Lee Fields is a bit of an enigma. Like a Roy C critics love him- his loyal following buy his records but despite his immense talent he isn't nearly as famous as he should be. Some know him as a superbad James Brown disciple. In fact, his vocals, the grooves on his 70s records and even his look was so much like the "Godfather" that he earned the nickname "Little J.B." To others he's a serious soul star with an instantly recognizable voice. Fields released his first single on the Bedford label in 1969, "Bewildered" b/w "Tell Her I Love Her." After the 1973 one-off "Gonna Make Love" on London, Fields caught on at Norfolk Sound; 1973 also saw the release of one of his most enduringly popular 45s, "Let's Talk It Over" b/w "She's a Love Maker" (though it wasn't a big seller at the time). Another prized item was 1975's "Everybody Gonna Give Their Thing Away to Somebody (Sometime)" b/w "East Coast Rapper," issued on Sound Plus. Fields spent most of the latter half of the '70s cutting sides for Angle 3, including perhaps his most sought-after single of all, "The Bull Is Coming" b/w "Funky Screw". His last single with Angle 3 came in 1981 from his 1979 LP, "Let's Talk It Over".
Fields was quiet for the rest of the '80s, but mounted a comeback in the early '90s, signing with the modern-day Ace label then Johnny Vincent's Avanti resulting in four lo-fi soul blues records. In 1999, he returned to James Brown-obsessed funk for Desco on "Let's Get A Groove On" followed by "Problems" for Soul Fire. He also released many low fi Soul Blues in homemade mixtape style on his own BDA imprint, often repeating songs from release to release and fluctuating in sound quality. All of these are out of print. Fields's career fit hit a whole higher level when he teamed up with the Truth & Soul label and started recording unabashedly retro-Soul n' Funk first found on "My World", followed by "Faithful Man" and "Emma Jean". In 2014, he provided additional vocals for the James Brown biographical movie, "Get On Up".
"Let's Talk It Over" (Angle 3 1979)
1. Wanna Dance
"Meet Me Tonight" (BDA 1991)
A1 Meet Me Tonight
"Enough Is Enough" (Ace 1992)
1. I Want You So
"Coming To Tear The Roof Down" (Ace 1995)
1. Hot & Lonely
"Dreaming Big Time" (Ace 1996)
1. Slip Out
"It's Hard To Go Back After Loving You" (Avanti 1998)
1. Tom Dick & Harry
"Let's Get A Groove On" (Desco 1999)
1. Intro by Mr. Fields
"I Got A Problem" (BDA 1999)
1 I Got A Problem
"Let Me Hit It" (BDA 2001)
1 If I Didn't See It
(I Wouldn't Believe It)
1. Put Your Body In
"Giving It To You Straight" (BDA)
A1 Tom, Dick & Harry
"Problems" (Soul Fire 2000)
"Keep It Real" (BDA 2001)
1. Keep It Real
"The Way We Used To" (BDA 2004)
1. Live My Life
"The Naked Truth" (BDA 2005)
1. Dance Like Your Naked
**1/2 This new 11-track release contains a mix of new Fields tracks and a sampling of older BDA material (perhaps the demerit! This is one sure way to make record buyers apprehensive of buying your next one!). Funk, R & B, Blues, Southern Soul. The first single- the loose J.B.'s inspired-"Dance Like Your Naked" is a greasy jam with horn fills ala Maceo Parker. Here he exhorts y'all to let go of your "hang ups" and, well, dance like you were naked! Phat! "Keep On Loving You" is a sweet soul wailer showing Field's vocal chops; "I'll Go To Jail" and "You Won't Bring Me Down" are bluesy throwd owns. The minor hit "Money Talks" is a shuffle-bumper with a pop hook and tight percussion. "Ain't That Loving You" is an admirable cover of the Homer Banks classic. Elsewhere, his hit "I Got A Problem" makes yet another appearance here (this is at least the third disc with this cut). Perhaps the highlight is the show-stopping "It Could Have Been", a fantastic 60s soul ballad (think Otis Redding) with an aching vocal from Mr. Fields. Imagine what this cat could do on a higher budget! Hear that Ecko? Malaco? Hep' Me.......
"My World" (Truth And Soul 2009)
1. Do You Love Me
****1/2 After years of toiling away in the chitlin' circuit with poorly-produced, forgettable Southern Soul & plastic Funk records (all out of print as of writing) Fields suddenly finds himself with the real deal on "My World". In truth Fields was already there earlier in his career on two terrific retro-Funk n' Soul albums with a heavy James Brown influence . In between his both Ace (USA) Records and self-released demo-like SS CDs ("Enough Is Enough", "Keep It Real") he created two great albums ("Let's Get A Groove On" Desco 1999 and "Problems" Soul Fire 2000). Like all his albums it seems they went out of print and became obscure until the the classic Soul revival lead by labels like Truth & Soul and Daptone "saved" this music (both albums have been reissued). "My World" is an impressive throwback to the 60s and 70s Soul and Funk. Best of his career hands down.
"Treacherous" (BDA 2011)
1. We're Here To Turn
"Faithful Man" (Truth And Soul 2012)
1. Faithful Man
***** After releasing a poorly received album on his own ("Treacherous", on which Fields oddly gunned for Pop crossover success employing awful house beats and Electronica on many cuts) he's back with Truth & Soul for a proper successor to the excellent "My World". Fabulous sounding retro-Soul. Simple as that. Best slices of the pie are "Still Hangin' On", "You're The Kind Of Girl" and the dramatic title cut. The greatness of this album is beyond my skills as a writer to describe. I consider it one of the very best Soul albums ever released post-1979 and possibly pre-1979 is well. You have to listen to this with headphones to really get lost in it.
Lee Fields & The Expressions "Emma Jean" (Truth And Soul 2014)
1. Just Can't Win
****1/2 Lee Fields and Daptone continue the winning formula. Not much more to say that hasn't said before. Vintage sounds. Vintage arrangements. The lilting ballad, "Magnolia" and the dramatic, horn n' organ rollout (repeats on each refrain) of "Eye To Eye" is a feast for the ears as is Fields' passionate vocal. He just throws down and wails, pushing past any limits of a voice already blessed with range and it's one of his career highs. Another stunner is the closing torch, "Don't Leave Me This Way". Fields soars (I hear a little Jackie Wilson in how he sings part of the bridge) on this song having the best hook on the record.
"Special Night" (Big Grown 2016)
**** Different label (no longer Truth & Soul) but same retro production/writing style (thank heavens). Produced by Leon Michels and Thomas Brenneck it's also the first Lee Fields & The Expressions album where every song was written by Fields and band. They are more than up to task. The Deep Soul ballad "Work To Do" has a similar arrangement and feel as "I'd Rather Go Blind" on the refrain. "Make The World" is a stomping, socially-conscious rocker like The Temptations circa 1969. 'Let Him In" hearkens to earlier 60s with a vocal delivery not far removed from Otis Redding. "Where Is The Love" is propulsive groover with a '"Funky Drummer"-like drum pattern. There's an overall Funkier groove than the previous LPs but not at the expense of melody.. That's four nearly perfect albums in a row (I don't count Field's atrocious self-released "Treacherous" CD).