Sleeping in the Ground (Sam Myers)
There are two versions of this - fast and slow.
It is a weak blues that somehow seemed to fascinate Clapton.
The reality is that Steve was not a blues singer, Baker couldn't do
anything with it, Grech was stolid and Clapton didn't pull off the scorching
solo that was needed. The fast
version is reasonable, the slow is dull.
Can't Find My Way Home
The electric version is strong but has to be considered in
the shade of the acoustic version. They
had worked on it for a while and it's almost there but Jimmy Miller, thankfully,
heard a greater potential. Still good enough to have been included on the album
- that approach became fashionable in the 70's - acoustic version/electric
Time Winds (Winwood)
Still being worked up and is more of a Traffic song.
The jams provide a fascinating insight into a band that was
truly in experimental territory. 1969
was a pivotal year in the development of a new hybrid - Jazz-Rock.
With hindsight much of what was considered Jazz-Rock was in fact electric
Jazz - Lifetime, Miles and early Weather Report.
The jams show Baker/Winwood/Clapton were exploring similar territory.
This is a surprising revelation to me and has only become clear after I
made some connections via Miles' "Complete In a Silent Way
Jam No.1 - March 2 1969.
They were still trying to find there way so Ginger got Guy
Warren (not Warner!) to join in on African Drums. Baker had already had a recording session with Guy which was
released on 'Stratavarious' (reissued on 'Do What You Like')
This jam is percussion driven with Steve playing bass. The powerful African rhythm is overlaid by polyrhythmic guitar figures including some elements verging on atonalism. Quite unusual from Clapton and superbly supported by Steve's broken bass line playing counterpoint.
'Stratavarious' (reissued on 'Do What You Like')
Jam No. 2 - March 2 1969
This one is led by Clapton with a blues based rhythm riff.
The rest join in and Clapton steadily begins to expand his concept while
holding the groove. Guy inserts lots of percussion and sings along in wordless
African style. Clapton is using
some effects pedal - possibly an open wah and fuzz in combination.
Jam No.3: "Change of Address"
This was given a title as it was released as a two-sided
promo single. Its a blues based Jam
which they had probably been working on. Steve
takes the lead on organ and plays the pedals for bass.
Relates to "Gimme Some Loving" with a similar swinging groove.
Again we don't have Eric playing single note solos a la Cream but
experimenting with rhythmic figures. He
was quite deliberately rounding his technique by improving his rhythm playing.
Again the groove is more important then the instrumental pyrotechnics.
Jam No. 4
Well, with this one I made a connection that is a true
revelation. In February 1970 John
McLaughlin recorded a solo album which was released as 'Devotion'.
There is a track called "Marbles" which replicates the opening
of this jam, though exploding at a faster tempo.
I'm not going to even suggest it was stolen, cause it couldn't have been.
It's just that both songs come from common roots and it was probably a
guitar figure that had been floating around.
The most interesting thing is that Blind Faith were experimenting in the
same territory that John McLaughlin was to build his reputation on.
All three are locking on this with beautiful interplay.
Again Guy is singing and inserting African Drum patterns.
Baker is restrained and just grooving - shows the superb drummer he is.
Ginger and Guy launch a new phase about halfway through as they move it
up-tempo. Jam doesn't end after 16
minutes but the tape does.
Acoustic Jam - June 25 1969
The band is now augmented by Rick Grech.
This is my favourite jam and a really great track.
I just don't know where it fits in their musical development.
The earlier jams were purely experimental and just getting together
work-outs. This one seems whole and
complete including Steve improvising some lyrics.
The only firm connection I can make is with Miles Davis' experiments of the 'Filles De Kilimanjaro' and 'Silent Way' period. I can only guess that Baker and Winwood were familiar with the former album and took particular note of "Mademoiselle Mabry". The whole feel and approach is akin to this track. Even if it was loosely based on this, it shows a high level of musical experimentation and innovation. If it wasn't - well this band was at the forefront, and not just of Rock music. Exciting stuff!
© Graeme Pattingale, 2002