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"I'm wasted and I can't find my way home"
|Main Category:||Roots Rock|
|Starting Period:||The Artsy/Rootsy Years|
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Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Blind Faith fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Blind Faith fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.
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A one-album band, it has nevertheless managed to earn its place in history. It was destined to be and not to be the sequel to Cream, but it failed on both counts (hah! now there's a good pun!) To be, because how could a band that included Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker not be a sequel to Cream? And not to be, because Eric really wanted to have a different kind of sound - that's why keyboard wiz Steve Winwood (of Traffic fame! Yahoo! MURDER!) was approached as the likeliest candidate for inclusion. Together with Steve and Rick Grech on base and all kinds of sound-producing machines from handclaps to fiddles, they planned to envisage the new face of popular music - and cracked. It's a well-known fact that Clapton doesn't really get it on with bands where he's not an absolute leader (and he doesn't really get it on with bands where he is - how many backup bands has he changed through the thirty years of his solo career?), and the other guys were probably tough just as well. A skilled expert would have predicted the band's downfall before it even got together; the stupid, sensation-hungry press, however, publicized this 'supergroup' to the point of suffocation, and whatever creative ideas the guys might have shared originally were stiffed in but a couple months. They did make a US tour of some twenty dates, as far as I know (lucky was the guy who was able to see one!), but no further activities were undertaken. A sad thing it is, too - had the project succeeded, Stevie Winwood wouldn't have returned back to Traffic, and we wouldn't have to suffer through the band's ramblings for five more bloody years (heh heh). And yeah, I don't think John Barleycorn Must Die is a good album at all, so sue me sue me sue me now. The funny thing, Stevie sounded quite fine in the band, better than he ever did (at least, in Traffic; I have yet to check out the Spencer Davis Group). And Rick Grech turns out to have been a really talented multi-instrumentalist.They made one album, though. It's not a great album, but at least it's a good one. After that, Eric probably felt that the hateful Cream legacy was working its way back to him, so the group was hastily dispersed before they even had the chance to start fucking up. So why am I doing this little separate page for them? Oh, no special reason. See, I wouldn't like to include this one onto the Cream page, because it really doesn't sound very much like Cream, and of course I wouldn't include it onto the Clapton page because there's more than just Clapton to the band. So would you like me not to review it at all? Maybe you would. But I'll still go ahead and review it. Lineup (well, I already told you about it, didn't I?): Eric Clapton - guitars, vocals; Steve Winwood - keyboards, vocals; Rick Grech - bass guitar, fiddle; Ginger Baker - drums. The band is regularly spoken of as the first 'supergroup', since all the members came from well-established combos - Cream (Clapton & Baker), Traffic (Winwood) and Family (Grech). Strictly speaking, though, it was not Blind Faith, but Cream itself that were the first supergroup, but the reason of this terminology mess probably resides in the fact that the very term 'supergroup' was coined around the time of Blind Faith's formation by some honey-mouthed journalist or critic. So, to put it straight, Cream were the first 'supergroup', and Blind Faith were the first band to be dubbed a 'supergroup'.
General Evaluation: not available for artists with not more than 3 albums
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Year Of Release: 1969
Record rating = 10
Overall rating = 11
An entertaining blues-art-rock creation, even if the songs are somewhat too long... well, what could you expect from a Cream-Traffic mutation?Best song: CAN'T FIND MY WAY HOME
Track listing: 1) Had To Cry Today; 2) Can't Find My Way Home; 3) Well All Right; 4) Presence Of The Lord; 5) Sea Of Joy; 6) Do What You Like.
