Year of Release: 1999.
Label: Gethsemene (Catalogue Number: GETHCD0001)

Produced by YVES ALTANA

YVES ALTANA - guitars, keyboards, bass, other instruments, vocals

Track Listing:


His (first) seven year ride with THE CHAMELEONS produced three fabulous albums (including the ace 1983 debut "Script Of The Bridge), but ended disastrously with the death of manager Tony Fletcher and the group's acrimonious split. Spin-off outfit THE SUN AND THE MOON (also featuring Chameleons drummer John Lever) left behind a further overlooked LP before being dropped by Geffen Records and Burgess drifted into years of occasional acoustic performances and finally 1995's intriguing return "Paradyning" with new co-writer/guitarist YVES ALTANA.

Throughout this turbulence, BURGESS' star has never waned with his devoted fan-base, but press indifference and commercial deaf ears have been equally omnipresent, not least to the release of "Venus", the debut from his short-lived trio INVINCIBLE. Once again, the band featured the writing and instrumental talents of ALTANA and drummer GEOFF WALKER, and the end result (their only album? probably, if the Chameleons re-union is permanent) is undoubtedly a major creative renaissance.

Recorded at The Water Tower in Manchester with Altana's guiding hand at the controls, "Venus" offers Burgess the ideal canvas to daub his open confessionals on and he replies with perhaps his most nakedly personal lyrics ever.

Naturally they're allied to a wealth of exhilarating melodies and if there were any justice, there'd be a brace of killer hit singles lurking here. "Spooks" is the first: vintage Burgess, with an irrepressible, soaring chorus and Altana bleeding imperious guitar all over the place.

Then there's "Dangerous"; a direct, crunching 3-minute fizz-bomb with pounding rhythms and sharp stabs of grandiose synth as Burgess ditches his woes and gets sensual with lines like "you do the goosestep across my back." Tantalising stuff, as is "Seventeen", the best single MARC BOLAN never recorded, glamming it up from a deliciously powerful keyboard motif while Mark revisits his teen dreams in style.

But then BURGESS has always excelled in what Pete Wylie calls "OPTIMISERY", and there're several examples here that assist in elevating "Venus" to a far higher plateau. "Think (It's Going to Happen)" succeeds as a sister piece to THE CHAMELEONS' "Caution"; distant, epic, meandering to six minutes plus and seemingly an exorcism of Mark's backwater years, he's vulnerable as he reaches the song's kiss off:- "All the rules and all the lies you sanitise/ We're off our heads and it's no surprise/ Living in a land without light."

Yet even "Think" doesn't quite equal the album's two majestic peaks, both of which should be regarded higher in overviews of both Burgess' career and in rock's annals generally. "Shiver" slow burns from a simple acoustic shimmer into a full-blown rockmeister by way of the loudest drums this side of a Tony Visconti production and features a particularly heartfelt vocal rom Mark, musing on his two favourite themes - the physical and the spiritual - while ALTANA turns in his most brutally beautiful performance.

Somehow, though, even "Shiver" is eclipsed by the album's penultimate track "Kinks". Later dedicated live by Mark to "a young friend of mine from Wimbledon called Adrian", it's almost unbearably moving, tenderness flying too close to the sun as it freefalls to an epic finale via Burgess' ghostliest vocal and some searing, Ronson-esque pyrotechnics from Altana. In less capable hands it could lapse into hamfisted prog, yet here it retains an unimpeachable grandeur. Then there's the reprised instrumental version of "Think" and they're gone. Most likely not to return.

INVINCIBLE undertook a low-key series of UK dates to mark Venus's release, and then apparently nothing much until the unthinkable happened and Burgess reunited with THE CHAMELEONS during 2000 for live shows and an album called "Strip" featuring acoustic versions of the band's favourites. Where they'll go now is anyone's guess, but maybe that's how Mark likes it. After all, as he said in the sleeve notes to "Script Of The Bridge", "Who knows if we'll make another one?"

Please keep us guessing, Mark. Come what may, you're always worth the wait.


The unsung hero of many a musical campaign, MARK BURGESS must be familiar with the resounding clang of commercial failure by now.