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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 No. 3. 15th March 1972

record — Fields



If you remember Rare Bird and their million seller Sympathy the name of organist Graham Field will be familiar. Their music used is powerfully slow organ work, something that disappeared when Procal Harum stopped producing. Now Field has formed a new group with a couple of excellent musicians. The format is pretty much the same as in Rare Bird, though there are some interesting new fields touched upon - possibly that's the significance of the title.

Something about the new group, Fields: guitar/bassist is Alan Barry, who has worked with Pete and Mike Giles (ex King Crimson) and recently played lead guitar on the first solo album by Gordon Haskell (also ex King Crimson). Barry wrote three of the songs for this album, and is the lead vocalist. Andrew McCulloch is the drummer. He played on King Crimson's Lizard album and previously worked with Manfred Mann, Arthur Brown and Greg Lake.

The pattern is obvious - Graham Field has selected musicians that are primarily concerned with the blend than with the breaks, so that the listener is conscious of a group rather than three individuals. And yet there are quite extended moments in which the contribution of each is discernible even when the overriding impression is of unity. Farcically, an example here, is the track entitled Three Minstrels which has the feel of an old English folk tune.

Getting back to Procol Harum: though Fields have their strength, the music does not sound dated. A major factor contributing to this is the sensitive use of electronic effects and distortions. There are so many instances of rock musicians who have wrecked their music by over-indulgence in this sort of gimmickry. No one can control feedback as well as Hendrix could. On this al-bum there is a pleasant amount of subtlety - overstatement is not used where a hint will do.

But why become concerned with the trimmings? The songs here are so beautiful - not one bummer among them. And yet there is no dragging sameness. Between two bigger, harder tracks there is a little jewel entitled Fair Haired Lady. Alan Barry sings his own song here, backed with just classical guitar and double-tracked clarinet.

Sometimes fragile, sometimes overpowering, the beauty of this album is lasting. It has a spectacular cover to match. I feel that this group has a stability that derives from their unity - Emerson, Lake and Palmer may follow the even path of the super groups, but Fields stand to survive longer.

Artwork of an eagle attacking a rabbit