month we will be checkin what we feel is an album that definitky
may be worth revisiting. Sometimes it is easy to forget how
great some of these releases were. Many of them went on to have
signifigant influence on the music of today. When going back
and checking them out again you will often find forgotten brilliance
and just maybe it will give you a new spark of inspiration for
creating something awesome on your own. (-: Thanks to Wikapedia
Cream were a 1960s British rock supergroup
power trio consisting of bassist/singer Jack Bruce, drummer
Ginger Baker, and guitarist/singer Eric Clapton. Their sound
was characterised by a hybrid of blues rock, hard rock and
psychedelic rock combining psychedelia-themed lyrics, Clapton's
blues guitar playing, Bruce's powerful, lashing voice and
prominent bass playing and Baker's jazz-influenced drumming.
The group's third album, Wheels of Fire, was the world's first
platinum-selling double album. Cream are widely regarded as
being the world's first successful supergroup. In their career,
they sold over 15 million albums worldwide Cream's music included
songs based on traditional blues such as "Crossroads"
and "Spoonful", and modern blues such as "Born
Under a Bad Sign", as well as more eccentric songs such
as "Strange Brew", "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
Cream's biggest hits were "I Feel Free"
(UK, number 11),"Sunshine of Your Love" (US, number
5),"White Room" (US, number 6),"Crossroads"
(US, number 28), and "Badge" (UK, number 18). Cream
made a significant impact on the popular music of the time,
and, along with Jimi Hendrix, and Terry Kath of Chicago, popularised
the use of the wah-wah pedal. They provided a heavy yet technically
proficient musical theme that foreshadowed and influenced
the emergence of British bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Jeff
Beck Group and Black Sabbath in the late 1960s and the early
1970s. The band's live performances influenced progressive
rock acts such as Rush. Cream were inducted into the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. They were included in both
Rolling Stone and VH1's lists of the "100 Greatest Artists
of All Time," at number 67 and 61 respectively. They
were also ranked number 16 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists
of Hard Rock".
By July 1966, Eric Clapton's career with The Yardbirds and
John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers had earned him a reputation
as the premier blues guitarist in Britain. Clapton, however,
found the environment of Mayall's band confining, and sought
to expand his playing in a new band. In 1966, Clapton met
Ginger Baker, then the leader of the Graham Bond Organisation,
which at one point featured Jack Bruce on bass guitar, harmonica
and piano. Baker felt stifled in the Graham Bond Organisation
and had grown tired of Graham Bond's drug addictions and bouts
of mental instability. "I had always liked Ginger",
explained Clapton. "Ginger had come to see me play with
the Bluesbreakers. After the gig he drove me back to London
in his Rover. I was very impressed with his car and driving.
He was telling me that he wanted to start a band, and I had
been thinking about it too."
Each was impressed with the other's playing
abilities, prompting Baker to ask Clapton to join his new,
then-unnamed group. Clapton immediately agreed, on the condition
that Baker hire Bruce as the group's bassist; according to
Clapton, Baker was so surprised at the suggestion that he
almost crashed the car. Clapton had met Bruce when the bassist/vocalist
briefly played with the Bluesbreakers in November 1965; the
two also had worked together as part of a one-shot band called
Powerhouse (which also included Steve Winwood and Paul Jones).
Impressed with Bruce's vocals and technical prowess, Clapton
wanted to work with him on an ongoing basis.
In contrast, while Bruce was in Bond's band,
he and Baker had been notorious for their quarrelling. Their
volatile relationship included on-stage fights and the sabotage
of one another's instruments. After Baker fired Bruce from
the band, Bruce continued to arrive for gigs; ultimately,
Bruce was driven away from the band after Baker threatened
him at knifepoint.
Baker and Bruce put aside their differences
for the good of Baker's new trio, which he envisioned as collaborative,
with each of the members contributing to music and lyrics.
