Friday, July 15, 2011

Fields - Fields USA 1969

This obscure trio from Southern California released just one self-titled album in 1969, containing a heady mix of rock, blues, soul, and psychedelia; but by then, vocalist/guitarist Richard Fortunato, bassist Patrick Burke, and drummer Steven Lagana had already traveled a long and colorful road. Fortunato and Lagana first played together in the mid-'60s, in a garage band called the Preachers, but it wasn't until they joined forces with Burke and another couple of musicians under the long-winded moniker the W.C. Fields Memorial String Band that they recorded a few singles -- most notably 1966's "Hippy Elevator Operator." By the following year and next single, "Mushroom People," they were simply called ESB (short for the Electric String Band), and then, finally, Fields, after evolving into a pared-down trio molded after Cream. That, of course, led to the aforementioned LP, which was released in a gatefold sleeve and featured backing vocals from Motown legend Brenda Holloway and the Raelettes, but still fell mostly on deaf ears and resulted in the band's demise shortly thereafter.
A single self-titled album -- that's what the California power trio Fields left behind in 1969. Guitarist Richard Fortunato, bassist Patrick Burke, and drummer Steven Lagana had been deeply influenced by Cream, by the sound of things. Fields recorded this slab for UNI with producer Bill Rinehart (formerly of Emitt Rhodes' Merry-Go-Round). The first four cuts are solidly in the hard and heavy blues-rock terrain, with twinges of psychedelia tossed in the opening "Elysian Fields" and "Jump on You," two standouts with lots of great guitar work. Things begin to change a bit on "Sun Would Set," where the wasted psychedelia takes precedence over the rough and tumble; even with the Raelettes on backing vocals and the spaced-out wasted lyrics, it's still guitar-drenched and driven into the red so the impressionistic touches are hardly noticeable. Side two is comprised of a single cut -- "Love Is the Word" is nearly 19 minutes long and is one of those utterly ambitious and crazy experiments that actually worked, with bluesed-out acid rock guitar, whomping basslines, and a skittering though steady snare and shimmering cymbals. An overdriven organ enters the picture and then comes the fuzz. After about five minutes of power soloing, a Stax-inspired soul riff is established, the horns come pushing their way in, and we're off to the races. Along with the band, Northern soul chanteuse (courtesy of Motown Records) Brenda Holloway and the Raelettes come in from outer space and enter the groove, making this a full-blown psychedelic-soul tune that never, ever gives up its groove, grease, or grit. The vocals here are almost as deliriously powerful and lusty as the screaming six-string and overblown bass groove. Thank the gods that the Fields' LP has been dusted off, remastered, and reissued by Fallout on CD. Simply amazing. AMG.

listen here


Post a Comment

Popular Posts