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Lee Fields.....and "The Bizzaro World of MusicStyles/Audiences"

Lee Fields One of the nicest things about the 2011 Soul-Patrol Convention for me personally was the participation of the legendary Soul/Funk artist Lee Fields. www.leefieldsmusic.com

Lee Fields has been a member of Soul-Patrol for well over 10 years and he has made his mark in the world of music fans who want the "real deal," in terms of Black music. When I say that, I mean the real "roots" of Black music. Today he draws huge numbers of concert goers all over the United States, Canada, Europe and beyond. He has traveled quite a long ways from when he first sent me a homemade CD back in the late 1990's of what could best be described as "Southern Soul."

However most of those music fans are NOT who we might think that they either are or should be. Over the past 10 years or so, I have observed a very strange phenomenon in effect. I call that phenomena "The Bizzaro World of Music Styles/Audiences."

Some of you may recall the term "Bizzaro World," from the Superman comic strips of the past. In the "Bizzaro World," everything was the opposite of the way that Superman thought that it should be. For example n the "Bizzaro World," "left was right," "up was down," "good was bad," etc.

Over the past 10 years or so, the phenomena that I have observed is that the closer an artists music was to being firmly rooted in the historical legacy of Black music, the more non-Black fans that artist tended to have. While on the other hand, the less rooted in the historical legacy of Black music the artist was, the more Black fans they tended to have.

Thus..."The Bizzaro World of Music Styles/Audiences."
(For reference, see the Mighty Sam McClain file)

Today you can go to a sold out Lee Fields show at Central Park Summerstage and hardly see any Black folks in the audience. That's because in the year 2011, Lee Fields straight outta Plainfield, NJ, "home of tha P," a young man who sorta dresses and looks like James Brown and has a real flair for the style of both Little Richard, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, etc. onstage.

Does that sound like an artist who would be smack in the middle of the hearts and minds of Black America in 2011? (absolutely not)

However this is the type of an artist who would be smack in the middle of the hearts and minds of www.Soul-Patrol.com in 2011?

That's because we know that an artist like Lee Fields represents a pretty good look at where the future of Black music is going, to be in the not too distant future. In fact some might argue that it's already there (ex: look at the worldwide success of the music of Amy Winehouse.)

"In fact I would suggest that the type of music that we discuss here on Soul-Patrol is the most popular music in the world today. That's because we now live in a world that is electronically interconnected on a global basis. We can wax nostalgic all we want to about "the good old days," where Black music existed only on the far right hand side of the dial on low powered AM radio stations or inside of long shuttered ghetto based "chitlin circuit," nightclubs and theatres. But to do so would be living in the past. In fact, based on my statistics, Lee Fields is HUGE in the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Canada, and France."

In July of 2011 hardcore Black music lovers on a global basis can listen to three songs from the brand new Lee Fields album called "Treacherous" on the Nu Soul Channel @ RadioIO.com (http://bit.ly/1fn5cW)

Lee Fields - Here To Turn It Out
Lee Fields - Dance Like Your Naked
Lee Fields - At The End Of The Day

(on their smart phones)

You see, the audience for great Black music has changed, over the past 10 years. It is now global and that audience is able to listen to the music on a multitude of devices, from a multitude of places. I find it quite interesting to get a huge volume of email from people all over the United States as well as from places like Poland, Israel, Toronto, Indonesia, Brazil, etc, describing to me how much they dig the music that we play on RadioIO.com on a 24/7 basis. They like the convenience of discovering "the real deal in Black music," from the convenience of their smart phone while riding in their car, on their bike, in the subway or anyplace they can get an internet connection. Listeners are no longer "brainwashed" by corrupt radio networks, corrupt music charting services, corrupt music magazines, corrupt TV stations, etc. In today's global electronically interconnected world they now have choices and they choose to listen to the very best music available. In my humble opinion, the best music available, is Black music and Lee Fields today represents one of Black music's premier "ambassadors." www.leefieldsmusic.com

So it was good to re-connect with Lee Fields at the 2011 Soul-Patrol Convention. I am happy for the success that he is garnering on a worldwide basis. And it's good to see that he is allowing his own music to evolve as well. On "Treacherous" he still does the "hardcore" stuff, but he also expands into another part of the historical legacy of Black music. There are several "dance tracks," on the "Treacherous," that may at first appear to be out of place. And in 2011 they are quite out of place for Black Americans, who seem to have completely forgotten how to dance (have you been to a Hip Hop club lately and observed that nobody in the club dances?)
www.leefieldsmusic.com

