The Flies: Complete Collection (Freakbeat, 1965-68)


The minor British band the Flies are most well-known for a couple of things, neither of which entirely prepares listeners for the pretty average brand of pop-psychedelia on most of their recordings. One is their debut single, "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," issued at the end of 1966, which is a hard rock treatment of a number more associated with the Monkees, but with plenty of crunching fuzz guitar. It wasn't a hit, but it did start to get the Flies a reputation among psychedelic collectors after being included in the very first compilation of rare British psychedelia, Chocolate Soup for Diabetics. The other thing they're notorious for are their sometimes outrageous live performances, particularly their appearance at the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream psychedelic festival in April 1967 in London, where they arranged to have hundreds of bags of flour explode and cover the audience at the end of their set.The Flies grew out of an East London band called the Rebs, and in 1965 they recorded a British Invasion exploitation album under the name of the In-Sect, all but one of the songs on the LP being covers of contemporary hits. By the end of 1966 they were signed to Decca and were recording as the Flies, though they issued only a couple of singles for the label. Arguably, their version of "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" is overrated, and not particularly psychedelic, What's more, it wasn't too typical of their output, which on the Decca singles, at least, was filled out by unmemorable pop and pop-psych numbers with prominent vocal harmonies, in the manner of many other fair but unremarkable British groups recording non-hit discs at the time.The Flies did manage to put out one more single on RCA in 1968, another middling piece of pop-psych titled "The Magic Train." Some unissued demos from the time show the band moving toward a more organ-based, ethereal sound, but the group disbanded at the end of that year. Members surfaced in the subsequent obscure British psychedelic/progressive groups Infinity, Please, Bulldog Breed, and T2. In addition, while still in the Flies, singer Robin Hunt recorded a very British, fey pop/rock-psychedelic 1967 single for CBS under the pseudonym Alexander Bell, "Alexander Bell Believes"/"A Hymn...With Love." All six sides of the three Flies singles, as well as both sides of the Alexander Bell 45, various 1965-68 demos, and cuts from the In-Sect album, were reissued on the CD Complete 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.

Buy this album


Pure freakbeat mixed with small a small touch of uk psych, dig it.


Pablo "Pochola" Cazorla said...


Lucien said...

Thank you very much for this !
As a fan of Bulldog Breed I'm interested in hearing what the band members sounded like during their Flies era.

Anonymous said...

Thank You very much!

Anonymous said...

The password does not work for me!

Pablo Cazorla (a.k.a. The Bomber) said...

try copy and paste with no other spaces or nothing, it does work ive already checked.

Vinyl Record Architect said...

Thanks for writing about the Flies. I just came across a copy of their 'In-Sect' release - the story of this 'disc-overy' is on my blog:


I love these obscure Brit Invasion bands!

The Bomber said...

Hi there architect!
Nice adquisition you ve made !
thanks for mentioning my blog in your site !
Hope you enjoy more of the stuff of my humble (pie) collection.
hoping to see you more often dude.

Vinyl record architect said...

I'll definitely check out what you are writing on...looks very intriguing

The Bomber said...

hi hi there!
well dear architect you are always welcome in my little bloggies.
intriguing indeed.

Anonymous said...

Thanx a lot!