Saturday, 28 November 2015

Blind Faith-Blind Faith

This album came at interesting time in my musical development, by the time I was 12 I was getting a bit tired of just listening to The Beatles and The Stones and I was starting to discover different musical styles. A friend of my Dad's had an album by a band called Blind Faith who I had never heard of, looking at the album cover I was aware of the presence of one Eric Clapton, Steve Windwood and Ginger Baker, the bass player (Rik Grech) didn't ring any bells. I had no idea that they had recorded an album together and was interested to find it was the only one they ever recorded.

This album came at interesting juncture in the careers of all the protagonists involved, it also came at time when music was taking on a darker bluesier hue. Clapton had grown tired of the power rock format of Cream and longed for something more organic (in the same vein as The Band), Steve Winwood was also looking for something different having felt at the time that he had exhausted his creative opportunities with Traffic. Ginger Baker was added to the lineup at the insistence of Steve Winwood who felt that his style would suit the band, bassist Rik Grech from the band Family was added on bass leaving that band mid tour. Blind Faith eschews the hard blues rock that Cream had pioneered for something more melodic and structured. The album is inconsistent possibly due to the hurried nature in which it was recorded but there are some amazing songs, particularly the opener Had To Cry Today which starts with an ominous Clapton refrain. There is an uncertain atmosphere being created, a portent to something more sinister,

It's already written that today will be one to remember
The feeling's the same as being outside the law
Had to cry today
Well, I saw your sign and missed you there

The more folk influenced Can't Find My Way Home has an intricate acoustic flow, Clapton's playing shows a great maturity his ability to find a more a nuanced role for his solos was an example of his growing desire to find a more ample setting for his playing than just loud blistering solos. Similar to the opening track it has an ominous feel to it, the songs seem to feed off the growing insecurity that Clapton was feeling at the time. Perhaps that feeling was affecting the band as a whole, Baker was battling a heroin problem, Winwood was still trying to find a place where his music fit and Grech was also soon to descend into addiction. There is a cracking cover of the Buddy Holly classic Well All Right which has a loose jam like feel to it, it's given a great driving treatment by Baker and Winwood is in full throat. The Clapton penned Presence of The Lord is the standout track, elegiac and thoughtful it captures the inner turmoil that Clapton was experiencing at the time and the search for contentment and meaning that he was looking for. Winwood gives an understated performance before incongruously the song opens up into a barnstorming Clapton solo before regaining it's more restrained bearings. Sea Of Joy features an exuberant Winwood who sounds like he is ripping his lungs out on this track his soaring organ work is a highlight, it also features a great violin solo from Grech. Do What You Like at 15 minutes is a cast off number written by Ginger Baker that sounds like it was hastily put together, the highlight is Clapton's solo which stands as one of the best in his career.

Blind Faith was recorded in April/May 1969 at the famed Olympic Studios in London with Stones producer Jimmy Miller (who Steve Winwood had worked with in the Spencer Davis Group). Upon it's release the band set off on tour with one UK show at Hyde Park and a seven week U.S tour, during which Clapton became increasingly distant from the rest of the band. Once again chafing at the imposition of the supergroup tag Clapton left the band at the end of the U.S tour and headed back to Europe with Delaney and Bonnie who had been the support act on the U.S tour. It's a shame the band didn't regroup for another album because I think a second album would have been a masterpiece.

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