Fields and Shipley
Band members Related acts
- Steve Fields -- vocals, keyboards
- Ellen Shipley -- vocals
- Ellen Shipley (solo efforts)
- The Random Blues Band (Steve Fields)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Fields and Shipley
Company: Tiger Lily
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+
Comments: water warp to lower right corner of the cover; cut out hole top right
Catalog ID: 223
Certainly one of the rarer Tiger Lily tax scam label releases - I've only seen two copies of "Fields & Shipley" in all the years I've been collecting albums and in typical Tiger Lily fashion, there isn't a lot of information to be gleaned from the liner notes. Accordingly, most of these comments are pure speculation on my part.
I'm guessing that Steve Fields was the same individual as the well known studio musician/keyboardist/writer, while Shipley was singer/songwriter Ellen Shipley (probably best known for dating The Clash's Mick Jones and her work on Meatloaf's over-the-top 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' - interestingly, Karla DeVito took her place in the accompanying video). If I had to guess about the history behind these ten tracks, I'd suggest they were a series of mid-1970s Fields songwriting demos with Shipley handling most of the vocals. Fields was credited with penning eight of the ten tracks - the exceptions being a cover of Sam Cooke's 'Shake' and 'Message Songs' written by someone by the name of Claude Cybulska. Musically the set was all over the map with a couple of songs ('All I Wanted' and 'Closer To Heaven') sounding like raw demos. Other selections like 'Hello Darkness' and 'Sunshine Song' had a fuller, more polished sound and feel. As mentioned, Shipley handled most of the vocals, though Fields was featured on a couple of selections - he sounded a bit like a lightweight Meatloaf on the power ballad 'Close To Heaven' and the cover of Sam Cooke's 'Shake'. Again, its all speculation on my part. Maybe they were a true duo, a-la Buckingham-Nicks ... Someone out there will know and set me straight. And that's exactly what happened in August 2010 (see below).
For completists, the back panel track listing doesn't match up to the actual song listing. 'The Migrant Song' actually ended side one, rather than starting side two.
and Shipley" track listing:
1.) Hello Darkness (Steve Fields) - 3:25
A mid-tempo, keyboard-powered rocker with a slightly Broadway-ish feel, 'Hello Darkness' found the pair sharing lead vocals (Shipley all but buried Fields). Complete with a likeable, slightly folky melody, gurgling mini-Moog, and tasteful orchestration, the song was quite good. rating: **** stars
2.) All I Wanted (Steve Fields) - 4:05
A stark power ballad, 'All I Wanted' sounded like one of those '60s Brill Building compositions. Shipley's vibrato was featured on most of the song, but towards the end, the pair showcased some nice vocal interaction. This one really did sound like a raw demo. rating: ** stars
3.) Sunshine Song (Steve Fields) - 3:35
'Sunshine Song' was a bouncy, slightly Gospel influenced pop tune with considerable commercial potential. It also underscored what may have been the pair's fundamental weakness - they both had very sharp, occasionally almost shrill voices and when they tried to 'power' their way through a song, those features came to the front. Still, this one had a distinctive 'hum' factor. rating: *** stars
4.) Closer To Heaven (Steve Fields) - 3:45
'Closer To Heaven' was another power ballad with the pair sharing lead vocals. As mentioned, on this one Fields sounded a bit like Meatloaf - same strained vibrato. The song sounded like something written for a Broadway show. Interesting the title didn't seem to match the song .rating: ** stars
5.) The Migrant Song (Steve Fields) - 4:50
'The Migrant Song' had a pleasant melody and the activist lyrics were certainly admirable. Other than that, the song just kind of disappeared in the mix. rating: ** stars
One of two covers, Sam Cooke's 'Shake' was given a mildly Latin treatment, with some tasty slide guitar. Another one where Shields sounded like Meatloaf. rating: *** stars
2.) Starting Today (Steve Fields) - 3:05
Carole King meets Linda Ronstadt ... 'Starting Today' was a sappy and forgettable ballad with some of the lamest couplets you've heard in a long time ("you are the air I'm breathing, you are the summer season, you are the only reason ..". Foley actually sounded a bit like Linda Ronstadt on this one. rating: ** stars
3.) Message Songs (Claude Cybulska) - 4:00
The second cover, 'Message Songs' aptly displayed Shipley's powerhouse voice (and it didn't even sound like she was really trying. Fields simply didn't have a chance when it came time for him to handle a verse. Another up tempo, keyboard-powered rocker, this one could have been very good with a fuller band arrangement. rating: *** stars
4.) When You Go (Steve Fields) - 2:25
A stripped down, acoustic ballad, 'When You Go' didn't sound much like the rest of the album. Shipley's performance was notable for her relatively laid back delivery (think about Merrilee Rush's 'Angel In the Morning'). The track also featured an unexpected horn arrangement. rating: *** stars
5.) Winds and Wails (Steve Fields) - 3:50
Complete with ocean sound effects, 'Winds and Wails' was another unexpected change of direction - a Fairport Convention-styled slice of English folk music. The double tracked vocal was pretty enough, but to my ears it sounded like something you might hear on a Saturday night at your local Irish pub. I like Irish music so I'll give it an extra star. rating: *** stars
I won't tell you this is a lost classic, 'cause it isn't, but for anyone who's heard Shipley's '70s and '80s catalog, it may be of modest interest.
Also kind of cool, in August 2010 I heard from Ms. Shipley:
Hi - This is Ellen Shipley, recording artist and professional Grammy nominated songwriter.
Please feel free to Google my name and you'll find out more than you wanted to know about my career in the Music Business.
I started out performing as part of a duo in New York called "Fields and Shipley".
I remember recording something for some unscrupulous company around 1976. I certainly didn't know they released anything and until tonight, I didn't remember anything about the recording that Steve Fields and I made for Tiger Lily.
Do you know if I can get a copy of that recording? Do you know anything about getting in contact with whoever distributed the recording?
I have been blessed with a very successful career in the music world but not without dealing with a tremendous amount of corruption. I am chasing down all the bootleg CD's of my hits, the free downloading of my work all over the internet and finding out about this tonight just adds another fight for me to help songwriters and artists receive their royalties, proper respect and protection against those that steal from us.
If you have any information, please let me know. I would certainly appreciate it!
For what it was worth, I did respond to Ms. Shipley telling her a little bit about Tiger Lily and suggesting there wasn't much of a point in pursuing the matter in litigation. Never heard back from her ...
For anyone interested, Fields has a small website, largely devoted to helping his eldest daughter overcome a debilitating disease at: http://helpbrittbeatrsd.org./index.html
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