Top positive review
31 people found this helpful
on 8 October 2009
There is something quite marvellously enigmatic about Les Fleur de Lys, a band who in collector circles have become a byword for the obscurely brilliant. Several line-up changes, random name changes midstream and those classic missed opportunities always destined this band to remain an exclusive love for all those in the know, but such is music.
Initially formed in Southampton in 1964, the band like so many others in England at that time were branching off from Beat music and developing a much more harsher R&B edge, but through the sixties they would rub shoulders with some of the big names, change their line up and change elements of their style to suit, yet somehow they remained strangely continuous through the decade to their eventual split in 1969.
In all that time however this marvellous band never released an album, but with Reflections released on Blueprint in 1997, the collectors can finally stop digging at the back of those charity shops for that elusive 45 and finally find all of Les Fleur de Lys' output in one place. And what a collection of songs it is, from their more famous work with Sharon Tandy, through to the more unusual and forgotten collaborations with Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix.
In the early days of being signed to Immediate, Les Fleur de Lys had a producer of some notoriety; indeed it was no other than Jimmy Page. Between them they recorded a number of absolute stunners, most notably Buddy Holly's Moondreams and Pete Townsend's Circles. Circles in particular is a favourite of mine, similar to some of The Birds' output of the same time but with some rather fetching guitar play contained within, still brutal but at the same time refined. Despite this, chart success eluded them, but London during the mid sixties was a hive for solid R&B groups, and Les Fleur de Lys found no trouble in producing new material on London's fine club circuit, if only they stayed together long enough to reap the rewards.
Incidentally, over the years members of Les Fleur de Lys have gone onto play in bands called The Spencer Davis Group, Jefferson Starship and King Crimson but I wont go through every personnel change in this bands history through fear of curing insomnia, but I will say two things on this subject. Only the drummer Keith Guster was there at the start and the end, and for me the better line-ups of this band were the ones containing fellow child of Lancashire Bryn Haworth, who joined the group from 66 onwards. For me his inclusion rounded the sound and gave it a direction pointing more at the blues and even jazz, whilst still finding time to dip their toe into the Stax sound of the Mod clubs with songs like the pleasant Stop Crossing The Bridge.
Undoubtedly though the highlight of this band's output was their work with Sharon Tandy. Two tremendous efforts can be found here, the impressively dark Daughter of The Sun and the shockingly under appreciated Hold On, a song which I think is one of the finest to come out of Swinging London. Other highlights include the thumping I Like What I Am Trying To Do, and the final single, Liar, a very pretty little number.
For a band that had quite a few line-up changes in their time, Les Fleur De Lys remained consistently brilliant throughout the 1960's. A favourite band for many a collector, this CD really does capture the brilliance of this band and aside from a couple of ventures into a Mod sound, the continuity and radiance of this CD means that rather then feel like a patchwork compilation of a bands elapsed work from over the years, it feels more like a celebration of a piece of Swinging London that we should never really have forgotten.