Some bands and albums have a 'what if' legend about them and Blind Faith’s lone entry in the history of Rock is about as iconic as it can get – right down to its truly dreadful British sleeve (changed into a band shot on the American Atco issues). Exploitive artwork aside - it possesses some incredible tunes that still stand up 45 years later – and even retain a certain 'cool'. Here are the farmer's daughters...
UK released April 1986 (reissued September 1995) – "Blind Faith" by BLIND FAITH is a straightforward CD transfer of their lone album onto Polydor 825 094-2 (Barcode 042282509420) and plays as follows (41:59 minutes):
1. Had To Cry Today [Steve Winwood song]
2. Can’t Find My Way Home [Steve Winwood song]
3. Well All Right [Buddy Holly cover]
4. Presence Of The Lord [Eric Clapton song]
5. Sea Of Joy [Steve Winwood song] [Side 12]
6. Do What You Like [Ginger Baker cover]
The album "Blind Faith" was released July 1969 in the USA on Atco SD 33-304 and September 1969 in the UK on Polydor 583 059. The UK gatefold sleeve famously portrayed a naked prepubescent farm girl holding a model plane on the front stood out in the middle of a field somewhere in the British countryside – this dodgy artwork was quickly withdrawn in the US and replaced with a photo of the band instead. This single CD reissue however uses the controversial UK artwork with the American cover pictured on the inside of the gatefold inlay.
The supergroup consisted of ERIC CLAPTON on Guitar (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream and The Yardbirds), Steve Winwood on Lead Vocals, Keyboards and Harmonica (Spencer Davis Group and Traffic), RICK GRECH on Bass (Family and Traffic) and GINGER BAKER on Drums (Cream). JIMMY MILLER produced the album (famous for his work with The Rolling Stones) but they disbanded as a group only months after its release.
DENNIS M. DRAKE mastered the album for CD at the Polygram Studios when first released on the then 'new' format in 1986. There is no 'remaster' per say on the single disc version and as it has remained on catalogue ever since (that master is still in use). To confuse matters even further - there is another CD with exactly the same Catalogue Number and Barcode - 825 094-2 CD (42282509420) - but it has two extra tracks "Exchange And Mart" and "Spending All My Days". Because they have the same barcode - it's hit and miss as to what issue you'll be sent by a seller (the extras version seems to be hard to find too). There is of course a 2CD Deluxe Edition Remaster from 2001 by Suha Gur with extra Jam Sessions on Polydor 549 529-2 (Barcode 73145 4952927) – but it has been deleted years now and has acquired a nasty price tag in most quarters. There are also Japanese remasters on SHM-CD in 5” Mini LP Repro packaging and a Mobile Fidelity ULTRADISC II Audiophile CD – but this straightforward album issue with its bog-standard gatefold slip of an inlay is one of the few ways to get the music relatively cheap on CD (and the mastering is quite good too).
It opens with Steve Winwood’s eight-and-half-minute rocker "Had To Cry Today" – a very cool riff that turns up in concert to this day. It even manages to sound like Post-Cream – what they might have morphed into. But that good start is thrashed into its simpering corner by the album’s languid masterpiece – the 3:16 minutes of "Can't Find My Way Home" – an acoustic Rock gem. Quite why Polydor or Atco never saw fit to release Steve Winwood's beautiful (and dare we say it Soulful) song at the time as a 45 in any territory is a total mystery. Fans of the album had to wait until 1977 to see it officially issued as a 7" single on RSO 873 – and then only in the States as a B-side to "Presence Of The Lord". Their upbeat Pop version of Buddy Holly's "Well All Right" shouldn’t work – and yet it does – and again another potential 7” hit single.
Side 1 finishes on the album's other winner – Eric Clapton's superbly tuneful "Presence Of The Lord". It's never been the best recording in the world with Winwood's vocals somehow getting lost in the back of the mix – but this mastering does a half-decent job. Things pick up when it goes into that brilliant change half way through - Clapton's guitar roaring out of the speakers. It then goes back to the first part melody – sweet (hardly surprising that Clapton plays "Presence Of The Lord" to this day).
Side 2 opens with a pretty Winwood tune called "Sea Of Joy" – sweet Acoustic guitar work from Clapton and Rick Grech coming into his own on some eerie Violin. But the side is dominated by the Jazz trippy "Do What You Like". Organ and Drums do solo battles – the Guitar sounding like Clapton is going to some place unfamiliar – the chanting vocals - it comes on almost like Prog Rock. Even at 15:20 minutes and with a Drum Solo - "Do What You Like" doesn’t feel like it's overstaying its welcome. It's also the best sounding track on here...the Bass and Drums beautifully clear...
