Blind Faith - The Music

  One album and one lack lustre tour of the States is Blind Faith's legacy.  Their status as the first true Supergroup overshadows a quite respectable musical legacy.

 

The release of the Blind Faith Deluxe Edition gives us an excellent coverage of the studio works.  These have been available on bootlegs with lots of the rehearsals/alternate takes but the Deluxe edition is the best.  To be honest the released versions are the best takes and the variations are only of interest to completests.  One of the album's strengths is that it is a 'whole'.  There was no attempt at a single just a strong album.

Live material is represented by several bootlegs of the US tour, The Gothenburg Gig and a few tracks from the Hyde Park soundtrack.  The US material is largely forgetable with, unfortunately, the better concerts marred by abominable sound .  It is the Gothenburg material that holds the greatest interest as it precedes the album and is the best in terms of sound and performance.

Blind Faith

Had To Cry Today (Winwood)

The album opens with a stunner - dual lead guitars and strong, strong vocals from Steve.   Winwood had primarily been a keyboard player with the occasional guitar in Traffic.  It was Mr Fantasy that brought him to the forefront (no Dave Mason is not on it!) and he continues in that vein on this track.  Playing with Clapton pushes Steve to new heights, his playing really pushes Eric to create one of his 'architectural'' solos.  The duelling leads presage the Allmans, Wishbone Ash etc and the ending multi-tracked overdubbed guitars were reprised on the Layla album.

Can't Find My Way Home (Winwood)

The "Light Guitar Version" is a classic - one of Steve's best songs and a beautiful performance.  It is minimalist and a live take using three mikes.  Baker uses brushes with the hi-hat and splash cymbal dominant.   Eric's acoustic powers through, Steve supports on acoustic and his voice has never been better.  Rick plays a very light bass line.  I repeat - a classic that it has been widely covered.

Well All Right (Petty/Holly/Allison/Mauldin)

A fascinating cover of a Buddy Holly song and their first recording.  Clapton plays guitar through the Lesley box and Steve overdubs keys and plays pedal bass.  Baker plays sensitively with plenty of cow bell and supportively powers it along.  A total band effort from the three that has a surprising jazz feel, especially on the ending coda.  

Presence of the Lord (Clapton)

Eric's first solo song credit and it is one of his best.  The heartfelt lyrics are emphasised by a scorching solo involving wah and echo (probably using the Fender amp).  

Eric didn't want to do the vocals because he admired Steve's singing so much.  Shame, as the personal nature of the lyrics seems to restrain Winwood, as does the need to double up on bass.  Still, a great side closer.  

 

Sea of Joy (Winwood)

This was from the second session with Rick Grech and it took advantage of his modest skills on violin.  A quite superb blend of acoustic and electric - again a pre-curser.  It is notable that the master was achieved in six takes and it does have a very relaxed feel.  The addition of bass really took the pressure off Winwood.  "Waiting in our boats to set sail - sea of joy"

Do What You Like (Baker)

While Winwood and Clapton were producing fine songs, Baker knew the fans wanted some instrumental pyrotechnics.  He came up with this song in 5/4 and some pretty simple lyrics that lead into a series of solo's.  While intended as a jammer, it actually involved 13 takes over two days as Baker had clear ideas on the specific feel that he wanted to achieve, and achieve it he did.  It swings, flows and insinuates and it almost fills a side - a blessing for Jimmy Miller.  

Winwood's solo on Vox organ  is all right hand guitar like seguing into Clapton's, redubbed architectural, solo.  Grech and Baker are locking with Baker inserting subtle accents, maintaining a mantra pulse reinforced by the mantric "Do what you like" vocals from Winwood, Clapton & Baker.  

Rick's bass solo maintains the pulse without loosing interest and effectively builds tension for the Baker opus that is to follow.  The drums are beautifully recorded and spread across the two channels - he's never sounded better, creating a magnificently structured artwork with the drum kit.  They return to the song a la Toad and roll out with some studio nonsense.  

The end of a great album that is hugely underrated today. Why? Simply because they were a transition band - pulling together different genres and blending something new.

Music 2: The Outtakes & Jams

The Discography 

Graeme Pattingale, 2002