The Chameleons looked inwardly through the suffocating intrigue of the chaos and the crass to see what lies behind the mask. Formed in 1981 in the Middleton area in the north of Greater Manchester, the original lineup included Mark "Birdy" Burgess, Reg Smithies, Dave Fielding, and Brian Schofield. John Lever took over for Schofield before they secured a deal with Epic Records in 1982 to release their debut single "In Shreds". The band was dropped from Epic over creative differences and they moved on to Virgin Records subsidiary Statik to record their debut album Script of the Bridge with producer Colin Richardson.
Richardson helmed the sessions for the follow-up 'What Does Anything Mean? Basically' at Highland Studios in Inverness, Scotland during January of 1985. The album features Mark Burgess on vocals, bass guitar, strings, and production; Dave Fielding on guitar, strings, and production; Reg Smithies on guitar, acoustic guitar, album cover illustration, and production; and John Lever on drums and production; with engineering by Ian Caple.
Burgess admits: "We had no idea what we were going to do next. Obviously there was a guitar sound. Dave (Fielding, guitar) had a sound. Reg (Smithies, guitar) had a style. I ha a style. The drums had a style in keeping with a lot of the stuff John (Lever, drums) was into. However, in terms of what we actually produced with that sound was varied. There was nothing typical about it. The only reason why the second album sounds remotely like the first one is because a lot of the songs which ended up on it were written around the same time but didn't end up on Script Of The Bridge for one reason or another. I think there's only two or three brand new ideas on the second album. The rest were all done around the same time as Script.... Songs like 'Looking Inwardly' and 'Singing Rule Britannia' especially we'd been playing for such a long time ... Some of the songs off the second record stretch us a bit. For example, 'P.S. Goodbye' is very untypical of anything we've ever done as a band. We wrote it in the studio, put it together in the studio and basically did it one piece at a time."
'What Does Anything Mean? Basically'
All lyrics written by Mark Burgess, all music composed by The Chameleons (Burgess, Dave Fielding, Reg Smithies and John Lever).
00:00 "Silence, Sea and Sky" 1:59
02:01 "Perfume Garden" 4:36
06:41 "Intrigue in Tangiers" 5:17
11:59 "Return of the Roughnecks" 3:26
15:27 "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)" 4:17
19:47 "On the Beach" 4:10
24:01 "Looking Inwardly" 4:29
28:35 "One Flesh" 4:28
33:02 "Home Is Where the Heart Is" 4:54
38:57 "P.S. Goodbye" 4:02
11. 42:02 In Shreds
12. 46:14 Nostalgia
Intrigue in Tangiers [live at Candem Palace, 1984]
Singing Rule Britannia - (Live at the Camden Palace, London, UK, 1985)
Burgess; "There were a lot of political writers in music at that time who were raising awareness and that was brilliant but I would only write about what I had direct experience of. I've never even been arrested so I was never going to write about being in solitary confinement because I feel like I'm in solitary anyway when I walk down the street. There are plenty of writers cleverer than me who can bring that stuff to people's awareness so I tended to avoid a lot of the heavy political issues. What I wrote about I don't regard as political; it's more social. 'Sing Rule Britannia' is very much about Thatcherite Britain but I'm there I'm trying to write from the perspective of the social repercussions of that rather than the politics of it."