If ever, in all the anals of rock history, there was an aptly named band, it was Blind Faith. Born from the ashes of Cream and the original incarnation of Traffic, Blind Faith was heralded as the first "supergroup." It seemed a brilliant idea at the time — pairing Eric Clapton's blues-based guitar with Steve Winwood's jazz-infused keyboards, and tying it all together with the power of Ginger Baker's drums and Rick Grech's (Family) steady bass.
They were doomed from the start.
In retrospect, it's hardly surprising that Blind Faith produced only one album in a career that spanned less than seven months. The break-up of Cream had been bitter, due mostly to the animosity between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Adding Baker as a drummer to what had begun as jams between Clapton and Winwood was, in part, the reason for Clapton to cynically call the band "Blind Faith," referencing his doubts about the band's future.
Nonetheless, the fans, the press and, most importantly, the label pushed for an album release. Advances – huge advances – were paid, tours were booked and Blind Faith were superstars before even releasing an album.
London Hyde Park 1969 documents Blind Faith's 7 June 1969 live debut. It was a less than auspicious live premiere for such a highly anticipated "super-act." The fledgling band was ill-prepared for a venue of more than 100,000 fans, and their performance, by today's standards, amounted to little more than a soundcheck. The band members themselves, particularly Clapton, would later critique it as mediocre at best. It didn't matter, though — even though their debut was uninspired, the audience ate it up, and Blind Faith was thrust into superstardom.
Despite the performance's shortcomings, London Hyde Park 1969 is a tidy historical document that offers a rare glimpse of a band who would become a seminal influence on the rock that followed them. The live recording (originally planned as part of a documentary) had been shelved ever since the band's dissolution later that same year. This DVD release features the concert in its entireity, and is the only video release available documenting Blind Faith. The intro, replete with mod-style voiceover, harkens back to the dying embers of the swinging sixties and the socially disenfranchised decade poised to replace it. Bonus materials include prehistoric (at least, music video-wise) videos of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Cream.
The influence of Blind Faith, for better or worse, on rock music cannot be overstated. The eponymously titled album that followed the Hyde Park concert was a mega-hit and transformed the face of rock and roll from snappy three chord progressions to a genre that embraced, with varying degrees of success, the experimentations of jazz and blues. What this DVD release does is illustrate the first steps of a new direction rock would take.
Songs like "Well All Right," "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Sea of Joy" still hold up to scrutiny some 35 years later, and London Hyde Park 1969 affords the viewer a chance to hear them in their earliest forms. That alone would make the disc a worthy addition to a connoisseur's library, but the concert's blatant missteps, such as their cover of the Rolling Stones' "Under My thumb," make it all the more interesting.