Cool, iconic, flawed for sure - but still fab. "Blind Faith" went to Number 1 in the USA and the UK on release and it's a pleasure to say that in 2015 - you can still hear why...
Formed from the ashes of Traffic and Cream, Blind Faith comprised Ginger Baker on drums, Eric Clapton on guitar, Steve Winwood on keyboards and vocals, and Rick Grech on bass. With so much musical talent on board a real mish mash might have resulted from a clash of egos, but the guys got it together and recorded a standout album of great blues based music with a prog rock feel to it and a lot of soul.
With its extended, jazzy cuts, Clapton's fiery guitar, Baker's inventive drumming anbd Winwood's incomparable keys, this is an album that has a high reputation and easily lives up to it. It has everything an album of British blues rock should have aand is a veritable classic.
on 22 January 2005
In 1969 Both Cream, Eric Claptons old band, and Traffic, Steve Windwoods band, had split (although Traffic would reunite the following year) and the two, who had always wanted to make an album together formed blind Faith with previous Cream drummer Ginger Baker and ex-family bassist Rick Grech, and went about making their one and only LP. Four of the six songs here are written by Windwood, Baker wrote the albums 15 minute finale "Do What You Like" and Clapton wrote possibly his best song "Presence of the lord". Windwoods songwriting and singing rarely got better than on this album in fact all the members were at there best. So yes at times the albums a little overblown and some of the songs go on a bit, but that doesn't stop it from being an incredible combination of talents with fantastic songs that range form hard rock on "Had to cry today" to folk on "Can't find my way home". when it comes down to it this is simply an incredible album that never gets boring no matter how many times you listen to it.
on 12 February 2001
Perhaps it is a bit heavy to describe them as "doomed", but realistically there was no way Blind Faith could ever have lived up to the expectations of Cream fans (not to mention Traffic and Family fans!). The songs from the original album, with the acknowledged exception of the rambling "Do What You Like", actually showcase a flexible and innovative unit which, given time and a little breathing space, could have gone on to even better things. "Had to Cry Today" features brilliant guitar interplay between Eric and Steve - this sort of thing was more or less expected at the time, but rarely was it achieved with such finesse. "Can't Find My Way Home" is just a timeless classic; along with "Presence of the Lord" this shows just what Blind Faith were capable of: beautiful, heartfelt songs with real feeling and power to spare. The previously unreleased stuff (mostly extended jams and alternate takes as the titles would suggest) are sufficeently interesting to warrant buying this version - but its unlikely you will want to play them as often as the prime cuts from the original album.
on 10 November 2013
Although effectively canned because of the extraordinary pressure the members were subjected-to, Winwood and Clapton have ensured that the Blind Faith legacy has been solidified. Together on their frequent and fantastic gigs they will happily play some numbers from this album.
Except bizarrely, the one very track that I still play, thirty years after being introduced to this album - Sea of Joy.
Embarrassingly I remember watching an Al Pacino film based around a song called 'Sea of Joy' - thinking what a wonderful thing it was that the Blind Faith song had been recognized with a movie title and plot core - except it wasn't Blind Faiths!
With the exception of Ginger 'nastiest bloke in rock' Baker's drum solo, 'Blind Faith' stands the test of time quite happily. Ric Gretsch of course is no longer with us, and Clapton and Winwood would go off in vastly different directions throughout the 70s and 80s. Go to one of their joint gigs though and like me, shout for 'Sea of Joy!' One day they might just give in and play it.
on 19 February 2015
I'm a big fan of Traffic (look at other reviews on my profile) and this only happened last year... I've also been enjoying Steve Winwood solo albums (plus the Spencer Davis group - where he understandably came to recognition.) I've been a big, big fan of Cream since I discovered them as a teen, in the 80s - and it surely goes without saying, Clapton too.
Why I didn't take the plunge and buy this album a long time ago, is anybody's guess but I finally have and now, from listening to and loving the tracks Can't Find My Way Home and Presence Of The Lord, from the 1988 Eric Clapton Crossroads box set, I have now filled in the gaps. And about time too.
