Guide to British Music of the 1960s

March 2021

CD Review: The Fleurs de Lys - Circles: The Ultimate Fleurs de Lys

The Fleurs de Lys were one of the 1960s bands that released a series of wonderful singles but failed to make the charts. Nowadays, their contribution is widely appreciated and this new CD or double LP from Acid Jazz brings together the best tracks along with a detailed and very informative biography of the band. The band had an evolving line-up and only drummer Keith Guster was ever-present.

The band came together from various Southampton area groups. They were given a record deal by Immediate Records but the resulting single, a cover of Buddy Holly's Moondreams, was not representative of the group. To add insult to injury the b-side was a Jimmy Page track that had nothing to do with the Fleurs de Lys even though it used one of their song titles. The band's Wait for Me is included here and it is well worth a listen.

Keyboard player Alex Chamberlain left and was replaced by Phil Sawyer whom the band found touring in Germany. Sawyer's amazing guitar work was outstanding on the follow-up single, a version of the Who's Circles. This single is widely viewed as superior to the Who's own version, quite an accolade. Bassist Danny Churchill had also left by this stage to be replaced by Gordon Haskell. The single received little support from Immediate and guitarist/vocalist Frank Smith left the group.

Chris Andrews and Pete Sears joined the band on guitar and keyboards respectively. After the band moved to London,South African Frank Fenter entered their lives along with his girlfriend Sharon Tandy. Phil Sawyer's guitar work was at the heart of the next single Mud in Your Eye. However, after its release, the band had a devastating blow when Sawyer joined Shotgun Express and then the Spencer Davis Group. However, they found a new guitarist in Bryn Haworth who opted for the Fleur de Lys instead of the Herd.

The band were gigging widely and supporting visiting US artists. They recorded Reflections of Charles Brown (Not included here) but, believing it was derivative of Whiter Shade of Pale, it was released under the name Rupert's People. The b-side also credited to Rupert's People was the stunning track Hold On. There is also a version of this track with the Fleurs de Lys backing Sharon Tandy although this is not included here. They also recorded under the names Shyster (Tick Tock) and Chocolate Frog (Butchers and Bakers).

Enter the songwriting team of Brian Potter and Graham Dee. They wrote a number of sings for the Fleurs de Lys and some with the band backing Sharon Tandy. Unfortunately, the Sharon Tandy & the Fleurs de Lys tracks Hold On and Daughter of the Sun are not included here but are well worth listening too. At this time Haskell left the band and ended up with King Crimson and much later with a number 1 single as "The Pub Singer". Tago Byers joined the band on bass. Now Tony Head joined the band on vocals and Fenter set him up with Tandy as Tony & Tandy as a double act in the style of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Tyrell. Potter/Dee's Two Can Make It Together should have been a massive hit but again suffered from a lack of promotion. Brian Potter & Graham Dee's Gotta Get Enough Time also hints at what could have been.

By this time Bryn Haworth and Sharon Tandy had become an item and were heavily involved in drugs. This took its toll on the band. Haworth decided to move to the US as did Frank Fenter. While this was the end of the Fleurs de Lys they did leave a massive legacy. They were actually the first UK act to sign to Atlantic Records, the second being Led Zeppelin.

Acid Jazz

Original release: 26 March 2021

Essential Tracks

  • Circles
  • Hold On
  • Gotta Get Enough Time

Track Listing:

Side A

  1. Circles
  2. Mud in Your Eye
  3. Hold On
  4. Gong with the Luminous Nose
  5. Tick Tock
  6. Hammer Head

Side B

  1. One City Girl
  2. I Forgive You
  3. Brick by Brick (Stone by Stone)
  4. I Can See a Light
  5. Prodigal Son
  6. Nothing to Say

Side C

  1. Stop Crossing the Bridge
  2. The Bitter and the Sweet
  3. So Come On
  4. You've Got To Earn It
  5. Two Can Make It Together
  6. I've Been Trying

Side D

  1. Liar
  2. Moondreams
  3. Wait For Me
  4. Love Them All
  5. Gotta Get Enough Time
  6. Walks the Sands
  7. I Do Love You

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