Fields - Fields

Year of Release: 1971
Label: Epic
Catalog Number: LP 31154
Format: LP
Total Time: 41:06:00

I tried once to read the entire GEPR (Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock) and got about a third of the way through it before giving up. I remember seeing the tiny listing for a band called Fields, and thought they might be interesting to hear someday. A few weeks ago I found their debut (and only) LP, and it was pretty expensive for an obscure old LP, so I thought this must be good stuff indeed. After a few listens, I will confirm that it is indeed good stuff, much better, in fact, than I had hoped.

Fields was an English trio led by keyboardist Graham Field, formerly of Rare Bird. The trio was rounded out by Alan Barry who provided guitar, bass and vocals, and drummer Andy McCulloch. The band had a sound that was similar to Procol Harum, Greenslade, The Nice and a bit of Deep Purple, thanks to McCulloch's drumming, which was quite akin to the style of Ian Paice. Graham Field pumped out heavy, distorted B-3 organ riffs and nice accompaniment on the clavinet, and Barry, in addition to his solid bass and guitar work, gave the band a boost with his great voice, quite similar to Gary Brooker of Procol Harum. Their songwriting was fairly simple and straight forward, but overall, substantial and mostly satisfying. This all adds up to a winning combination as far as I am concerned.

Not every song on this LP is a knockout, but there are a number of high points on this release, which I have found to be available as a CD re-reissue through Syn-Phonic. The opening number "A Friend Of Mine" starts this album out with a major kick in the butt. Growling, ultra-heavy riffing from the B-3, and a song that develops into a bag of classical lines similar to Trace or The Nice, makes this a standout piece on this release. The drumming is very steadfast, and McCulloch's affinity for the cowbell over the highhat makes his playing a bit different than most drummers, and it is a tool he will use throughout this fine release. Barry's vocals on this track are outstanding, and his voice will reveal itself to be another of the strong points of this band and this LP

"Not So Good" is another outstanding track, reminding me of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," with stately piano and B-3 progressions and great use of dynamics. This track, along with the opening cut are alone worth the price of this release.

"Over And Over Again" is a great number with powerful organ and a string of time and tempo changes that keep the tune moving one step ahead of the listener's expectations. After the opening instrumental melee, the tune settles down to a very nice melodic number that reminds me a great deal of Greenslade, with fine B-3 and clavinet work and McCulloch's potent drumming.

"Fairhaired Lady" is Alan Barry's moment, a gentle tune featuring his fingerpicked acoustic guitar and agreeable vocals. The albums closer, the instrumental "Eagle" begins with Barry's flamenco style arppegiated chord changes, contrasted with Graham Field's more relaxed layers of keyboards. For this tune Field brings in more variety in his so far limited pool of keyboards, using B-3 and clavinet, as well as piano and mellotron. Fast fingerpicked electric guitar is balanced with slower, reflective keyboard passages, and the tune ends as a dissonant and minimalist piano interlude.

Overall, this is a good, but not great, album that showcases another sub-genre of English progressive. I won't claim to have the perfect title for this heavy, usually organ led, almost proto-progressive sound. Bands like Fields, Argent, Greenslade and Procol Harum lacked much of the foundation of psychedelic rock, drawing instead, a great deal from R&B and flavored with modest helping of classical and conventional rock styles. With this release, the listener will hear a number of outstanding tracks with fine vocals and very substantial instrumental backing and, to be sure, a few less stellar numbers that, nevertheless, make for a nice work of keyboard dominated progressive rock.

A Friend Of Mine 4:30 / While The Sun Still Shines 3:18 / Not So Good 3:11 / Three Minstrels 4:31 / Slow Susan 3:45 / Over And Over Again 5:58 / Feeling Free 3:17 / Fairhaired Lady 3:06 / A Place To Lay My Head 3:40 / Eagle 5:23

Alan Barry ? synthesizer, bass, guitar, vocals
Graham Fields ? keyboards
Andy McCulloch ? drums

Fields (1971)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: May 2nd 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1383
Language: english


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