Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring Lee Fields and The Expressions — and you might recall that Fields can trace the origins of his almost 50 year music career back to his earliest recorded efforts, released in 1969. And although he’s toured with several renowned funk and soul acts, including Kool and the Gang, O.V. Wright, Hip Huggers, and others, Fields has toiled in a bit of obscurity to most; however, he has been long known to obsessive and completetist record collectors, deep soul fans and those seeking ridiculously obscure yet funky grooves.
Interestingly, over the past 10-15 years or so, the classic soul sound has seen a remarkable resurgence with the likes of Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, the late, great Chuck Brown and others receiving the fame and attention that had up until recently proven to be elusive. And of course, along with that, there have been an increasing number of contemporary acts all over the world that have been employing that classic and beloved sound. In fact, with the release of 2009’s My World, 2012’s Faithful Man and 2014’s Emma Jean Fields joined by his latest backing band The Expressions won both the attention of the blogosphere and new fans, while pushing their sound and lyrics in new directions; in fact, Emma Jean featured a gorgeous and soulful cover of Leon Russell’s “Out In The Woods,” which also managed to evoke Fields’ own experience of arriving in the NYC area as a 17 year old with only $20 in his pocket and a desire to make a name for himself at all costs.
Fields’ fourth album with The Expressions, Special Night was released last November through Big Crown Records, and the album’s first single “Make The World,” is a stomping, early 70s James Brown-indebted bit of funk with a powerful and positive message that says we need to start getting our acts together, and uniting towards one purpose — getting things right or else we’ll be marching blindly towards our self-destruction. As Fields explains in press notes “The world was designed to last indefinitely. And we’re the only living species on Earth who can alter that process. I’m hoping that song has a chain reaction, helps somebody put into action whatever contribution they can to change what the world is going through.”
Directed by Kate Cunningham, the recently released video for “Make The World” begins with Fields and a small group of backing musicians, as well as a couple of subway performers performing the song at the Bedford Avenue L train stop while waiting for the train. We then see Fields and his band of musicians marching through the 14th Street and 6th Avenue and 14th Street and 7th Avenue stations with a directed and forceful purpose — they’re heading uptown to the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle, to join the President’s Day demonstrations, where they remind the protestors of why they’re there in the first place — to come together and change the world while making eerie parallels to the protests and demonstrations of the 1960s.