This is easily a 5/5 for me - after the first couple of listens (which were great) I started seeing it as a whole and now it is an utterly essential piece of work; incredible musical forces at work on this one.. just as I said in the tile of my review! :)
Although this may have started out as an Eric Clapton LP, with Steve Winwood on vocals, Ginger Baker filling the drum seat, and Rick Grech on bass, hearing it now it sounds like the presiding spirit is that of a freed-up Winwood, his voice a wayward, wanton wail on all these tracks, backed by Clapton in fine form and the expected dynamic brilliance of Baker, with Grech doing fine too.
What a time the sixties were for young, soulful-voiced singers - not only Winwood, but Van Morrison, Paul Rodgers, Steve Marriott, Jess Roden, etc. How did they manage to sound so full of wizened old-man soul?
Of them all, Winwood (and Van too) sounded the most drenched in a bluesy Ray Charles soulfulness belying their young years. On Blind Faith's sole album, he sounds as if he's singing exactly how and what he wants to. He wrote what are arguably the three best tracks: the terrific opener Had To Cry Today, the wonderful Can't Find My Way Home, and the appropriately titled Sea Of Joy.
There's also a rather stately version of Buddy Holly's Well All Right, which to these ears sounds better than it did back in 1969. The other songs are the powerful Presence Of The Lord by Clapton, and the fifteen-minute free-for-all Do What You Like - credited to Baker - which brings to a close this wanton, joyous one-off from a golden quartet of great musicians.
I liked Blind Faith 45 years ago when I was all of eighteen, but I love it now. It was mainly recorded in the spring of '69, but to me it's a summer record.
It's interesting that, when he's the only singer, and he's given his head, Winwood sings like a delirious banshee, or a genie freed from his bottle. It was true on Traffic's career-best LP John Barleycorn Must Die, and it's true here. This is his album as much if not more that the others', and he makes the most of it.
[NB. My review is of the original "Mastered for CD" issue from Polydor, with the original cover, and with no extra tracks (in fact no extra anything). The latter are not missed, and the mastering is perfectly fine.]
Uplifting music I just want to keep on hearing.
on 1 March 2013
The story of the doomed venture that was Blind Faith has been very well documented. Often described as the first "Supergroup", to some extent the band's only album release reflected the pressures and weight of expectation which existed - and left little time for its members to gel fully as a unit. And although it might not be widely regarded as a classic, the band's self-titled album contains some great material and has a cult following amongst both Clapton and Winwood fans. Of its time, but, somehow, also with a timeless quality to its more classic tracks.
Lead vocals/keyboards/guitar/bass, Steve Winwood also contributed half of the songs on the original album and certainly comes across as the creative driving force behind the band. Eric Clapton's contribution is vastly different from his previous incarnation as guitar god in Cream - here he was searching for a new direction.
Along with Ginger Baker on drums and Rick Grech on bass/violin, this talented group showed in a very short time how brilliantly it could combine elements of blues, jazz, soul, folk and rock & roll in a decidedly rock context - it's a shame the début album would be the band's last.
"Had To Cry Today" opens affairs; a fine song of 'light and shade' and with an interesting guitar duet between Clapton and Winwood. A very un-Cream-like introduction to Blind Faith for Cream fans, despite Baker's unmistakeable drumming.
"Can't Find My Way Home" is a beautiful acoustic number, which would be adopted by Eric and Yvonne Elliman in Clapton's mid 1970's live sets and reprised by him regularly since. It's quite a short song in this guise and I only wish it were longer.
"Well All Right" lightens the mood considerably and avoids sounding like 'filler'(which it might have done). Eric's choice, being a Buddy Holly fan, and featuring great keyboards from Winwood.
"Presence Of The Lord" closed the original lp's Side 1 in fine style. Destined to become a Clapton classic and another staple of his early-mid 1970's live sets, this was his sole song-writing contribution here. Although Steve Winwood sings this it was due to Eric's refusal - perhaps signifying a wider lack of confidence in the project, not just in his vocal ability.
"Sea Of Joy", which opened the lp's Side 2, is a real gem. Opening with a folksy guitar riff (which almost sounds like something by Fairport Convention) it moves into more familiar waters before the folk influence returns with a surprise violin section by Rick Grech, which fits perfectly - an ocean of calm before the storm of the riff returns.
"Do What You Like", which ends the album, could be viewed as either self-indulgent (and disappointing) or experimental (and brave). I'd say it's a bit of both - some parts. of what is in essence a jam featuring each player (hence Baker's song title), work better than others, IMHO.
