Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Flies - Collection (1965-1968)

Although the Flies are primarily remembered for their punkish rendition of "(I'm Not) Your Steppin' Stone" — covered from Paul Revere & the Raiders' version — the vast majority of the U.K. quartet's other material is much more pop-oriented and less aggressive. Complete Collection: 1965-1968 (2002) features 22 tracks from the virtually unknown Brit rockers. The East London band had evolved from The Rebs to the In-Sect and issued a long-player under the latter moniker in 1965. The following year saw two more name changes (the Decadent Streak and No Flies on Us BUT...) and a few personnel adjustments before being signed by Decca Records based upon their double-sided demo disc of "(I'm Not) Your Steppin' Stone" b/w "Just Won't Do." (Incidentally, both demos are included on this collection.) The label convinced the band to shorten their name to simply the Flies and, in October 1966, re-recorded "Steppin' Stone" as well as the mid-tempo love song "Talk to Me" for the respective A and B sides of their debut single. With a great industry buzz beginning to surround the Flies, they were picked up as a live support act, doing gigs with the Who, the Moody Blues, the Move, and Traffic; they even opened for the Jimi Hendrix Experience in February 1967 at the Roundhouse in London. The follow-up 45 also included two strong cuts. The backbeat heavy rocker "House of Love" as well as the lightweight take on the pop standard "It Had to Be You" — which made the band sound more like Sopwith Camel or the New Vaudeville Band than the acid-laced garage rockers associated with their earlier sides. The Flies eventually landed as the core lineup began to splinter by the end of 1967. John Hunt (drums/vocals) issued a solo single under the guise of Alexander Bell — which featured a session guitarist named Jimmy Page. Their "theme" (if you will), "Alexander Bell Believes," is an odd bit of Baroque pseudo-peacenik psychedelia, with a decidedly Kinks-influenced mod sound. In addition to the previously mentioned platters, this CD also includes a few pre-Flies pieces, such as the In-Sect covers of Chuck Berry's "Reelin' & Rockin'," the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride," and a demo of the Kinks' "Tired of Waiting for You," among others.

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