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2023 Albums Thing 140 - Fleur De Lys “Circles: The Ultimate Fleur De Lys”

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The Fleur De Lys (or Les Fleur De Lys as they were occasionally known) were a ‘60s rock band formed in 1964 in Southampton. They never had anything even approaching a hit but, whether by pure luck or devilish design, they made two singles which are now regarded as Mod/Freakbeat classics. “Freakbeat" is a very loosely defined genre, but is used to describe the more obscure, harder edged artists of the British Invasion era, their records often using Fuzz-guitar effects. The singles “Circles” and “Mud In Your Eye” are classics of the genre.

I’ve known those two songs for a long time from various Psych/Freakbeat compilations and would love to own copies of the singles. But if I wanted either then I’m looking at around £1000 so that’s probably never happening. This compilation was released in 2022 (on lovely Orange vinyl BTW) and collects together the bands out-put in all their incarnations (Rupert’s People, Shyster and Chocolate Frog were all names they worked under) including both sides of those two sought after singles.

“Circles” was released on the ultra hip (now and then) Immediate label. A cover of a Who song originally titled “Instant Party”, it’s one of those rare occasions where the cover version is better than the original recording. It adds a fuzz-wah guitar part that The Who’s version didn’t have. Other than that it’s a pretty straight cover, just better. By the time they released “Mud In Your Eye” just 8 months later the band had moved to Polydor records. This one features pounding drums, Beach Boys-ish harmonies and a proper fuzzed-up-freakout guitar solo. There should also be an honourable mention for their version of “Hold On” (released under the name of Rupert’s People and co-written by band member Gordon Haskell. More on him later). It’s a song that did the rounds in the late 60’s as I also own a version by South African singer Sharon Tandy (on which the backing band is the Fleur De Lys) and an absolute belting version by Ipsissimus (their only release). Rupert’s People had a good knock at it.

Much of everything else that’s here is pretty run of the mill 60’s beat pop which explains why they never came close to a hit. It’s a thorough collection with great sleeve notes. Interesting side note is that Gordon Haskell, who we mentioned earlier,  went on to play with King Crimson (he was at school with Robert Fripp) and in 2001 had the Xmas No.2 single with "How Wonderful You Are”. Most bands don’t get to leave anything like as good as those two mid 60’s singles behind so they can hold their heads up among a slew of other wannabees at the time.

Mud In Your Eye - https://youtu.be/zf4Jh_AgqYY

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