The band was named "Cream", as Clapton, Bruce, and
Baker were already considered the "cream of the crop"
amongst blues and jazz musicians in the exploding British
music scene. Initially, the group were referred to and billed
as "The Cream" (i.e. with the definite article),
but starting officially with its first record releases, the
trio would be plain "Cream". Before deciding upon
"Cream", the band considered calling themselves
"Sweet 'n' Sour Rock 'n' Roll". Of the trio, Clapton
had the biggest reputation in England; however, he was all
but unknown in the United States, having left The Yardbirds
before "For Your Love" hit the American Top Ten.
Cream made its unofficial debut at the Twisted
Wheel on 29 July 1966. Its official debut came two nights
later at the Sixth Annual Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival.
Being new and with few original songs to its credit, Cream
performed blues reworkings that thrilled the large crowd and
earned it a warm reception. In October the band also got a
chance to jam with Jimi Hendrix, who had recently arrived
in London. Hendrix was a fan of Clapton's music, and wanted
a chance to play with him onstage.Hendrix was introduced to
Cream through Chas Chandler, Hendrix's manager.
It was during the early organisation that
they decided Bruce would serve as the group's lead vocalist.
While Clapton was shy about singing, he occasionally harmonised
with Bruce and, in time, took lead vocals on several Cream
tracks including "Four Until Late","Strange
Brew","World of Pain","Outside Woman Blues","Anyone
for Tennis","Crossroads", and "Badge".
Fresh Cream: 1966
Cream's debut album, Fresh Cream, was
recorded and released in 1966. The album reached number 6
in the UK charts and number 39 in the United States. It was
evenly split between self-penned originals and blues covers,
including "Four Until Late", "Rollin' and Tumblin'",
"Spoonful", "I'm So Glad" and "Cat's
Squirrel". The rest of the songs were written by either
Jack Bruce or Ginger Baker. ("I Feel Free", a UK
hit single, was included on only the American edition of the
LP.) The track "Toad" contained one of the earliest
examples of a drum solo in rock music as Ginger Baker expanded
upon his early composition "Camels and Elephants",
written in 1965 with the Graham Bond Organisation. The early
Cream bootlegs display a much tighter band showcasing more
songs. All of the songs are reasonably short five-minute versions
of "N.S.U.", "Sweet Wine" and "Toad".
But a mere two months later, the setlist shortened, with the
songs then much longer.
Disraeli Gears: 1967
Cream first visited the United States
in March 1967 to play nine dates at the RKO Theater in New
York. There was little impact, as impresario Murray the K
placed them at the bottom of a six-act bill that performed
five times per date, eventually reducing Cream to one song
per concert. They returned to record Disraeli Gears in New
York between 11 May and 15 May 1967. Cream's second album
was released in November 1967 and reached the Top 5 in the
charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Produced by Felix Pappalardi
(who later co-founded the Cream-influenced quartet Mountain)
and engineer Tom Dowd, it was recorded at Atlantic Studios
in New York. Disraeli Gears is often considered to be the
band's defining effort, successfully blending psychedelic
British rock with American blues. Disraeli Gears not only
features hits "Strange Brew" and "Tales of
Brave Ulysses", but also "Sunshine of Your Love".
The album was originally slated for release
in the summer of 1967, but the record label opted to scrap
the planned cover and repackage it with a new psychedelic
cover, designed by artist Martin Sharp, and the resulting
changes delayed its release for several months. The album
was remarkable for the time, with a psychedelic design patterned
over a publicity photo of the trio.
Although the album is considered one of Cream's
finest efforts, it has never been well represented in Cream's
live sets. Although they consistently played "Tales of
Brave Ulysses" and "Sunshine of Your Love",
several songs from Disraeli Gears were quickly dropped from
performances in mid-1967, favouring longer jams instead of
short pop songs. "We're Going Wrong" was the only
additional song from the album the group performed live. In
fact, at their 2005 reunion shows in London, Cream played
only three songs from Disraeli Gears: "Outside Woman
Blues", "We're Going Wrong," and "Sunshine
of Your Love." ("Tales of Brave Ulysses" was
included in the band's 2005 New York performances, however.)
