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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.
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on 28 September 2011
I bought this CD for one reason: the presence on it of one of my all-time favourite singles from that wondrous year, 1967, the awesome, hypnotic, beautiful 'I Can See a Light.' Before this reissue, I'd been trying to track down a copy of this song for about 40 years. And, after all those years, it still sounds absolutely gorgeous, the interplay between the Hammond organ, cellos and violins sweeps you along as the vocals swell into the magical harmonies of the chorus that repeats the title of the song as a mystical chant. The lyrics have that quality of childlike innocence and youthful yearning that characterised so many of the best songs of the era, songs such as Nirvana's 'Tiny Goddess' and 'Pentecost Hotel.' Oh, and the false ending (another trait of the times) is great. If only it were 12 minutes instead of a little over 3. 'I Can See A Light' is probably the least characteristic track on this album, and one of the least 'rocky.' More characteristic is the great version of The Who's 'Circles' and the superb paean of praise to 60s womanhood that is 'Daughter of the Sun,' with its full-on vocals and snarling lead break. "I could jump upon my broomstick and be with you soon." Yes please! There are so many great tracks on this album one's left wondering why the Fleur de Lys never achieved the chart success they so clearly deserved. It wasn't lack of airplay. 'I Can See A Light' was a favourite of Radios London and Caroline who played it daily throughout the latter part of the Summer of Love. It really is worth the price of admission on its own. Consider the rest of the tracks as bonuses, and very fine ones at that.
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on 18 December 2007
Fleur de Lys is one of the best rock music groups of the sixties. A sophisticated mid-sixties beat group sound with very strong bass and guitar and very good songs. Having all the works of a great group on one CD makes it a very special disc.
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on 22 September 2007
I first came across this band when I picked up Sharon Tandy's single 'Stay with me baby' in 1967 - Les Fleur de Lys were her backing band. I flipped it over to find the muscular 'Hold on' with the most astonishing guitar solo from Bryn Haworth. At the time he was really pushing the boundaries with a big fat distorted heads down no-nonsense sound. When a lot of other guitarists were still reeling from the shock of Hendrix, this guy grabbed the batton & ran with it. It was constantly on my turntable then and a big favourite ever since.

Why they never made it bigger at the time is a mystery. In terms of sheer robust musicianship they stand comparison with contemporary bands like the Small Faces. The outstanding 'Circles' and 'Mud in Your Eye' have already cropped up on Nuggets II but it's a surprise that it's taken so long to compile this collection.

The period was so full of one or two hit wonders who hit a winning streak almost by accident that investing in career-spanning compilations can be a risky business. Having been disappointed by the unevenness of The Creation's compilation 'Our music is Red - With Purple Flashes' it's a relief to report thet you can approach 'Reflections' with much more optimism. Inevitably there's still the odd dud but mostly this is British 60's Psych at it's best.
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on 7 August 2006
This was a great underated British Pysch band. The cover of the Pete Townsend song "Circles" is worth the price of admission. If you are a fan of British Pysch music this is a must have.
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on 10 September 2010
The Fleur-De-Lys are usually bracketed with The Creation & The Eyes, as 60's Brit Freakbeat(now) or Psychedelic(at the time) bands who never quite made it.

This lot didn't even have a minor hit(like Creation, who had 2), or even get to make an album(like The Eyes, even if it was a cheap-label Stones tribute as The Pupils). Mind you, that inflates the value of their vinyls to absurd levels.

Now, they also never got plugged to death on the pirate stations, either, so obscure might almost have been invented for them. Whether they deserved it is debateable, but that's how it turned out.

Problem is, at F-D-L's creative zenith ie 1966-7, The Who & The Small Faces not only had this field cornered, they were both producing albums like A Quick One, Who Sell Out & Ogden's that, 40-odd years later, are still on my playlists. And, a couple of tracks apart, F-D-L's ain't.

Their version of Circles(originally on the Who's Ready Steady Who EP) is different enough to merit inclusion on my lists, but, overall, they are good, but not great. You just can't help feeling you've heard it elsewhere before, and better than this, too. Circles is very indicative of that-their vision is good, the original is mustard in comparison.

And, before we get that old chestnut-Yeh, but you should have seen them LIVE-I did, pal, all the ones I've mentioned in this review, admittedly in most cases by cutting school! F-D-L still were of a good standard live, but I don't have vivid memories of their gigs, unlike The Who or Small Faces at that time.

So, accept this lot for what they really were-a decent enough second division psychedelic band;still worth getting this CD, because it is a very fair indication of what was going down in those years, even if not the very best indicator.
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on 29 August 2013
This is a very interesting sixties album of singles and why they never made it big is one of those great mysteries
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on 18 March 2015
Great 60s band
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on 17 September 2010
But, this is one of the most expensive 60's groups to get hold of on original vinyl, so maybe you'd expect more?

They were genuinely psychedelic, though often bracketed with Pop/Op Art's Creation & The Eyes. Unfortunately, they were never taken up by pirate radio at all, and that's why they were a cult band even then.

This CD has every thing they did on it, so as it's going to save you between a grand & two grand for the vinyls, you may think it's worth it. It's definitely representative of their studio sound, but the fact that it begins with a very good version of The Who's Circles tells you something.

Because the Who's version remains top-notch after 44 years & The Fleur's still pales slightly beside it. The trouble with them was the failure to produce one killer song-not easy, but We Are The Moles(The Moles),Days Of Pearly Spencer(David McWilliams) & even Arnold Layne(from the start of Pink Floyd) are examples of what could have been.

They were fair live, but again not outstanding. I caught them age 14-15 in 1966 & 1967, but have no outstanding memories of the gigs.

So, definitely worth a punt on CD(and I'm NOT selling it BTW!), but listen to that before you start thinking of lavishing hard-earned dough on the vinyls.
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