FIELD OF FIRE - Richard Lloyd (Reaction/Parasol Records - through Shock in Australia)
Originally released in 1985 on the Swedish Mistlur-Moving Target label, Lloyd's "Field of Fire" was a personal excercise for him (as noted in the extensive liner notes) in overcoming personal issues, travelling to Stockholm to write the material and then to play with local musicians who had been picked for him to record what would turn out to be his second album.
I know before you can say that it sounds like the standard Arthur Lee modus operandi; Lloyd gives it further perspectivbe in the liners. He goes on to state that he didn't even have a demo available and that the label head "didn't need to hear any"! My point is that when you look at in this perspective, and there's far more amazing tales littered throughout the rich history of music, you can begin to truly appreciate what separates talented musicians from the mere mortal type. Richard Lloyd is in the former category: a skilled musician, not only for his contributions to the legendary Televsion, but on his own accord.
As for the release, Field of Fire is a much needed re-issue from the co-conspirator of one of Rock and Roll's greatest visionary guitar bands. It displays the a side of the guitarist that is urgent, more rocking and straightforward than some of Verlaine's own recordings. While the recording has been considered more of a sidenote in the guitarist's discography, the Reaction/Parasol imprint is making this wonderful recording available for consumption once again.
The leadoff track "Watch Yourself" makes its presence felt with that distinctive Lloyd playing that we all know and love from his Television days. The leads are so unusual yet very personal. Another track such as "Lovin' Man" displays once again the impassioned playing of Lloyd. A stinging lead starts of the song, while Lloyd exhibits sensitive vocals as a counterpoint to his direct playing. Vocally, Lloyd is reminiscent of Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits). He has a limited range but it compliments his songwriting-guitar style. As an example, the track "Black to White" illustrates the musician's ability. The track flourishes due to the marriage between acoustic and electric guitars. Lloyd's vocals fit the song in a perfect manner.
The closing track of Disc One "Field of Fire" really epitomizes the creativity of Richard Lloyd. Hypnotic, extended soloing and a restrained sense of abandon permeate the song. Upon listening to the song, you almost can feel that the track could have been a nice fit for the Television catalogue. In a way, everything about the title track encapsulates the finer points of the aforementioned band and the elements of style - songwriting arrangement that Lloyd brought to the table. "Field of Fire" might be best Television track that was never recorded by the band. Really good. As for Disc Two, it is a remixed version of "Field of Fire" with a different track listing. Two bonus tracks are ("The Only Feeling", "Tobacco and Corn") added to the disc. The remixed version adds a new appreciation for the older material.
Richard Lloyd's Field of Fire is a much needed reissue. The Television fans who are collecting completists will find it a welcome addition to their shelves. However, in terms of an individual artist Lloyd stands on his own merit as a talented performer. In the case of Richard Lloyd, the belief that the sum is greater than the individual parts does not apply. - Arthur S
Tom Verlaine may have been the ethereal, dreamy side of the Television twin guitar sound but the band wouldn't have been half the jaw-dropping entity it became without Richard Lloyd's searing explosions of Stones-derived splendour on his side of the stage. Yin and yang. Fire and ice, and all that shit. The other uncontestable fact is that Lloyd, now departed from the reformed TV ranks, built a considerable body of work away from Verlaine's steely gaze. Of that output, "Field of Fire" might just be the most accomplished.
More correctly, "Field of Fire II" because it's the re-worked version of the 1985 album by the mercurial guitarist-singer that's shaking my tailfeather since it was re-issued in this glossy double package. The second disc - the re-worked "Field" - is so radically re-built so as to be another album. Gone are the '80s excesses (thwacked out snare, cluttered soundstage and over-wrought vocals) with some tracks re-constructed from the ground up.
We get a couple of outtakes ("Tobacco and Corn", "Keep on Dancin' ", the latter a little insubstantial) and a lot of re-tracked guitars, with little rhythmic trimmings added here and there. Some of the old songs have been tied to new rhythm beds and sound more measured but also markedly stronger. Best of all, Lloyd no longer sounds like "Born in the USA"-era Bruce Springsteen - and for that fact alone I can take to "Field" with renewed vigour.
Not that the original was (is) a bad album. If some recording practices of 20 years were as misguided as everybody's haircuts, that's largely with the advantage of hindsight. So few people outside of Europe heard "Field of Fire" - it was recorded in Sweden under the financial auspices of a benefactor who was smartly seeking some cred for his new label - that it barely made a critical ripple. Pity, because the Richard Lloyd of 1985 already had a fantastic pop album ("Alchemy") under his belt, and should have been a force to be reckoned with in his home country had he been in what's euphemistically known as "better shape".
So there you have it...one of the great lost guitar albums of the semi-underground of the '80s, in its original glory and spruced up. Arthur likes the original mixes, I'm pumping for the re-build. You be the judge. You have no excuses, really, but if you don't think the outro of the title track is something else (new or old version), you need shooting or rooting, to use some Aussie vernacular. – The Barman
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