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Old 10-07-2009, 05:21 PM   #121 (permalink)
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Les Fleur de Lys - Reflections
(1997)



Tracks

1 Circles 3:07
2 Mud in Your Eye 3:05
3 Gong With the Luminous Nose 2:37
4 Sugar Love 2:09
5 Hold On 3:14
6 Prodigal Son 2:01
7 One City Girl 2:47
8 Daughter of the Sun 3:57
9 Tick Tock 2:46
10 I Can See the Light 3:01
11 Liar 3:21
12 I Forgive You 2:41
13 So, Come On 1:54
14 Hammerhead 1:32
15 Stop Crossing the Bridge 2:04
16 I Like What I'm Trying to Do 2:18
17 Hold On 3:32
18 Butchers and Bakers 2:56
19 Wait for Me 2:25
20 Reflections of Charlie Brown 4:16
21 Brick by Brick 2:30
22 I've Been Trying 2:45
23 Moondreams 2:30
24 So Many Things 2:18


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 Lysí 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 Hollyís Moondreams and Pete Townsendís Circles. Circles in particular is a favourite of mine, similar to some of The Birdsí 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 Londonís 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 bandís 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 1960ís. 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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Old 10-09-2009, 10:49 AM   #122 (permalink)
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Les Fleurs De Lys never seemed to leave a mark when their songs would crop up on Nuggets compilations and the like, but the tracks you played on your show were notably excellent. It's funny how all these tracks can be compiled and yet they never put out a single album, it's a shame, there is too much flash-in-the-pan promise from the latter half of the 60's. And many that did put out albums didn't seem to survive the changing landscape or they fragmented into other groups and went on to follow new trends. I guess it's the same story throughout the history of pop music. In conclusion I'm getting this compilation!
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Old 10-15-2009, 04:36 PM   #123 (permalink)
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And now making a "welcomed" return to my workload is Blues In The Cellar, this week featuring the marvellous Texan Bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins, who started out in the 1940s and would go on to develop close links with the sixties label International Artists out of Houston, as well as glorious acts like The Grateful Dead & The 13th Floor Elevators. Enjoy

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Old 10-16-2009, 11:38 AM   #124 (permalink)
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Lightnin' Hopkins was about the coolest guy in the world. Lightnin' used to sing with a cigarette dangling from the of the corner of his mouth. The first time I visted his house in Crockett Texas, he was wearing dark glasses in the middle of the night. I never saw him without his shades on. I think he slept in dark glasses.

Before I met him I thought he was blind because of the dark glasses, but he told me he had 20/20 vision and he told me he just liked to wear sunglasses all the time. I visited him a few times more before he died in 1982 and I always had a bottle of Jim Crow bourbon in hand which the price you paid to get him to play a few songs on his guitar.

I first heard him as a teenager in New Orleans coming from a high wattage broadcast from some black radio station somewhere in the wilds of Texarkana. The song I heard through all the long distance static was Going Back to Florida and I never heard anything like it in my life, static and all. What a voice!

Check out this intro to a 1967 documentary about Lightnin' I embedded below. Lightnin' is the dude standing with the cowboy hat and guitar in the opening credits. Lightnin's friends, Texas sharecropping singer Mance Liscomb is the seated guitar player and Bill Bizor is the guy dancing around playing harmonica. Later Lightin' sings a duet with Ruth Ames. Notice the half pint bottle of Jim Crow in Lightnin's back pocket in the opening song. Lightnin' was the blues equivalent of a Jamaican rude boy.

The documentary was filmed entirely in Crockett (named after Alamo fighter Davy Crockett) Texas where Lightnin' lived most of his life. Lightnin' told me he used to go see to see Blind Lemon Jefferson play at church picnics when he was growing up. There's a statue of Lightnin' Hopkins in the town square of Crockett Texas.

