It should be no problem for Fields to find a new audience with this collection.
Ian Wade 2012-03-29
He’s paid some dues, has Lee Fields. He packed up and fled from Wilson, North Carolina in 1967, following the footsteps of his heroes to New York City. He began to sing and dance in clubs where people literally threw money at his feet. He began a recording career two years later, releasing cuts that go for silly money on auction sites. After a tough couple of decades, his stock began to rise with the advent of crate-digging hip hopsters, giving him a new lease on life and leading to a true re-emergence with three albums for Ace.
On his second album for Brooklyn’s Truth & Soul, he’s been backed the label’s in-house band The Expressions (also to be heard on Aloe Blacc’s I Need a Dollar and records by El Michels Affair, Adele, Liam Bailey, Ghostface Killah and Jay-Z, to name a few). With this support, he looks set – five decades into his career – to follow similarly inclined and rejuvenated acts such as Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones into a broader spotlight.
Tracks like I Still Got It reaffirms that this dude, even at 61, is "cool and dangerous" – and back, back, back. You’re the Kind of Girl, Moonlight Mile and I’m Still Hanging On each hark back to the sweet, swishy, southern-states soul of Al Green, and to The Moments’ idolisation of the ladies. Nicknamed ‘Little JB’ in his early years, he was seen as a sort of mini-me James Brown, but there’s no Little JB here, more echoes of Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Percy Sledge. This is no pastiche however, and Fields has found in The Expressions a band that can flip from Muscle Shoals to Philly soul lushness to sweaty talcum shuffling, showcasing his versatility and establishing him as very much his own artist.
With the last few years seeing a revival in ‘authentic soul’ via the likes of Amy Winehouse, Plan B and even Michael Kiwanuka, it should be no problem for Fields to find a new audience with this collection. The man is worth some love.