Rock and Roll's first true supergroup and power trio.
"They credited us with the birth of that sort of heavy metal thing. Well, if that's the case, there should be an immediate abortion." – Ginger Baker
A few months ago, I had mentioned that the "unholy trinity" of British Heavy Metal comprised of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Foreshadowing all three of these bands were a power trio from London, Cream. The band was considered a "supergroup" in the U.K.; that is, each of the members came from other highly successful or respected bands. Guitarist and sometimes vocalist Eric Clapton came from John Mayall's BluesBreakers, drummer/percussionist Ginger Baker and bass player, lead vocalist and principle songwriter Jack Bruce both came from the Graham Bond Organization.
Though relatively unknown outside of their homeland in 1966, the British music press had high hopes for the trio. Though they publicly stated they were a Blues band, their sound encompassed a great deal more, including music hall, ballads, psychedelic music and pop. Along the way, they unknowingly forged a sound and a tag they would come to despise, being that of a Heavy Metal or Heavy Rock act, as it carried a truly unsavory cache at the time.
Cream, 1968. (l-r) Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton. Photo by Jim Marshall.
Bruce and Clapton unfortunately also did not get along, causing a great deal of drama for the group, and Bruce and Baker often clashed as well. This tension did fuel the band through 3 1/2 albums of studio material and another 3 1/2 albums of live material, some of it released after the band had broken up in 1968. Their second and third albums, Disraeli Gears (1967) and Wheels of Fire (1968), would not just prove immensely successful, they would become cornerstones of British Rock history, and both are often cited as two of the greatest albums in history.
Bruce would go on to a critically acclaimed solo career, and often would work with other artists as a sideman, including Frank Zappa. Baker and Clapton went on to form another supergroup with Steve Winwood of Traffic, which released one self-titled LP, Blind Faith, that went to #1 on the U.S. chart in 1969 but ended up with a disastrous tour that found fans screaming for Cream material. Baker moved to Africa and ended up working with Nigerian political recording artist Fela Kuti, and Clapton would forge a highly successful solo career. The band reunited for a series of shows in 2005 and a live recording, both being praised by fans and critics. Bruce would eventually succumb to liver disease in 2014, with accolades coming from musicians around the world about his huge influence on them and his importance in bringing the bass guitar prominence in Rock and Roll.
Our tracks this week: Title, Source
First Part (Studio Work)
1. Sunshine of Your Love (full length LP version), Disraeli Gears+
2. I Feel Free (mono), single A-side U.K./Fresh Cream U.S.*
3. Pressed Rat and Warthog, Wheels of Fire++
4. Badge, Goodbye**
5. Wrapping Paper, U.K. single A-side*
6. Politician, Wheels of Fire*
7. Anyone For Tennis, Savage Seven soundtrack**
8. Rollin' and Tumblin', Fresh Cream*
Second Part (Live Recordings)
9. Crossroads, Wheels of Fire** (Recorded 10 March 1968 at the Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, California)
10. Tales of Brave Ulysses, Live Cream Vol. 2* (Recorded 4 October 1968 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, California)
11. Deserted Cities of the Heart, Live Cream Vol. 2* (Recorded 4 October 1968 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, California)
12. Spoonful, Wheels of Fire* (Recorded 10 March 1968 at the Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, California)
*Jack Bruce, lead vocal
**Eric Clapton, lead vocal
+Bruce and Clapton, co-lead vocals
++Ginger Baker, lead vocal
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for 'fair use' for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."