gravy train.

Trying to keep pace with all the new US-Canadian AOR releases at this time was enough to bankrupt the average gainfully employed individual, let alone someone like me who was a poor student at the time.

In recent years, I've tried to make up for lost time, by adding to my vinyl collection some of those long lost AOR classics which I missed first time around.

'Techno-colour' by Chameleon slots nicely into this category. Chameleon hailed from Minneapolis, the same place that was also responsible for giving us the marvellous Fairchild and Jesse Brady.

'Techno-colour' was their second outing and followed hot on the heels of their self-titled debut released in 1981, which showed great potential.

However 'Techno-colour' earned them promotion into AOR's premier league not least because it exhibited an altogether heavier, more bombastic attitude, though still retaining the slightly quirky approach of their debut.

The Songs

The instrumental 'Techno-colour' opens the album flowing into the strutting techno-pomp rocker 'Techno-cat' awash with keyboards (including synthesised mewing!), then the pace slows with another instrumental 'Primary' and then it's 'Number' with some great staccato riffing from guitarist Johnny Donaldson and yet another nifty keyboard solo.

Chameleon were all accomplished musicians, and 'new-age' keyboard maestro Yanni, ensures that keyboards are ever prevalent and add colour(!) to the songs on this album. Fortunately, though, they are never allowed to dominate the proceedings.

Side one closes with 'Rock and roll (no place to go)'. This is a rather throwaway rocker with banal cliched lyrics. The chorus is repeatedly endlessly ad nauseum. I know a song has to have a good hookline, but is there any need to bludgeon the listener into a state of submission? As you've probably guessed, this is my least favourite track on the album.

Side two opener 'We're back' is another straight ahead rocker, however this time it surges along with a great riff and pumping bass. For once guitarist Johnny Donaldson really lets rip, soloing for all his worth almost a la Van Halen on the outro.

Elsewhere we have 'Sorry For Our Love' a wonderfully overblown pompous ballad with it's fragile vocals and delicate piano intro eventually reaching a glorious crescendo with yet another great guitar solo from Johnny Donaldson.

Closing the album in fine style is 'I Remember' driven along by a great keyboard/guitar riff.

In Summary

A couple of criticisms of this album are firstly the rather limp-wristed production which fails to do justice to the overblown pomposity of the songs.

Secondly, there are too many instrumentals (anything more than two on an AOR album is too much in my book!) I would have much preferred to hear more songs.

I believe that Chameleon followed up this album with the two releases 'Hologram Sky' and the six track mini LP 'Balance'. I haven't heard these, but understand that they are also worthwhile additions to the AOR connoisseur's collection.

Some years later Dugan McNeill released a solo album and a couple of former band members also released an album under the moniker The Sun And The Moon. Charlie Adams is still actively performing music and has toured extensively with Yanni.

There was even talk a few years ago that Charlie was planning a re-release of the entire Chameleon back catalogue on CD, though nothing further has been heard since.

It therefore looks like AOR fanatics for the time being at least, will have to search for the few remaining vinyl copies available, a bit like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Hard work I know, but rest assured it will be worthwhile.

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