CREAM

Jazz Related Rock • United Kingdom
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Cream - Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce - the world's first super-group was born in 1966...

The virtuoso playing of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker made Cream the first band of soloists. In their two year career they brought the blues to a whole generation of white rockers and spawned legions of power trios, boogie bands and heavy metal groups...

According to rock critic Dave Marsh, Cream created “the fastest, loudest, most overpowering blues-based rock ever heard, particularly onstage.” Though they lasted only two years, Cream sold 15 million records; earned the first certified platinum album in history (for the double set Wheels of Fire); played to standing-room-only audiences across Europe and North America; and redefined the instrumentalist’s role in rock.

Indeed, the trio is often cited as the first “supergroup.” Eric Clapton’s passion and fluidity on guitar inspired a spate of “Clapton is God” graffiti in London; Ginger Baker’s
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CREAM Discography

CREAM albums / top albums

CREAM Fresh Cream album cover 3.20 | 8 ratings
Fresh Cream
Jazz Related Rock 1966
CREAM Disraeli Gears album cover 3.59 | 7 ratings
Disraeli Gears
Jazz Related Rock 1967
CREAM Wheels of Fire album cover 4.00 | 11 ratings
Wheels of Fire
Jazz Related Rock 1968
CREAM Goodbye album cover 3.90 | 7 ratings
Goodbye
Jazz Related Rock 1969

CREAM EPs & splits

CREAM live albums

CREAM Live Cream album cover 3.92 | 6 ratings
Live Cream
Jazz Related Rock 1970
CREAM Live Cream, Volume 2 album cover 3.12 | 6 ratings
Live Cream, Volume 2
Jazz Related Rock 1972
CREAM BBC Sessions album cover 3.83 | 3 ratings
BBC Sessions
Jazz Related Rock 2003
CREAM Royal Albert Hall: London May 2-3-5-6 2005 album cover 3.00 | 3 ratings
Royal Albert Hall: London May 2-3-5-6 2005
Jazz Related Rock 2005
CREAM The Farewell Tour 1968 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Farewell Tour 1968
Jazz Related Rock 2007

CREAM demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

CREAM re-issues & compilations

CREAM I Feel Free album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
I Feel Free
Jazz Related Rock 1969
CREAM Best of Cream album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Best of Cream
Jazz Related Rock 1969
CREAM Once Upon a Time album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Once Upon a Time
Jazz Related Rock 1970
CREAM Pop History, Vol. 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Pop History, Vol. 1
Jazz Related Rock 1970
CREAM Swlabr album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Swlabr
Jazz Related Rock 1971
CREAM Heavy Cream album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Heavy Cream
Jazz Related Rock 1972
CREAM Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream
Jazz Related Rock 1983
CREAM The Alternative Album album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Alternative Album
Jazz Related Rock 1992
CREAM The Very Best of Cream album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
The Very Best of Cream
Jazz Related Rock 1995
CREAM Those Were the Days album cover 5.00 | 2 ratings
Those Were the Days
Jazz Related Rock 1997
CREAM 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Cream album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Cream
Jazz Related Rock 2000
CREAM Cream Gold album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Cream Gold
Jazz Related Rock 2005
CREAM I Feel Free-Ultimate Cream album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
I Feel Free-Ultimate Cream
Jazz Related Rock 2005
CREAM Cream – Royal Albert Hall London: May 2-3-5-6, 2005 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Cream – Royal Albert Hall London: May 2-3-5-6, 2005
Jazz Related Rock 2013

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CREAM movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

CREAM Reviews

CREAM Disraeli Gears

Album · 1967 · Jazz Related Rock
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AtomicCrimsonRush
Brilliant milestone album from legendary masters of psychedelic fusion. Every song sizzles with vitality and this features some of their most infamous legendary songs such as Sunshine of Your Love and Strange Brew. Tales of Brave Ulysses is mind bending with Clapton's God like wah-wah guitar and his riffs on this album changed the face of rock indefinitely. Jack Bruce's bass is a machine of power keeping it all together and the unsurpassed drums of Ginger Baker are phenomenal. This is legendary in the annals of rock; a milestone of the genius of Cream. Listen now and allow your mind to be hypnotised by the sounds of 1967.

