Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blind Faith: Presence Of The Lord

Today’s Spiritual Sunday feature is a live version of an Eric Clapton song that was originally recorded by the super-group Blind Faith on their only album. The song is a testimony to all that a holy and wholly faithfulness can be found in the “Presence of the Lord.” The feature version is from a 1969 concert in London’s Hyde Park.

In addition to his lead vocals, Steve Winwood is playing the classic Hammond B3 organ. In the middle of the song, you can hear an audible growl - this is Hammond's overdrive as Winwood plays in the lower register. Clapton is playing a Fender Telecaster.

Blind Faith included Ric Grech, formerly of Family, on bass; Ginger Baker on drums; Clapton; and Steve Winwood. Formed in the wake of breakups of both Cream and Traffic, Blind Faith would earn the moniker of being the first "super-group." While Clapton and Baker were members of Cream, It wasn’t the only time that Clapton and Winwood had collaborated. In March 1966, Winwood sang lead in the short termed band known as Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse.

The Powerhouse also included Paul Jones on harmonica, Jack Bruce on bass, Pete York on drums, and Ben Palmer on piano. York and Winwood were with the Spencer Davis Group at the time, while Jones and Bruce were members of Manfred Mann.

American producer Joe Boyd recorded four sides of the Powerhouse; however, only three were ever released on Elektra’s “What Shakin’” compilation album that also features Tom Rush, Al Kooper, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Because of contractual obligations, Winwood appeared under the name Steve Anglo; however, his is credited as “Steve Angelo” on the LP.

The chronology of when Clapton wrote this tune in relation to when he was considered born again is a little fuzzy and it appears that he actually wrote and recorded the song before this event. Clapton’s religious heritage, as with many Brits, was the Anglican Church and he gained an appreciation of seeking God individually. While many of his contemporaries turned to Hare Krishna, Buddhism, Baha’i, and numerous eastern religions, Clapton returned to the Christianity of his roots.

Part of this return was the influence of a friend and two fans. The friend was Delaney Bramlett and Delaney and his wife Bonnie were the opening act on this tour. After Blind Faith, Clapton toured as a member of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends.

According to Clapton, Delaney exuded a "persona of a Southern Baptist preacher, delivering a fire and brimstone message.” This excitement and Bramlett’s inspirational singing had a powerful effect on Clapton. One night following a performance, two young men sought Clapton backstage and began witnessing to him. This was what he needed to move him further on his spiritual journey. Although, Eric has not always maintained a close walk with God; he has come back to a place where he finds solace in the “Presence of the Lord.”

In addition to Blind Faith’s recorded version, “Presence of the Lord” shows up on two Derek and the Dominoes LPs. The same October 1970 recording at the Fillmore East appears on both the 1973 album “In Concert” and the 1994 CD, “Live at the Fillmore.” It also was the flip side of the “Why Does Love Have to be so Sad” single from “In Concert.”

It is Clapton at his best as he is singing lead and playing his trademark guitar as front man of Derek and the Dominoes. Here’s that recording for another side of “Presence of the Lord.”

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