SEA OF JOY

My friend over the back fence invited me to come and hear his latest LP. Greg was two days older than me and we’d been playmates since our Mums met on the maternity ward. But in terms of musical sophistication, Greg was years, worlds, away from me. Not in terms of understanding how music worked; having learned the piano for years I could follow the construction of ‘classical’ music just like piecing together objects from the Meccano set under my bed. But in our house, popular music was simply excluded.

Greg’s parents not only tolerated his bringing ‘dreadful noise’ into the home, they even paid for the records. It was a bizarre and unreal indulgence and, due to my almost complete ignorance of what was current, rather intimidating… but I went anyway.

How different from tinny snatches of tunes captured from passing transistors like smells drifting from strangers’ kitchens; this time I would actually hear an album on a real stereo. Well, his parents radiogram anyway. Although it was much the same as the polished veneer box in our lounge room the vital difference was that while ours only played Gilbert and Sullivan, theirs embraced the exotic sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix and of course The Beatles.
Radiogram

So over the fence I clambered, said ‘Hello’ to his Mum at the back door and headed for their lounge room. Greg was waiting impatiently. “You’ve gotta hear this,” he gasped, “a TEN MINUTE DRUM SOLO”. Even in my profound state of rock ignorance I felt my heart sink slightly. But putting on a brave face I dropped to the carpet as he dropped the stylus onto the vinyl.

No percussive assault streamed out of the cabinet but a wonderfully melancholic voice singing with a soul-stretching longing that somehow bathed me in light and simultaneously broke my heart … ‘Waiting in our boats to set sail… The sea of joy’. Straining for the high notes like a hand reaching for a soaring seagull; the hessian tones of a violin providing a surprisingly reflective interlude before the riff returned with rolling tidal toms and the song faded over the horizon much too soon.

Blind F OZ

 Later, much later, I learned that what transported me that Thursday afternoon was the opening song on side two of a flawed yet sometimes sublime album simply called Blind Faith. That this first ‘supergroup’ consisted of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Rick Grech, all of whom had colourful histories even before they made this one album together. That the bass player also contributed the violin. That the cover I clutched in my hands and read thirstily while Rick then Ginger meandered through their interminable solos in ‘Do What You Like’ was not the startling one originally issued by their UK record company in August 1969 but a special ‘uncontroversial’ version for the colonies. That both versions would one day nestle next to each other in a music room cluttered with more records and compact discs than any sane person could possibly need.

IMG_2192

Can music recorded a lifetime ago still reach out to a contemporary listener? If we reacquaint ourselves with album ‘favourites’ of yore are they inextricably linked to those times when we first heard them? Music enables us to visit or revisit, to reflect and recollect, to explore or rediscover. It is not about ‘Best’ or ‘Right’. Similarly the aim of this blog is to invite a connection with vinyl records (and music generally) and to celebrate both the music and the artefacts.

Reviews, opinions, observations, recommendations and all the usual paraphernalia of music-writing are present, if not correct. Yet most often we return to orbit around Planet Vinyl. If you have found yourself wondering whether there is more to music than mp3 files and shards of songs on mobile phones, then welcome.

If you can make the space, try sitting for a side or two of vinyl. Maybe with a friend. Listen, look, read, breathe. As Stephen Fry wrote, “Music is social”. If face-to-face does not eventuate, use the ‘Comments’ section. I enjoy hearing other voices.

There are connections between the people who treasure records and music. If this place helps thicken those connections, that would be great. Ultimately, connection is all we’ve got. And that last statement I guess you would call not so much a belief, as blind faith.

Blind_Faith_large_picture

Music

Blind Faith “Blind Faith” [Polydor UK, 1969]

If you have just stumbled across Vinyl Connection, feel free to wander back through the previous articles. Comments are always welcome.

 

Copyright

© Bruce Jenkins / Vinyl Connection 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bruce Jenkins/Vinyl Connection with appropriate and specific links back to the original content. Copyright is not claimed for images of album covers / LPs.

28 comments

  1. Still one of my favorite LP’s, and thanks for showing both covers.

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  2. Thanks for your visit. Yes, it’s a terrific album. I’d listen to Steve Winwood sing the phone book. Apparently the LP has just been rereleased on vinyl.

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  3. I’d never seen the ‘colonies’ cover before – clearly you foreign chaps weren’t deemed mature, or sophisticated enough to deal with the original cover.

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    1. Perhaps early 60s social repression was still at work. The ‘swinging’ 60s arrived in the early 70s in Aus. It’s a long way, you know. Or it was then, anyway.

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  4. Bron_adams@hotmail.com · · Reply

    Loved this blog….I so agree with you about music is the ultimate connection ! My brother taught me how to enjoy new music and by sharing this, we both grew.