CREAM Live Cream, Volume 2

Live album · 1972 · Jazz Related Rock
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Chicapah
Cream’s astonishing popularity took a long time to wane. Three years after their “Goodbye” album served as their official headstone and epitaph, demand for their music was still running unbelievably high so in March of 1972 ATCO assembled yet another collection of in-concert recordings and put it on the market. It promptly rose to #27 on the LP chart, proving once again that the public, usually possessing a very short memory, couldn’t seem to get Eric, Jack and Ginger out of their minds and that’s another telling testimony to what an indelible impression this threesome made on civilized culture in their two and a half years together. They were able to bring the basic concept of jazz improvisation into the volatile world of rock & roll more efficiently than most any other group of that era and that trait is never found to be as evident as it is in their live performances that were, thankfully, captured and preserved.

One contrast between this one and the first “Live Cream” album (released almost two years earlier) is that all of the recordings on that disc happened before they’d decided to disband in mid-’68. On “Volume II” half of them were taped in October of that year so it’s my opinion that the first three cuts reflect a lame duck band that was, to some extent, dutifully fulfilling their contracted obligations and had no long-term aspirations or a pressing need to impress their audience. I’m not accusing them of mailing it in, I’m just convinced that, human nature being what it is, there’s a notable difference in the energy being generated in that half of the numbers. It’s no secret that Bruce and Baker weren’t even speaking to each other after they’d opted to call it quits so it stands to reason that those two weren’t exactly focused on providing the tight rhythms that can be heard on the live cuts contained on “Wheels of Fire,” for example.

The disc opens with the three weakest tunes, recorded in the fall of ’68 at an arena in Oakland towards the end of their final American tour. Jack’s “Deserted Cities of the Heart” starts things off and, while the studio version (one of my favorite songs on “Wheels of Fire,” by the way) has an exceptional amount of drive pushing it there’s also a tactfulness involved that gives it a cool personality. On stage it turned into a virtual steamroller that lacked any semblance of dynamics. With the exception of the brief jazzy interludes there’s not much finesse to be detected, just an all-out assault on the gathered throng’s ears. At this point in their career the crowds that bought the tickets justifiably expected to hear the band’s big hits recreated for them and few tunes were more in demand than the radio staple, “White Room.” They provide a bland but decent rendition of the song and Bruce takes some interesting vocal liberties with the melody line but the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. The blend of guitars and drums in particular seems to undulate erratically and it detracts from the impact the recording may have had. Jack’s “Politician” is next, one of my top five Cream numbers due to its creative meld of blues and rock. It gives Clapton a chance to riff all over the place in the spaces between Bruce’s snarky vocal lines and he does a swell job here but I prefer both the original studio take and the exhilarating in-concert rendition included on “Goodbye” to this one simply because they’re both more cohesive and powerful.

The last three cuts were taped pre-dissolution in March of that same year at the Winterland in San Francisco and the difference their still-striving-to-please attitude makes is striking. Eric’s iconic “Tales of Brave Ulysses” from “Disraeli Gears” is performed with gusto. They play a deliciously heavy-handed version and it shows the dramatic presence they regularly projected from the stage into their audiences, especially when you hear them improvise freely as they do toward the end of the number. Whereas the earlier “White Room” is practically devoid of excitement, their performance of their signature song, “Sunshine of Your Love,” is electrifying in comparison. It’s a faithful rendition of the tune structurally but Eric tricks it up a bit by abandoning his well-known guitar solo and taking off on a more spontaneous tear in the middle. The elongated wall of sound ending is immensely intense and galvanizing. These guys could knock down stone fortifications with their collective fury. But the best, because it’s the most authentic, is saved for last. Their almost 14-minute cover of James Bracken’s blues instrumental, “Steppin’ Out,” contains everything that made Cream so worthy to be included in any discussion of the evolution of jazz/rock music in the 60s. No doubt, this song was intended to be a time-filler that would allow the acknowledged guitar God Clapton to stretch his wings and give the folks what they came to witness. It begins as a spirited jam but after a while both Jack and Ginger drop out as Eric continues to shred his fretboard unabated as if he was oblivious to whether the other two members were backing him or not. It’s here that you get a chance to realize what a spontaneous and utterly melodic guitarist he was. Baker slowly eases back in behind him and commences to embellish and enhance every lick that Clapton unleashes from that moment on, resulting in some of the most spectacular and aggressive off-the-cuff vamping you’ll ever experience. It’s jaw-dropping good stuff.