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Old 10-17-2009, 01:50 PM   #125 (permalink)
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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Safe As Milk
(1967)



Tracks

1 Sure Nuff 'N' Yes I Do 2:13
2 Zig Zag Wanderer 2:39
3 Call on Me 2:35
4 Dropout Boogie 2:29
5 I'm Glad 3:30
6 Electricity 3:07
7 Yellow Brick Road 2:25
8 Abba Zaba 2:41
9 Plastic Factory 3:07
10 Where There's a Woman 2:08
11 Grown So Ugly 2:26
12 Autumn's Child 4:00


Don Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart, is the Californian who has earned a name for himself as one of the shining beacons with the avant-garde crowd for over forty years, with his range of vocal styles and his sprawling attitude to musical creating. He began his artistic rise at the same time as his friend Frank Zappa whilst at College, Beefheart founded The Magic Band back in 1964, but they were not producing the weird and whacky sounds you might have expected from old Beefy; it was actually closer to the likes of fellow Californians, The Rising Sons, with the Blues running through the veins.

Soon signed to A&M Records, the band had an instant hit with a remarkable version of Diddy Wah Diddy, an album was soon sanctioned but oddly, the record bosses felt that what was produced was not up to scratch. This setback effected Beefheart, with the band being left in limbo for some time. But a determined Beefheart re-emerged in 1967 and a fresh line-up of The Magic Band was formed, crucially with a new guitarist, one Ry Cooder. The band then went back into the studio for another charge at that debut LP, and what was produced was nothing short of exceptional, entitled Safe As Milk, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band had finally arrived.

The album begins with Sure Nuff ĎNí Yes I Do, which is fine introduction to the power of Beefheart and Cooder, as a song it is nothing short of tremendous, classically structured and rather thrilling. The next song is Zig Zag Wanderer, which is different in both style and feel than the opener, itís a lot more Garage and í66 but in its own way it adds to the whole feel of the record as something rather fresh and special.

Another change of direction occurs on track 4, Dropout Boogie is very dark and sinister, a fuzz filled hate fest. It Sounds like Satan himself had a hand in the production, except for some sweet innocent piano moments to break it up a bit, but saying that even these moments make me feel slightly uneasy, truth be known this song is glorious. All these elements aired on this album seem to come together for the song Electricity, which is like a patchwork of all the influences that must have been swooshing round the studio at the time this album was recorded, its off the wall but maintains a humble and primal core to it, closing off Side One nicely.



Opening Side 2 is probably the most accessible song on the album, Yellow Brick Road is probably the easiest way to get the uninitiated introduced to Beefheart, it demonstrates there is a lot more going on with this man than just a grouchy voice singing rather random lyrics, the man knows what heís doing. Everything else on this album is fine and well worth celebrating but I particularly want to mention Plastic Factory, a belting song if ever there was one.

Although not a commercial success at time of release, Safe As Milk is still a classic Blues album first and foremost, maybe a Blues album injected with something horrendously bad for your health, but a Blues album none the less. But its triumph is that it contains just the right amount of Psychedelia and the right amount of the avant-garde. Since 1967, the album has been subject to a couple of extended reissues, most noticeably on Buddha, but in any guise the fact remains that the combination of Beefheart and Cooder was obviously a match made in heaven, certainly too much of thing for you to miss out on.
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:05 PM   #126 (permalink)
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I should really give Safe As Milk more listens. When I listen to Beefheart I invariably go for Trout Mask Replica which is a fault of mine. Great review.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:26 AM   #127 (permalink)
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Stellar thread. I like your musical taste : ).
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Old 11-03-2009, 03:53 PM   #128 (permalink)
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The Pretty Things - The Pretty Things
(1965)



Tracks

1 Roadrunner 1:58
2 Judgement Day 2:20
3 13 Chester Street 2:20
4 Big City 3:00
5 Unknown Blues 2:30
6 Mama, Keep You Big Mouth Shut 2:09
7 Honey I Need 3:13
8 Oh Baby Doll 2:09
9 She's Fine, She's Mine 2:45
10 Don't Lie to Me 2:30