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    1. Doubtless one of the premier values of brothers (socially inept, music obsessed ones like your correspondent, anyway). Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

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  5. How I love “Sea of Joy”. Sublime is absolutely the perfect description. I had the controversial Blind Faith cover here in the states. I had to tape a piece of colored construction paper over the picture so my mom wouldn’t see it. 🙂

    Also, good S. Fry quote. I quite agree.

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    1. Ha! Not the first time you have glued things to music-related items, I believe.

      Funny (odd) that the cover photo is slightly uncomfortable today, perhaps for different reasons. Which is why I manipulated the image for the Vinyl Connection landing page.

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  6. I also used a black marker to cover up the “nude band on a haystack” picture on the inside of my Grand Funk “We’re an American Band” album. The photo was quite modest, really, but I still made them some marker clothes. Also, the Houses of the Holy cover always kind of creeped me out. I should have drawn some clothes on that one too. 🙂

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  7. I also want to comment that I loved your story and your nautical description of Sea of Joy was perfectly delightful! I read it several times. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Marie. Much appreciated.
      And regarding the previous theme, would ‘Creepy Covers’ be an enlightening theme, do you think?!

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  8. Creepy covers would be a great theme for one of your “album covers” posts! I’ll look forward to reading that.

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  9. By the way, since you did a thing on Yessongs – I’m going to see sans-Anderson Yes in concert tomorrow night. The tour has been getting good reviews, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sure it won’t be a case of “meet the new Jon, same as the old Jon”, but I’ve heard that Jon Davison is a very good singer and does a great job.

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    1. Is he the singer recruited from the Yes tribute band? A concept both bizarre and brilliant. Have fun and look forward to a review/reflection article!

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  10. Yes, he’s the tribute band guy. The concert is actually tomorrow night (Thursday) – I got the date confused. I’ll definitely post some sort of review. It’s going to be at the city auditorium in Jackson, MS, which is a smallish venue with good acoustics.

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  11. Hi Bruce, I need to make a correction on this. The new singer for Yes, Jon Davison, was not in a tribute band, he was with Glass Hammer – a band performing original, progressive rock that is heavily inspired by Yes. Benoit David, who sang with Yes 2008-2011, was actually the one that was in a tribute band, called “Close to the Edge”. The concert was fantastic! But their flight was cancelled due to bad weather and they were two hours late. They had to charter a plane to get to us. They played for nearly three hours and it was amazing. I will post a review when I recover. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the update. Look forward to the concert report!

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  12. Just bought Blind Faith on iTunes and had to come back to your fantastic article and read it again. Listening to Sea of Joy, headphones on, as I type. What a masterpiece, right?!

    Sorry I’ve been a MIA blogger lately – beginning of the new term was a killer, but things are slowing down now and I’ll be back to blogging soon. I can’t give it up – I miss the rock brethren, haha! I think my comeback piece will be about Mr. Winwood. 😉

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    1. Glad to hear that nothing more serious than work has kept you away from the real world of music writing and reflection. Look forward to reading anything Winwood related, though if you go for Traffic we may have a turf war looming.

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  13. Lol, no turf war needed. I’ll just ramble on about how utterly mesmerized I’ve always been by everything Winwood does. You know, my usual stuff – lots of emotion, a couple videos, one or two feeble attempts at humor, and very little fact, haha!

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  14. […] V-23    On the Blind Faith album, who played the violin on ‘Sea of joy’? […]

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  15. Feeling a little malaise set in this afternoon and so decided to brighten the mood with a little digging through the old Vinyl (Connection). I really enjoyed this post, brings back such wonderful memories of days spent in friends’ basements, bedrooms, or cars listening enraptured to the latest “gotta hear this” offering. “You’ve gotta hear this.” — those words were the most influential album reviews of my youth, probably the most effective music marketing strategy ever.

    Finally, a rumination on the theme of “connections” stirred by this visit: I miss Marie.

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    1. It was an event, wasn’t it? Bringing home (or taking somewhere else) a new vinyl purchase. Word of mouth. Can’t beat it.

      Thanks very much for not only cruising backwards in time (to what was actually the first piece written for VC) but for taking the time to comment. ‘Preciate it, VOTF. I hope that the pompous tone of the last couple of paras raised nothing more than a smile and that the malaise was in some small way mitigated by mentally engaging with Blind Faith.

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  16. Good one Bruce. CB wrote about this album on one of his first takes. My brother had the censored cover, i have the other one. (They both sound good!) A CB favorite. So many things to like. Winwood’s voice and Grech’s violin were two of them. This album led me to discover ‘Family’ and ‘Gram Parsons’ among other things. Watch the doc ‘Beware of Mr Baker. Hilarious bit on Winwood talking about Baker joining (crashing) the band. Dig your quote ” to celebrate both the music and the artifacts”. Yeah I like that. Positive vibe.

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    1. ‘Beware Mr Baker’ is an extraordinary doco. Gosh, what an angry, self-centred prat. Great drummer, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah he’s a different cat that’s for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. […] [This is an edited version of an early post from Vinyl Connection] […]

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