Release Info: Blind Faith - Selftitled (Classic Album UK 1969)
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Blind Faith were an English blues-rock band that consisted of Eric Clapton (The Yardbirds, Cream), Ginger Baker (Graham Bond Organisation, Cream), Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis Group, Traffic) and Ric Grech (Family). The band, which was one of the first so-called supergroups, only released one album, Blind Faith, in August 1969. They were stylistically similar to the bands in which Winwood, Baker, and Clapton had most recently participated (Traffic and Cream).
Blind Faith's beginnings date to mid-1968, with the breakup of Cream. Rock's original supergroup had become a financial powerhouse, selling millions of records within a few years and raising the group's (and each member's) repertoire to international popularity. Despite that success, the band was crumbling from within due to frequent animosity between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, with Eric Clapton doing his best to mediate. In addition, Clapton had tired of being coerced into playing commercially driven blues, and hoped to move forward with a new, experimental, less strait-jacketed approach to the genre.
Steve Winwood was facing similar problems in The Spencer Davis Group, in which he had been the lead singer for three years. Winwood wanted to experiment with the band's sound by infusing jazz elements, but left due to his musical differences, instead forming a new band -- Traffic -- in 1967. That band split temporarily in 1969, and Winwood started to jam with his good friend Eric in Clapton's basement in Surrey, England. Winwood and Clapton had previously collaborated on the one-off "Powerhouse" project.
Clapton was pleased with the jam sessions and looked seriously toward starting a trio with Winwood, but they needed a drummer. Ginger Baker turned up to sit in with them in 1969, and the band took near-final form. But Clapton questioned letting Baker in the band, because he had promised Jack Bruce that, if they were to work with one another again, they would all three play. Moreover, Clapton didn't want to reunite with Cream barely nine weeks after the breakup, and also didn't want to deal with another "Cream-like" superstardom situation. Winwood ultimately persuaded Clapton to finalize Baker's inclusion in the lineup, arguing that Ginger Baker strengthened their musicianship and that it would be hard to find an equally talented drummer.
By May 1969, Ric Grech, bassist with Family, was invited to join them (leaving Family, mid-tour). They laid down most of their album at Olympic Studios under the supervision of producer Jimmy Miller. Miller provided focus to the band, who often preferred jamming, over the standard commercial 3-5 minute track. By then the group was known collectively as Blind Faith, a slyly cynical reference by Clapton to his outlook on the new group.
News of the group's formation created a buzz of excitement among the public and press, which even heralded the band as "super Cream". The group debuted at a free concert at London's Hyde Park on June 7, 1969. The performance was well received by fans there but troubled Clapton, who thought that the band's playing was sub-par and that the adulation was undeserved and reminiscent of his Cream days when the crowds would applaud for nearly everything. Clapton, knowing the band had not rehearsed enough and was unprepared, was reluctant to tour and feared that the band would develop into a Cream repeat.
Because Steve Winwood was signed to Island Records, he had to be "leased" to Polydor Records (to whom Clapton and Baker were signed). Possibly as part of this deal, a rare one-off promotional single was released by Island, although the promotion was for Island itself. It was a single announcing the fact that they were moving their offices. Titled "Change Of Address From June 23rd 1969", the one-sided promo featured an instrumental jam by the group who were not mentioned at all on the label (the only other label info is the new address, phone number, and new cable address of Island). Recorded at Olympic, probably sometime between March and May 1969, it is thought that around 500 copies of the single were pressed, mostly sent to UK disc jockeys and other music industry insiders. The track was finally released widely when it appeared at a bonus track on the 2-CD "Deluxe Edition" of the Blind Faith album in 2000 (titled "Change Of Address Jam").
The recording of their album continued, followed by a short tour of Scandinavia, where the band played smaller gigs and were able to rehearse their sound and prepare it for bigger audiences in America and England. After Scandinavia, the band toured the United States, making their debut at Madison Square Garden on July 12 for more than 20,000. During the performance a 30-minute-long riot occurred on stage. Involving police and concert goers, it led to Baker accidentally getting clubbed on the head by a police officer and Winwood's piano being destroyed. The band would tour for seven more weeks in America, finishing their tour in Hawaii on August 24, 1969.
A major problem with the tour was that the band had only a few songs in their catalogue вЂ” barely enough to fill an hour. They were forced to play old Cream and Traffic songs, to the delight of a crowd which usually preferred their older, popular material to their new Blind Faith material. Clapton was now exactly where he didn't want to be вЂ” stuck in a "super Cream" that was causing riots during their live shows (Cream hadn't even reached the status to create riots). They were playing the same material from his Cream days, to appease the audience and to fill the void left by the lack of adequate new material.
Opening acts for the band included the band Free and a blues-based rock act called Delaney & Bonnie. Clapton particularly liked the soulful, folksy-sounding blues of Delaney & Bonnie; he began spending most of his time with them instead of Blind Faith, letting Winwood take a more prominent role in the band.
Upon its release, Blind Faith topped Billboard's charts at the No. #1 spot for Pop Album in both America and the United Kingdom, and peaked at #40 on the Black Albums chart вЂ” an impressive feat for a British rock quartet. The album sold more than half a million copies within the first month of its release and was a huge profit-making device for both Atlantic Records (on their Atco label) and for Clapton & Baker (Blind Faith sales were helping to stimulate demand for Cream albums as well).
The release of the album provoked controversy because the cover featured a topless pubescent girl , holding in her hands a silver space ship designed by Mick Milligan, a jeweller at the Royal College of Art. Some perceived the ship as phallic The U.S. record company issued it with an alternative cover which showed a photograph of the band on the front.
The cover art was created by photographer Bob Seidemann, a personal friend and former flatmate of Clapton who is known primarily for his photos of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. Bizarre rumours both fuelled and were fuelled by the controversy, among them that the young girl was Baker's illegitimate daughter or, alternatively as a fantasy, was a groupie kept in the meadowlands as a slave by the band members. Actually, the young lass was a London suburbanite, who posed upon consent by her parents and for a handsome fee, as described in Seidemann's mini essay about the origins of the Blind Faith album cover artwork.
One other interesting note about the cover is that it was nameless вЂ” only the wrapping paper told the buyer who the artist was and the name of the album. Though initially banned in some parts of the USA and other countries, the original artwork was quite popular and collectible. It also became available later in the 1970s on the RSO label worldwide, and in the USA as an import item. Under licensing agreement during the mid- 1980s, the Blind Faith album was remastered to high definition vinyl and gold compact disc by Mobile fidelity Sound Labs. During 2000 the entire album was remastered and re-released as a 2-CD deluxe edition release from Polydor that includes alternates, outtakes and studio rehearsal versions of the band's music created during the early months of 1969.
01."Had to Cry Today" (Steve Winwood) вЂ“ 8:48
02."Can't Find My Way Home" (Steve Winwood) вЂ“ 3:16
03."Well...All Right" (Norman Petty, Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, Joe B. Mauldin) вЂ“ 4:27
04."Presence of the Lord" (Eric Clapton) вЂ“ 4:50
05."Sea of Joy" (Steve Winwood) вЂ“ 5:22
06."Do What You Like" (Ginger Baker) вЂ“ 15:18
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