It’s hard to convey to the younger generations the enormous influence that bands like The Beatles, Stones, Who and Cream had on those of us who came of age in the 60s and how important they were to our well-being. We took bands like this VERY seriously. When this trio broke up it was a tragedy on par with the assassination of JFK and it took us years to get over it. Perhaps albums like “Live Cream, Vol. II” will give you hints as to why we adored them so. On stage they created magic out of thin air and took us on journeys that stimulated and fed our passion for music that knew no restrictions or boundaries. While this album is inferior to its predecessor, there’s still enough in its grooves to make it worth your while.

CREAM Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream

Boxset / Compilation · 1983 · Jazz Related Rock
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dreadpirateroberts
This is a nice, taught little collection of highlights from Cream's brief career.

While it is basically a selective 'singles' collection, that's not a problem, as Cream's singles are usually fantastic. Of course, I do miss some of their stretching out and improvisation - which is partly where they get their 'jazz' reputation from - though here, it's mostly the concise (and perhaps more effective overall) studio versions, with the exception of a blistering live rendition of 'Crossroads.' Recorded in early 1968, with the band's collapse not too far away, it's so good that there is certainly no hint of what's to come. In fact, I'd argue that Cream's version of this song has to be one of the greatest covers put to tape.

All the key elements of the band are represented on this compilation, from Bruce's distinctive singing and 'busy' bass, Pete Brown's lyrics and the psychedelic blues and of Eric's guitar, complete with wah-wah. Ginger is, as ever, a monster on the kit and you'll hear him pounding away on 'Spoonful' or keeping it in check on classic pop song 'Badge' (co-written by George Harrison.)

'Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream' includes obvious classics from their career, 'Sunshine of your Love', the epic 'White Room' along with 'Strange Brew' and its show-stealing B-side 'Tales of Brave Ulysses' but also the blues-rock classic 'Born Under a Bad Sign' and the sleazy 'Politician.' It thankfully omits 'Wrapping Paper' and might have been served by adding another lesser known album track like 'Dance the Night Away' or 'Deserted Cities of the Heart.'

This one is an almost perfect starting place for someone new to Cream, as it covers all periods of their time together. While it isn't as comprehensive as the 1997 box set 'Those Were the Days' or the single disc collection from 1995 'The Very Best of Cream' it's got the essentials.

A note about the rating - as 'Strange Brew...' is probably one of the best places to start with Cream (aside from simply buying their albums of course) and I'd give it four stars, for the jazz fan adverse to rock, this isn't an 'excellent addition.' For jazz rock fans though, there's enough inventive arrangements and soloing that you should find something to enjoy if you've never come across this important band.

CREAM Live Cream

Live album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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Chicapah
The break up of Cream was traumatizing enough for me and their millions of supporters but just imagine what it was like for the suits at ATCO Records. The band had been a golden-egg-laying, triple-headed swan for the label with each of their four albums making them a fortune and then suddenly one day they were gone with the wind. Facing the hard, cold fact that there would be no more studio tracks to sell to their legion of adoring fans they took advantage of the only option left. They dug back into the live tapes that producer Felix Pappalardi had been smart enough to preserve and put together “Live Cream” in order to harvest from their heartbroken admirers ripe profits still dangling on the vine before the next big thing captured their fancy and their pocketbooks. If you think that’s a harsh assessment don’t kid yourself. They didn’t refer to it as the music “business” for cosmetic reasons. As in any industry, money was the bottom line and they were out to milk every penny out of their investment in the trio while the iron was still hot from the dying embers. Yet for the avid follower of Cream it was a welcome consolation prize. It didn’t matter what the capitalist pigs’ motive was because the quality of the recordings was excellent and being able to acquire for posterity the phenomenal magic they created on stage helped to wean us off our addiction to them. It was a win-win situation for all involved.

