Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blind Faith: Blind Faith

Weary of playing in a so-called supergroup, Clapton left Cream to form another one. But Blind Faith wasn’t a complete about-face, as Ginger Baker came along. Thus, two-thirds of Cream hooked up with Steve Winwood, late of Traffic, and Ric Grech (who played the violin on the Stones’ “Factory Girl”) to pursue Clapton’s vision of the Band, with not a little influence from Traffic. Their self-titled album was recorded fairly quickly, by today’s standards anyway.
“Had To Cry Today” beats a riff into the ground for nearly nine minutes, with lots of overlaid guitars and a nicely phased freak-out section that’s not even that freaky. However, “Can’t Find My Way Home” would become many people’s favorite campfire song, with its descending D shapes, acoustic guitars and haunting vocal. Winwood had already mastered the second-verse-same-as-the-first method on “Dear Mr. Fantasy”, making it easy for budding folksingers to memorize it. His piano finally emerges on “Well All Right”, which put some money into Buddy Holly’s estate; it would not be the last time a Clapton version would put a definite stamp on somebody else’s song. Eric himself only wrote one song on the album, but following the single-verse method of “Can’t Find My Way Home”, “Presence Of The Lord” was given to Stevie to sing, and he does, nicely. (Notably, Clapton does not take a lead vocal on the album.)
Side two starts of well with “Sea Of Joy”, a multi-part song that nicely mixes psychedelia with folk, with equal doses of guitar and organ, and even a violin solo. “Do What You Like” is much more trying; credited solely to Ginger Baker, mostly likely for the 5/4 meter, it has a couple of verses, then lets Stevie, Eric, Ric and Ginger each solo for a while. This indulgence would be said to be sadly indicative of what was wrong with the album, and would likely be skipped by most listeners not already grooving or on chemicals. The last minute of subtle cacophony, however, is about as fitting as any grand “finale”.
Blind Faith was a supergroup in a time when commercialism was considered bad form in the music business, and the album was only in stores for about a month before the band dissolved. These days it’s arguably notable for its garish cover; we much prefer the silly band photo that actually identifies the members, used on a later pressing, as shown here.
Because there was never a follow-up, collectors and fans have grasped at whatever bonus straws they could find. One of the first CDs (manufactured in Europe) had two unreleased tracks that have since been exposed as outtakes from a Ric Grech solo project, and not by Blind Faith at all. A later expanded edition proved that there wasn’t much for the band past the six songs recorded and released, and by the time they might have, they had already splintered back to their own ideas. Of those outtakes, the faster take of “Sleeping On The Ground” is of the caliber of the LP, or at least a B-side, while the electric “Can’t Find My Way Home” shows they were right to go with what they chose. (Fans of guitar improvisation and cowbell would likely drool over the four lengthy, Grech-less jams that make up the second disc.)

Blind Faith Blind Faith (1969)—4
2001 Deluxe Edition: same as 1969, plus 9 extra tracks

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