First of all, let me tell you that this album doesn't get a 10 because it deserves an objective 10. It gets a 10 because a 10 stands for 'best-of-artist', and this is certainly the 'best-of-artist' - at least since there's nothing else by same 'artist'. Unlike Cream, who started with something unexpected (their early jazz/pop recordings instead of straightforward blues-rock), this time the guys probably know what they're doing, and there's no doubt about it: this is what they want to play and this is what you get. And what is this what you get?Well, about half of the record is devoted to Winwood compositions. If you've already read my reviews of Traffic, you're probably well aware that I have a special feeling towards the band, and that feeling can be called 'boredom epithomized'; I'm not the biggest fan of Stevie's tenor voice, I don't see anything particularly impressive in the way he handles his instruments, and I could count all of his Traffic compositions that stand about 'average' and still have a couple of fingers left on my hands. Strange as it may seem, though, the tunes he offered to Blind Faith mostly work - even though they do have Steve's identity firmly etched onto them. But at least it seems that the other members etched their identity onto them as well. Thus, the album opener 'Had To Cry Today' is built around a good riff and, indeed, is the closest thing to a Cream jam on the record, clocking in at under nine minutes. But the riff is indeed good, as is Winwood's singing in the refrain, and Clapton plays some decent, if at times overlong, solos. On the other hand, 'Can't Find My Way Home' is a gorgeous ballad sung in a very gentle tone, and it is neither Traffic nor Cream. It's something... really special. (It was a highlight of Clapton's live shows, too: Yvonne Elliman used to sing it). And 'Sea Of Joy' has some jolly Rick Grech fiddle, played in the midst of a heart-warming, pretty, albeit rather lightweight countryish shuffle with Stevie really stretching out on vocals. The other three songs are credited one to Clapton, another one to Baker, and a third one to... Buddy Holly. 'Well All Right' sounds nothing like the Buddy original, and for a long time I used to despise it, but over time it got better: I think the way they structure the song, turning it into a sweaty blues jam with elements of fresh jazzy piano sound, is quite nice, and even the vocal harmonies on the chorus aren't cheesy. Maybe it's the weird main riff of the song, almost resembling some obscure tribal chant, that used to put me off; however, it doesn't any more. You know the rumour that the band intended to record an entire album of nothing but Buddy Holly covers? Now that would be a truly perverse way to start a 'supergroup''s career! Not that I have anything against Buddy - I love the 'First Intelligent Person In Rock' as good as anybody, but nobody would probably take the band seriously had they realised their ambition. Meanwhile, Baker's fifteen-minute 'Do What You Like' is a good example of wretched excess: Traffic-like organ, multiple Santana-esque guitar solos and, of course, a Baker drum solo. Jeez. Fifteen minutes of standing on the head! Yeah, really! And whatever you say, if you've heard one Baker drum solo (presumably on 'Toad', his major Cream days highlight), you've heard them all. At least Eric's guitar sounds really good on this one, and the frantic solos succeed in salvaging a significant chunk of the number, although my long-time personal plans call for a significant editing... I just can't figure out which exact parts it is necessary to cut out. Let me just say that I absolutely don't care if 'Do What You Like' was a well thought-out, carefully conceived, self-indulgent demonstration of artistic ambitions or just an ingenious way of filling up some empty space on the record. In any case, Clapton is at his absolutely best not on 'Do What You Like', but mainly when he lets rip with his frantic solo on 'Presence Of The Lord'. This number is famous for being the first totally solo Clapton-written song (even the two and a half songs of his Cream days were written in co-authorship with lots of dudes ranging from one Martin Sharp to one George Harrison), and also being his first serious religious statement, and in a certain way - the beginning of his 'spiritual' and 'musical' 'rebirth'. Other than that, it has a truly good melody, and the guitar break, which, to tell you the truth, doesn't fit in well with the overall slow, moody, solemn feel of this quasi-gospel number, I've already mentioned. Be sure to check out an excellent live version on Clapton's Rainbow Concert, too, or the slightly more inferior one on his 1975 live record E. C. Was Here; apparently, the tune was a highlight of his shows for quite a long time, although I don't know if he still performs it to this day or has given up long since in favour of more horse manure from Pilgrim (I apologize). So what's so special about this record? Nothing, really. Well, apart from the fact, of course, that most of the songs are truly superprofessionally played. The combination 'Winwood's organ'/'Clapton's guitar'/'Baker's drums' did seem to work, and who knows what they could have gone on to later? Then again, maybe they'd suck. Aaarrgh. You know Clapton. He hasn't stayed in any permanent band for long. In fact, he even disbanded his own backup bands with a sheer regularity! They say he's a very nice guy, but I somehow start to doubt it. How could a nice guy have changed six bands in six years? Now Jimmy Page, that one is a complete dork, judging by his way of life, but at least he only played in one serious band before forming Led Zep...
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