Tag Archives: Steve Winwood

[108] Blind Faith – Blind Faith

1 May

A voice I like.  A guitar sound I love.  An album I’ve never heard before.  Seems like the very definition of why I’m spending so much time exploring the nooks and crannies of a century of musical creation.

blind-faith-108-l

This album is probably the best example of jam band rock  that I have encountered,  full of repeated guitar riffs and rambling vocals, expanded and expounded upon beyond the apocryphal “3.05” of Top 40 material.  It is not immediately hook-filled, doesn’t grab insistently from the first note, but instead insinuates steadily until the listener finds himself humming guitar melodies and wailing along with almost wordless refrains.

This is gentler than the sound Led Zeppelin was pioneering, tighter than the messy magnificence of the Dead, far more musically accomplished than the albums that The Allman Brothers would release.

Every solo is polished and precise, owing as much to Jazz as to the Blues Rock tradition the band members were already such a part of.  And at twenty-years-old Winwood was fearless, seemingly performing for himself alone, in a bubble of indifference, ignorant of the multitudes that would hear his hope and his pain.

We will hear from Clapton again before this project is through.  With this first look, his talent and imagination are on full display, recognizably unpredictable, impossible not to focus on whether he is soloing or intertwining with Winwood’s vocals.

Of course I find myself falling in love with this album.

I  wonder where it was when I was a teen, and imagine nights sat with friends trying to rank it among other favorites of those days, comparing these offerings with the Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, Jimmy Paige solos that we knew and loved so well.

If it sounds old-fashioned today, it probably would have done so in the 80s as well – I am sure this is a part of the appeal.  It does not have a lot of songs that I am able to sing along with, but I do find myself with lyric snippets, melodic earworms stuck on repeat in my head (as many of them are on the recording itself.)

I find myself glad that there is only this one album made by Blind Faith.

I do not wonder what else they might have recorded – instead I worry that it would have been a lot more of the unnecessary same.

These six songs – running time under 45 minutes – are just right.  Enough of an exploration, an aside by these talented artists, to satisfy without out-staying their welcome.

These performers know very well to leave ’em wanting more . . .

Next Week:  Blondie – Parallel Lines

Owned before blogging? No. (10 of 108 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (16 of 108 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (89 of 108 = 82%)

Guest Blogger Steve Oksienik: Blind Faith – Blind Faith

27 Apr

There are legends on the dark underbelly of the internet.  Individuals who intrigue and appall in equal measure with their levels of wit and inappropriateness.  Stormseeker75 is just such an creature, and I was thrilled to discover that his awesomely unsavory wit translates wonderfully to meat life . . .

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I remember my first concert very vividly.

I was 8 years old and living in rural New Jersey.  My dad came home, told me we were going to a concert, threw me into the car and off we went.

We met our barber who happened to be a friend of my dad’s at the gate for the show and snuck right in next to a security guard who my dad’s friend knew.  The sheer number of people boggled my mind.  I was a small human being, but I have never felt so small in my entire life.

And I remember certain smells which I’m sure you can figure out.  What I remember most of all was the music.

Warren Zevon started the night with a solo piano set and I mesmerized.  After his set, the main act started and Steve Winwood took the stage.  The drums and bass kicked in with guitars and keyboards and suddenly a young boy’s life had a very deep connection to the world.

Blind Faith was a phenomenon unlike anything else at the time.  The group was instantly popular just by virtue of the names in the band.  Hype surrounded them from day one and as such their debut album sold phenomenally well, going gold in the first month of it’s release.  It’s still widely regarded as a classic and has joined some elite company as one of the greatest classic rock albums of all time.

The album starts off with an incredibly tasty lick from Clapton as “Had To Cry Today” comes in.  This song gives you a good idea of what you’re in for because although it’s got phenomenal guitar work, it’s a bit long and meandering at the end.

“Can’t Find My Way Home” follows up with a nice juxtaposition in tone with acoustic guitars and Winwood’s pseudo-falsetto vocals creating a soothing sort of atmosphere.  I’m no fan of Ginger Baker, but his work on this song is perfect.

“Well Alright” features Winwood’s best vocal work on the album.  He’s right in his perfect range and sounds both effortless and powerful.  This is followed up by an equally fantastic performance on “In the Presence of The Lord”, a more bluesy soulful song than others on the album.  The transition from slower hymnal speed to faster bridge and back is masterful and creates great texture to the song.

“Sea of Joy” sounds a lot like a Cream song from the intro and then transitions into a much more Traffic-y sort of tone.  As good as Winwood is on the songs before, he’s terrible here.  There’s a few places where he’s trying to hit notes that he should just stay away from and it really detracts from the entire song for me.

As strong as the album starts off, it finishes with a whimper with the overly long and drawn-out “Do What You Like”.  The meandering ending to “Had To Cry Today” is nothing compared to this mess of a song.  It’s almost like they had 5 songs and said “Well, we need to fill 15 minutes….what should we do?”

The answer was an overwrought jam designed to fill up an album side.  If they could have contained this to even 8 minutes it would have been better.

This album’s accolades are definitely based in some musical proof.  There are a few outstanding tracks here.  Out of 6, 3 are fantastic, 1 is solid, 1 is alright, and 1 is mostly a waste of time.

And in some ways, that sums up exactly what Blind Faith turned out to be.

It didn’t matter what these guys did at the time because people were going to buy it anyway.  The recording session was hurried and it shows.  The pressure on these guys to tour and release an album stunted what could have been mind-blowing.  Due to the talent on the project, it still ended up being awesome despite the limitations of the process.

Unfortunately, Blind Faith never made it to a second album.  It would have been interesting to see where this band went.  Would they have gone more jazzy like Traffic or more blues/R&B like Derek and the Dominoes?  Either way, you can see the legacy this band has left and the influence they had on the music industry.

My mom is still mad I went to that concert.

Apparently, my dad was supposed to take her but she couldn’t get a babysitter for my sisters.  Mom, trust me when I tell you that was one of the best things you ever did for me.  My life would be far less meaningful without music fueling my soul.

So thanks, Mom, Dad, Dave, random security guard, Warren Zevon, and Steve Winwood.

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Steve Oksienik is a blogger and podcaster for Cardboard Insanity and also for Off The Beaten Tracks.  When he’s not writing or podcasting, he is an avid yoga instructor, boardgamer, and wrestling fan.

Steve’s passion for music is deep and he loves talking about it as much as he likes listening. 

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