Blind Faith

Which Recordings?

by John Buchanan

The only Blind Faith album was released on July 21, 1969 by Atco in the U.S. (catalogue number 33-304) and on August 16, 1969 by Polydor in the U.K. (catalogue number 583059). There was a storm of protest over the original album cover, so it was released with two alternative covers in the U.S.

       Atco 33-304A                                                          Atco 33-304B

The Polydor UK album had a gatefold cover with a naked girl externally and 2 different black and white photos (from the same photo shoot as the alternative cover) inside. The U.S. albums were not gatefolds, although Atco 33-304A included a lyric insert, while 33-304 had the lyrics on the back cover.

Although this band was even more hyped than Cream, it is not now as widely known. This is disappointing, as the album is a combination of the virtuosity of Cream with a more spiritual feel to the words, compared to the more abstract content of Cream lyrics. The long jam at the end of the original album (Do What You Like) has enough of the pyrotechnics of Cream to satisfy their more ardent fans.

The sound quality has varied with different releases:

  1. On vinyl, U.K. Polydor 583059 was the original UK release and is bright, clear and dynamic, while U.S. Atco 33-304 had a muddier treble. Both album covers included lyrics. A large number of the Polydor vinyl copies were pressed markedly off centre, leading to wow that becomes more obvious towards the end of each side.
  2. On CD, the first Polydor release had 2 supposed Blind Faith tracks appended – Exchange and Mart and Spending All My Days. These were left over tracks from an aborted Rick Grech solo album and there is no audible evidence of any of the other members performing on these tracks.
  3. The second Polydor CD version (Polygram 825094-2) deletes the extra tracks, but improved the sound quality slightly. The cover reproduction is quite grainy and no lyrics are included.
  4. Mobile Fidelity then released a gold Ultradisc (UDCD 507) version of this album and it remains the version to have – much like the UK original in being bright, clear and dynamic and it’s the only CD version to include the lyrics, even if the cover reproduction is pint-sized. Beware with A/B comparisons, as it is “cut” at a lower average volume then the other releases, while its extremes of volume are greater. The remedy is to turn it up

                            MFSL UDCD 507

5. The Polydor Deluxe 2 CD version adds bonus tracks and jams from the album sessions – none of which are really essential (the editor respectively differs on that!). The sound quality is duller, louder and less dynamic (i.e. more compressed due to the digital processing - an unnecessary by-product) than the Mobile Fidelity, but the reproduction of the U.K vinyl graphics and the extra notes are very clear and comprehensive. No lyrics are included.

Verdict: On CD, while the Mobile Fidelity is a clear winner for the best sound and the lyric sheet, the Deluxe Edition is required for the cover, extra tracks and the new notes. On vinyl, go for the Polydor gatefold edition, but watch out for copies pressed off centre – watch the record play on the turntable first.

© John Buchanan & Graeme Pattingale, 2002