The Fleur De Lys – You’ve Got To Earn It (Acid Jazz)

This compilation is a mess, both wonderful and maddening at the same time. I guess that kind of makes sense though, since The Fleur De Lys were something of a mess themselves. At their core they were a mod-psych (or ‘freakbeat’ if you prefer that moniker) outfit, with several brilliant songs in their repertoire that could compete with genre heavyweights like The Who and The Yardbirds. They even did a cover of The Who’s “Circles” that trumps the original. Despite these fits of greatness the band also suffered from a severe identity crisis during their 1964-1969 lifespan, cycling through eleven members with drummer Keith Guster the only constant throughout. To add to that confusion, during that time they changed names from Les Fleur De Lys, to The Fleur De Lys, recorded singles under alternate names like Shyster and Rupert’s People, and acted as a backing band for singer Sharon Tandy. Instead of coherently collecting the band’s work You’ve Got To Earn It only adds to the mountains of confusion. Keith Guster’s liner notes say “finally, a real Fleur De Lys compilation”, but he never explains what he means by this, and the previously released Reflections comp is actually far better! Both have significant song overlap, but Reflections has a few white-hot numbers (“Daughter of The Sun” and “I Like What I’m Trying To Do” among others) missing from You’ve Got To Earn It, even though it’s forty-seven minutes runtime left more than enough blank space for them. Perhaps they also could have included their recently unearthed cover of “Crosscut Saw” from a BBC session which Guster calls “amazing” in the liner notes, yet despite it’s amazingness didn’t make the cut here. Another recently unearthed cover, The Temptations’ “You’ve Got To Earn It,” did make the cut, and even gives this collection its’ title yet isn’t anywhere near as exciting as the band’s best material. If you want to hear great Fleur De Lys songs like “Hold On,” “Mud In Your Eye,” and psychedelically-titled “Gong With The Luminous Nose” (don’t forget, this was 1967), You’ve Got To Earn It gives you that chance. If you’re looking for the final word of The Fleur De Lys, keep looking.