[sic] Magazine

Book – View From A Hill, Mark Burgess.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re either a [sic] regular or already a fan of Mark Burgess and or his legendary band, The Chameleons . If neither, stay with me for a few seconds longer. You might just have ‘lucked’ upon a fine music autobiography and much more besides.

The Chameleons were an early 80’s, post-punk band from the North of Manchester. Their career, first time around, spawned three studio albums of unbelievable quality. Highly tuned guitars were swathed in chorus and all manner of other effects creating a delicate, heartfelt sound. Think of Coldplay and you have an approximation of The Chameleons guitar sound. Except that with The Chameleons there was far more weight behind the music. Lyrics were a big part of this of course and we’ll come back on this in a moment. But the music itself also had a real purpose. It was meaningful. It had impact. Did I say Coldplay? The Chameleons probably invented Coldplay just by tuning their guitars one day. The Chameleons could be powerful as well as beautiful.

For the most part they were powerfully beautiful.

As lyricist and singer, Mark Burgess naturally became the focal point for the band. For my money there are few lyricists the equal of Burgess. His work demonstrates a lightness of touch, filling even everyday phrases with a certain magic. View From A Hill offers us the Mark Burgess perspective on numerous events that shaped his life and the bands. At times the sky seemed the limit for The Chameleons except that, as this book reveals, it was a lot more complex than that. The Chameleons walked a path of self-destruction. If the industry wasn’t finding ways to hamstring the band, they found plenty of their own.

View From A Hill is an essential read for fans of The Chameleons, yet, as hinted at, goes even further than that. There are anecdotes that will please fans of the Manchester music scene and indeed rock generally. Plus at the turn of any one page you can find yourself stepping away from traditional rock bio, to a simple man’s life story. Get this book if you want to know the who what where why when of The Chameleons formation, destruction and the various highs and lows in-between. You’ll find all the answers but you’ll be left with many more questions. UFO’s, visions, malignant venues and the number 666 will all vex you after you turn the final page. Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is how The Chameleons twice managed to fuck it up so needlessly yet so utterly spectacularly. I’d wager we’ll see resolutions to the other phenomena long before we ever understand the latter.