The Undertaker (Mid Valley MVR388)
Konserthallen Liseberg, Liseberg Nöjespark, Göteborg, Sweden – June 18th, 1969
Well All Right, Sleeping In The Ground, Sea Of Joy, Under My Thumb, Can’t Find My Way Home, Do What You Like, Presence Of The Lord, Means To An End, Had To Cry Today
There have been many questions and unresolved issues surrounding this Blind Faith tape recently reissued by Mid Valley. It has been released before on the two cdr set Under My Thumb on Megadisc listed as June 3rd. The no-label Debut In Stockholmhas it listed as from, as one can guess from the title, Stockholm and not Göteborg.
Gothenburg 1969 (MD 003-2) on Moby Dick contains only seven of the songs (missing “Well All Right” and “Means To An End”) and has the correct city but is attributed to June 13th. Stepping Stones Part 1 and Part 2 (SIRA 23/24) contains the complete show (listed as June 13th) spread over two discs along with a Cream show from October 18th, 1968 from the LA Forum and six tracks appear on Can’t Find My Way Home (TL 1321-5) on Traditional Line attributed to June 18th along with some studio outtakes and an alternate version of “Can’t Find My Way Home”.
Mid Valley released “Well All Right” through “Do What You Like”, along with the Hyde Park show, on Rated-X(MVR 029/030) in June, 2005 with the correct date and city. The tape was last included as the first of six cds in the box set Compensation For Betrayal (PADD 019/020/021/022/023/024) on Paddington Records.
The Undertakeris the second attempt by Mid Valley to present this tape. It is thirty seconds longer than the Paddington version but the sound quality is almost identical. Mid Valley is slightly more loud and clear, but isn’t enough to call it an upgrade over the latest release of this tape.
It is the consensus this show is from June 18th in Göteborg, the fourth of a short five date tour in Scandinavia following their Hyde Park debut and before their tour of the US. Its origin is still debated with some sources listing this as an audience recording and others claim this is a professionally recorded radio production which has been broadcast on Swedish radio several times.
The same also say this tape is eighty minutes long with DJ comments, making it about four minutes longer than this release. However, compared to other radio broadcasts made by Swedish radio in the late sixties and early seventies, this sounds very poor in contrast. Perhaps this audience recording was used for radio broadcast? That seems possible.
Another possibility is that two sources exists, an audience and a radio. Although if that is true then someone should have booted the professional source by now. Nevertheless the tape source used for The Undertaker is a clear recording with the vocals buried in the mix and with some distortion present on the tape, especially at the beginning of the first song “Well All Right”.
Overall this is definitely an enjoyable and very rare recording. After Blind Faith’s debut in Hyde Park, they played eight dates in the Scandinavian countries but only five are verified. This tape is the only one in circulation although a tape for the June 13th early show at the Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki, Finland was known to exist but is now lost.
The set list is identical to the debut except for the second and third numbers; “Sleeping In The Ground” and “Sea Of Joy” are reversed. The concert itself begins a bit slow. “Sleeping In The Ground”, which was a highlight in Hyde Park, sounds uninspired. Winwood introduces “Sea Of Joy” as a new song and the band deliver a great performance augmented by Rick Grech’s melodic violin in the middle.
The cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb” was dropped after these dates in favor of more original material. Winwood’s organ arrangement in the song gives it a very dated 1960’s bubble gum pop flavor that is really at odds with the rest of the set. The middle section is the strongest with the brilliant “Can’t Find My Way Home” followed by the twenty minute Ginger Baker jam session “Do What You Like”.
After a small cut in the tape the band play the sublime “Presence Of The Lord”. The Traffic song “Means To An End” is the set closer and “Had To Cry Today” is played as the encore. Some people say that Blind Faith was one of Clapton’s high points. On the other hand, some believe this band were vastly overrated and imploded under the expectations of hype.
In the end this is an interesting and very rare performance from an unstable period in Clapton’s career.
The packaging for The Undertakeris bathed in black and white photographs set in a single jewel case. For those who are looking for a more comprehensive view of Blind Faith the box set on Paddington is recommended, especially since this isn’t an upgrade. Otherwise this is another solid release by Mid Valley.