Cream did the music world a great service by almost single-handedly bringing the concept of jazzy improvisation into the heavy rock and roll terrain. Not by their studio works (although those tunes are splendid and better in many ways than what other psychedelic blues groups were putting out in the late 60s) but by what they conjured up spontaneously in concert. Most bands of that era tried their best to replicate the sound they manufactured in the studio when out on tour but in that aspect of their craft Cream had a split Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. Aping their hits didn’t interest them in the least but seeing how far they could push each other and their audiences through open-ended and unrestricted jamming was of supreme importance. By generously including live performances on their albums starting with the electrifying “Wheels of Fire” they educated their future paying customers on what to expect from their shows. By doing so they went out on the road having effectively weeded out the pretend fans from the fanatics, eliminating any potential opposition to their boundless vamping and freeing them to run wild. These tracks, recorded in March of ’68 at San Francisco’s Winterland and Fillmore auditoriums, capture them at their peak and demonstrate why they had such a huge effect and influence on the still-embryonic field of jazz-related rock.

As if to make up for some of the inherent stiffness their debut disc understandably contained, this record is made up almost exclusively of songs from that album and they put what I consider the finest cut first, the playful “N.S.U.” The great thing about this rendition is that their familiarity with the tune cultivated through performing it night after night gives it more excitement and character than the original had. Eric Clapton’s combination of fiery licks and space-filling chords insures that there’s not a dull moment to be heard while Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker rumble through like side-by-side freight trains. “Sleepy Time Time” is next and it’s a perfect example of how even a slow blues number can be energized by a ton of swagger. Jack’s inimitable vocal style is powerful but never out of control and while he and Eric’s voices couldn’t be more different they form a unique blend. Clapton’s guitar solo is so charismatic that you can’t take your ears off of it and Bruce’s bass ride is just plain cool. For who knows what misguided purpose, those in charge of this project included a dud at this juncture, “Lawdy Mama.” It’s “Strange Brew” with alternative lyrics, a lukewarm guitar lead and a muddier mix that only serves to demonstrate how timid Eric was as a singer in the early going. It’s as out of place as a turd in a punchbowl.

The quarter-hour version of “Sweet Wine” gets the locomotive back on the rails, however, and it’s another case of the live rendition beating the jeans off the one they laid down in the studio. Jack plays his bass like a man possessed by a demon and, aware of his dangerous fury, Clapton is content to competently back him up while he rages. This epic performance has more ups and downs than a motorcycle ride through the Texas hill country as it continually morphs from melodic to dissonant at will. I can only describe it as being an ever-evolving work of art crafted by three virtuosos totally in tune with each other. Their drums, guitar and harp cover of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” closes out the album and what it lacks in content it more than makes up for in unbridled passion. Bruce is no slouch on the harmonica and his intensity is second to none. I haven’t mentioned Ginger much but it’s fascinating how he can embellish a basic 4/4 beat to the point where it sounds like there’s a fully-staffed percussion section sweating it out behind him. He was the glue that held this volatile ensemble together on stage.

Released in April of 1970, long after Cream was dead and buried, you’d think that only the die-hards would’ve bought this live set. Wrong. It was the #15 album in the United States, evidence that their legacy was still alive and well even after almost two years had passed since they announced their permanent separation. They produced their share of hit songs that will reverberate for eons to come on classic rock radio and they should be commended for that. But in concert they were men standing among boys and all who witnessed their thunder in person will never forget the experience. “Live Cream” is the next-best thing.

CREAM Goodbye

Album · 1969 · Jazz Related Rock
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Chicapah
In the middle of 1968 I received devastating news. Cream almighty was kaput. Outa here. Irreconcilable differences that had built up between the members of the hallowed trinity had led them to file for divorce. I and their enormous, worldwide family of fans were incredulous. How could such a talented, influential and adored group just decide to call it quits after only three albums? WTF? What had modern civilization come to? Who in blazes was next? The Beatles? (Perish the thought!) Didn’t Eric, Jack and Ginger know how important they were to my well-being? At that young age my naive teenage mind didn’t quite yet understand that all things, good and bad, eventually come to an end so I took this upsetting turn of events pretty hard. I mean, how dare they!

