Martin Cooper checks out one-albumwonder supergroup, Blind Faith; the second band to pair Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker.
Martin Cooper examines Eric Clapton’s playing with Steve Winwood and Ginger Baker in their post-Cream venture, Blind Faith.
Blind Faith issued just one record: their eponymous 1969 album. Nevertheless the line-up was immense, featuring Eric Clapton, his Cream compatriot Ginger Baker on drums and, almost as legendary, singer-organist Steve Winwood. Family’s bass player Ric Grech completed the band that was originally put together to be a stress-free side project for all.
Clapton and Winwood were bored with the commerciality of Cream and The Spencer Davis Group, but when the line-up is this stellar it’s inevitable that record companies will get involved. This they did, pushing the band to complete an album quickly and tour. This resulted in side two containing just two songs, one of them being a 15-minute jam.
It also featured hits, including Clapton’s Presence Of The Lord and Buddy Holly’s Well Alright. On tour the band barely had enough material to fill an hour, so they had to resort to playing Cream and Spencer Davis Group songs – exactly what Clapton had wanted to avoid, particularly as sections of the press had already dubbed them ‘Super Cream’. Baker has since said that it was obvious during the tour that Clapton was going to leave as soon as it was over and they never recorded together again. Clapton, of course, reunited with Baker to perform Cream’s 2005 reunion gigs, and also with Winwood for dates in America; both have since realised that Blind Faith played an important role in their careers.
The track this month is in the key of A major (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#), but uses a lot of non-diatonic chords and notes. There is a B major chord (B-D#-F#) on the rhythm part, and the solo moves from A major Pentatonic (A-B-C#-E-F#) to D minor Pentatonic (D-F-G-A-C) over the D chord, and E minor Pentatonic (E-G-A-B-D) over the E chord. It also uses a lot of soul ideas, including 6th intervals. Although power chords are often employed, the chart has the full major or minor chord symbols written as these are heavily implied, and would generally have been played by Winwood on the keyboards.
Clapton has always allowed the guitar to shine at the right moments, focusing on playing for the song rather than to showcase his own talents. Take a close look at the playing tips and Get The Tone box for more on how to nail this track.
Clapton and Baker play Blind Faith’s debut gig