I'm so grateful that the Hightone Music Group decided last year to begin
reissuing the many excellent recordings made in the 1980s by Dr. David Evans for his High
Water label. Backed by his employer Memphis State University, Evans collected field
recordings and new studio sessions from many previously-unrecorded bands and solo artists
from Memphis and the Mississippi Delta.
The Fieldstones were playing the bars and jook joints of Memphis from the 1970s until the early 1990s. I caught them several times at their home base of Green's Lounge, and can say without reservation that The Fieldstones are one of the best blues bands I've ever seen. They seemed to have absorbed every style of blues and soul that's made Memphis famous, and turned it into their own rhythmic, hypnotic and sometimes funky brand of music.
The opening cut, simply called "The Fieldstones," is a funky introduction to the band and their music. With it's rhythmic beat, this song has continually run through my head since first hearing it 15 years ago. Unlike the Brady Bunch theme, which I also can't wipe from my memory, this song evokes pleasant memories every time I hear it.
The raw, soulful vocals of guitarist Willie Roy Sanders highlights cut number two, "Dirt Road." Even better is his incredible pleading vocals on the Little Milton song, "Little Bluebird."
The Fieldstones had to provide music for the dancers at Green's Lounge, and "The Thing" is a funky number which I'm sure always packed the dance floor. The same goes for the instrumental "The Squeeze." Both of these songs have the same rhythmic sound of "The Fieldstones," and really define what this band was all about.
These recordings were made at three separate sessions in 1981 and 1982. In the liner notes there's mention of an upcoming album which will contain previously-unreleased tracks from the band's later years, when the excellent singer Little Applewhite was fronting the band. I can't wait for that one!
Memphis Blues Today! is truly an unknown gem, and belongs in any serious blues fan's collection.
--- Bill Mitchell
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