Band members Related acts
line-up 1 (1968-69)
- Patrick Burke (aka Sunflower Aquarian) -- vocals, bass
- Richard Fortunato -- vocals, lead guitar
- Steve Langana -- vocals, drums, percussion
- Patrick Burke (solo efforts)
- CHildren of the Sixth Root Race (Patrick Burke (aka Sunflower Aquarian))
- ESB (Electric String Band)
- W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band (Patrick Burke,
Richard Fortunato and Steve Langana)
- Fire, Water, Air, Source Family World Peace Band (Patrick Burke (aka Sunflower Aquarian)
- The Parasites of the Western World (Patrick Burke)
- The Preachers (Richard Fortunato and Steve Langana)
- The Vejetables (Richard Fortunato)
- Yahowa 13 (Patrick Burke (aka Sunflower Aquarian))
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Country/State: Milbrae, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: small cut out hole top left corner; unipack sleeve
Catalog ID: 4293
Wish I knew more about this short-lived, late 1960s outfit. As far as I can tell, guitarist Richard Fortunato and drummer Steve Langana got their starts as a members of The Preachers. Fortunato then joined a late inning version of San Francisco's The Vejtables. Following The Vejtables' collapse he moved on to a short lived collaboration with former The Bees members George Caldwell and Robert Zinner, along with bassist Patrick Burke and reuniting with Langana as The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band. The group survived long enough to a pair of singles, including a growling version of 'I'm Not Your Stepping Stone' that beat The Monkees to the marketplace, but somehow flopped with audiences:
- 1966's 'Hippy Elevator Operator' b/w 'Don't Lose the Girl' (HBR catalog number HBR-507)
- 1966's 'I'm Not Your Stepping Stone' b/w 'Round World' (Mercury catalog number 73578)
W.C Fields morphed into The Electric String Band, releasing a 1967 single for the Los Angeles based InArts label:
- 1967's 'Mushroom People' b/w 'Let Me Touch You' (InArts catalog number IA 102).
After ESB called it quits Burke, Fortunato and Langana continued their collaboration as Fields. Their initial break came when they found a mentor in the form of Mark Slotkin. Slotikin (heir to the Abbey Rents fortune), quickly signed on as the group's manager and used his connections to help the group get signed to Uni Records.
by former Merry Go Round alumni Bill Rhinehart, 1969's "Fields" is kind of an
oddity; especially for a record label that's best known for a more
pop-oriented catalog. With Fortunanto writing most of the six
selections (although Burke and Langana contributed material), the album's
overall feel is very blues-rockish. A number of reviews we've seen
draw comparisons to Cream. In this case the comparison isn't bad, with
tracks such as the leadoff rocker 'Elysian
Fields', 'Take You Home' and 'Jump On It' baring more than a passing
resemblance to Clapton and company. Fortunato's squealing guitar work
certainly reminded me of Cream and
Burke's melodic bass gave Jack Bruce a run for his money. Exemplified by tracks such as the
single 'Bide My Time', the performances are quite raw and if you're tastes
top-40 and highly polished performances, then this set probably wasn't going
to do much for
you. Personal favorite - the bizarre, sidelong 'Love Is the
Word'. With backing from Motown singer
Brenda Holloway (and The Raylettes), the song offered up a weird blend of
rock, psych and soul influences. Stretched out over nearly 20 minutes,
it had to be heard to be believed. The band apparently toured
quite a bit, even opening for Cream, as well as John Mayall and other name
groups, but never broke nationally and collapsed within a year.
1.) Elysian Fields (Richard Fortunato - L. Bowman - Patrick Burke) - 3:25 rating: **** stars
Fields' was certainly impressive, showcasing Richard
Fortunato squealing lead guitar and Patrick
Burke's melodic bass. My only other comment is that these guys
sounded like they'd possibly overdosed on Cream albums. Yeah, I'm
certainly not the first listener to draw a comparison to Jack Bruce and Eric
Clapton. That's be a good thing for Cream fans. Not so good a
thing for others.
Kicked along by a Burke bass line that would have made Jack Bruce envious, 'Bide My Time' somehow managed to blend screaming Cream-styled hard rock with a slinky rock sound that was surprisingly catchy and commercial. Uni edited out Langana's end-of-song percussion solo and tapped the song as an instantly obscure single. It should have been a massive FM hit.
1969's 'Bide My Time' b/w 'Take You Home' (Uni catalog number 55106)
3.) Take You Home (Richard Fortunato) - 3:00 rating: **** stars
You Home' slowed it down with a slinky blues number that showed Fortunato
could do more than fuzz guitar flourishes. Electric blues for folks
who don't like electric blues.
with a snippet of Brenda Holloway studio chat (?), 'Jump On You' retained a
heavy bluesy vibe, but injected a touch of commerciality in````````to the mix.
Probably would have been a better choice for a single than 'Bide My
dripping with lysergic influences, the melodic, keyboard-powered
ballad 'Sun Would Set' sounded like the trio had been listening to a
touch of "Magical Mystery Tour". Quite atypical and quite
1.) Love Is The Word (Richard Fortunato - Patrick Burke - Steve Langana) - 19:50 rating: ** stars
an era that embraced extended jams, the side lone 'Love Is the Word'
certainly wasn't unusual. The track started out as a platform for some Fortunato
soloing and was notable for some subtle horn arrangements.
Unfortunately, with extensive support from Holloway, from that point on the
tune started off in Delaney and Bonnie territory. Shrill and plodding,
I can't say this track was much fun to slog through. Anyone want
to count the number of times the title track is repeated?
Bassist Burke and guitarist Fortunato ended up in Southern California and than Hawaii. Burke eventually ended up a member of Father Yod and the Yahowa 13 commune/cult. Under the name Sunshine Aquarian he played bass of a number of the Yahowa 13 LPs. He also played with The Parasites of the Western World.
In 2006 the Fields album was reissued in vinyl and CD format by the Fallout label (catalog numbers FO2000LP and FOCD2002). Fallout had no legal authority to reissue the collection, so I'd suggest you look for a copy of the original album.
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