Chameleons Vox – Mark Burgess reveals his influential and favourite albums.
Mark Burgess has always been an icon on the music scene due to the amazing work he did as frontman with The Chameleons. Their album Script From A Bridge influenced so many people and was a debut up there with the best of the best. He still keeps at it as Chameleons Vox and will be starting a European tour this month. I spoke to Mark about the albums that influenced him and those that have made a mark during his years of touring, and still holding that post-punk torch, keeping The Chameleons sound alive and kicking.
Please Please Me – The Beatles
First album I ever owned at the age of four, a present from my Nan. Hamburg Beatles always remained my favourite period, very Punk attitude and really classic 60’s pop tunes, unpretentious and masses of energy. Fave track: Do You Want To Know A Secret, showing Lennon & McCartney genius from day one.
The Doors – The Doors
By the age of nine I was buying my own records. I’d come across this bunch listening to radio Luxembourg, a pirate station that broadcast during the early hours when I’d be left alone without a sitter. I just loved the weirdness of it, unearthly with that haunting voice. Beautiful. Fave track Break On Through.
Electric Warrior – T.Rex
I loved Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose records I’d heard on John Peel’s show around 1970, but it was 1972 I believe when I finally went and bought a T.Rex record. This one. I’ve still got my original copy although over the years I’ve had to add a few more because I wore it out so much. I got the remastered CD set, which is fabulous for all the extra stuff, music and promo, but the 180 gram double vinyl remaster that includes the demos is the best of the lot. Fantastic production and string arrangements from Tony Visconti giving it its raw edge. The most live sounding album he made. Favourite track: Ripoff.
Alice Cooper – Schools Out
Saw this guy for the first time on the Old Grey Whistle Test performing a track from their album ‘Killer’ and he scared me to death, in a good way. Killer is a fabulous album – Bob Ezrin actually gave me his own copy and signed it after I was lucky enough to a share a dinner table with him one evening, but I’ve gone for the follow up because it had a huge impact on me as a kid. My first portable cassette player came that Christmas and I played this album on that machine solidly for about a year. People came to forget that actually Alice Cooper was a BAND, and what a brilliant band they were my favourite out and out rock band of all time. Fave track – Blue Turk.
Propaganda – Sparks.
I could easily have chosen a dozen albums by this duo from their first record first to the most recently released ‘Hippopotamus’, which came out just last year, but I have to go for this one. Like ‘Kimono My House’, the album that preceded it – regarded by many as their best -Propaganda bristles from start to finish at a breakneck pace. I actually followed both those tours around North West England aged 13, lying to my parents about staying over at a friend’s place, so they wouldn’t report me missing to the local police. Simply the most original and intelligent pop music ever produced and probably my most favourite pop act ever. produced and probably my most favourite pop act ever. Fave track: ‘Don’t Leave Me Alone With Her’. What a chorus!
David Bowie – Station To Station
Again I could have picked at least a dozen albums by this guy in his various guises, from Space Oddity all the way to Blackstar, released just after his death, a day I prayed would never come. He and Marc Bolan were such huge influences on me as a kid, and Bowie continued to be so for most of my life. Bowie’s voice on this record is just fabulous and his persona more alien than ever, while the writing is on a whole higher level than anything that had come before. Listened to it three times a week for free at the old Virgin Record shop on Oldham Street until I’d saved enough money to finally buy it. Fave Track: Station To Station
The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols
A breath of fresh air to everyone with the possible exception of Tony Blackburn and most of the House of Commons, who actually held a debate in Parliament over what to do about this obvious threat to the fabric of British 1970’s society. One of the best bands I’ve ever seen, certainly in the top five and anyone who says this band couldn’t play don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. Fave track: Bodies.
Damned Damned Damned – The Damned.
The first Punk Band I ever heard on the radio, again courtesy of the Pirate Radio Luxembourg, and the first Punk band I actually ever saw. My favourite memory though is of the band opening for T.Rex at Manchester Apollo. This album is one the purest rock and roll albums ever made, the golden age before the departure of Bryan James. Fave track: Fan Club
Rattus Norvicus – The Stranglers.
More genius songwriting from the immense Hugh Cornwell, coming across as a kind of Punk Incarnation of The Doors at times. One of the bands that made me want to pick the bass up. I’d play along to this record at 78rpm so I could learn to play faster! Fave track: Goodbye Toulouse.
Live At The Witch Trials – The Fall.
One of the best incarnations of The Fall ever and my personal favourite from all the hours and hours of brilliance across the years, mainly for the memories of Manchester that it continues to evoke in me, the golden ages of the Manchester Underground. Fave Track: Rebellious Juke Box.
Metal Box – Public Image Ltd.
Another aid in my struggle to be a bass player, playing along to Jah Wobble and demolishing all the knick-knacks on a neighbours wall three doors down in the process. The only album I ever enjoyed listening to on weed. Fave track: Careering.
One of the great things about being an avid fan of The Old Grey Whistle Test is that occasionally you got to discover bands like this. Absolutely brilliant band and criminally underrated and ignored. I remain a Jon Foxx fan to this day. Hate what the band became, to be honest but nothing can take away the sheer brilliance of those first three albums. Fave track; Wide Boys
Gary Numan – Are Friends Electric.
Without Ultravox, we wouldn’t have had this fella, chosen because personally, I think it contains one of the greatest pop singles ever made. Fave track: Are Friends Electric
The Best Thing – Grow Up.
Joy Division and Factory Records seem to hog the limelight when it comes to Manchester’s legacy, few remember that they were only one of a number of cool Indie labels in the city back then. Chief amongst them Object Music with the fascinatingly original Spherical Objects At it’s centre. One of those guys, John Bisset Smith formed his own project, Grow Up, the only person who could ever out Morrissey Morrissey. When Peel got this album he played it from start to finish during a single broadcast and I don’t blame him. Fave track – Dear Isobelle.
The Hounds Of Love – Kate Bush.
First record I ever bought on CD and I still have it and it doesn’t even skip. Fell in love with her at Wuthering Heights, but this album is a masterpiece from start to finish. A true Anglo-Saxon Goddess. Fave Track -Cloudbusting
Grace – Jeff Buckley.
As a singer, it’s hard to listen to this man and not think, ‘well I might as well just pack it in now because what’s the fuckin’ point?’ Absolutely sensational but one of those voices you’re either going to love or hate, I’m obviously of the former. For me this is a perfect album and while it’s always sad to lose a genius to the grim reaper, JEFF’s untimely demise is particularly tragic and hard to take. Fave track – Grace.
An End Has A Start – Editors.
Just love this band and respect them enormously. Probably the one lyricist I regard as a kindred spirit when it comes to themes. Great guitar, great vocals, great sense of melody. Just majestic. Fave track: The Weight of the World.
Bloom – Beach House.
Another great and beautifully original American band of the more contemporary variety. Great in the car at night on those long drives up and down the motorway. I’ve gone for ‘Bloom’ because it contains their finest moment, the epic single and…..
….. my fave track ‘Myth’
I’ve missed loads and I could carry on like this for hours, so I’m going to end it with one of my favourite contemporary bands Radiohead, and again while I could easily have chosen any one of at least half a dozen of their records I’m going for……..
…….. In Rainbows. I think it’s possibly the best of the bunch and I was invited, like millions of others, to pay whatever I wanted for it. Having not heard it I sent them 15 quid and it was worth every penny, most I believe elected to give them nothing, a fact I find utterly disgusting. One of the greatest bands EVER.
Fave track – Reckoner.
Mark is on tour with Chameleons Vox from the end of the month. All dates are above.
Wayne Carey – Louder Than War.