Blind Faith: Blind Faith – [Record 66]
Blind Faith is the self-titled album by the English supergroup Blind Faith, 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 and Canada as well as the Billboard 200, even peaking at #40 on the Billboard Soul Albums chart, an impressive feat for an English rock quartet. It has been certified platinum by the RIAA. In addition, Rolling Stone published three reviews of the album in their 6 September 1969 issue, which were written by Ed Leimbacher, Lester Bangs, and John Morthland.
1. Had to Cry Today.
2. Can’t Find My Way Home.
3. Well…All Right.
4. Presence of the Lord.
1. Sea of Joy.
2. Do What You Like.
Background: A buzz built about the band, since it contained two-thirds of the immensely popular power trio Cream in Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton working in collaboration with British star Steve Winwood, who was still not as famous in North America as the other two. 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 music community was already aware of the linkup, despite Clapton’s claim that he was cutting an album of his own on which Winwood would play. The promoters and record companies got involved, pushing those concerned for an album and a tour.
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 controversy: The release of the album provoked controversy because the cover featured a topless pubescent girl, holding in her hands a silver winged object, which some perceived as phallic.
The US record company issued it with an alternative cover (which showed a photograph of the band on the front) as well as the original cover.
The cover art was created by photographer Bob Seidemann, a personal 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.
I could not get my hands on the image until out of the mist a concept began to emerge. To symbolize the achievement of human creativity and its expression through technology a space ship was the material object. To carry this new spore into the universe, innocence would be the ideal bearer, a young girl, a girl as young as Shakespeare’s Juliet. The space ship would be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the girl, the fruit of the tree of life.
The space ship could be made by Mick Milligan, a jeweller at the Royal College or Art. The girl was another matter. If she were too old it would be cheesecake, too young and it would be nothing. The beginning of the transition from girl to woman, that is what I was after. That temporal point, that singular flare of radiant innocence. Where is that girl?
Seidemann wrote that he approached a girl reported to be 14 years old on the London Tube 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.
Bizarre rumours both surfaced and were fuelled by the controversy, including that the girl was Baker’s daughter or was a groupie kept as a slave by the band. 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.” In fact, this had been done previously for The Rolling Stones’ 1964 debut album, The Beatles’ albums Rubber Soul in 1965 and Revolver in 1966, and Traffic’s self-titled 1968 album.
Release history: On the original Polydor release for compact disc in 1986, two previously unreleased tracks were added, “Exchange and Mart” and “Spending All My Days.” These were originally recorded for a never released Ric Grech solo album, and there is no proof that any other members of Blind Faith took part in the recording sessions.
An expanded, deluxe edition of the album was released on January 9, 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 box set for Clapton, Crossroads. The bonus disc of jams does not include bassist Grech, who had yet to join the band. Two live tracks from the 1969 Hyde Park concert not included here, again “Sleeping in the Ground” and a cover of “Under My Thumb” are also available on Winwood’s four-disc retrospective The Finer Things.