In August 1967, Cream played their first headlining
dates in America, playing first at the Fillmore West in San
Francisco and later at The Pinnacle in Los Angeles. The concerts
were a great success and proved very influential on both the
band itself and the flourishing hippie scene surrounding them.
Upon discovering a growing listening audience, the band began
to stretch out on stage, incorporating more time in their
repertoire, some songs reaching jams of twenty minutes. Long
drawn-out jams in numbers like "Spoonful", "N.S.U.",
"I'm So Glad", and "Sweet Wine" became
live favourites, while songs like "Sunshine of Your Love",
"Crossroads", and "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
remained reasonably short.
Wheels of Fire: 1968
In 1968 came Cream's third release, Wheels
of Fire, which topped the American charts. Still a relative
novelty, the "double album" of two LP discs was
well suited to extended solos. Wheels of Fire studio recordings
showcased Cream moving slightly away from the blues and more
towards a semi-progressive rock style highlighted by odd time
signatures and various orchestral instruments. However, the
band did record Howlin' Wolf's "Sitting on Top of the
World" and Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign".
According to a BBC interview with Clapton, the record company,
also handling Albert King, asked the band to cover "Born
Under a Bad Sign", which became a popular track off the
record. The opening song, "White Room", became a
radio staple. Another song, "Politician", was written
by the band while waiting to perform live at the BBC. The
album's second disc featured three live recordings from the
Winterland Ballroom and one from the Fillmore. Eric Clapton's
second solo from "Crossroads" has made it to the
top 20 in multiple "greatest guitar solo" lists.
After the completion of Wheels of Fire in
mid-1968, the band members had had enough and wanted to go
their separate ways. Baker stated in a 2006 interview with
Music Mart magazine, "It just got to the point where
Eric said to me: 'I've had enough of this,' and I said so
have I. I couldn't stand it. The last year with Cream was
just agony. It damaged my hearing permanently, and today I've
still got a hearing problem because of the sheer volume throughout
the last year of Cream. But it didn't start off like that.
In 1966, it was great. It was really a wonderful experience
musically, and it just went into the realms of stupidity."
Bruce and Baker's combustible relationship proved even worse
as a result of the strain put upon the band by non-stop touring,
forcing Clapton to play the perpetual role of peacekeeper.
Clapton had also fallen under the spell of
Bob Dylan's former backing group, now known as The Band, and
their debut album, Music from Big Pink, which proved to be
a welcome breath of fresh air in comparison to the incense
and psychedelia that had formed Cream. Furthermore, he had
read a scathing Cream review in Rolling Stone, a publication
he had much admired, in which the reviewer, Jon Landau, called
him a "master of the blues cliché." In the
wake of that article, Clapton wanted to end Cream and pursue
a different musical direction.
At the beginning of their farewell tour on
4 October 1968, in Oakland, nearly the entire set consisted
of songs from Wheels of Fire: "White Room", "Politician",
"Crossroads", "Spoonful", "Deserted
Cities of the Heart", and "Passing the Time"
taking the place of "Toad" for a drum solo. "Passing
the Time" and "Deserted Cities" were quickly
removed from the setlist and replaced by "Sitting on
Top of the World" and "Toad".
Cream were eventually persuaded to do
one final album. That album, the appropriately titled Goodbye,
was recorded in late 1968 and released in early 1969, after
the band had broken up. It featured six songs: three live
recordings dating from a concert at The Forum in Los Angeles,
California, on 19 October, and three new studio recordings
(including "Badge", which was written by Clapton
and George Harrison, who also played rhythm guitar as "L'Angelo
Misterioso"). "I'm So Glad" was included among
the live tracks.
Cream's "farewell tour" consisted
of 22 shows at 19 venues in the United States from 4 October
to 4 November 1968, and two final farewell concerts at the
Royal Albert Hall on 26 November 1968. Initially another double
album was planned, comprising live material from this tour
plus new studio tracks, but a single album, Goodbye was released
instead with three live tracks taken from their performance
at The Forum in Los Angeles on 19 October, and three studio
tracks, one written by each of the band members. The final
U.S. gig was at the Rhode Island Auditorium on 4 November.
