At the end of 1968 both Cream & Traffic were defunct. Eric played on the Rolling Stones' "Rock & Roll Circus" on 10-11 December. With the official demise of Traffic in December, Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood got together for some relaxed jamming. In the New Year, Ginger got wind of what was going on and made a visit to Ericís Surrey House to join in. Eric wasnít particularly happy about the intrusion but Steve liked Bakerís rhythmic ideas and he was invited on board.
Dirty Mac - Rolling Stones' R&R Circus
All were searching for a new
musical direction after their previously successful bands.
On 18th February 1969 things got serious & they entered the recording
studio - the $ signs were being rung up.
Only "Well All Right" and "Presence of the Lord" came
out of these sessions both after long gestations.
"Well All Right" was started on 18th with an interim
master achieved at the second session on the 20th.
At the same session, starting as "Lord Protector", the "Presence of the Lord" master was achieved
after 72 takes, but another 5 followed. On
the 28th they revisited "Well
All Right" and completed a new master after 7 takes.
This was followed by some jams on "Hey Joe".
The trio format was problematic
and they tried again on March 2, supplemented
by percussionist Guy Warren, with a variety of jams to try out some ideas.
The core of these was Bakerís African rhythm concepts and an excerpt
from one jam was released as a 2 sided promo single (Change of Address).
Clearly it was too much to expect Steve to cover lead vocals, keys and
pedal bass. A bass player was needed and Rick Grech, on tour in US with
Family, came on board.
In May they returned to the studio
but, again, the session was somewhat less then successful.
May 27 saw the completion of the "electric" "Can't Find My
Way Home" (take 10 of 15) and on the 28th "Sea of
Joy". After extensive working
up on the 30th, they failed to complete "Time Winds".
June the 5th saw 21 takes of "Had to Cry Today" but
no master just the the "very good" last take. Things were getting
serious as a major US tour was booked commencing on July 11 and the album was
required. The cash register was now
steaming in frustration.
The band turned to live
performance to get themselves together. On
June 7 they debuted before 100,000 (actually much less then that judging by the
film - promotional hype) in Londonís Hyde Park.
The concert was filmed and recorded but, unsurprisingly, it was a
hesitant and nervous performance. However,
enough was achieved to follow up with a short Scandinavian tour.
The Scandinavians tour was a huge
success playing to sold out venues. On
June 16th they played at the Swedish Port City of Gothenburg.
The Liseberg venues had been popular pop/rock performance venues for
several years and were well known to the members of the band.
At this show they performed every song they had in their repertoire and
effectively previewing the album for the audience.
Things were coming together.
After this tour Blind Faith
returned to the studio on June 23, now under the production guidance of
Jimmy Miller, to revisit "Had to Cry Today"( 26 takes) and work
up "Do What You Like" (7 takes).
June 24 saw the completion of "Do What You Like", which was
carefully crafted over 6 takes and "Had to Cry Today"
completed after 17 takes . The
session ended after some work on "Sleeping in the Ground".
On the 25th they
commenced work with a superb jam, retrospectively titled "Acoustic
Jam". Then "Sleeping in
the Ground" was finished after 28 takes.
It was at a faster tempo then the provisional master from the 23rd.
Jimmy Miller began mixing the album. Quite correctly "Sleeping in the Ground" was abandoned - the most insipid blues rendition Clapton has ever performed. But Miller saw greater potential in "Can't Find My Way Home" then had been achieved. On the 28th they returned to the studio and adopted minimal miking for an acoustic version. After 24 takes they selected no. 21 as the master. Ginger Baker still considers this song the hi-light of his recording career - 'nough said.
|The sell-out American tour commenced at Rhode Island on July
11. The Summer of Love was
well and truely over being replaced by the Vietnam Winter of Trouble. The
tour was marred by police/crowd violence and Claptonís increasing
disenchantment with the whole idea which was further exacerbated by his
ever growing heroin addiction . Calls
for Cream and Traffic songs
increased tensions. Baker's
exhortations to Clapton to play longer guitar solos didn't help.
Clapton spent much of the tour travelling and jamming with the support band of Delaney & Bonnie. At one stage he told Baker and Winwood that Delaney and Bonnie should be headlining the tour - " Delaney and Bonnie, ha, ha, ha ..." (Baker recalling the incident). Clapton's retrospective claims that the band's problems resulted from disagreements between Baker and Winwood are disingenuous as Winwood was heavily involved with Baker's 'Airforce' project and Ginger still considers Steve as .."one of the most incredible musicians I've ever worked with."
After advance orders of half a
million, the "Blind Faith" Album was released in August.
The cover of a naked pubescent girl* garnered widespread complaints and
was replaced by a very conservative cover with a photograph of the band in
rehearsal. It was risque in 1969 but these days is viewed as an artistic
interpretation of what 'Blind Faith' was about.
Ignoring the sensational promotional aspects, it does visually
encapsulate the fragility of the band's music.
The tour ended and they went home. Baker was shocked when, at a casual meeting in London, Winwood told him it was finished. In the aftermath Baker pulled together the sprawling two gig Airforce conglomerate, including Winwood & Grech (who was equally staggered by the disintegration). Stevie began work on a solo album that was to generate a reinvigorated Traffic and the classic album "John Barleycorn". Rick began an aborted solo album before joining Traffic. Clapton jammed around with John Lennon and Delaney & Bonnie before starting his hugely successful solo career.
* Her older sister was selected as the original model but she wouldn't go through with it.
US Tour Program Cover
© Graeme Pattingale, 2002