Release Date:

November 6, 2015

BCGBCD22 Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet

This CD is a remastered version of the original 1975 Obscure Records album (Osbcure 1), produced by Brian Eno in 1975 and which achieved a cult status over the following years. For Tom Waits, who was to perform on the later 1993 version, this is his favourite record…

Gavin’s Notes:

Obscure Records

The 1975 recording of Obscure 1 was my first recording, apart from one track on Derek Bailey’s Incus label in 1971, and was one of four albums released together to initiate the series. It came about in the following way.

During the 1960s and early 1970s I had done the music for a number of “underground’ films that had been produced by Alan Power – it was Alan who made the film during which the singing of the old man used for Jesus’ Blood was recorded – and he was interested in issuing recordings of the soundtracks from these films. He approached Brian Eno in 1973 and the three of us met with Chris Blackwell at Island Records. However, a side effect of the oil crisis in 1973 was that many recording projects were shelved because of limits on the production of vinyl and so this did not happen at that time. But Brian resurrected the idea a couple of years later, again with Island Records.

Brian had been an art student at Winchester Art College and he’d attended concerts that John Tilbury and I had given during that period, as well as other concerts of experimental music, and he wanted to let other people hear this work which he felt, unlike much new music, need not intimidate a popular audience. I knew him at this time, long before he became involved with Roxy Music, but it was his increasingly prominent position within the recording industry that enabled us to record in 1975 and to start the series of albums called Obscure Records, and ten were eventually released.

In a sense, though, the Obscure albums were not strictly “released” and this may have been partly my fault. “Obscure” was the name that Brian and I came up with, more or less together. At that time I was interested in the whole idea of research, and in the pleasure one would take in finding something that had been a real struggle to locate (a tiny reference in an index perhaps) and the idea emerged that we would, in fact, make it quite hard to find these records. Initially they were even only available on mail order, which meant that there was no real critical the albums. As a marketing strategy this is clearly flawed…

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet/The Sinking of the Titanic

Although there was little external critical response to this music there was certainly hostility from musicians from outside our circle. For the recording of Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, for example, I had to hire many orchestral musicians, including members of the horn section of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. But the list of personnel on the recording has none of their names, nor those of the woodwind section, nor the brass (except for John White, tuba), and the strings only list John Nash and Sandra Hill and no one else. These professional players really hated the music and they left quickly at the end of the sessions, leaving their invoices and insisting that their names should not appear in the album credits, saying that this could “damage their reputations”. Consequently we employed the name “The Cockpit Ensemble” as a catchall name to cover this. On the other hand my friend the late Derek Bailey, told me once that he had had more drinks bought for him because he was the guitarist on the original recording of Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet than for any other reason!

By contrast, in 1993 when the piece was recorded in New York for Point, the ensemble comprised some of the finest players around, many members of the New York Philharmonic for example, including its former concertmaster, and everyone wanted to be listed, some even insisting on double-checking the spelling of their names…



Ensemble conducted by Gavin Bryars


Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
The Sinking of the Titanic

Gavin Bryars