The band arrived late and, due to local restrictions, were
able to perform only two songs, "Toad" and a 20+
minute version of "Spoonful".
The two Royal Albert Hall concerts were filmed
for a BBC documentary and released on video (and later DVD)
as Farewell Concert. Both shows were sold out and attracted
more attention than any other Cream concert, but their performance
was regarded by many as below standard. Baker himself said
of the concerts: "It wasn't a good gig ... Cream was
better than that ... We knew it was all over. We knew we were
just finishing it off, getting it over with." In an interview
from Cream: Classic Artists, he added that the band was getting
worse by the minute.
Cream's supporting acts were Taste (featuring
a young Rory Gallagher) and the newly formed Yes, who received
good reviews. Three performances early in Cream's farewell
tour were opened by Deep Purple. Deep Purple had originally
agreed to open the entire U.S. leg of the tour, but Cream's
management removed them after only three shows, in spite of
favourable reviews and good rapport between the bands.
From its creation, Cream was faced with some
fundamental problems that would later lead to its dissolution
in November 1968. The rivalry between Bruce and Baker created
tensions in the band. Clapton also felt that the members of
the band did not listen to each other enough. Equipment during
these years had also improved; new Marshall amplifier stacks
produced more power, and Jack Bruce pushed the volume levels
higher, creating tension for Baker who would have trouble
competing with roaring stacks. Clapton spoke of a concert
during which he stopped playing and neither Baker nor Bruce
noticed. Clapton has also commented that Cream's later gigs
mainly consisted of its members showing off.
Cream decided that they would break up in
May 1968 during a tour of the US. Later, in July, an official
announcement was made that the band would break up after a
farewell tour of the United States and after playing two concerts
in London. Cream finished their tour of the United States
with a 4 November concert in Rhode Island and performed in
the UK for the last time in London on 25 and 26 November.
Bruce had three Marshall stacks on stage for the farewell
shows but one acted only as a spare, and he only used one
or two, depending on the song.
Blind Faith was formed immediately after
the demise of Cream, following an attempt by Clapton to recruit
Steve Winwood into Cream in the hope that he would help act
as a buffer between Bruce and Baker. Inspired by more song-based
acts Clapton went on to perform much different, less improvisational
material with Delaney & Bonnie, Derek and the Dominos
and in his own long and varied solo career.
Bruce began a varied and successful solo career
with the 1969 release of Songs for a Tailor, while Baker formed
a jazz-fusion ensemble out of the ashes of Blind Faith called
Ginger Baker's Air Force, which featured Winwood, Blind Faith
bassist Rick Grech, Graham Bond on sax, and guitarist Denny
Laine of the Moody Blues and (later) Wings.
All three members continued to explore new
musical ideas and partnerships, play concerts and record music
for over four decades after ending Cream.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
In 1993, Cream were inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and reformed to perform at the
induction ceremony. Initially, the trio were wary about performing,
until encouraging words from Robbie Robertson inspired them
to try. The set consisted of "Sunshine
of Your Love", "Crossroads", and "Born
Under a Bad Sign", a song they had not previously played
live. Clapton mentioned in his acceptance
speech that their rehearsal the day before the ceremony had
marked the first time they had played together in 25 years.
This performance spurred rumours of a reunion tour.[citation
needed] Bruce and Baker said in later interviews that they
were, indeed, interested in touring as Cream.
A formal reunion did not take place immediately, as Clapton,
Bruce and Baker continued to pursue solo projects, although
the latter two worked together again in the mid-1990s as two-thirds
of a power trio BBM with Irish blues rock guitarist Gary Moore.
2005 Royal Albert Hall and Madison
Square Garden concerts
Cream reunited for a series of four shows,
on 2, 3, 5, and 6 May 2005 at the Royal Albert Hall in London,
the venue of their final concerts in 1968, at Clapton's request.
