Blind Faith, one of rock’s first supergroups, consisted of Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream, Steve Winwood from Traffic, and Ric Grech on bass from Family: three out of four ain’t bad.
After the break-ups of Cream in 1968 and Traffic in 1969, friends Clapton and Winwood jammed together. Baker sat in with them, and though Clapton was leery, he was convinced by Winwood to bring Baker into the fold. Grech, who played with Clapton in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Winwood in the Spencer Davis Group, was invited and left Family after the first night of their US tour. After releasing Blind Faith and brief tours of Scandinavia and the US, they disbanded in October 1969.
This DVD captures their public debut at London's Hyde Park on June 7, 1969, before reportedly 100,000 at a free concert weekend. A crowd of that size is naturally going to have a few idiots whose mental capacities can be explained by either a lack of intelligence or an abundance of drugs and alcohol, which is why you hear a woman shout out “We want Cream!” after the very first song and why the set concludes with an announcement searching for a lost child's parents.
The band was still in the middle of recording their one and only album, which helps explain the short set of less than 50 minutes and their lack of cohesion. The DVD begins with brief intros of the ‘60s and the individual band members, who are featured in old interviews. The set list includes every song from their album, “Sleeping in the Ground” from the same sessions, and covers of Traffic’s “Means Too An End,” and The Rolling Stones “Under My Thumb.”
A fan site attributes these reactions to the band members:
Stevie Winwood – “It was our first gig, and to do that in front of 100,000 people was not the best situation to be in. Nerves were showing and it was very daunting. We couldn't relax like you can on tour.”
Eric Clapton – “I came offstage at the Hyde Park concert shaking like a leaf, because I felt once again that I'd let people down. What could we do, though?”
Ginger Baker – “It wasn't a brilliant start, obviously.”
Rick Grech – “We were nervous.”
While it’s obviously not the band or the musicians at their best, the music sounds all right and is surprisingly clearer than I expected for an almost 40-year-old recording. Plus, it’s not as bad as the band makes out. There is some good interplay between Clapton and Winwood on the bluesy “Sleeping in the Ground.” “Can’t Find My Way” retains its elegant charm. “Do What You Like” contains a brief yet impressive solo that illustrates Baker’s power and skill on drums.
Admittedly, “Under My Thumb” is all over the place. Winwood’s vocals and keyboards are good, but the rest of the band seems to be plodding along, barely adding anything. The crowd enjoyed it more than I did.
Extras include videos for “I’m A Man” by Spencer Davis Group, “Hole in My Shoe” by Traffic, and “I’m So Glad” by Cream. There is also a photo gallery set to “Well All Right,” and an incomplete discography of the band members because it only goes to 1969.
This is by no means the best place to discover Blind Faith, but it is very worthwhile as an artifact to be appreciated by hardcore fans that can now claim to have witnessed the legendary show. Definitely worth a rental.
Author’s Note – I can’t speak to the visuals as my review copy only had audio.