Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Fields—
Bide My Time/Take You Home


Released 1969 on UNI
The Seth Man, June 2006ce
Before dropping the definite article from their band name, The Fields were a trio comprised of ex-Vejtables guitarist/vocalist Richard Fortunato, bassist Patrick Burke and drummer Steve Lagana. All three had previous done time together as W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band then ESB before shedding extraneous verbs and nouns from their band name as well as several band members. Three years on, they’d wind up recording their sole “Fields” album for UNI before splitting up. One single, “Bide My Time”/“Take You Home” was also released, culling the two most realised moments of the LP for advance release (Which is not meant to damn with faint praise; in light of the album’s second side containing a side long, 20-minute glut of post-Sgt. Pepper hangover colliding with ill-advised horn sectioning plus psychedelic psoul-Motown vocalising that culminated in something so overblown, unresolved and living beyond its means that several kitchen sinks get thrown in before the towel stedda the other way round. Yup: the song they called “Love Is The Word” gives the word a bad name, alright. And besides: seeing that everybody knows that the BIRD is the word, I can do nothing but flip one at this psad psack of psych flotsam in the name of all that Rocks and pray it was the behest of producer, not artist -- Especially as I dropped a wad of cash on it instead of a big sledgehammer. But hey, I paid my money and took my chances and yet am not massively depressed about it. Probably because “Bide My Time” and “Take You Home” stand easily as the most engaging and energised of not only the tracks on side A of the album, but the whole shebang as well and is more than enough to make me forget the rest of the LP altogether: UNIPAK, psychologically dark back cover art and all.)

“Bide My Time” was chosen as the A-side, and seeing as it was released in 1969, it ain’t hard to hear why: its heavy power trio presentation, the slow and crunching blues guitar, the slow, insistent delivery of the vocals...these and many other qualities suggest they are filling the whole post-Cream vacuum in one fell swoop: the braying vocals, the Ginger Baker-like tom-tom reliance, compressed lead guitar shredding like a slow little bro of “Purple Haze”, the overall Blue Cheer-like oppressiveness and rounded out evenly by a whooping, group percussive outro. But it is with the slow, dirgy B-side of “Take You Home” that Fields really hit a niche they’ve could’ve made all for themselves. It’s grinding. It’s a come-on to teen queens to whip their respective wang-dang-doodles all night long. It’s pre-“4F Club” Mentors. The lyrics are not only simplistic but transparent in their bird-dogging promise -- at least, to any older brother -- yet maintains all the staying power in the ears of younger sisters as they pine for The Fields to chaperone them back to their groovy pads where they’ll read Zap comix or a book on Indian lore, get stoned and inevitably get balled on their water beds for their trouble.

But for all their bra-and-panties-loosening intent the lyrics are, at least, honest. Unhampered by conscience (and in all certainty -- the glares of their own ‘old ladies’ hanging off to the side of the stage) they ain’t gents, they don’t really go in for innuendo, they may not have the best of intentions, but they’re not lying. They even sing it, too. With a brash “Won’t give you a lie...” they even go on to promise showing their prospective ladies where “the sun does shine” because (as they incessantly underline with a big fat red felt tip marker of vocal at the end of every verse) “I’m gonna make you mine.” But to beat all is the music accompanying this sleazefest. What did Fields do but went and took Cream’s take on Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign,” hollowed it out into an engorged skin kayak and set sail off into the nearest groupie fjord post-gig and post-haste. The drumming is super-coordinated with a disjointed yet focussed brutality, the bass plonks in metallic tones while the guitar is rippling over the slow yet insistent bump and grind with well-timed bursts and squalls. And it’s all elongated and horizontally drawn out like the slowest, undressing kiss ever. The coda seemingly erupts out of nowhere, one where they blow the whole “Bolero” build up by finishing it off unromantically premature.

What a stinky mess. So much so, it was included (with some retooling and flinging of extra-length instrumental jam) by Speed, Glue & Shinki on their second, self-titled album in 1972. Revamped into the stratosphere, it was subsequently brought down to earth soon afterwards on the first record by Pinoy Rock Brothers #1, Juan de la Cruz on their first album, “Himig Natin.”