Growing up hearing soul music on a regular basis, I have to admit that it’s a unique pleasure to see that the old school soul sound has seen quite a renaissance over the past decade or so as old schoolers have come out out of the woodwork to claim the glory denied them back when they first released material, and as contemporary artists have released new music using the old school, soul sound.
Much like his contemporary, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields has been in music for quite some time, toiling in obscurity before having his music be rediscovered by contemporary fans. And much like Bradley, Fields grew up listening to soul music that was popular when they were both teens in the 1960s; however, with Fields who was born and raised in the small town of Wilson, NC, he grew up listening to the soul that came out of Memphis – while singing in the choir in his local church. By the end of the decade, Fields was touring with many of the bands who were the forefathers of the funk sound including Kool and the Gang. And as Fields was recording and releasing material in the 70s, he drew some comparisons to James Brown with some calling him Little JB. In some way, the comparison to the legendary godfather of soul is fair and a little unfair; still when you hear “Fought For Survival,” an extremely autobiographical song describing how the young Fields and his family scrambled and scraped by for a living, you’ll definitely hear elements of 70s-era James Brown. In other words, an emphasis on proud, self-reliance and manning up when the shit goes down. However, where it differs is that it buzzes with a self-contained, righteous fury.
Interestingly Fields with his backing band the Expressions will be touring to support the re-releases of his first album,1979’s Let’s Talk It Over and an album of brand new material, 2012’s Faithful Man which was critically praised. And the tour includes a Webster Hall stop during CMJ.