I often describe The Pretty Things as the band The Rolling Stones could have been, I obviously like Alan Partridge but there is a hint of truth with that statement as well. The roots of The Pretty Things after all lie with a line-up which included Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Ultimately this line-up didn’t last past college, but in many ways the Pretty Things line-up which went into Stanhope Palace to record their debut were the real deal back in 1965, not the after effects of some publicity drive. For The Pretty Things were way beyond notoriety, they struck fear into parent and even the record label they were signed to, indeed the first producer Fontana selected for the inenarrable task of recording this dysfunctional mob of misfits left soon into the recordings, this producer also happened to be the head of the label, oops!

It is therefore more than amazing that The Pretty Things managed to stay signed let alone release a debut album, but alas in 1965 that is exactly what they did, releasing their self titled debut on Fontana Records. On a backdrop of alcohol fuelled Rock n Roll, and a tug of war with record execs about how loud can an amp go before it becomes inhumane, The Pretty Things have released one of the great sixties debuts.

These recordings were driven by **** Taylor, a guitarist who had a lot to prove since his former band mates had made it big with The Rolling Stones. It’s probably understandable then that he wanted to do things his way; with the help of a band who were equally uncompromising, they forced Fontana to leave quickly after they signed the cheques through fear for their lives.



This album begins with the Bo Diddley number, Roadrunner, unlike the original and other cover versions, there is no sign of a “Beep Beep” with this one, it’s completely raw and primal, a lot like the rest of the 26 minutes of this LP. Judgement Day is up next, another harmonica drizzled feast for the depraved.

This album is certainly a raw and edgy affair, with more instantly likeable songs like Big City, Oh Baby Doll, with another Chuck Berry song closing the album off nicely, with the gorgeous Don’t Lie To Me. But the fun doesn’t stop there, in later years this album has been reissued with some extra songs from The Pretty Things 65’ period; the pick of these is Rosalyn, marvellous stuff.

This album certainly is not for the faint hearted, it often gets messy and dishevelled to say the least in places. But to their credit The Pretty Things have recorded something quite hostile and uncompromising here, an album which wears its heart on it sleeve, this is pure and proper Rhythm and Blues, no fads, no trickery, no cons, just the proper music you’d expect from this legendary band. Someone should probably make a movie about this lot.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:30 AM   #129 (permalink)
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I never know what to think of the Pretty Things. On the one hand I think they get too much credit, particularly for S.F. Sorrow but, at the same time, I don't think they get enough credit! I think that comes from the fact that even in England they seem to be a band that is only known by 'afficiandos' or people who have picked-up S.F. Sorrow from yet another band name-checking it - even though none of those bands actually sound like S.F. Sorrow made an impression on them in the first place.

As you say yourself, they beat the early Stones at their own game on their early records and yet how many people who were around during the 1960s are that familiar with them. It seems history really is written by the victors and big-lipped Dartford boys.

I wonder whether they should be filed away with Les Fleur de Lys as one of those bands that perhaps ultimately suffered because of various line-up changes? Both bands created great music at every change they went through but perhaps they were never able to create enough traction for anything to really stick before they'd changed yet again?

Whilst Taylor's guitar playing always gets mentioned on anything about the Pretty Things, for me, some of the musical highlights on the early material actually come from Viv Prince's occasionally ferocious drums.

Last edited by Ulysses; 11-04-2009 at 11:03 AM. Reason: weird formatting problem!
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:33 AM   #130 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCellarTapes View Post
[B][U]The Pretty Things - The Pretty
I often describe The Pretty Things as the band The Rolling Stones could have been, I obviously like Alan Partridge but there is a hint of truth with that statement as well.
I knew it! I said you were sat in the studio stuffing your face with Toblerone. Is there a caravan parked outside Pure FM full of souvenirs of London?
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