His latest recording project came about, you guessed it, as part of a television deal. The program Kyk Hoe Lyk Ons Nou follows Chris as he chats to the ooms, tannies and jongspan of Afrikaans-speaking South Africa. Like any series, it needs a catchy theme song. Only, instead of supplying just this one track, Chris Chameleon has made a whole album based on his experiences.
“Range” is a word often used to describe his work, but then only in a vocal sense. Yes, the vocal chords are still aflutter but the ex-Boo! frontman is also broadening his appeal a bit with a number of carefully chosen songs.
“Grootste Geskenk”, for instance, pairs him with Lianie May, one of the rising stars in the Afrikaans fees-pop scene. It’s a driving, singalong brand of rock, which should make Dozi jealous for two reasons: One, people will eat it up wherever its played. Secondly, Chris does it better. You might add that he’s hardly even trying, but that would just be causing mischief.
Is that art pop I hear? Nah, but a quick listen of “Lag”, the ugly duckling of the album, has a tiny whiff of Nick Cave about it, which we don’t hear that often in the age of Engfrikaans and Francois van Coke. Naturally, it hits a completely different spot than anything else on the album.
Children, however, will have far more fun keeping up with the screwball vocal antics of “Apie”. And if the diehards from Chameleon’s munki-punk days can bear to see them turned into munki-pop, they have something to latch onto as well.
Quite rightly, the idea of a family album, and especially one for an entire volk is regarded with suspicion in the music press. But back in the first days of radio, there was nothing abhorrent about the idea of “something for everybody”. That’s exactly the kind of album we have here. Chameleon, the cunning businessman and the stunningly talented lyricist, are still inseparably folded into one.
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