However despite the reluctance of Black Americans to "shake their booty" anymore, the rest of the world needs to dance in 2011, cuz things are just that bad. To paraphrase Smokey Robinson, in 2011, things are sooo bad that "the world need to dance...to keep from crying." Black Americans on the other hand instead of dancing, feel that a better way of analyzing the state of things in 2011 would be to "stick their heads in the ground," and pretend that all is well....(The "The Bizzaro World of Music Styles/Audiences")

(but that is another topic for another day!!!)

In the meanwhile check out the new album from Lee Fields "Treacherous"
www.leefieldsmusic.com

(and of course look for him on the Soul-Patrol.com website, where we are quite proud to feature our longtime friend)

Scroll down for more...LEE FIELDS

--Bob Davis
609-351-0154
earthjuice@prodigy.net

Co-Founder www.soul-patrol.com
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com


Lee Fields - "Treacherous" (Album Reviews)

Lee Fields Below are a couple of album reviews on Lee Fields - "Treacherous," that I thought that yall might enjoy reading. As you read them don't forget to visit the official Lee Fields website at: www.leefieldsmusic.com where you can learn more about this great artist as well as listen to his music! (Bob Davis)

Album Review - Lee Fields: Treacherous


Funk and soul aficionados worldwide will agree that Lee Fields is synonymous with artistic authenticity. Maintaining a relevancy that has lasted several decades within the music industry, he has won over a new generation of listeners through his work on the Desco, Daptone, and Truth and Soul record labels. His last album was the 2009 release My World with his band The Expressions, incorporating a harder edge to smooth soul ballads and capturing the ears of sample-heavy hip-hop listeners everywhere. Treacherous shows signs of a singer looking to spread his wings in the hopes of attracting a new fan base, featuring compositions that will appeal to R&B and dance music audiences as well.

Those who haven't heard Lee's collaborations with Martin Solveig may be caught off-guard by the tribal house frenzy of "We're Here To Turn It Out." As the album's opening track, it is an immediate sign that this will be a wholly different listening experience compared to My World. However, Mr. Fields is no stranger to this rhythmic territory and his expressive tones ultimately make this song his own. The tempo steps away from the club for "I've Been Hurt," an R&B song about heartbreak. With the analog warmth of The Expressions replaced with somber keyboards and drum programming, Lee's emotional crooning is emphasized even more. "I Want To Get With You" serves as the lead single, a mid-tempo groove that's liable to get heavy rotation on urban contemporary radio.

Not every attempt to place Lee Fields within present-day musical backgrounds can be considered a successful one. "Living For The Gusto" is a synth-drenched stomper that's meant to be lyrically motivational, but it feels like a song that was meant for an entirely different singer. Despite having dance cuts under his belt, Lee still sounds out of place. On "Man Hunt," a hard house selection about a woman on the prowl, he almost doesn't sound like himself. If an artist can truly sing, there is no good reason to douse their vocals in Auto-Tune. It's the one sonic travesty on this album that could be deemed unforgivable and therefore makes this song entirely forgettable.

"He Doesn't Care About You" acts as an audio salve, this time surrounding Lee's pleading with a reggae bounce slightly glazed with a pop sheen. Warning his lover that she's "just another broken heart on his list," Mr. Fields belts out the tune with tonal clarity and commands attention from the listener with every note. "Dance Like You're Naked" is arguably the only cut that will truly connect with those looking for the uncompromising funk from past releases. Shades of James Brown can be heard in Lee's vocals while the band channels P-Funk and the J.B.'s for the instrumentation. It's a kinder, gentler funk tune, the edges smoothed out for an overall crisp sound. Begging is what Lee does best on this album, so by the time "I Want You So Bad" begins to play, there's no need to fix what isn't broken. You can practically visualize him on his knees during this doo-wop seasoned slow jam.