Minor criticisms only - the production does sound basic at times, perhaps not surprising given the era, and towards the end of Clapton's solo on "Presence ..." his guitar effect sounds a bit iffy, it must be said. This doesn't detract though and you get the sense that they decided to capture the moment as an 'honest' performance and keep it.
The 1986 CD (German pressing) has 2 extra tracks, recorded on 7 October 1969 - "Exchange And Mart" (an instrumental) and "Spending All My Days". Although the credits say the songs were written by all four band members, by then Blind Faith had already folded - they were actually recorded for a Rick Grech solo project which Eric contributed to. The extra tracks sound very 1960's and didn't represent progress, musically. A nice touch is the long pause which separates them from the original album - they are an interesting listen but not essential, unlike the original album.
The Deluxe version is a joy in itself. Disc 1 expands Blind Faith to include two versions of Sam Myers' bitter earthy blues, "Sleeping In The Ground", "Time Winds" (a short instrumental), the original, electric, version of "Can't Find My Way Home" (the acoustic version is more effective but the earlier take has great extended lead guitar and keyboards) and a jazzy acoustic jam. Disc 2 has four more lengthy jams taken from between the two main recording sessions. These include the ultra-rare single "Change Of Address". All topped-off by a great 28 page booklet, with recording details, much better band photos than on the album and an extended essay! An easy 5* for me.
on 16 January 2013
Bought to replace my well used vinyl version. Great tracks - of course! Ginger Baker drum solo brought a big smile to my face. Very good value and a super opportunity for anybody to listen to great musicians & Stevie Winwood's special voice. Happy memories of student times!!
on 16 September 2008
Picture a world where the rock scene's favourite band, Cream, has split up. Fan's are bubbling in a turmoil of both excitement and frustration at having lost them as their first 'supergroup' coupled with the awe and wonder as to what direction those 'gods' would take?
Clapton had been pictured in the press with his fabulous and bespoke Tony Zematis acoustic guitar, still a little shell-shocked from the demise of Cream stating he would be writing songs about Jesus.
This was slighly worrying, but at the time, and still even today, Eric can do whatever he wants and we will love it, nevertheless; so he did.
The formation of Blind Faith was not quite as gobsmacking as the formation of Cream, but with Winwood's pedigree of The Spencer Davis Group, jamming with Clapton on the 'Eric Clapton's Powerhouse' tracks which were released on the Elektra label, worked on 'Electric Ladyland' with Jimi Hendrix, and then formed Traffic, it sounded kind of interesting, but not earth-shattering. Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce had never got on too well anyway, so it was only natural Ginger would either go elsewhere and form a band or join Eric here, which he did. Rick Gretch was the bass player from Family and just filled the gap.
With the musician's, their joint pedigree, and the hype surrounding this latest 'supergroup,' Blind Faith, the album; disregarding the added 'gosh/shock/horror' extra-hype of the nubile yet adolescent young lady on the sleeve; was THE 'Must Buy' LP of 1969. But when you consider Cream split in November 1968, and Blind Faith had joined forces, appeared at Hyde Park and released this album in a little over 6 months, it was obvious things like the direction of the band and their music had never been discussed. So it was no surprise Blind Faith were on a hiding to nowhere, but this album, (and the recent DVD from the Hyde Park gig), are quite a good legacy of the band which sparkled and then died so quickly.
Clapton wrote his Jesus song with 'Presence Of The Lord,' which is a great track, but with the little kick in the Cream direction during the quirky middle-eight not unlike that of 'Badge.' 'Well Alright' is a cover of the Buddy Holly song, and 'Had To Cry Today,' 'Can't Find My Way Home' and 'Sea Of Joy' were pretty much what one would expect of a cross-pollenation of Traffic and an exhausted (from the Cream merry-go-round) Baker and Clapton, who seemed more than happy to fall into the Winwood / Hippie groove which was still just about holding its own.
Of course, Ginger has to have a drum solo with each band he's in; they were titled 'Camel's And Elephant's' with Graham Bond, 'Toad' with Cream and 'Do What You Like' with Blind Faith; so it's an absolute joy and a credit to his lifelong expertise and unique drumming that we are treated to another superb Ginger highlight here, despite some fans / reviewer's saying it's a 'filler track'!
A great album which hasn't suffered too badly in the hand's of time, and one which I play fairly regularly even now.