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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Chameleon - 1983 Balance
Chameleon - 1983 Balance

ARTIST: Chameleon
ALBUM: Balance
LABEL: Platinum
YEAR: 1983


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

TRACK LISTING: 01 Little Sister * 02 One More Time * 03 Don't Wanna Love You * 04 Teazer * 05 Combination * 06 She Never Gets What She Wants

Those expecting a repeat performance of the bombastic AOR showcased on 'Techno-colour' will be disappointed (as indeed I was initially). 'Balance' is more diverse than Chameleon's previous offerings, covering am eclectic mix of musical styles encompassing along the way New Wave, AOR and keyboard dominated pop influences. I'd hazard a guess that this was down to Yanni's increasing influence on the band. The band's drummer Charlie Adams has still continued this collaboration to the present day being gainfully employed as a member of Yanni's touring band. 'Balance' has a Jekyll and Hyde personality that's not easy to warm to. Although at least Chameleon showed they were prepared to experiment and take risks rather than regurgitate the same formula endlessly. However, 'Balance' is a bit of a grower, and does contain some of Chameleon's best material, and a couple of bona fide AOR classics to boot. Another plus factor is that this time Yanni's production is spot on, getting the best out of guitarist Johnny Donaldson who veers from subtle delicate picking, to rock hard riffing with consummate ease. In fact you could say he's chameleon like in his ability to adapt to this diverse musical climate.

The Songs
Side one, relies heavily on keyboard atmospherics, rather than the kind of over the top guitar histrionics evident on 'Technocolour'. I was completely taken aback by the swirling keyboards, understated guitar fills and wavish mannered vocals on moody opener 'Little Sister'. This track is a passable attempt at Duran Duran/Simple Minds style wave rock which I seem to recall was popular both sides of the Atlantic at the time. I was still reeling from this state of shock when I heard 'One More Time' which is bright and breezy - pure pop, light years away from anything on 'Technocolour'. 'Is this the same Chameleon?' I was left asking myself. Side one closer 'Don't Wanna Love You' is similarly keyboard dominated - not a guitar powerchord in sight. It's over on side two that Chameleon reveal their true colours as a rock band - a different band steps up to the podium, and the lightweight antics on side one take a back seat.. The band come out firing on all cylinders with 'Teazer' which is driven along at high tempo by keyboards and choppy guitar, the chorus is suitably bombastic embellished by some serious riffing by Johnny Donaldson. 'Combination' is more high tech AOR though with sufficient guitar clout to prevent it from drifting into blandsville territory. The album's piece de resistance though is closer 'She Never Gets What She Wants' - worth the price of admission alone. Building from it's memorable opening keyboard refrain, it has a healthy injection of guitar and is infused with melody. Johnny Donaldson really does come into his own on this track with some heavy duty riffing, and the kind of solo which sent me scrabbling for my air guitar.

In Summary
Rather frustratingly it's over all to soon, but it does leave a tantalising glimpse of what might have been, and is a fitting epitaph to this talented outfit.

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#1 | sir lord baltimore on April 23 2009 11:51:26
Great album. A little bit dated maybe. Some awesome keyboardwork by Yanni.
#2 | gdazegod on September 22 2012 05:11:01
1984's 'Hologram Sky' came after this. Would be good to track that one down also.. but it is rare.
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