Listeners that are unfamiliar with Lee Fields will likely consider Treacherous a solid release. However, it remains to be seen whether longtime fans will be as kind, particularly those that are used to his vocals in a sonically grittier environment. Much like The Isley Brothers have changed their sound over the course of their career to reflect the musical trends of the times, perhaps Lee felt that a change was due for his compositions as well. Whatever the reason, it is certainly an interesting addition to his discography and one that will hopefully bring the mainstream attention that he certainly deserves.

--Jason Randall Smith

Album Review - Lee Fields: Treacherous

Whether backed by a tight rhythm and horn sections or driven by a house style DJ/producer, when Lee Fields steps in front of a microphone, he puts his heart, soul and mind into everything he sings;. And he has absolutely no qualms about it. With a vocal style that echoed James Brown's - resulting in years of constant comparisons - Fields had a lot to live up to. Dubbed 'Little JB,' Lee Fields was honored with those comparisons from his peers. Yet his ultimate focus was on delivering no less than one-hundred percent to the cause of vintage funk and soul; surrounding himself with musicians who knew how to groove hard and to accent his unique take on JB.

Fields released several singles for several labels through three decades, including the now obscure release from 1979, Let's Talk It Over. He generally took a recording hiatus during the eighties, appearing occasionally on a few 12-inch singles such as the disco-oriented "Shake It Lady." Lee Fields returned with several albums in the nineties that mixed his trademark southern soul with synthesized funk jams. But the ball really got rolling for Fields when musician/producers Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth sparked a revival of the sixties and seventies soul/funk era, starting with the band The Soul Providers.

With a core group of musicians and vocalists based out of New York such as Sugarman 3, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, The Expressions and Fields, Lehman and Roth's succession of independent labels such as Soul Fire and Daptone Records invested in delivering raw, authentically produced singles and albums towards a hungry audience for fundamental soul and funk. When Soul Fire Records shut down and Lehman left the music industry, it was taken over by Truth & Soul, which released Fields last full-length in 2009 - the critically acclaimed My World featuring The Expressions. As Lee Fields was enjoying his biggest success yet during this classic soul and funk movement, he partnered with popular French DJ Martin Solveig for two major dance hits - "Jealousy" and "I Want You" - that easily merged old school JB-enriched funk with house fueled rhythms.

Now with his most accessible recording to date, Treacherous on BDA Records foregoes the full live band setting in favor of more electronic beats as Fields' soul wrenching vocals bonds with futuristic R&B/hip-hop, smooth jazz, Euro pop, funk and reggae. Despite the absence of The Expressions, most of Treacherous should still satisfy the cravings of classic soul and funk aficionados. Solveig's influence rubs off on "We're Here To Turn It Out," a perfect backdrop for any Soul Train line, and "Man Hunt," a cut that would make itself at home on any DJ David Guetta superstar collaboration. Fields cleverly navigates between his JB-induced heights and soft swoops on "He Doesn't Care About You," with its gentle roots reggae flow, the hip-hop nuanced "I've Been Hurt" and the jazzy R&B stew of "I Want To Get With You." Those who appreciate Fields' body of work and the next generation of southern fried soul interpreters such as The Revelations featuring Tre Williams should especially bask in "I Want You So Bad" and "At the End of the Day." As for the funk, "Dance Like You're Naked" has the complete package, from the clavinet, to the sharp guitar strokes and a bluesy saxophone solo.

Even with a change of pace to reach a commercial market, Lee Fields strikes funky soul gold on nearly everything on Treacherous. The only serious hiccups are "Living in the Gusto," where Fields' voice succumbs to the overbearing techno buzz, and a couple of cheesy synthesized tracks. Overall, Treacherous might just be the major breakthrough for this underappreciated old school soul heart who takes every microphone moment seriously. Highly Recommended.

--Peggy Oliver

www.leefieldsmusic.com




--Bob Davis
609-351-0154
earthjuice@prodigy.net

Co-Founder www.soul-patrol.com
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com


 

If you have a news item, update, review, commentary, etc that you would like to submit to the Soul-Patrol Newsletter, please send them via email for consideration to:

earthjuice@prodigy.net


Hopefully you enjoyed this edition of the Soul-Patrol Newsletter.
We will be back soon with the next edition, with email alerts for local events, Soul-Patrol website updates/chat sessions or breaking news in between, as required.

If you have any comments, questions, etc feel free to drop me an email and let me know what's on your mind.
Bob Davis
earthjuice@prodigy.net

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