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)

- John English and the Lemondrops  (Richard Fortunato)

- Fortune (Richard Fortunato)

- 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))






Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Fields

Company: Uni

Catalog: 73050

Year: 1969

Country/State: Milbrae, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: unipack sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4293

Price: $100.00

Cost: $45.10


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.   




Produced 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 ran to 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.

"Fields" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Elysian Fields (Richard Fortunato - L. Bowman - Patrick Burke) - 3:25   rating: **** stars

The opener 'Elysian 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.
2.) Bide My Time  (Richard Fortunato - Patrick Burke - Steve Langana) - 5:08  
rating: **** stars

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

'Take 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.  
4.) Jump On You (Richard Fortunato) - 3:18 
rating: **** stars

Opening with a snippet of Brenda Holloway studio chat (?), 'Jump On You' retained a heavy bluesy vibe, but injected a touch of commerciality into the mix.  Probably would have been a better choice for a single than 'Bide My Time'.  
5.) Sun Would Set (Richard Fortunato) - 5:15 
rating: **** stars

Literally 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 enjoyable.


(side 2)

1.) Love Is The Word (Richard Fortunato - Patrick Burke - Steve Langana) - 19:50   rating: ** stars

In 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 then Hawaii.  Burke eventually ended up a member of Father Yod and the Yahowa 13 commune/cult.  Under the name Sunshine Aquarian (don't you love it?) 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.