Fields – Fields
LP, 1969, Uni / MCA
Get it here (MP3)
Ok first off, this band bears no relation to the English/Icelandic group of the same name.
This album has been in my possession forever – having been part of my father’s collection, presumably, from the time it was released back in 1969.
Fields were a US psyche-blues-rock-soul trio consisting of Richard Fortunato (lead vocals and guitar), Patrick Burke (bass) and Steve Lagan (percussion). They existed for only about a year or so, released one single (Bide My Time), this eponymously titled album, and they collapsed after touring together.
The LP itself comes in a somewhat horrid gatefold sleeve, with the cover mixing disgusting purple, green and mustard-yellow, with a dodgy sepia band photograph forming the centrepiece. But just as one should never judge a book by its cover, one should never judge an album by its artwork. Well, sometimes you probably should, but not in this case.
Musically, this is a somewhat unfocused blending of styles, but it works. Sort of. An obvious influence is the hard blues-rock of the likes of Cream, but there’s also acid-rock and psychedelia, soul – Motown’s Brenda Holloway and Ray Charles’ backing singers The Raelettes (incorrectly spelled ‘Raylettes’ in the liner notes) make appearances – and even traces of funk in the mix. Mercifully, there are no Baker-esque drum solos and not too much in the way of guitar-wankery, and the album as a whole is very raw.
Side One consists of songs between 3 and 5 minutes and for me the standout track is Take You Home – which was the B-side to the Bide My Time single. It’s a heavy blues rocker, with great riffs, which is basically about just wanting to fuck someone. Jump On You is also pretty good as well – and one can only presume it’s what happens once Fields have taken you home.
Listen: Take You Home – via DivShare (unhelpfully, WP doesn’t allow embedding of DivShare links)
But the real treasure of this album is Love is the Word, the 18-minute epic crazy-fest that takes up the entirety of Side Two. You kind of have to just hear, as it defies explanation – at least as far as my limited writing skills are concerned. If you forced me, Id’ say its the sound of Sgt. Pepper’s, The Doors, acid-Motown and Clapton having been shoved in a blender, gobbled up and then unceremoniously vomited back out. But I don’t think I’d be doing it justice.
What I can say with certainty is, that this is the kind of thing I’d usually hate, but for whatever reason, in this particular case I love it. What it’s not, is some circle-jerky ‘jamming’ session – its an actual song with a structure. A lunatic structure, but a structure nonetheless. Plus it’s got horns and Brenda Holloway!
All in all, this is far from a great album, and certainly not some rare lost treasure. But its interesting, and I for one like it. Plus, they get bonus points for (allegedly) being named after the great W.C. Fields.
1. Elysian Fields (3:40)
2. Bide My Time (4:31)
3. Take You Home (3:00)
4. Jump On you (3:18)
5. Sun Would Set (5:19)
1. Love Is The Word (18:22)
Official Blurb (from a 2002 CD re-issue): “This US power trio’s sole album was released on both sides of the Atlantic in 1969, but sank without a trace. Equally influenced by blues, soul and acid rock, it’s an enjoyable mixture of snappy hard rock songs and the lengthy “Love Is The Word” suite, which occupied a whole side of the original LP. Featuring backing vocals from Northern Soul legend Brenda Holloway and production by former Merry-Go-Round guitarist Bill Rinehart, it’s a must for fans of bluesy psychedelic rock.”
Get it here (MP3)