Blind Faith (Blind Faith album)Blind Faith is the self-titled and only album by the English supergroup Blind Faith, originally released in 1969 on Polydor Records in the United Kingdom and Europe and on Atlantic Records in the United States. It topped the album charts in the UK, Canada and US, and was listed at No. 40 on the US Soul Albums chart. It has been certified platinum by the RIAA.
BackgroundThe band contained two-thirds of the popular power trio Cream, in Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, working in collaboration with British star Steve Winwood of the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic, along with Ric Grech of Family. They began to work out songs early in 1969, and in February and March the group was in London at Morgan Studios, preparing for the beginnings of basic tracks for their album, although the first few almost-finished songs didn't show up until they were at Olympic Studios in April and May under the direction of producer Jimmy Miller.
The recording of their album was interrupted by a tour of Scandinavia, then a US tour from 11 July (Newport) to 24 August (Hawaii), supported by Free, Taste and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. Although a chart topper, the LP was recorded hurriedly and side two consisted of just two songs, one of them a 15-minute jam entitled "Do What You Like". Nevertheless the band was able to produce two hits, Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home" and Clapton's "Presence of the Lord".
Album cover controversyThe cover featured a topless pubescent girl holding what appears to be the hood ornament of a Chevrolet Bel Air, which some perceived as phallic. The American record company issued it with an alternative cover showing a photograph of the band on the front as well as the original cover.
The cover art was created by photographer Bob Seidemann, a friend and former flatmate of Clapton's who is primarily known for his photos of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. In the mid-1990s, in an advertising circular intended to help sell lithographic reprints of the famous album cover, he explained his thinking behind the image.Seidemann wrote that he approached a girl reported to be 14 years old on the London Underground about modelling for the cover, and eventually met with her parents, but that she proved too old for the effect he wanted. Instead, the model he used was her younger sister Mariora Goschen, who was reported to be 11 years old. Mariora initially requested a horse as a fee but was instead paid £40.
The image, titled "Blind Faith" by Seidemann, became the inspiration for the name of the band itself, which had been unnamed when the artwork was commissioned. According to Seidemann: "It was Eric who elected to not print the name of the band on the cover. The name was instead printed on the wrapper, when the wrapper came off, so did the type." This had been done previously for several other albums.
In America, Atco Records made a cover based on elements from a flyer for the band's Hyde Park concert of 7 June 1969 in London.
Release historyThe album was released on vinyl in 1969 on Polydor Records in the UK and Europe, and on Atco Records in the US. Polydor released a compact disc in 1986, adding two previously unreleased tracks, "Exchange and Mart" and "Spending All My Days", recorded by Ric Grech for an unfinished solo album, supported by George Harrison, Denny Laine, and Trevor Burton.
An expanded edition of the album was released on 9 January 2001, with previously unreleased tracks and 'jams' included. The studio electric version of "Sleeping in the Ground" had previously been released on the four-disc boxed set for Clapton, Crossroads (released 1988, recorded 1963–1987, including several previously unreleased live or alternate studio recordings). The bonus disc of jams does not include bassist Grech, who had yet to join the band, but includes a guest percussionist, Guy Warner. Two live tracks from the 1969 Hyde Park concert not included here, "Sleeping in the Ground" and a cover of "Under My Thumb", are also available on Winwood's four-disc retrospective The Finer Things.
Commercially, the album charted at number one in both the US and the UK.
Critically, Blind Faith was met with a mixed response. Reviewing in August 1969 for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau found none of the songs exceptional and said, "I'm almost sure that when I'm through writing this I'll put the album away and only play it for guests. Unless I want to hear Clapton — he is at his best here because he is kept in check by the excesses of Winwood, who is rapidly turning into the greatest wasted talent in music. There. I said it and I'm glad." In Rolling Stone, Ed Leimbacher said of the quality, "not as much as I'd hoped, yet better than I'd expected." His colleagues at the magazine — Lester Bangs and John Morthland — were more impressed, especially Bangs in his appraisal of Clapton: "[With] Blind Faith, Clapton appears to have found his groove at last. Every solo is a model of economy, well- thought-out and well-executed with a good deal more subtlety and feeling than we have come to expect from Clapton."
Retrospective appraisals have been positive. According to Stereo Review in 1988, "for 20 years this has been a cornerstone in any basic rock library." AllMusic's Bruce Eder regarded the album as "one of the jewels of the Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Ginger Baker catalogs". In 2016, Blind Faith was ranked 14th on Rolling Stones list of "The 40 Greatest One Album Wonders", which described "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Presence of the Lord" as "incredible".