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Chameleon - Rising CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.24 | 23 ratings

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3 stars What is it with Texas? Just when you think they're a bunch of backward rednecks largely responsible for both Big Oil and the death of the 35th President of the United States, the state has gradually emerged as one of the leaders of American prog rock going back decades and right up to our time. Houston quartet Chameleon is one of those unearthed relics. Active during prog's heyday in the 1970s though formed in '69 by high school friends, they were a healthy young band that composed quite original arty prog influenced by both the British scene and their domestic roots. Rising is a collection taken from tapes made between 1975 and '80 at the converted barn they used and so the disc does have a somewhat disconnected feel, but it's a lot better than nothing. And the sound & mix is reasonably good.

Chameleon did a sort of progressive kaleidescope of musics they mapped-out carefully and then injected with a good dose of feeling. When two brothers are leading, drummer Mike Huey and bassist Rick Huey, it usually makes for good copy. With fine enhancement from Craig Gysler's keys and the guitars of Spencer Clark, Rising is a mystery box of treasures and terrors both, but the treasures are surely worth the occasional muck & mire. At least for any respectable prog excavator. 'Texas Cyclone' is a decent starter and vaguely reminds of the kind of Greenslade-ish stuff around at the time; 'Follow Your Love' is harder and a touch commercial, and quite good. But 'Pilot Thoughts' is more interesting if derivative with a sound that might've caught-on in their time, and 'Pass Thru the Columbian Mountains' is a delight of texture and arranging from guitarist Spencer Clark. Classic '70s hard glam for 'Everyday Everyway' in the vein of Big Star et al.; Trippy, even muddy progressive jazz-folk-rock of 'Mirkwood Forest' doesn't score too many points though it is an excellent try at a very complex bit; The unmistakable influence of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker is heard on 'Saturate'; 'Midnight Matinee' features good vocal layers, a decent lyric, and very nice 'Life Positions' has the whole band pitching-in on writing and at over nine minutes may be the compositional highlight, the record closing on verbose but brief 'In My Own Way'.

Though there is nothing Chameleon did that was important or influential or lasting, it was honest, quality prog with some personality and a nice helping of America on the side, and now finally takes its place among the great unwashed insignificance of obscure prog rock. They deserve it, for better or worse.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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