Fields

Fields

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Keyboardist Graham Field was a founding member of Rare Bird, one of the very earliest British progressive bands, who had a major European hit in 1970 with the song "Sympathy." He presumably founded Fields to provide more of an outlet for his compositions and fleet-fingered keyboard work, but the group didn't last very long, splitting up after the band's self-titled 1971 debut without having made much of a commercial impact. The subsequent rarity of the album helped make it a high-priced collectors' item, but the Cherry Red/Esoteric 2010 reissue finally made Fields' lone outing accessible to the world at large. As a showcase for Field's instrumental abilities, the album can't be faulted -- the leader's classic-rock exploits on piano and organ show that he was fully capable of giving Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, et al. a run for their money. Speaking of Emerson, Fields were formed in the classic Nice/ELP-style prog rock keyboard trio format, with Alan Barry providing vocals, bass, and occasional guitar and former King Crimson/future Greenslade member Andrew McCulloch on drums. While the record is dominated by exciting prog excursions that find both Field and McCulloch strutting their stuff in fine fashion, some tracks, like "A Place to Lay My Head," are more straightforward R&B-influenced tunes with a relatively conventional feel typical of early-‘70s British heavy rock. Meanwhile, the lovely, melodic "Fair-Haired Lady" shows that Fields could handle an acoustic ballad with grace. Ultimately, the band shows enough promise to invite speculation about what might have been if it had continued on its path a little while longer.

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