The only shred of consolation came with the announcement that Cream would run a victory lap via a farewell tour and release a final album in the first quarter of 1969 that would bring the show to an end with the appropriate title of “Goodbye.” I figured their gestures of kindness were better than nothing, somehow managed to garner a ticket to their Dallas appearance (they were consummate professionals that evening, putting on a superb show) and bought their last LP the day it hit the record bins. With such a strained internal situation other bands might’ve just mailed it in but, to their everlasting credit, the trio put together a combination of live and studio tracks that in many ways exemplifies everything that was extraordinary about them. I got the feeling that even though they couldn’t stand each other they truly loved their followers and supporters who’d made them superstars and this record could just as easily have been called “Thank You.”

The three concert cuts (taped on their last visit to the Forum in Los Angeles in October ’68) are presented first, granting further credence to my opinion that they knew their true contribution to the field of jazz music would be found in their introducing spontaneous improvisation to the rock & roll universe. Yes, I do realize that loosely-structured vamping was not completely uncommon in that day and age, especially in the offerings of trippy west coast groups like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but I would never label their experimental noodlings as being jazz-related. What Cream was doing, on the other hand, was to actively and aggressively intertwine high-level individual musicianship from three separate minds into a united, instantaneously-combusting work of art on the spot every night, not unlike what jazz pioneers along the lines of Miles Davis and John Coltrane were into. The only difference was that Clapton, Bruce and Baker were utilizing loudly amplified guitar, bass and drums to fashion their craftwork but the fundamental idea was the same.

An energy-filled rendition of “I’m So Glad” kicks the disc off, showing that the marketing pukes at ATCO knew their much rawer, on-stage material was just as attractive to the record-buying public as their catchy hits. Eric’s attack on his guitar fretboard is ferocious, you’ll never hear a barnstorming bass presence like Jack’s anywhere else and Ginger proves that he was not simply a beat-keeper. He’s fully attuned to what the other two are playing and he augments every note they emit. Next is their rowdy, rude version of “Politician.” Bruce’s vocal is scathing and Clapton’s solo flows without a single interruption in continuity while Baker plays everything but a straight rhythm pattern. I’m sure they were acutely aware that this was their final go-round but you can’t tell it from these torrid performances. They sound like they’re still hell-bent on winning the audience over so they aren’t about to take a night off. “Sitting On Top of the World” is very much an average blues ballad but it benefits enormously from receiving the unconventional Cream treatment. Call these guys what you will but lazy or apathetic doesn’t apply. This number cooks with gas as they freely improvise over, under, around and through the song’s basic premise.

They graciously bow out with three studio concoctions as fine as anything that came before. Eric’s classic “Badge” is a bit of eclectic British pop, to be sure, but it’s delightfully charming nonetheless. The inimitable guitar riff that makes its grand entrance at the halfway point is what makes it stand out from the herd, bestowing upon it a timeless, distinct quality that endures. Jack’s “Doing That Scrapyard Thing” follows, an odd but boisterous tune that typifies his offbeat, creative point of view. Producer Felix Pappalardi’s Mellotron adds a cool texture to the track that brings the Beatles to mind and it’s quite foreign in comparison to anything else in their catalogue. Ginger’s aptly named “What a Bringdown” lowers the curtain on a phenomenal career. It’s a powerful, hard-driving song and one of his best. The 5/4 time signature lends it a jazzy air and the melee of wild sounds and exhortations in the later goings is a wonderful noise to behold.

The affable portrait complete with top hats, canes and shiny silver tuxedos that graces the album’s packaging demonstrated that the boys had adopted a self-effacing “it’s over so we might as well exit stage left with a few fancy steps and a grin” attitude about it all, making it difficult for me to stay mad at them. (I’ve even kept and preserved the full-sized “Farewell from the Cream” poster that came in the sleeve.) They came, they conquered and they departed, tattooing an indelible mark on music’s bicep while they were here. Few others can boast of such an accomplishment. To the novice, common sense would insist that a relatively short record consisting of six cuts, live and otherwise, would fall flat on its face no matter who made it. Wrong. “Goodbye” ended up as the #2 album in the USA and that should indicate just how popular this trio was in the late 60s. I guess their awesomeness is best demonstrated by the fact that there’s never been another guitar, bass and drums trio to match them since they disbanded over four decades ago. They were truly one of a kind and so is this record.

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