Although the three musicians chose not to speak publicly about
the shows, Clapton would later state that he had become more
"generous" in regard to his past, and that the physical
health of Bruce and Baker was a major factor: Bruce had recently
undergone a liver transplant for liver cancer, and had almost
lost his life, while Baker had severe arthritis.
Tickets for all four shows sold out in under
an hour. The performances were recorded for a live CD and
DVD. Among those in attendance were Paul McCartney and Ringo
Starr, Steve Winwood, Roger Waters, Brian May, Jimmy Page
of Led Zeppelin and also Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman.[citation
needed] The reunion marked the first time the band had played
"Badge" and "Pressed Rat and Warthog"
The Royal Albert Hall reunion proved a success
on both a personal and financial level, inspiring the reformed
band to bring their reunion to the United States. Cream chose
to play at only one venue, Madison Square Garden in New York
City, from 24–26 October 2005.
In February 2006, Cream received a Grammy
Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their contribution
to, and influence upon, modern music. That same month, a "Classic
Albums" DVD was released detailing the story behind the
creation and recording of Disraeli Gears. On the day prior
to the Grammy ceremony, Bruce made a public statement that
more one-off performances of Cream had been planned: multiple
dates in a few cities, similar to the Royal Albert Hall and
Madison Square Garden shows.
However, this story was refuted by both Clapton
and Baker, first by Clapton in a Times article from April
2006. The article stated that when asked about Cream, Clapton
said: "No. Not for me. We did it and it was fun. But
life is too short. I've got lots of other things I would rather
do, including staying at home with my kids. The thing about
that band was that it was all to do with its limits ... it
was an experiment." In an interview in the UK magazine
Music Mart, about the release of a DVD about the Blind Faith
concert in Hyde Park 1969, Baker commented about his unwillingness
to continue the Cream reunion. These comments were far more
specific and explosive than Clapton's, as they were centred
around his relationship with Jack Bruce. Ginger said, "When
he's Dr. Jekyll, he's fine ... It's when he's Mr. Hyde that
he's not. And I'm afraid he's still the same. I tell you this
– there won't ever be any more Cream gigs, because he
did Mr. Hyde in New York last year.
When asked to elaborate, Baker replied: "Oh,
he shouted at me on stage, he turned his bass up so loud that
he deafened me on the first gig. What he does is that he apologises
and apologises, but I'm afraid, to do it on a Cream reunion
gig, that was the end. He killed the magic, and New York was
like 1968 ... It was just a get through the gig, get the money
sort of deal. I was absolutely amazed. I mean, he demonstrated
why he got the sack from Graham Bond and why Cream didn't
last very long on stage in New York. I didn't want to do it
in the first place simply because of how Jack was. I have
worked with him several times since Cream, and I promised
myself that I would never work with him again. When Eric first
came up with the idea, I said no, and then he phoned me up
and eventually convinced me to do it. I was on my best behaviour
and I did everything I could to make things go as smooth as
possible, and I was really pleasant to Jack." Ginger
Baker and Jack Bruce would reunite on stage in London when
Baker was awarded a lifetime achievement award by Zildjian.
Jack Bruce told Detroit's WCSX radio station
in May 2007 that there were plans for a Cream reunion later
in the year. It was later revealed that the potential performance
was to be November 2007 London as a tribute to Ahmet Ertegün.
The band decided against it and this was confirmed by Bruce
in a letter to the editor of the Jack Bruce fanzine, The Cuicoland
Express, dated 26 September 2007:
We were going to do this tribute concert for Ahmet when
it was to be at the Royal Albert Hall but decided to pass
when it was moved to the O2 Arena and seemed to be becoming
The headlining act for the O2 Arena Ertegun
tribute show (postponed to December 2007) turned out to be
another reunited English hard-rock act, Led Zeppelin. In an
interview with BBC 6 Music in April 2010, Bruce confirmed
that there would be no more Cream shows. He said: "Cream
On 25 October 2014, Bruce died of liver disease
in Suffolk, England at the age of 71, quelling any opportunity
for another Cream reunion.