Sometimes faith is misplaced and so it was, at least long term, for Eric Clapton. Less than a year after the demise of Cream, Eric Clapton found himself a member of another supergroup.
He had joined together with old band mate Ginger Baker as well as keyboardist/vocalist Steve Winwood of Traffic and The Spencer Davis Group and bassist Ric Grech to form Blind Faith. They rushed into the studio and in August of 1969 released their self titled debut and only studio album. It quickly rose to the number one position on the American and British charts.
To me, Blind Faith sounds better today than I remember it back in 1969. I was the program director for my college radio station at the time and expectations for the album were extremely high. I think there was some disappointment upon its release, though, comparing it to the strength of Cream's catalogue and it not measuring up to their best work. Time and distance have allowed the album to stand on its own, however, and it exists as a nice slice of late sixties rock.
The band caused controversy right out of the gate. The original album cover pictured a nude eleven year old girl from the waist up. It was withdrawn and a new cover featured a photo of the band.
The album is actually excellent for a hastily thrown-together affair. Clapton’s “Presence Of The Lord” would become a part of his live act for decades. It’s always interesting to compare his later vocals with Winwood’s soulful style on this version. It’s a song that lulls you until a Clapton solo in the middle nearly makes you jump out of your chair.
Winwood wrote three of the six tracks. “Sea Of Joy” contains one of the best vocal performances of his career plus some nice acoustic guitar by Clapton. “Had To Cry Today” is a rocker with several guitar bursts from E.C.
The final two tracks are a little problematic in places. The old Buddy Holly tune, “Well All Right,” just never quite coalesces. I consider it an odd choice at best. Ginger Baker’s fifteen-minute “Do What You Like” has some excellent drumming and guitar solos but it goes on a bit too long and I have heard much of the same before and better with Cream’s “Toad.”
Blind Faith ran into trouble on tour. They did not have enough material to fill a couple of hours and so resorted to playing old Cream and Traffic material which their audiences seemed to prefer. If you are going to play that kind of music, though, you might as well not have left those groups. No matter, Blind Faith quickly became a footnote in rock history and a short stopping place along the road of Eric Clapton’s musical journey.
Blind Faith is sometimes a forgotten album today but is well worth seeking out as it is sixties rock almost at its very best.