CD Reviews: Lee Fields & The Expressions and more
Lee Fields & The Expressions
In some ways, the Lee Fields story personifies the cyclical nature of cultural appreciation: Stick with what you love long enough and, like a turntable set to 33 1/3 years per revolution, it will come back again. A minor figure in the original soul galaxy of the late '60s and early '70s, Fields' scattered singles were sought after by the rare-groove crowd on both sides of the Atlantic, but he remained a cult figure until he hit his stride once more in the late '90s with the NYC-based label Desco (predecessor of both the Daptone and Soul Fire labels), with whom he recorded an album of vintage, James Brown-inspired funk that drew new listeners to his dynamic beg-and-plead vocals. Recording now for Brooklyn's Truth & Soul label, Fields has delivered "Faithful Man," a finely crafted update of the cosmopolitan soul-pop once turned out by Willie Mitchell on the Hi Records label - especially the Al Green groove of "You're the Kind of Girl."
This California band marks their 10th anniversary with "Always," an album that deserves respect for its unswerving ethos alone: It takes guts to sing about the sexual degradation of Chinese migrant workers, abortion and incest in a semi-operatic drone.
The third album from this indie-rock band is an exercise in experimentalism, with ambient drone edging into their classic sound.